Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Sustainability 17

Corteva’s purpose is very simple, yet powerful – to enrich the lives of those who produce and those who consume, ensuring progress for generations to come

The last seven months have shined a bright light on so many sustainable development issues – global food security, extreme weather events, social unrest, economic equity, and, of course, the pandemic itself.

We live in a world that is yearning for new ideas and solutions. And I would assert that few nations yearn more than India.  With a population that’s projected to grow to 1.6 billion people by 2050, India faces a number of critical challenges, not the least of which is water-scarcity. Few resources are more critical to sustainable development than water. It grows our food, hydrates our bodies, and powers our industries.

And, of course, India’s massive agriculture industry feeds not only this nation, but a significant percentage of the world.  It’s critical to our global food security.  And that security is simply not possible without better stewardship of our water resources. But can we really help build economically viable farms?  Farms that produce extraordinary food while protecting the land, resources and people who make it all possible?

While no one has a crystal ball, one thing we do know about the future of agriculture and food production is that the status quo is not an option, not here in India or anywhere around the world. We have to double food productivity in just the next 30 years to stay on course.  For rice alone – the staple for more than half the world’s diet – we’ll need to increase production by 25 percent over the next 25 years. And we’ll have to do it while protecting the land, water and air resources that make rice and all food production possible. The good news is that, collectively, we have the innovation acumen and intellectual capital to create an environmentally sustainable, food-secure world. But it’s going to require more targeted innovation investments, more collaboration across all stakeholder and an even greater focus on the needs of the world’s farmers and consumers.

We at Corteva have outlined several of these actions in a new sweeping strategy that we call – Enriching Lives Together Sustainability Strategy. The strategy focuses on 14 specific goals.  These goals are grouped under four pillars – bettering the lives of farmers; protecting our land and natural resources; improving our communities; and benefiting our operations.

It is imperative that organizations bring together their business perspective and the social, economic and environmental needs of the communities in which they operate,  to identify choices that create value. That is, promoting the integration of sustainability into our business processes and throughout the value chain.

India is facing a severe and prolonged water crisis. What is immediately needed are sustainable solutions that will conserve water and protect the soil, while providing economic stability to farmers. One such program is AcreNext, which works with the rice farmers in Punjab and Haryana to enhance awareness and understanding of direct-seeded rice. Farmers – including 25,000 Indian women farmers – are trained to use hybrid rice seeds that they can plant directly into the soil. This gives them higher yields, conserves water, uses less labor and resources while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Of course, no environmental issue today is more pressing than climate change. Meetings should be held around the world with leaders from businesses, government, and civil society to discuss ways to work together to create a climate-positive agriculture industry. Whether one is involved in agriculture and agribusiness directly, indirectly, or not at all, everyone can help influence the way we go about protecting the planet, empowering farmers, and providing consumers with more nutritious food.

Working together, it’s imperative that all voices are heard, especially those of our farmers.  We need smart, informed and rigorous impact assessments of all proposals and policies as they relate to farming and farmers’ livelihoods. We stand ready to help with these efforts while advocating for our farmers here in India. We need everyone’s help in supporting technologies, entrepreneurs and innovative sustainability models that have an impact on Indian agriculture. Our farmers need voices in support of policy making that is grounded in sound science. And we need more and more of India’s best and brightest young minds to consider careers in agriculture and related sciences. If we all collaborate on best practices, advocate for science-based policies, and continue listening to the voices of India’s extraordinary farmers, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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