An Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Agriculture in India

03 Aug 2023
An Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Agriculture in India Article
Sustainable Agriculture in India is expanding gradually, with crop rotation being the most popular sustainable agriculture practice (SAP). It covers 30 million hectares of land, and around 15 million farmers have adopted it. The other popular SAP in India are agroforestry, rainwater harvesting, and organic farming.

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The concept of sustainable agriculture involves using farming activities that are economically viable and socially responsible. Several types of sustainable agriculture practices in use in India are organic farming, conservation agriculture, and agroforestry. This article aims to provide an informational guide on sustainable agriculture in India, including sustainable agriculture examples and importance.

Understanding Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable farming is an integrated system that emphasises ecological balance, social equity, and economic viability. Sustainable agriculture aims to optimise agricultural productivity while preserving natural resources and ecosystems.

Sustainable agriculture practices promote using renewable resources, minimise chemical inputs, and foster the well-being of farmers and rural communities.

Sustainable Agriculture in India

Sustainable agriculture in India has gained significant attention in recent years. It is a means to address environmental concerns, ensure food security, and enhance farmer livelihoods.

The National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) launch in 2014-15 laid the ground for sustainable agriculture in India. Later in 2015-16, the government of India introduced Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) to promote organic farming to achieve sustainable agriculture.

Additionally, various subsidies, training programs, and research projects seek to encourage sustainable agriculture across the country.

However, the extent of net sown area on which sustainable agriculture practices are implemented still needs to be improved in India.

Extent of Sustainable Agriculture in India

Sustainable agriculture has yet to take root in India, with only a few Sustainable Agricultural Practices (SAPs) being adopted on a wide scale. The most popular SAPs are crop rotation, agroforestry, rainwater harvesting, mulching, and precision farming. All these together cover just over 5% of the net sown area.

  • Less than 5 million (or 4 per cent) Indian farmers have adopted these practices.
  • Crop rotation is India's most widely adopted SAP, covering about 30 million hectares (Mha) of land and benefiting approximately 15 million farmers.
  • Agroforestry, more prevalent among large cultivators, covers 25 Mha of land.
  • Rainwater harvesting has a coverage of 20-27 Mha of land.
  • Organic farming covers only 2.8 Mha of land, just 2 per cent of India's net sown area of 140 Mha.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) has also progressed over the years and now covers 5 Mha of land.

Sustainable Agriculture Practices in India

With a large population dependent on agriculture and a diverse agro-climatic landscape, sustainable practices ensure long-term food security, environmental preservation, and rural livelihoods. Here are some critical sustainable agriculture practices in India:

Organic Farming

Sustainable Agriculture Practices - Organic Farming

  • Organic farming has grown considerably in India, with farmers adopting organic practices to produce chemical-free crops.
  • Organic farming relies on natural inputs such as compost, bio-fertilisers, and biological pest control methods.
  • The use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers is minimised, leading to healthier food products, improved soil fertility, and reduced environmental pollution.

Water Management

Sustainable Agriculture Practices - Water Management

  • Green agriculture emphasises efficient water management techniques such as drip irrigation, precision farming, and rainwater harvesting.
  • These practices help optimise water use, reduce water wastage, and increase crop productivity.
  • The adoption of water-efficient technologies has the potential to mitigate water stress and improve agricultural resilience.


Sustainable Agriculture Practices - Agroforestry

  • Agroforestry is a sustainable land-use system that combines trees with crops or livestock.
  • It is among the top sustainable agriculture methods that offer multiple benefits, such as improved soil fertility, carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, and additional income sources from tree products.
  • Agroforestry systems like alley cropping, agri-silviculture, and windbreaks contribute to sustainable land management and provide ecological and economic advantages.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Sustainable Agriculture Practices - Integrated Pest Management

  • Integrated Pest Management is an eco-friendly pest control method that integrates various strategies, including biological control, cultural practices, and judicious use of pesticides.
  • IPM minimises the use of chemical pesticides, protects beneficial insects, and lowers the risk of pesticide resistance.
  • This approach promotes the balance between pest control and environmental sustainability, leading to healthier ecosystems and safer food production.

Conservation Agriculture

Sustainable Agriculture Practices - Integrated Pest Management

  • Conservation agriculture is one of the leading sustainable methods focusing on maintaining soil health, minimising soil erosion, and optimising water use efficiency.
  • Techniques like minimum tillage, crop residue management, crop rotation, and cover cropping help conserve soil moisture, improve soil structure, and reduce erosion.
  • Conservation agriculture enhances the sustainability of farming systems and contributes to water conservation and climate change mitigation.

Importance of Sustainable Agriculture in India

  • It helps conserve soil health, prevent erosion, reduce water pollution, promote biodiversity, and mitigate climate change.
  • It can improve farmers' incomes by reducing input costs, increasing yields, and accessing premium markets for organic or sustainably produced crops.
  • It contributes to stable and increased agricultural productivity. This, in turn, ensures food security by reducing vulnerability to crop failures and price fluctuations.
  • It promotes healthier food choices for consumers by reducing synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilisers in sustainable agriculture.
  • It contributes to climate change resilience by sequestering carbon in the soil, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing the adaptive capacity of farming systems.

Disadvantages of Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture has several disadvantages. These include,

  • high labour demand,
  • time consumption,
  • limited production potential,
  • high capital cost,
  • the requirement of specialised knowledge,
  • infrastructural limitations,
  • need for close monitoring, and
  • limited adoption.

While sustainable agriculture has a few disadvantages, its benefits outweigh the challenges. Green agriculture practices are crucial in preserving our natural resources and ensuring that we have a resilient and sustainable agricultural sector for the future.


In conclusion, sustainable agriculture practices are crucial for India's future, and policymakers, agricultural institutions, and farmers need to promote and support the adoption of these practices. India can ensure long-term sustainability in agriculture by enhancing soil health, conserving natural resources, and improving yields.

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