Sustainable Development Imperative for Meeting Future Food Needs

By Khan, Rao Abdul Rauf | Economic Review, November 1990 | Go to article overview

Sustainable Development Imperative for Meeting Future Food Needs


Khan, Rao Abdul Rauf, Economic Review


Sustainable Development Imperative for Meeting Future Food Needs

INTRODUCTION

Economic growth must be viewed as a process which makes growth sustainable overtime must be conserved. In agrarian society, this principle of husbandry of natural resources to sustain production was basic to survival. This is essential as adoption of strategy for attaining balanced growth in South Asian countries, of which Pakistan, is no exception proved less effective. For this, there is a need for envisaging strategy on South Korea pattern in laying emphasis on establishing highly export-oriented industries and growing of highly value added crops attaining sustainable development. In the modern age, however, technology widened the margin of safety between production and survival. As a consequence, the husbanding of natural resources tends to become delinked from and external to the processes of industrial and agricultural production. The world population is projected to double and most of the increased people will face ecologically fragile lands in developing countries. Sustainable development in its broad aspects requires collective action to resolve debt problems, strengthen international financial stability, redirect resources away from wasteful armaments and generally, re-establish conditions for expanding trade and global economic growth.

What is Sustainable Development?

Sustainable development is about being fair to the future. It is about leaving the next generation a similar, or better, resource endowment than that which we inherited. Resources enable us to achieve society's goals, the maximum well-being of the population combined with special concern for the most disadvantaged, the poor, the sick, the infirm. But, any generation can increase its well being at the expense of the future by plundering resources now, by rapidly depleting exhaustible resources such as coal, copper, silver, oil and gas by removing more than the sustainable yield of renewable resources such as arable land using to its maximum productive use. Using of land, livestock and fish resources to its maximum and by disposing of wastes to receiving environments in amounts greater than those environments can assimilate. Being fair to the future means behaving sustainable. It means taking only the sustainable yield from renewable resources and honouring the environment's limited capability for receiving waste. It means using exhaustible resources wisely so that, as they are depleted, the profits from their use are reinvested in technology and other forms of capital wealth on productive avenues.

In Pakistan and India, the use of high yielding varieties has been successful for both wheat and rice. The potential for irrigation is still large. In Pakistan, the irrigated area of 16 million hectare could be doubled by exploiting underground and surface water judiciously. As against this, in India, the irrigated area of 35 million hectare could be doubled and that of Bangladesh, of 1 million hectare could be quadrupled through small irrigation works and major flood control schemes. Further, the financial and technical constraints do not allow to implement such prospective plan. Package programmes combining water management, chemical fertilizer, viable seed and pest control in 1960 accounted for improved agricultural performance in the three countries. The existing tempo could not be continued because of not accelerating research and adequate supply of improved inputs and other development ingredients suiting to local conditions.

Emerging Government Objective

An emerging among governments objective has been food self-sufficiency, viewed in terms of reducing foodgrain inputs, rather than one of producing food under conditions that provide everyone with the ability to consume its adequate quantities. Government intervention to achieve this objective may be according to three categories: (i) public investment in agricultural infrastructure and supportive system; (ii) modification of the economic environment through incentives and detergents, usually price, tax, trade policies and direct interaction of redistributed assets. …

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