ARAKUNOMICS- Tribal Communities of Araku in India show how Food &Nutrition for all,Profits for Farmers&Collateral Damage to None is Possible
Decentralised organic biodiverse community food systems
Global expertise in Araku region with coffee farmers.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Large NGO (over 50 employees)
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Hyderabad, Telangana State, India
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
3 diverse region- Araku(mountainous tribal forest region),Wardha(rural region infamous for farmer suicides), & New Delhi(metropolitan city)
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Naandi Foundation has been working in over 19 states across India covering 10,000 villages and slums. Apart from programmes pertaining to education for girls and employment for youth, Naandi’s other main focus has been eradication of hunger & malnutrition, school-feeding program and promotion of farm livelihoods. Naandi chose to develop its agriculture and food system vision in 3 strategically diverse regions in India. They are- (i) Araku characterised by extreme poverty, denudation of forest, erosion of soil, high maternal mortality rates, and increasingly eco-fragile region; (ii) the district of Wardha which is part of the Vidarbha region of the state of Maharashtra in central western India. This region has been infamous for one of the highest farmer suicides in India. The hot and arid conditions coupled with scanty rainfall has made this region the epicentre of agrarian distress in India. (iii) New Delhi which is the capital of India and part of the big 4 metros of India, the region like all cities is at the tipping point of a food system crisis. These 3 regions represent the diverse geographical and topographical challenges of a country such as India and that is why we have chosen them.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Vegetation in urban cluster in Delhi.
Urban cluster in Delhi.
Local farm management teams in Wardha, Maharashtra.
Organic farmer ecosystem
Araku– a notified tribal area with a population of 0.6 million tribal or indigenous people living. They are mainly forest dwellers who were introduced to agriculture around India’s independence in the 1940s. When the pressure on forest land and foraging increased, they were forced to adapt to agriculture, mainly shifting cultivation. Till the 80s barter economy prevailed therefore high levels of income poverty existed when Naandi started work in early 2000s. The people of this region were concerned by their depleting wealth i.e. forest and biodiversity. Culturally, they are strong community people with sharing and caring as values they uphold most. Despite comprising of over 35 tribes, these communities have a common value system of sharing & living in harmony with nature. Geographically, it is a mountainous forest area with an average altitude ranging 3000-4000ft. During the last few decades, the region was characterised by loss of biodiversity, rapid erosion of soil and felling of trees. Predominantly an illiterate population, little is known to the outside world about how much these communities are a rich repository of knowledge on food systems, agriculture & forest management.
Wardha- Traditionally a millet and groundnut growing area with rich black soil in the northern part of the Deccan plateau with large basaltic rock formations, over the last two decades became almost wholly mono-cropped with cotton. Temperature range across the year is wide – from a harsh winter to a harsh summer and average rainfall is about 1000 mm. Average landholding size is now about 2hectares. The external pressures (state subsidies & and market forces) had forced this subsistence farming based small farmer communities in this very hot and rain-fed region, to move to farming high yielding crops of cotton, sugarcane, soybean which increased the agricultural input cost and rendered their existing knowledge redundant. This new unsuitable set of agrarian practices resulted in further depletion of soil, income, and morale of the region and its people. Usurious money lenders, spurious ‘agri-experts’ selling pesticides, and middlemen worked in coalition to exploit this farming community. This has been resulting in crop loss, high level of indebtedness, and huge financial loss often pressurising farmers to take the drastic step of committing suicide.
Delhi- Indian cities are characterised by porous boundaries & resultant increase in population due to constant rural to urban migration. Farming communities from neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, & Punjab, migrate in search of livelihoods to Delhi and end up working as menial labourers. Delhi has a population of about 19 million. With one of the highest real estate costs and toxic air quality makes agriculture an unviable in the city. The increasing rural-urban migration in Delhi has been adding to pressure on water, food, sanitation, and overall quality of life. When food prices go up in cities like Delhi, migrant populations and other poor communities are the most effected. The rich can afford expensive imported food resulting in very skewed attention from policy makers to address the food crisis in cities.
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Traditionally in India, agriculture was a culture, a way of life, where people lived in harmony with nature. With the onset of the green revolution in the 1970s, and introduction of minimum support prices for paddy and wheat and high yielding variety of crops, the entire shift of agriculture as a way of life and the idea of local food systems changed into the concept of farming as an economic activity which became very exploitative and profit oriented in nature changing the food system of the country. The agriculture and food system linkages collapsed and instead mono-cropping, especially cash crops such as cotton and sugarcane, replaced food systems itself. This meant that the traditional knowledge and practices became redundant and farmers became de-capacitated with their existing knowledge. Farmers who were entrepreneurs and in-charge of symbiotic food system networks became unskilled wage earners due to lack of knowledge of the new systems emerging. The food system also became dependent on excessive flow of cash increasing the cost of farming hence increasing indebtedness. The farmers in India grow cash crops with high yield for a profit resulting in a reduction of growth of food. The modern mono-crop non-food farming that replaced the biodiverse agricultural practices has resulted in food and livelihoods crisis. The lack of biodiversity in food production is causing masses across the country to follow often low nutrition diet made available through government’s public distribution systems. Just as mono-cropping effected the biomes of the soil, the stomach share and nutritional diversity of food also started disappearing as people have started to depend on cheap fast foods or ‘food coupons’ resulting in an overall lack of nutrition. The depletion of soil, nutrition, and knowledge as well as the inability to handle the vicissitudes of climate change and pest attacks results in a very challenging scenario where farming has become a loss making unsustainable profession.
In future, with dead soil, scarcity of natural resources, and climate change characterised by increasing drought conditions, and unfavourable weather conditions, the input costs for production of food will further increase hence resulting in more expensive and less nutritious food. There is also the threat of non-availability of farmers as the new generation is increasingly moving away from farming as the idea of farming is shifted from entrepreneurship to subsidy dependent population that is entirely surviving on political dispensation. We feel all this put together will lead to a complete cultural, health, and economic collapse.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
The diverse and complex challenges of Indian agriculture can be addressed only in a comprehensive economic framework that addresses soil fertility, seed quality, efficient farm management, biodiversity, and skilled human resources approaching agriculture in an entrepreneurial way.
Increasing soil fertility in a sustained manner requires inoculation of microbial colonies to create organic matter and carbon. This preparation of new layer of top soil that can serve as nutritious food for plants is a critical component of the vision for food systems and agriculture.
