Reconciling biodiversity conservation with agricultural intensification: challenges and opportunities for India
India will surpass China as the world’s most populous country by 2050, with a projected population of 1.67 billion1. Although the rate of population growth has decreased, the total fertility rate of 2.2 will keep India’s population growing for decades2. The challenges posed by such increase in population to India’s food security, already under strain from land and resource scarcity, are enormous. Climate change and extreme weather events are already impacting agricultural production, disproportionately affecting vulnerable sections of society through higher food prices, lost livelihood opportunities, adverse health impacts and displacement. Alongside food security, alleviating malnutrition, particularly among women and children, remains a challenge. The Food Insecurity Report 2014 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome reveals that one in nine persons in the world is chronically undernourished, with a large percentage being in India3. The challenge of ensuring food and nutritional security of its population, while grappling with the impacts of climate change and environmental stresses, is therefore a huge concern for the country.