Global food security will remain a worldwide concern for the next 50 years and beyond. There has been no significant jump in crop yield in many areas stressing the need for higher investments in research and infrastructure, as well as addressing the issue of water scarcity. Climate change is a crucial factor affecting food security in many regions including India. The most important thing one has to keep in mind is that some of the technologies relating to crop production which were found to be innovative and quite relevant in the yesteryears might need refinement in the present context as far as food security is concerned. For example, higher use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides was recommended earlier to attain the higher food grain production. However, after realizing the potential ecological hazards caused by them, we slowly started advocating controlled use of fertilizers and pesticides. The concepts of integrated nutrient management and integrated pest management have attained significance in the context of sustaining soil fertility and environmental protection. However, the realization of crop yields may take longer under these sustainable agricultural technologies. Hence, to ensure food security, the following challenges have to be addressed as discussed here.
In the successive years of green revolution when food security was fulfilled at national level due to stupendous efforts of ICAR, the emphasis of agricultural scientists has been put on implementation of crop diversification. This was advocated to the farmers for two main reasons.
First, the prices of food grains like rice and wheat were not encouraging and farmers ended up with very low net returns even during years of bumper production. By concentrating on other crops like cotton, chilli and sunflower the farmers were encouraged to earn higher profits. Second, the productivity of rice and wheat was poor in some regions like uplands and dry lands due to high moisture stress sensitivity of these crops. Hence by encouraging farmers to diversify to oil seeds and pulse crops and highvalue medicinal plants which require less quantity of irrigation compared to that of field crops, they would certainly get higher profits.
The trend of temporal change in area share of the crops in India revealed that the area under cereals (expressed in percentage of gross cropped area) has been found to be declined from 56.53 in 1991 to 51.74 in 2008 (Table 1).
The more enduring challenge for India would be to sustain food production for ensuring not only adequate quantities, but also to support dietary quality and diversity.