Creation of indigenous varieties of seeds, development of plant nurseries, and designing perma-culture like farm management systems curated by global expertise and technology forms the second critical component of our vision.
Aggregating best practices from around the world to create organic bio-fertilizers and optimal pest management techniques reduces input cost and creates greater resilience to climate change. The production of compost and soil with microbial ecosystems around; the development of new strains of germ plasm; and biodiverse portfolio of crop selection based on real time market demand creates conditions favourable for farmers to be immensely profitable. This facilitates an opportunity for farmers to move up the value chain by using the shared infrastructure for grading, sorting, processing, packaging in tribal, rural, and urban areas.
In the tribal region of Araku, the vision has been demonstrated with an additional focus on tree plantation and horticulture in order to reduce the effects of climate change. Today 34,000 acres of forest land has been restored & 23 million trees of 19 different varieties have been planted in the region of Araku. Araku has also shown that with zero involvement of middlemen farmers’ produce can be supplied to not only domestic markets but also niche global markets especially for cash crops like coffee thereby enabling very high profit margins from even small parcels of land. This in turn generates interest in the younger generation to take up farming as a career option. Through this integrate soil to market approach farmers are empowered with convenience, predictability (through technology), profitability and markets. Consumers are empowered with trace-ability, choice and healthy food.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
Tthis vision can be summarized as ‘ABCDEFGH’ approach:
AGRICULTURE, NOT FARMING
Traditionally, agriculture was a culture, a way of life where people lived in harmony with nature. Over time, the world transitioned from agriculture to farming, an economic activity, an input vs output battle focusing heavily on how to get more by putting in less.
BIOLOGY, NOT CHEMISTRY
Till the green revolution in India, the approach to agriculture was based on life science, i.e. biology. At the centre of it was the use of natural elements, activation of biomes & microbes, all of which contributed to the goodness of the soil. It was only when we moved from biology to chemistry did we trigger collapse of natural symbiotic agriculture system.
COMPOST, NOT CHEMICALS
In all three regions we replaced the use of Chemicals with Compost. We also democratized scientific knowledge about organic growing. As a result we not only enhanced produce, but also reversed soil erosion and even climate change.
DECENTRALIZED DECISION MAKING
This means Compost preparation, Bio Fertilizer spraying, pruning, & harvest are all decentralized & executed in a customized manner at the farm level.
ENTREPRENEUR, NOT SUBSISTENCE FARMER
A farmer should function as an entrepreneur and should be able to make profits through quality, value addition, and ownership. He or she should not rely on wage earning or subsistence income through subsidies. Such as approach has been adopted in all our regions of work.
FAMILY, NOT MALE ALPHA FARMER
Farming is sustainable only when it is made a viable option for the next generation.
GLOBAL MARKETS, NOT GOVERNMENT MINIMUM SUPPORT PRICES
Farmers are empowered not only to withstand impact of globalization but also to enter global markets with global expertise and knowledge. Araku coffee farmers get the highest price a coffee farmer gets anywhere in India or the world.
Only when we turn our approach on its head, can we expect to solve India’s agricultural crisis.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Our ‘ABCDEFGH' approach to food and agriculture systems addresses environment, culture, technology, and public policy. The traditional agricultural practices from microbial biomes to biodiversity requires compilation of knowledge of local communities with regard to diverse cropping pattern and equally varied diet and food habits.
1. In Araku, a predominantly mountainous forest region, one can see today how the forests are being reclaimed. This was made possible by creating a win-win economic framework where European companies contributed capital to plant these biodiverse trees and pay for their nurture and upkeep in return for credits for carbon sequestration. Together with the local tribes of Araku, we have created a successful agricultural model which has resulted in an award winning brand called ARAKU Coffee (www.arakucoffee.in; www.arakucoffee.com). Creation of a globally acclaimed retail brand called ARAKU Coffee required a shared value framework that allowed farmers to reap the benefits of the value addition created by grading, processing, roasting, packaging, and retailing without middlemen in niche global markets. This chain of food production and consumption from soil to consumer that we successfully demonstrated in Araku region is what we refer to as ARAKUNOMICS.
In 2050, we envision to move from 35,000 hectares to encompass and cover the entire region of Araku and turn it into a biodiverse climate change resistant reserve. Additionally, a large part of the population in the 7 out of the 11 sub-districts we work in are engaged in our form of agriculture. 40% of them have been able to pull themselves out of poverty solely through agriculture. In the coming years, we will be able to see that the entire farming communities in Araku region will not only emerge out of poverty but also have per capita income that is 3-4 times that of national average. Arakunomics will also represent societies free of hunger and malnutrition, improved health conditions for all, and enriched ecological infrastructure. This will make it conducive for inter-generational transfer of traditional knowledge and practices of agriculture, continuation of harmonious co-existence with nature, and proactive preservation of forests and biodiversity. Arakunomics, the science of doing the well nigh transformation of a region condemned with conflicts, marginalisation and geographic isolation to a haven that attracts people from around the globe to study how climate change can be combated and biodiversity preserved. Over and above the soil and microbial activity in the region, the vision includes reviving not only indigenous varieties of trees and plants, but also bringing back birds, bees, insects, to maintain the sustainable healthy ecosystem which continues to prosper and thrive.
2. Wardha – Wardha represents a global political malice that has further crippled food and agricultural systems in rural agrarian regions of the globe. Punishing weather, desertification of soil, market led thrust on cash crops like cotton, opaque pricing and inability to access markets have created large populations of discontented, angry farming communities. Opportunist politicians have exploited this situation and psyche of the population by resorting to unsustainable subsidies, loan waivers, and other political largesse. This short term approach to food and agriculture has been accentuating poverty, migration, and a growing unrest across the globe. Wardha, in central India, is a microcosm of this global agrarian crisis. Like Araku, Naandi’s approach has been to create agricultural clusters that address composting waste into soil, mechanisation of farm practices, upgradation of skills of farm labourers and market savvy mix of horticulture (pomegranate) and cereals and vegetables have resulted in reversing the trend of indebtedness, loss, and resultant farm suicides. The last few years of our work has shown increase in soil carbon levels and greater resilience of crops to extreme climate conditions and pests resulting in a renewed curiosity, optimism, and interest in agriculture. Our work in Wardha is far recent than in Araku and therefore requires a longer duration and faster expansion to more villages to create a total transformation in the mind-sets of the people and thereby reverse the populist political policies that has been the bane of deepening economic crisis across the globe. Wardha holds our vision of changing the politics of food and agriculture that creates entrepreneurs out of farmers resulting in agriculture becoming the choice of profession for the younger generation.
