The Covid-19 crisis has shown that development across the planet remains fragile and gains could be ruined by compounding and reinforcing impacts of the pandemic. There is a general scientific recognition of the interplay of accelerating ecosystem collapse, biodiversity loss, and extreme weather-related disasters, such as heat waves, floods and droughts, on regional food production and the livelihoods of those who depend on these supply chains, as well as on changed transmission patterns of vector-borne and other infectious diseases. Clearly, this is an untenable situation, particularly in the context of India, with our heavy dependence on the agricultural sector for food, employment, and ecosystem services.

Natural Farming offers a potential pathway out of the agricultural crisis in India—high input costs, fragile production systems, excessive and often polluting uses of inputs, and farmer indebtedness.

NITI Aayog hosted a virtual consultation with key experts and partners to explore how Natural Farming—in which India is an acknowledged global leader—can help us ‘build back better’, not just by making agriculture both resilient and productive, but also by providing new, green jobs and improving the quality of food and ecosystem services. The roundtable provided a critical opportunity for exchanging views and strategic ideas between key national stakeholders and global thought leaders.

The consensus was that agroecology is the only option to save the planet and it is in line with the Indian tradition. Humans need to realize their responsibility in protecting other species and the nature. We need knowledge-intensive agriculture, for which metrics need to be redefined so that enhancing production is not the only focus.

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