FNB News - Illuminating and lucid: Agriculture in its new sheen | FNB News

2022-07-30 09:46:47 By : Ms. Icey Huang

You can get e-magazine links on WhatsApp. Click here TOP NEWS Illuminating and lucid: Agriculture in its new sheen Saturday, 30 July, 2022, 14 : 00 PM [IST] Kashika Malhotra Food security is still a distant dream with a total of 47 countries globally having alarming levels of hunger as per Global Hunger Index 2021. 1. This is further worsened by climate change, prolonged violent conflicts, global undernourishment, and the pandemic. 2. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the increasing global demand and climate change inevitably propose unprecedented challenges on food and agricultural systems. To make matters worse, the modern agriculture globally is handicapped by the scarcity of natural resources.  Conspicuously, an integration of Precision Farming and Digital Innovation must pivot the Modern Agriculture towards sustainable, flexible, need-based, and fundamentally empowered food systems. Hence the need for a robust, home-grown model that could garner wide acceptability and adaptability and ensure a consistent food supply.  Accordingly, Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) system was conceptualised to build a vigorous and nutritious food supply across the globe and to plummet the increased pressure on existing resources. It is an exceptional blend of a modern farmer, a unique environment, modulated light settings and customised composition providing optimal growing conditions for crops and preventing disease and pest damage. 3. How is Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) relevant and significant for India? “India is a key focus for tackling hunger on a global scale”, quoted World Food Programme. “Despite achieving self-sufficiency in grain production and a steady economic growth India’s high level of food insecurity persists.” 4. With 14% of the population undernourished 20% of children underweight and 51.4% of women in reproductive age anemic. 5. Inefficient supply chain in India leads to food wastages amounting to 40% of fruits and vegetables and 30% of cereals of total production, thereby impeding the consumer markets from functioning at a higher equilibrium. This food availability and accessibility must be relooked at as a function of food production. In India, adopting CEA would mean a regenerative paradigm away from conventional practices wherein food production has been contingent on natural resource availability. Under CEA, sunlight is artificially enhanced to augment the growth rate of crops through the process of mimicking outdoor conditions for optimizing indoor crop production. This sustainable indoor urban farming practice is capable of modulating plant signalling responses and ensures controlled optimal growing conditions (such as humidity, temperature), and is similar to Vertical farming and Greenhouses wherein crop growth is managed by combining the hydroponic, aeroponic and aquaponic systems. CEA can be used for setting up an indoor customised plant factory for large scale production, climate chambers for small scale production propagating young plants or researching the effects of light on a crop or, warehouse farm which can be placed in an existing building or warehouse for small-scale city farming production.   The traditional methods for lighting such as fluorescent lamps, high voltage sodium lamps, xenon lamps, etc. that have long prevailed are low on efficiency and efficacy due to under / over utilisation of energy.  This realisation has led to the advent of Light-emitting diodes (LED) lights: a supplement for greenhouses and a saving grace for indoor farming which could be the next big transformation for energy efficiency, waste minimalisation and accelerated growth.   “Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have tremendous potential as supplemental or sole-source lighting systems for crop production both on and off earth. “ These high potential, flexible and revolutionary lights are capable of regulating and customising colours for different spectrums. As per the scientists, the pink LED lights (a.k.a. ‘Pinkhouse’) augments crop growth (by almost 20 percent)   as it is an amalgamation of blue and red coloured (omits other colours), wavelengths which are essential for the crop’s growth. It is also believed that the use of LED lights enhances the quality, taste, aroma, and nutritional value of the crops.  They are also considerably safe as they are devoid of glass envelopes and mercury.   The full spectrum LED Lamps is flexible with customisable settings for light, colour, illumination-schedule, and timelines. As CEA addresses micronutrient deficiencies, is exposed to fewer risks (pest, weather) and is less susceptible to climate variations, it certainly has become the new favourite amongst the proponents of food security for ensuring availability, accessibility, and utility of food at the right place & at the right time; thereby leading to multiple studies and research practices being undertaken at prestigious institutes to acknowledge the effectiveness and efficacy of the proposed system.  A systems modelling approach was designed by Cornell University for investigating comprehensive benefits of CEA over conventional farming to compare the economic and environmental footprint of CEA. The GROW project by Dutch Artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde revealed that certain combinations of blue, red and ultraviolet (UV) light can enhance plant growth and may reduce the use of pesticides by up to 50%.  This study also highlighted the use of LEDs beyond the vertical farms into the rural setting. Another study on ‘effects of artificial lighting’ on bioactivity of sweet red pepper revealed that the bioactive compounds differ slightly, depending on the source of light. Despite the higher costs, these modern farming techniques have shown potential and there is scientific evidence to it.  An estimated growth rate of 20.61% over 2021-2026 of Horticulture Lighting market is a result of innovative and gold-standard practices of US, Israel, Spain, and Netherlands. The first step itself into the modern agricultural practices is progressive and such revolutions are bound to sweep away an old order. Despite the initial scrutiny and skepticism that any framework finds itself embroiled in before it is embedded into the system, these iterations are bound to lead to more research and innovation built on the back of avant-garde intellectuals, enabling infrastructure and finance and policy backdrop. (The author is investment specialist at Agri-Food Sector Invest India)   This page allows you to send the current page to your friend. Your Friends Email ID: Your Email ID: Post Your Comment * Name :     *  Email :       Website :   Comments :           Captcha :  

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