Saturday, 11 August 2018

Future Impact on Sustainable Livelihood – Understanding Recent Reports




Seminar & Discussion

The Seminar on Sustainable Livelihoods, understanding recent reports was organized on the sidelines of the Seed Festival organized by SLI in Bharat Nivas and took place in the Bhumika hall between 11 a.m. and 1.30 p.m.

The Seminar was co-organized by the Centre for Social Enterprises and Innovation (CSIE), IIT-M. Mr. Ramasubramanian, Director of SLI in his introductory remarks mentioned that it was a coincidence that 3 reports that were talking about climate change impact on livelihoods in India were released within 15 days in the month of June and that prompted the organizing of the seminar. While the World Bank report spoke of Climate Change and its possible implications in the South Asia region with a focus on livelihoods, the NABARD report spoke of the cropping cycle and pattern and the need to alter some of these. The Niti Aayog report on irrigation management spoke of the performance and efficiency of irrigation systems and compared performance of different states and in the process also highlighted the irrigation challenges of the states. Ms. Aishwarya from CSIE made a detailed presentation on the 3 reports drawing heavily from the data presented in the 3 reports. She highlighted how the 3 reports had used different indicators, but, had a clear message that unless the cropping and irrigation patterns were shifted radically, India as a whole is in for some tough challenges in the coming years on sustaining its livelihoods.




The Seminar was attended by Experts in the field of irrigation and agriculture, academics, scholars and civil society participants.

Prof. Sultan Ismail opined that there were confusions in the way the ground water was being utilized and understood. He said that the difference was the below surface water and the deep borewells being categorized together. When we dig deep into the borewells, we are chipping at our savings and reserves, he opined whereas when we are just tapping water from below surface, we are utilizing the water that can be replenished easily through practices. He spoke of the chemical usage in agriculture and how it has destroyed the micro-organisims thereby depleting the required capacity in the soil health. He also agreed with the Director, SLI that none of the reports had spoken of the soil nutrition when they spoke of the climate change impact. He also commented that there was a mis-understanding and thereby ignorance of the discharge into the sea water.  He said that 70% of the oxygen in atmosphere came from the phyto-planktons in the sea and when then sea is polluted with chemical discharge from agriculture and industries and the underwater life is disturbed, it disturbs the phyto-planktons as well and this could eventually lead to less oxygen being available on earth. Ram chipped in with the information how extensive irrigation for the genetically modified BtCotton in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra (where SLI had been recently called to consult on a livelihood programme) had depleted the groundwater so much that there were villages with 60+ borewells and all of them dried up during the year.



Mr. Tom Gablier of the Auroville Water Services spoke of the depletion of ground water in the Auroville bio-region and how the first well had gone dry this year. He spoke of the inadequacy in the understanding and practices of irrigation in the region and the unnecessary usage of chemicals in agriculture. He also felt that there was inadequacy in the data that was being used in the reports and the situation could be far worse than what has been projected in the reports. Ms. Aster Patel from Bharat Nivas said that some of the issues being discussed during the Seminar were an eye-opener for her. Mata Atmavikasa Priya Amba of the Sri Sarada Ashram, Ulundurpet said that some of the efforts that the ashram has been doing to conserve the traditional seeds of paddy perhaps may have to be extended to other crops now as well, as the climate resilience of paddy to some of the scenarios projected seemed to be suspect.

The Seminar concluded with an idea to continue the discussion on the emerging climate change scenario and the  need to sustain a dialogue and influence practices within the Auroville region as well as in other parts of the State. 


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