Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human
development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ability of natural systems
to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services on which the economy and
society rest on.
Sustainable development in the food industry/agriculture:
The food ecosystem as a system brings within its sphere several elements,
involving and impacting- humans, the environment, infrastructure, and the
economy, both, nationally and globally. Thus, the influence the food industry
and agriculture have on the socio-economic and environmental scale is colossal.
A sustainable food system embodies a structure that harmonizes balance between
ensuring food and nutrition security for everyone in a manner that the
socio-economic and environmental resources crucial to engendering food security
and nutrition for future generations are not jeopardized.
Sustainability in agriculture means the land and resources that use for
agriculture today should be handed over to future generations in a sustainable
arrangement so that they can continue to practice agriculture and have food
security. This requires us to use water resources, lands, etc. in such a manner
that future generation will also benefit from these resources.
agriculture employs a method of growing crops for greater human utility through
efficient utilization of resources without alarming, unbalancing, or polluting
the environment. Sustainable agriculture is environmentally judicious,
financially feasible, and socially fair and human.
The requirement of sustainability in the sphere of the food industry/
When we think of the food industry we often think of consumption. Whilst it is
imperative to ensure sustainability in the manner of production and processing
of food, it has concomitantly become increasingly important to acknowledge the
growing crisis of the waste produced by the food industry and the repercussions
of not using sustainable means for the production, processing, and disposal of
the same. Sustainable development calls for a holistic approach in all the
spheres to truly show compoundable gains.
70% of all the water use can be accounted to agriculture. Steadfast and adequate
water supply is indispensable to both, food production and processing. As a
result, all agricultural and food production and processing activities have an
acute influence on water resources. The case is worsening with the added
pressure from the food processing industries.
“If the present consumption
pattern continues, two out of every three persons on earth will live in
water-stressed conditions by the year 2025
”. The waste generated by the food
industry and agricultural activity is more detrimental because India is
responsible for some of the world’s finest quality of spices, grains, rice, tea,
etc., which can be associated with a staggering 46 soil variants in the country.
The absolute food grain production was projected at 292 million tonnes. It was
also approximated that around 225-230 MT is required to nourish the country’s
population annually. Despite these figures, it’s a disgrace that so many
citizens are reeling under the grapples of acute hunger. Over 40 percent of food
produced is wasted in India, and its costs could be as high as US$14 billion
The growth of meat consumption in the country has been exponential and the
industry is largely controlled not by the Government but the market forces. The
waste from slaughter and packaging houses although chemically comparable to
domestic sewage are significantly severely concentrated. The prime deleterious
effect of these wastes on water bodies is their deoxygenation. Chiefly, plastic
packaging, the excessive use of water for production, and the lack of
environment-friendly disposal mechanisms have a debilitating effect on the
20% of India’s GDP is contributed by agriculture. 11% of total exports are also
accountable to agriculture. It enables employment to over 55% of India’s
workforce and ensures livelihood guarantees to around 650 million people. It
thus becomes all the more important to bring coherence and congruity between
development, use of resources, consumption, and disposal.
The food sector faces crucial sustainable development concerns. Ironically, it
suffers from and at the same time causes, environmental degradation, especially
anthropogenic activities that contribute to climate change and deforestation. On
one hand, it provides a livelihood to the farmers and on the other, it fuels
land grabs that impair the community rights.
According to the Global hunger
index 2020, not only India at the 94th position among 107 nations in terms of
hunger but it continues to fall under the ‘severe hunger’ category. The study
has also estimated that 14% of India's population is undernourished. Therefore,
embodying a sustainable system of development will not only ensure environmental
protection but also efficiency in food production which will help resolve the
hunger and malnourishment issue of the country.
The constitution of India and the need for sustainability:Article 21, the Constitution of India, 1950.
No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to
procedure established by law, nor shall any person be denied equality before the
law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Article 21 in a plethora of cases, like Subhash Kumar v.State of Bihar
been construed to bring within its purview the right to health and the right to
live in a healthy environment. This can only be realized when we work and move
in the direction of sustainable development in all aspects.
Article 38, the Constitution of India, 1950.