3. New Delhi – Large cities like Delhi have the potential to be the harbingers of change when it comes to matters of food habits consumption, diet, health, and lifestyle. Not just for the denizens of the city but for an entire nation. Most the populations in rural hinterland, particularly the youth aspire to imitate lives of the people in cities as is characterised by the continuous voting by feet as they migrate from rural regions to cities. Therefore, we felt it imperative to customise our Arakunomics model to a city setting with greater focus on influencing day to day food consumption patterns of the city’s influential population. In New Delhi, we envision to create a system where city dwellers will be shifting from mindless consumption to conscious food consumption and also aspire to become food producers.
The Delhi model is what we call the 100-hectare cluster approach. As of today, one such cluster in west Delhi where a one hectare model farm of our serves as an open agricultural university for 20-40 farmers with an average of 2-5 hectare land holding resulting in an urban food cluster of approximately 100-hectares. In this cluster our model farm not only imparts knowledge but also produces and supplies all the inputs from microbial biome infused soil to seeds, bio-fertilizers, bio-inoculants, specialised teams for farm management and value added direct retail market linkages. This results in high margin profits for the urban farmers in the cluster and this produces local, traceable, nutritious, tasty food at affordable, stable prices for the city consumers.
In 2050, we hope that the focus will shift from food prices to enhancing quality of germ plasm creating genuine seed banks and nurseries of saplings relevant to cultural and climatic conditions. In this framework, we envision use of modern techniques to strengthen germ plasm and facilitate judicious mix of nutrition and income for farmers to work on. This means on the one hand they will grow food for nutrition and health and on the other grow super foods and exotic foods which fetch higher margins for the discerning rich customers. In this way, farmers will be able to not just withstand market forces, but also leverage the market for their own benefit, through technology, knowledge transfer, economies of scale, and sharing of market information. They will move away from the subsidy-loan-waiver-sops paradigm into one of entrepreneurs who are enabled to negotiate on equal terms. Use of technology and scientific approach of measurement and evidence creation will govern the entire food system. Today, rural and tribal India is deeply influenced by urban lifestyles and trends especially in food patterns. By turning cities into food hubs and making food locally available, affordable, and nutritious, we will be able to influence national trends. Our urban replication of the agriculture model will help cities become centres of excellence and the fountainhead for ideas around food and food production which will spread to the rest of the nation. The city peripheries will become food hubs and young professionals will be creating them as centres of excellence with the help of global knowledge and expertise through which they will be able to showcase and inspire rest of India. We will also be able to address the disruption created to food systems due to huge income inequalities in cities between the rich and the poor. The vast majority of poor which do not have the capacity afford food security in the cities will be able to produce and consume the food produced. Additionally, cities are becoming fastest growing centres of lifestyle diseases. We see that in 2050 Indian cities will be healthier with locally cluster produced food.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?
Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.
To develop our Vision for the food system, we planned to have meetings at village level with small holding farmer families, shopkeepers and sellers of agricultural inputs. We reached out to thought leaders, public health practitioners, epicureans, food & soil scientists, nutritionists and agriculture researchers. Over the last few years, we have been in several discussions with many of these stakeholders. For Refinement we decided to revisit those and include our Board members who are business leaders and philanthropists. We contacted people in the food industry, hoteliers and chefs. Within the organisation, the senior management were active participants. We have engaged with media people who focus on food and agriculture, illustrious farmers and colleagues from the corporate world who are in logistics, warehousing and real estate. Technocrats in the IT industry who are working on future solutions were also engaged.
Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).
Naandi Board Members
Anand Mahindra - Chairman, Mahindra Group of Companies
Kris Gopalakrishnan – Co Founder, Infosys Ltd
Rajendra Prasad Maganti – Chairman Soma Enterprise Ltd
Satish Reddy – Chairman, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd
Regina Dass, Professor of Microbiology, Pondicherry University
Kavita Mukhi, Initiator, First Urban Organic Farmers’ Market in India
Sarvdaman Patel, President, Biodynamic Association of India
Kondal Rao, President SAMTFACS - largest organic certified farmer cooperative
Global Thought Leaders
Bernard Giraud, President, Livelihoods Funds
Dele Olojede, Chairman & Founder, Africa in the World,
David Menasce - CEO, Archipel & Co
Sameer Seth - Founder & CEO, Hunger Inc
Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.
The Refinement Phase was announced in early March 2020. Within a week, the world was realising that COVID-19 was acquiring pandemic status and in another week the Indian government announced national lockdown as a measure to control the spread of the virus. The country is still in lockdown, which is scheduled till 31 May 2020. This has meant, as mentioned earlier, that we have not been able to carry out all the different types of stakeholder engagement and consultation initiatives that we had planned. We quickly adapted our plans to the constraints of the situation. The first step was to prepare a primer that captured the main features of our first submission on the vision for a food system. It also laid out what we were set out to do next. We then started making preliminary phone calls to people on our lists, in which we first shared the good news that we had been shortlisted as Semi Finalists for the Food System Vision Prize. And then we requested their time for a couple of conversations over the next few weeks. These phone calls were followed by sending out of our primer. We stayed in touch with our stakeholders and found out when they had read our primer and were ready for the first phone-meeting. The first phone-meeting in all cases went on for close to two hours, with a lot of brainstorming on the proposed vision, new ideas to enrich it, in depth scrutiny of weaknesses etc. With each stakeholder there were several iterations after that first phone call, over phone and email, where they would want to add some new ideas, or further elaborate upon existing ones. We would have about 30 people in this ‘community’ that we refined our vision with, with age ranging from 25 to 75 years and profiles including tribal farmers, restauranteurs, scientists, entrepreneurs, industrialists, academics, award-winning journalists, organic farming activists, heads of agriculture training institutes, farmer market promoters and agriculture project grantmakers.
What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.
