By Taurai Mzee Muzerengani
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND BIOTECHNOLOGY
The term sustainable agriculture means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term, to:
– satisfy human food and fiber needs;
– enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends
-make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls;
sustain the economic viability of farm operations
-enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole
Agriculture biotechnology also known as agritech is an area of agricultural science involving the use of scientific tools and techniques including genetic engineering, molecular makers, molecular diagnostics, vaccines and tissue culture to modify living organisms; plants, animals and microorganisms.
Sustainable agriculture does not mean it is completely natural. Biotechnology is begging to become a big part of creating sustainable agriculture. Biotechnology is not GMOs and not harmful pesticides or chemicals, but instead processes that will allow for the genetic improvement of crops, the transfer of genes with desired properties, disease diagnosis, and developing plants to a more adapt to diverse ecological conditions. Genetic diversity is important to maintain sustainable agriculture. Production of bio-fortified crops is one of major contributor to sustainable food production like cereals, vegetables and fruits that will enhance better nutrition for human beings and animals.
The issue of sustainable agriculture is important for emphasizing economic, ecological, social and community dimensions of agriculture. Salient aspects include the emphasis on an integrated system and the inclusion of elements addressing environmental, natural resource, economic and social quality of life dimensions.
The organic farming and agro-ecological farming regions plays a party in sustainable agriculture as farmers must plant crops that are suitable for their regions. Conservation farming and an appreciation for traditional farming practices (local knowledge) even if the applications may vary contributes towards attainment of sustainable agriculture.
The interrelatedness of all parts of farming systems, the farmer, family and the importance of many biological balances in the system. There is need to maximize desired biological relationships in the system and to minimize use of material and practices that disrupts these relationships. The basic importance of modern high-yield farming through biotechnology and sustainable land management contributes towards sustainability.
Biotechnology is treated as a magic bullet that can make deserts bloom, clean our soils, our oceans and our air, feed the world, end diseases, add nutrition value, and perfect. The resultant productivity improvements will have impact on addressing ongoing environmental and socio-economic issues, such as hunger and food insecurity, that are associated with agro-food systems. Experts of agricultural bio-technologies argue that genetically engineered crop technologies are the best hope for agriculture to contribute to the sustainable development of the planet. Agricultural biotechnology contributes to agricultural sustainability has focused on three issues: technical efficacy, and economic efficiency of the technology (mainly in pest control), human health impacts and effects on animal and environmental well-being.
Population increase has a bearing to agriculture as more food needs to be produced. Intensive farming is essential as it contributes towards attainment of food security through use of biotechnology improved seeds. Issues of malnutrition will be addressed through bio fortified crops like maize and vegetables. Industry processors of food are being forced by regulations of their respective countries to fortify the food to add some missing nutrients and this can be easily done by bio fortifying and cut costs on the additional nutrients.
Biotechnology is also looking into edible vaccines that can be incorporated into fruits like bananas and even in mammary glands of cattle milk. This will contribute significantly to health issues especially during this coronavirus era if the vaccine is found then it can be incorporated into the foods that we consume and no need to queue to receive the vaccine. Everyone consumes fruits or milk and it’s a strategy to vaccinate some of the religious groups who does not believe in going to the hospitals or vaccination.
In conclusion we can see that genetically engineered crops echo that theme and contend that biotechnology promotes sustainability because it increases production, farmer profits and contributing to health issues while reducing costs and protecting the environment. Emphasis on biotechnology holds the promise to develop new crop varieties that could thrive under adverse environmental conditions such as droughts. Some researchers and farmers support use of genetically engineered techniques that can be compatible with sustainable agriculture.
(About the writer; Taurai Muzerengani is a Founder and Executive Director of Accelerated Development Initiative (ADI) a non-profit organization on poverty alleviation and environment management with presence in South Africa and Zimbabwe. You can contact him on WhatsApp:+27742815576 email: email@example.com
By Taurai Mzee Muzerengani