The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of
living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary
Article 48A, the Constitution of India, 1950.
The Directive Principles of State Policy stipulates that the state shall
endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests
and wildlife of the country.
India as a signatory to sustainable development goals:
India along with other countries signed the declaration on the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development, comprising of seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
at the Sustainable Development Summit of the United Nations in September 2015.
Not only is it the constitution and the international commitment but several
acts enacted to ensure environmental protection and sustainable development.,
including The Environment Protection Act, 1986, The Air (Prevention and Control
of Pollution) Act, 1981, The Hazardous Waste Management Regulations, The
National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, etc. The dire need for the conservation and
protection of our environment through sustainable development and sustainable
use of resources is not only embodied in our constitution but also reflected in
the international commitments of India.
Under Part IV A - Article 51 A of the Constitution of India, casts a duty on
every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including
forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living
creatures. Therefore, it is not only upon the government but on its citizen to
aid and assist in sustainable development.
How the food and agriculture industry can be made sustainable?
Among the most effective measures in embracing sustainability in the food
industry, improved efficiency in the use of resources, proper infrastructure in
the disposal of agricultural waste and waste produced from the food industry
along with improvement of the condition of workers and guaranteed fair wages
will be pivotal. Responsible and effective governance, particularly in regards
to the use and the protection of natural resources is indispensable.
It is vital to employ transformative policy measures in the agricultural sector
chiefly aiming at maximizing productivity. It is also imperative to ensure
climate resilience, reduction of greenhouse gases, resourceful land use,
improved nutrition, betterment of market access, gender-sensitive agriculture
production, among other things.
Ensuring the assisting environment for sustainable food systems to thrive will
need system-based approaches that will evaluate the range and complexity of
interactions that predominate in the production, distribution, and consumption
of food. Also crucial is improved system resilience and responsible sourcing if
long-term sustainability is to be ensured.
To supplement the system of food quality checks it is essential to have a
comprehensive legal framework that facilitates the implementation of safety
measures in an integrated manner. Food safety is imperative to achieve
sustainable development therefore it is essential to ensure its assimilation in
policies enacted to improve food security and nutrition levels.
The organisms that house in the soil are responsible for the absorption of
excess nutrients, filtration of chemicals, and detoxification. In the absence of
these organisms, the excess nutrients, the excess nutrients in the soil would
otherwise become pollutants in reaching the groundwater. Maintenance of the soil
structure and the use of agrochemicals can aid with the conservation of soil
biota. This is aiming for improvement at the grass-root level. The compounded
effects of this will thus help in the maintenance of a balanced ecosystem and
assist sustainable growth.
When it comes to the food industry-main focus should be on the manner of
production and processing, if these two steps are taken care of then disposal
will not be that much of an issue. Ensuring sustainable means of production and
Sustainability is a concept that should be all-pervasive and be implemented in
all fields to ensure growth and the realization of all the sustainable
development goals. It is crucial to note that all the 17 SDGs are integrated.
Action or inaction in one is bound to have consequences on others. The
Vellore Citizen Welfare Forum vs Union of India
 was one of the first
cases in which the Supreme Court of India had applied the doctrine of
“sustainable development”. India has come a long way since then.
The nexus between food production, distribution, consumption, and nutritional
health and the underlying social-economic, biophysical and institutional
elements, ultimately affect the quantity, quality, and affordability of food, as
well as health and wellbeing. It is saddening to note that since the adoption of
the sustainable development goals; the issue of chronic malnutrition has
worsened and yet there exists epidemics of obesity. If we do not take war
footing measures at this time to ensure sustainable development, it will ensure
catastrophic ecological consequences.
Achieve coherence between the natural system and agricultural production by man
ensuring efficiency and not paralyzing the capacity of the future generations to
secure their means of nutrition is still possible, provided we join hands in
this collective venture of sustainable development.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Adv.Ishani Vijaykumar Paradkar
- The Global Environment Outlook report on the state of global
- The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate,
- Subhash Kumar v. State of Bihar, 1991 AIR 420, 1991 SCR (1)
- WP 914/1991 (1996.04.26)
Authentication No: JU115410357315-3-0621