Signal – Current food systems create an unbalanced supply of food where certain people and areas have the luxury of abundance while others struggle in scarcity. In the current COVID-19 pandemic data shows that societies with seeming abundant food had same or less resistance to the virus and higher mortality rates. This begs the question - is our food system enabling health and immunity? Or has food been reduced to a calorie metric? We see food playing a much larger role in human health and not just the calorie aspect but nutrient density, immunity and even linkages of the human microbiome to the soil microbiome need to be considered. There are a number of trends in the country, which we draw from to inform our Vision. (1) Naandi’s own large scale surveys (HUNGaMA 2011, Urban HUNGaMA 2014, TAG Survey 2017) and government surveys show that 30-40% children are malnourished. Every second teenage girl is anaemic. Obesity is beginning to emerge as a trend in cities. (2) India is a rapidly urbanising country. Urban food systems, however, are fragile and dependent on long distance logistics. Urban populations are tending to consume only processed and packaged food because it is cheap and convenient. (3) Technology is beginning to play a major role in influencing buying behaviour. Mobile applications that rank food are increasingly popular, eg YUKA in Europe - spectrometers with apps that scan barcodes for food nutrient information. Such trends increase consumer awareness and demand for nutritious, climate-friendly food and this can in turn impact production and supply, which would be beneficial for farmers, who are about70% of the population. (4) The majority of India’s farmers are small holding farmers, who are getting increasingly impoverished due to loss making, debt based agriculture. Farmer suicides are often in the news headlines. (5) Our soil profile analyses in different parts of the country show depleting soil organic carbon, which also indicates low water retention. World Bank reports India as the world’s largest user of groundwater. Overuse of ground water and declining recharge capability is a double edged sword leading to rapid groundwater level depletion. (6) Monocropping with drastic depletion in biodiversity is becoming the norm. (7) Increasing use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and weedicides in agriculture are leading to leaching within farm soils and a negative carbon cycle. Practices like burning of crop residue across 1000s of hectares is destroying air quality to the point of schools having to shut down to protect children from respiratory illness. (8) Changing weather patterns in recent years are leading to extreme conditions such as drought, floods and pest attacks – clear result of climate change.
Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).
Ichemma wakes up before sunrise – normal for those living in this remote forested hilly region of Araku. After sending off her two cows to the nearby community grazing land, she packs some millet gruel, using a mechanised mini mill to pound the millet and flaxseed. As she leaves for their two-acre coffee farm with her husband, Subo, her children have some gruel and guavas, water their homestead garden and leave for school. Ichemma and Subo take a ride on the Farmers Coop electric bus to reach their terroir coffee plot on a hillside, in the midst of food forests their community has created these past decades. About an hour of mulching later they go to the nearby bio-centre to attend a lecture on bush pruning. She meets there her cousin from the next village and as they compare notes about the quantity of compost they used in the kitchen garden, they find themselves reminiscing about their mothers who didn't have the convenience of a mobile app telling them how much compost to use. She looks up at the hot sun and checks the Agriculture Almanac App in her phone – it indicates mulching in the coming weeks to retain soil moisture in preparation for the hot summer. They lunch early on fruit (guava and jamun collected by Subo on his way up) and millet gruel which was fermenting by now. There is the farmer’s Cooperative meeting later today – Ichemma checked her digital bank portal to see if her payment had come in. This year’s coffee profits had been good and with the income expected from black pepper sales they can plan to develop more land for coffee. The children reach home around the same time as Subo. Ichemma is back too from the meeting. She can’t wait to tell the family the good news about the Mahua, Jamun and fruit tree saplings that they will be planting this year. As the sun sets behind the verdant hills, the children tuck their two cows in and join their parents in cooking a wholly home-grown dinner of hill rice, lentils vegetables and fruit.
Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?
Climate change manifests itself at multiple levels, be it disastrous floods or droughts, season changes or untimely rain patterns. Our food systems are affected by all these levels of climate change. While designing the proposed food system, we have considered both resilience to withstand climate change risks as well as addressing the root cause of such risks. The highest priority is to ensure that societies have a robust and regular supply of food and no one goes hungry. For this, each layer of the food system is built with redundancy and disaster recovery options.
The production side of our envisioned food system has 2 key components - decentralized self-sufficient clusters and interlinking of these clusters to form a supply grid. in case of a major natural disaster like a flood in which some production clusters are rendered non-functional, the grid takes over and continues to supply to consumers in the affected region. In case a region gets isolated, like during the COVID-19 lockdown, these clusters are self-sufficient and able to continue as single entities and support the local people. Each consumption region is supported by storage units meant as a food security back-up, which come into play in times of crisis. Equally critical is the need to ensure that the farms themselves – crops, soil – are climate resilient. This is done with the help of the ReGenerative agriculture framework, which covers farm design, farm management practices and weather prediction technologies.
Regenerative agriculture focuses on bringing back life to the soil below the ground. The creation of a new topsoil, which fortifies the rhizosphere, is the central axis. It creates a positive soil microbiome that leads to an efficient biology oriented nutrient cycle for the plants (Rhizophagy cycle). The soil microbiome and symbiotic nutrient web also helps create disease suppressant soils and bring in water efficiency that helps with climate resilience. Thus even in drought conditions, when water is scarce, plants are able to avail of required nutrients from the soil at a much better rate than in a soluble chemical nutrient supply system. In addition, the deeper root formation of these plants enables them to withstand storms better without getting dislodged easily.
Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) is the physical index of the soil’s capacity to support microbial life and water-holding capabilities. Regenerative practices increase SOC and with every 1% increase of SOC, 25,000 gallons of water can be stored in an acre of land. This is critical for plant use and ground water percolation.
Farm design plays a critical role in climate management. ReGenerative Agriculture prevents soil erosion by design. The Green Revolution in India in the 1970s had resulted in regions like Punjab Haryana growing only paddy and wheat with zero trees for hundreds of kilometres. This made the farms very vulnerable to climate change. checking soil erosion is very critical vaccine to withstand the adverse effects of climate change. Extensive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides as well as monocropping without enough trees and soil bunding leads to depletion of minerals, nutrition ,and topsoil through rapid erosion accentuated often during rains/monsoons.
Planting border trees in a particular direction so that they serve as windbreakers, mounding to protect plant roots from water logging, use of cover crops (eg coriander sown between rows of pomegranate trees) to protect the top soil from the hot sun all these design features help to withstand soil and farm degradation.
In our Vision, the packaging industry will be ‘green’ and biodegradable material for packaging will be less expensive yet more efficient, safe and environment friendly. This along with storage options that are less energy consuming and green energy oriented will help reduce carbon footprint. Our vision will ensure that we have minimum carbon footprint and our post-harvest processes will be green and biodegradable.
