Six years ago, smallholder farming in the state of Karnataka was hardly a viable operation. Rainfall played a significant role in whether they succeeded in growing anything or nothing, whether they made a living or struggled. With no access to irrigation, farmers were confined to growing only one crop cycle, and couldn't risk diversifying to increase their profits. Add to this their limited access to capital, technology and markets and it's no wonder the livelihood of these farming families was so vulnerable. Over 56% of the Karnataka State population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. This figure is even higher at the national level. 60% of India’s population lives off farming and 83% of all farmers are smallholders, farmers who cultivate less than 2 hectares of land. These smallholder farmers are the backbone of agricultural growth; they contribute over 40% of India's grain production, and over half of its fruits, vegetables, oilseed, and other crops.
Consumers, farmers, environment - an impossible triangle?
Here’s what happens when interests collide: The Everglades, 1.5 million acres of wetland in the south of Florida is a mosaic of habitats, a home to diverse species of wildlife and plant life. This rich ecosystem has been under threat since the 1800s. Ever-increasing population growth along with industry and agriculture in the south of Florida has resulted in large metropolitan areas and the consequential rising pressure on the surrounding natural environment. The need for better water management and flood control lead to the construction of canals and levees and the subsequent draining and development of the land. With advances in modern agriculture, the use of synthetic fertilizers has become more prevalent. Runoff from fields into these ditches and canals led to phosphorus enrichment of the soil to such a degree that the ecosystem was compromised drastically, resulting in the loss of native trees and habitats. The “Everglades Forever Act”, passed by the State of Florida in 1992 recognized that the “Everglades ecological system is endangered as a result of adverse changes in water quality, and in the quantity, distribution and timing of flows, and, therefore, must be restored and protected.” Twenty-five years later - the total federal investment in the restoration of the Everglades is estimated to have exceeded $5 billion.