Sustainability of Agriculture: exploring the labour and livelihood dimensions
Sustainability of agriculture or agricultural practices can only be defined with respect to specific contexts. In reference to well-being of the living labour in question, for this paper a practice is deemed to be sustainable when it can ensure adequate Calorie intake for
the living labour. Alternately, sustainability of agriculture has been defined in terms of whether the farm household in question is able to yield an energy surplus, when its members and the animals in its possession are obtaining an adequate Calorie intake.
For evaluating 590 households engaged in 3432 plot season crop combinations in the State of West Bengal, India, four alternative and stricter scales of sustainability had been proposed, defined, and applied. Such an evaluation was carried with the method of energy balance analysis and against two paths of enquiry, with all the measurements in terms of energy units: first, the surplus during the cultivated period, against gross cropped area (GCA), gross output (O) (cultivated period), and second, the annual surplus, against GCA, and net area sown (NAS).
One of the several conclusions of this paper includes identification of threshold area under cultivation (both in terms of GCA and NAS), land/household size and land/earners, for ensuring sustainability of the practices.