The above methods of risk mitigation are basic non negotiables. The core design of our vision is not risk mitigation but climate change reversal. ReGenerative agriculture leads to carbon positive farms and carbon sequestration. Sustainable waste management, zero crop residue burning, reducing methane leaching and ammonia volatilization, regenerative soils, regenerating water tables, planting trees to protect top soil, creating micro climates, biodiversity areas, low transportation – are all features of our vision for the food system.
Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?
The EAT-Lancet findings* from a panel of 37 dietary experts has introduced a planetary diet they consider optimal for people and planet. Such evidence-based findings are getting clearer on broad guidelines for a diet that can, if followed, banish malnutrition in all its forms. To ensure a malnutrition free population the three foodspheres in our Vision, there are four critical factors to address. Firstly, the good quality and sufficient quantity and quality of that, produced without ecological damage. Secondly, the social and cultural organisation must be equitable so that there is no longer disparity in food access. Thirdly, distribution and exchange within the food system needs to be carbon-mile efficient . And lastly, the population needs to be informed on food and nutrition and be empowered towards making healthy choices beyond mere gratification. Food, good food, needs to be understood as the first level of health care.
Our food production system is based on ReGenerative agriculture. Malnourishment is addressed at its very root – at the soil level, through carbon rich compost amendments. By regenerating disease suppressant soils, we will ensure that agriculture produce is high in quality and sufficient in yield, with minimal environmental damage. It will be a decentralised web of terroir based production clusters with farmer families co-creating according to their soil and climatic conditions. This is the base of a food system pyramid from which systemic malnutrition will be addressed.
Our decentralised ReGenerative Agricultural Clusters (RAC) are always in proximity to regional customers and the first priority of access is to them. Everyone will have the right to assess quality of the food by using a universally accepted food nutrient index. In Araku the farming community first assures it grows sufficient diverse food for its needs with the balance made available in a widening food cluster at prices based on scores of the food nutrient index. The foods produced locally are not alienated into a centralised pooling system which could be thousands of miles away and not suited to the terroir and tastes of the destination consumers. Instead, the food will satisfy first nutritional needs in the immediate region and then to the broader food web. In rural Wardha again diverse local food crops will provide evidence based nutrition with a stomach share primarily plant based as per the cultural norms. In peri-urban Delhi the decentralised RACs will focus on vegetables and starches that are nutrient rich and designed to boost the immune system as per the food nutrient index. Because the production system is regenerative without dependence on external inputs, the foods will be affordable and available to all sections of society.
Critical to banishing all manner of malnutrition both of the deprived and the rich is the importance of an informed population. Our food system envisions an evidence based food nutrient spectrometer designed around a universally accepted food nutrient index. This index will embrace all parameters of food and ecological health for the two are intimately connected. Each food will have a rating on caloro-nutrients and carbon-mileage efficiency and by 2050 the population by systematic public awareness programmes will educate all sections of society on the criticality of food as the primary health care provider.
What will be scaled up in the next thirty years will be production within the ReGenerative agricultural model of fruits and vegetables. It is clear from the EAT-Lancet findings that these items are a crucial element in stomach share. Anticipating this demand will be critical to managing malnutrition.
Our agricultural model ensures we minimise the inefficiency of diverting crop lands to feeding animals. In our food system maximum effort will be to produce those plant based foods that score highest in the nutrient density and the carbo/water efficiency index with culturally and seasonally appropriate diets in all our 3 foodspheres. Malnutrition in all its manifestations is a reflection of false habits of life and a disorganised inequitable socio-economic system. Our Vision addresses these concerns and allows for the rational development of healthy, immunologically robust diets for all in 2050.
Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?
In most parts of the world food systems and agriculture are becoming large scale and centralised. Single farms covering thousands of hectares are commonly found.These farms are highly mechanized with fewer and fewer people being employed.
The majority of India’s population is in agriculture, and an overwhelming majority of this is the small holding farmer, with about 1 hectare of land. The trend towards large, centralized, mechanized farms is evident in India too, with the small farmer being forced to lease out his land and work as an underpaid wage worker. The women, who do the most menial, labour intensive and time-taking work, are paid the least. When machines come in, the women are the first to lose their livelihoods.
Our Vision for 2050 has the small holding farmer at the centre. Profit for the small holding farmer is the focus. They will come together as collectives or cooperatives to leverage economies of scale, but their land will not be consolidated or corporatized into giant farms. The small farmer economy will be supplemented, not supplanted. Being a farmer-entrepreneur will be aspirational. There will be policies to encourage the landless to take land on lease and become profit making farmers. Farmers will be empowered by the increase in the value of their resources and assets – the soil, the ground water, the crops, the residue. They will be active entrepreneurs, having a stake at every stage in the supply chain, highly motivated to make it better. Fair practices will govern the entire chain of food production and supply. No hoarding, no usurious moneylending and holding the small farmer at ransom, no forced or distress sales.
Those who do not become farmers will provide their services at farms at fair wages. Strong policies will be in place to ensure payment of living wages. They will become skilled farm technicians, doing higher value work and getting paid better. At the Regenerative Agriculture Clusters (RAC) untrained wage labourers are skilled and provided with equipment & tools. They form the team that offers farm level services to network farmers. The efficiency brought in by their skills and tools, translate into reduced cost of cultivation and increase in yields. This is a win-win situation – while the farmer gains from better food and better prices on the one hand, the farm services teams earn a livelihood. In our projects we refer to this teams as the S.A.F.E teams – Skilled Agri Field Executives. In addition to the money they make, these teams also benefit from a sense of dignity and self-esteem which comes from an improved status in society.
RACs also employ people at the hub for operation of machinery, monitoring, post-harvest value addition and more. The RAC is an opensource framework that can be replicated by local entrepreneurs. With the right tools and equipment, the work becomes more about skill and income earning opportunities are equal for women and men alike. With logistics including direct to home deliveries, a large amount of employment will be generated at multiple levels within the logistics chain. A broad array of skillsets would be required for these activities. As technology will play a key role, there will be demand and opportunities for developers and technology specialists, again a completely gender neutral space.
In our Vision, the entire farmer family will manage agriculture like a family business. All members of the family will have a role to play based on their skills and strengths. Women will be integral part of food production and sale. Naandi has successfully established this family business approach amongst tribal farmer families in Araku. Women and men are equally proficient in farm management, quality control of the produce, negotiations with sellers, managing the cash income etc.
