‘India suffering from the problem of hidden hunger’

Parwinder Singh Grewal, an alumnus of Punjab Agricultural University and now professor and director, Department of Entomology, The Ohio State University, US, feels "India is currently suffering from the problem of hidden hunger".

"We have made it a habit to extract all the parts of a plant for our use. We must understand that a part of it needs to go back to the soil. We can take the fruit but other parts like stem, leaves need to go back. Due to this habit, the food currently being produced lacks nutrients because soil lacks nutrients. It is not only affecting soil health but also the human health which we call 'hidden hunger'."

"We are getting food but not nutrients. Punjab agriculture is currently the most extractive agriculture where we are using the natural resources at such a rapid speed that we are not thinking of returning them at all. We must understand that we can't take one-way train," he said, when asked about the problems being faced by agriculture right now.

On how this trend can be changed, Grewal said, "The only way out is to change the mindset. It holds the key. Farmers need to be taught to use minimum technology like reducing tillage which will lead to less run-off of micro nutrients from soil. We try to suffocate macro-nutrients by supplying nitrogen in soil but what about small micro-organisms which come naturally only."

Asked why the returns of US farmers were better than Indian ones, he said, "In India we have more farmers but small farm sizes. In the US, farmers are few but with large size farms. Large size farms help in technology-oriented farming and also in the US a farmer at the most takes one or two crops but in India a farmer takes two-three crops simultaneously. Indian farmers forget that input cost too matters."

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