India is a large and diverse country; most farmers have small landholdings and are custodians of wisdom and knowledge that has come down through generations. Bringing small holding famers together through a cluster approach, where farms remain small, but income, wages and profits keep coming in, is the validation of our PQR framework.
Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?
The tradition of food being at the centre of community life, an age-old tradition in India, will come back and be the anchor of our food system of 2050. Indian people have been mostly rural till very recently, and agriculture was the predominant occupation. So agriculture events and seasons – sowing, harvesting, end of winter, onset of monsoons – have always been marked with festivals and celebrations. Elaborate feasts would be integral part of celebrations, and the food would be seasonal and local, ie, whatever was growing in that season, in that locality, was served in the feasts. So festivals at different times of the year had different kinds of feasts. Due to the tremendous diversity in crops that were grown, the feasts were so elaborate.
These practices have all but disappeared over the past few decades because of the growing distance between human beings and the source of food – physically as well as in terms of mindset. Rapid urbanization, shrinking time for cooking, aspiration for modern industrialised life of packaged food that can be stored for a long time, encouraged and promoted indiscriminately by multinational food corporations has resulted in disregard and neglect of the traditional community bonds around food. What a family will eat is not decided by what time of the year it is, or which part of the country they live in. It is decided by how much money they have. If they are rich they will get food from outside, even though it may be out of season and totally alien to where they live.
In our Vision for 2050, the community bonds around food and agriculture would be revived. The distance between the consumer and the producer of food will be minimal. They will be mindful of the journey of food and the future of their food security. This will bring back respect for the interconnectedness between food and community culture.
The centrality of agriculture in all festivals, celebrations and cultural events will be restored. Local and seasonal will be the ‘theme’. No festival will be celebrated with food that has been imported from outside. Seasonal recipes will be revived, the search for local ingredients will be important. Celebrations and get-togethers will be scheduled in alignment with agricutlure cycles. An example of this can be seen in Naandi’s project in Araku. The annual Gems of Araku festival, where cuppers come from all over the world to assess and rank the coffee produce, is always held at the same time, after coffee harvest.
Sharing, caring, protecting, nurturing – all these formed the spiritual strength of our societies. When Naandi team first started working in Araku, it was struck by the lack of fences and boundary walls between homesteads and farms. They didn't see the need for them. Families would save seeds for the next sowing season, and exchange between each other. It was commonplace to follow different traditions in different parts of the country, of not eating certain things during certain seasons or days. Deep within these traditions were the concern for conservation, for maintaining the natural balance. This spiritual foundation will be restored in our Vision for 2050. Every time a person, even a child, puts food to her mouth, there will be a silent salute to nature and to earth. This deep connection with nature, this recognition that we are all one, will form the strong foundation of our society.
In our Vision, we see a culture of accountability and trust between the producers and consumers, in which they will ‘meet the gaze’ of each other, to paraphrase Michael Pollan.There will be a culture of gratitude - for the sustenance derived from food, for the farmer who grew the food. Food is sacred, the giver of life. Nothing in the food chain can be wasted. Societies will be keenly aware of the value of every element of the food chain and the role it plays. They will be proactive in preventing wastage. Utilising organic waste matter towards making agri inputs will become second nature. The ideal scenario would be for the consumer to experience the growing of food. To quote Wendell Berry - “Only by growing some food for yourself can you become acquainted with the beautiful energy cycle that revolves from soil to seed to flower to fruit to food to offal to decay, and around again.” Growing food will be an integral part of school curriculum, with children doing cultivation in a small plot in the school campus throughout their schooling years. This will be as much a part of schooling as playing sports in the school playground is. They will read in their textbooks about the direct link between nutritious food and good health. They will be continuously learning not only to appreciate the taste and nutritive aspects of food, but also to respect its environmental footprint. These children will grow up into adults who will make conscious choices in favour of fresh, flavourful and nutritious food.
Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?
The industrial approach has largely been to use technology to kill an existing system and replace it with a new one. It has been an extractive mining activity, terminal in orientation.
Our food system will use technology to observe and learn at each level - farm (rhizosphere, nutrient cycles, soil, pests and other life forms), harvest and post-harvest (logistic optimization, consumer demand) and environment.
The world of microorganisms is still mostly unknown to human society, as the current COVID-19 pandemic has shown us. In the coming 30 years, the human race’s understanding of natural mechanisms and interplay of nature itself within its visible and invisible life forms like microbes, biomes will reach a completely different paradigm – as a result of the continuing high-speed DNA sequencing research. This new visibility into the world of microbes and the critical role played by them in human health is just in it infant stage. The exploration expanded from Human Microbiome Projects to broader topics that came in the form of the Earth Microbiome project and now focuses on Plant & Soil microbiome. We strongly feel that this field of science and research will grow rapidly to give us a fascinating understanding of nutrient cycles and linkages between agriculture and human health. Documented research in this field will further enable policy changes and quicker adoption of the ReGenerative model of agriculture. It would also be essential to translate this understanding into practical everyday usages.
From a consumer perspective - change in buying behavior would be caused by mobile applications or handheld devices that help differentiate between one food product and another. There are already applications like YUKA (yuka.io/en/) which are influencing buying behaviours. Similarly, the potential of a hand held spectrometer that can provide real-time nutrient density of each produce could enable consumers to take better (informed decisions. Technology can also play a critical role in providing a deeper insight into traceability aspects of the produce. All these will empower consumers and influence their preferences. Changes in consumer demand will influence how production of food is planned. Technology will thus link consumers to the agriculture process in a way never seen before.
A key area where data analytics and artificial intelligence would contribute is planning & forecasting. Accurate demand forecasting would enable efficient planning at the supply end. Since our food system envisioned for 2050 has a production model that is cluster based, crop planning can be done at the cluster level and the farm level planting planned to align with the forecasted demand. This would additionally help us realise the objective of zero waste. Technology based weather prediction is already getting more accurate and duration of prediction is longer. This will become even further refined in the coming 30 years – and will play a critical role in crop planning and scheduling of farm management activities.
Logistics. Technology would front-end logistics optimization. As agricultural produce is largely perishable, it would be important to ensure this optimization in the supply chain from the farm to the consumers. Existing technologies in logistics are mature to handle most of the current requirements, however this field is developing and new forms of transportations like drones could evolve as a norm. This could bring in better traceability and enable new engagement ideas like remote foraging.
Farm level. Most research, development and equipment developed in the agriculture space has been focused at large farms and chemical oriented agriculture. The majority of India’s farmers have small landholdings and currently there is limited research and equipment developed for small farmers. In our Vision, technology will help the small farmer efficiency and reduction in cost of cultivation in the practice of ReGenerative agriculture. Precision farming methods can also address issues like scarcity of water, by optimum usage. Economies of scale will be achieved by clustering small farmers and providing farm services through skilled members with expertise of equipment usage.
Environment sensors. With Internet of Things evolving a closer real time measure of the soil, air and water can be monitored, with automated alarms when levels go above a threshold. Also farmers and farms that are more environment friendly and enable climate reversal can be rewarded based on actual measurements. This data would be available to consumers too, hence enabling them with better clarity on the impact of the food they purchase.
It is not that all these technology developments are essential for the designed food system to work, however these potential advancement of technologies have been considered in the design, so that the system is built for continuous optimization.
Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?
The cornerstone of all policies in our Vision for 2050 will be the deep conviction that food is a universal right and that all human beings should be able to access and afford good food. Good food is that which gives nutrition, immunity, energy with minimal environmental damage.
For the three cardinal principles of terroir, ReGenerative agriculture and shared value to play out in our vision, policy will play a very central role.
Fiscal incentives – By 2050, a number of reforms would have taken place around issues such as rationale for crops selected for Minimum Support Price, farmer-market linkages, incentives for moving ReGenerative Agriculture. farmers to regenerative agriculture. The current scenario of tax payers money being used to subsidise fertilizer companies so that they can sell their goods at cheap rates, will be reversed. There will be scientific measurement of farmers’ contribution to making agriculture carbon positive, and related incentives. Such policy nudges will change behaviour. For example, when drip irrigation was offered at subsidised rates, large number of farmers adopted it; when aqua culture was incentivised there was mass movement towards aqua farms, killing mangrove forests. The power of financial incentives from government is already proven.
Statutory regulations around labelling so that more transparency is brought in – about the condition of the farmer, impact on environment, material used for packaging and so on will go a long way in influencing consumer behaviour and connecting farmers with consumers.
Reforms in land and labour laws – policies around leasing of land, clear definitions for different kinds of land and regulations around their usage - agricultural land, forest land and e, , rural rainfed and non-rain fed land – will be features of our Vision for 2050. There will be deep awareness of the interconnectedness between agriculture, ecology, environment and human society. Policy makers will see the logical need for labour reform – be it minimum wages, working conditions, gender balance or eradication of child labour
For example, policies will encourage cultivation of food crops as per terroir and prevent long distance food transportation. Farmers whose produce scores high on the nutrition index will receive immediate incentives. Similarly, suppliers who go the extra mile to reduce waste and minimize environmental damage will be incentivized. Policies will work against centralized profit making, cartelisation and monopolies.
Education policies will ensure that children grow up being cognizant of the interconnectedness of ecology and food. School curriculum will have a strong focus on nutrition and health, and children will learn about the journey of food – from the soil to their plate. This will give rise to subsequent generations of people who have a deep understanding of what is good food. Advertising of ultra-processed food will be prohibited as will sale of ultra-processed food around schools, colleges, parks and playgrounds.
Our close to two decades’ experience of policy work gives us confidence that all this will be possible to achieve. Based on insights gained while serving 1million school midday meals every day for 10 years, Naandi decided to work on influencing policy to reverse child malnutrition. The first people’s survey of child nutrition status in India, the HUNGaMA Survey (Hunger and Malnutrition Survey), conducted by Naandi in 2011 measured over 100,000 children brought the issue into the headlines and this brought about substantial policy changes.
We envision policy and economic ‘nudges’ from global platforms too. Like we have the UNFCCC - the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – today, in 2050 we will have a vibrant UNFCFS – United Nations Framework Convention on Food Systems. This will be an international treaty ratified by all countries of the world and will lay out principles and strategies to be followed for ensuring universal right to nutritious, immunity-enhancing, zero-carbon-footprint food.
Just like business and national leaders across the world look forward to the World Economic Forum at Davos every year, in the year 2050 there will be the WFF to look forward to - the World Food Forum (WFF) to "engage the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas" around food and food systems. The annual World Food Report will be launched here - to highlight best practices and achievements in the world of food systems.
Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.
As technology in healthcare evolves, we get better visibility and hence better understanding of the role of food in human health. This awareness starts to influence dietary changes. Also, as the environment regenerates, we see that soils have stronger microbiomes and nutrient cycles that translate to more nutrient dense plants. This produce carries more flavours, which is important because taste plays a critical role in dietary habits. Influenced by awareness and taste, dietary habits change, buying habits change, causing a spike in demand and wheels of the economy move to meet this demand. Farming thus is influenced by market forces and practices at the farm are influenced by consumer behavior. And this is when policies play an important catalyzing role, giving momentum for the system to scale. These thrusts are required at specific times to enable the system to booster into the next level of scale and efficiency. All this is wrapped together by the culture of the society that influences the other 5 parameters and hence unique to each region and requires customization.
Consumers will be empowered with tools to help them make good food choices. They will know how the food was produced, its nutrient benefits, traceability, environment impact etc. Technology both at the front end and accurate data capturing at the backend, including use of sensors will be used for this. We aim to make healthy food affordable to all, this would need the entire chain to be optimized including reduction of wastages.
Profit for the farmer is a priority area in our Vision and needs to be seen not just at a per crop cycle level, but also at the level of net asset value of the farm, which includes health of the soil and ground water levels. Profits need to grow year on year. We therefore follow the ReGenerative agriculture methodology. This idea of profitability can be extended to the national level too, where benchmark parameters such as GDP take into account environmental factors, like the amount of carbon sequestrated, soil health, the quality & increase in ground water and the quality of air.
For a society to function at its full potential, it needs to be under minimal stress and at the prime of its health and abilities. Human beings as a biological entities need specific conditions from the environment to thrive. Practices that destroy these conditions are self-destructive to social existence. None of the other 5 pillars can exist if the society itself is destroyed. Environment plays a critical role in the design of our food system and woven into the success of all the other themes.
Policy is a catalyst that can accelerate and guide. For this food system to have an accelerated growth, enabler policies are required across the 5 themes.
All the above themes will be affected by the culture of the society and would need to be customized for each region and society. Our food system is designed to respect that culture and align itself to the requirements of that society.
Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.
The design of the food system is such that there is a symbiotic relationship between all six themes, where one supports the other within the framework of a common goal and focus. However, there are certain areas where there could be conflict if not considered carefully Calling out potential areas of conflict is an important part of the process of building a vision. In today’s system people prefer convenience. Therefore while designing a system, the degree of convenience needs to be assessed. From a customer’s perspective convenience would be availability on demand, ease of purchase, ease of getting information about the product and more. For farmers to adopt this system, they would also look for convenience with respect to inputs needed, knowledge required, access to markets, community support and more. Our food system has been designed to provide this convenience to ensure that adoption is quicker and hence scales quickly. To achieve convenience, technology and equipment are used, both of which could have a conflicting impact on the environment. The carbon foot print through digital technology, physical equipment and logistics can be detrimental to the environment. It was thus important to strike the right balance between the two and create a food system which was environment positive. A few elements that have been considered in the food system for this are as follows: a) Reducing food miles. In our Vision we work within the framework of ReGenerative agriculture clusters (RAC) close to consumption demand. Hence food travels less. b)These RACs are decentralized and self-sufficient using local raw material to make farm inputs which are then given back to local farmers. This ensures least carbon footprint. Since local biomass is used, it prevents existing practices of burning and environmentally harmful disposal. c) Vehicles used will run on green energy. In our project in Chennai a few years ago, we collected cafeteria food waste within a large technology park, the Mahindra World City, that had a daily footfall of around 100,000 people. More than 4 tons of food waste was received each day, which was sent through a couple of bio-digesters and the output gas was refined and converted to bio-fuel. A part of it would be used to run generators for electricity. Two tractors and two buses were converted to run on this bio-fuel. Tractors helped with collection of the food waste and garden waste (used for composting) and the buses transported employees of the technology park. Our food vision will have many similar examples of green energy generation from local waste and green energy utilisation to serve the same population. d) The ReGenerative agriculture methodology helps with carbon sequestration and is environment positive. The objective of the food system is hence to be environment positive while balancing the convenience aspect and not having a negative trade off.
3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?
This will be the ‘Establish’ phase, where we focus on strengthening the foundation work for our Vision. The objective is to create awareness and acceptance of the model nationally among consumers, farmers, academics and policy makers. (a) Data driven awareness creation & policy influence – Conduct a national level survey on the nutrient-density of food. Using accepted sampling models, vegetables/produce from various markets in India would be tested to calculate nutrient benefits. Through widespread dissemination activities, this study would be used to trigger conversation on food as the first layer of health care. Establishment of a Food and Soil Research Lab to conduct studies on nutrient qualities of food and impact of regenerative agriculture. This will lab will also provide quality testing and certification services. Research published will be the basis of policy work. (b) Scale the food system model across the 3 Places - In the tribal foodsphere of Araku the ongoing carbon & agroforestry projects will expand to 2000 more hectares, continuing to champion millets, turmeric, ginger and fruits. The global coffee brand will grow, with expansion of regenerative coffee plantations to 6000 more hectares. And functional forests will grow with 15 million new trees added to the 23 million already planted. In rural Wardha, the number of RACs will go up to 3, with 2000 more small holding farmers converting to ReGenerative agriculture. The urban foodsphere in Delhi will expand to include one more RAC and the model will be taken to at least three more metro cities. (c) Technology backbone - Develop an ERP system for RACs, which will include crop planning, farm activity calendars, input production and distribution, farm services, raw material handling, procurement, traceability, etc. Farmers in a RAC will have a mobile application as an interface. Deploy more apps to optimize logistics and to engage consumers through direct interface.
10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?
By 2030, we will have moved into the ‘Expansion’ phase.
Mainstream knowledge dissemination and policy channels - The philosophies of this food system would have come into mainstream knowledge. For example – school curriculum will include chapters on link between health, food and agriculture; agriculture university curriculum will include the food system, medical colleges will focus on food and agriculture as first rung of health care. A few examples of policy changes – ReGenerative Agriculture practices will be incentivised by government;
health and agriculture ministries will work in close coordination; there will be penalties for agriculture practices that are harmful to environment. Geographical expansion – our tribal food sphere will extend to three other tribal regions of India. The rural foodsphere will be operational in 5 states of India and the urban foodsphere will be fully functional in at least 8 cities. Technology & Food system Grid – we will be using high end technology including artificial intelligence to optimize seamless functioning across multiple interconnected clusters that form the National Food System Grid
If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?
Our vision for the Food System in 2050 envisages a world in which there will be abundance of nutritious food available to all, round the year, with no damage to the environment. A healthy society and a healthy planet would be the manifestation of this vision. If we win this prize, we would like to use the prize money in two areas, both of which are critical to accelerating our work towards the vision – (a) evidence based advocacy for policy change and (b) strengthening the technology backbone.
We will conduct a national level survey on the nutrient-density of widely available food items. Using accepted sampling models, vegetables/produce from various markets in India would be tested to calculate nutrient benefits. Widespread dissemination of the results of this survey will help trigger the conversation on food as the first layer of health care. Secondly, we will develop an ERP system for the ReGenerative Agriculture Clusters (RACs), which lie at the heart of our vision for the future food system. This ERP system will include crop planning, farm activity calendars, input production and distribution, farm services, raw material handling, procurement, traceability, etc. Farmers in a RAC will have a mobile application as an interface
If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?
In 2050 we will have a food system that celebrates human health, that would be locally self-sufficient yet globally supportive. It will carry an attitude of enhancing the balance between human life and the environment, rather than being a competitive struggle for survival. It would be driven by science that integrates biology, physics & chemistry, mirroring nature to create a harmonious loop of progression. Its design would ensure resilience and robustness to withstand shocks and create local societies that are less vulnerable and globally united for a fortified existence. Each building block or stakeholder in this system will add value and receive adequate returns. Policies would focus on incentivising these priorities.
In our vision for 2050, no one would be anxious about food nourishment or food security. The PQR framework – Profit for farmers, Quality food and ReGenerative agriculture – will be the bedrock of this food system. Availability of healthy food in abundance, around the year, to all, will be the crowning characteristic of this food system.
Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.
Arakunomics: Decentralized Regenerative Food System
A resilient food grid that addresses the national need for nutrition, livelihood and ecology. Driven by shared value, terroir and regenerative agriculture - foodspheres are developed for the 3 unique demographics in India – Urban, Rural and Tribal. These geographical foodspheres are self-sufficient with in-built Regenerative Agriculture Clusters (RACs) yet integrated to form a robust national food grid.