The Indian state of Punjab
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Case study // The Indian state of Punjab

This case study analyzes Punjab's metabolic pattern, as the Indian state of Punjab contributes a remarkable part to India's food production. As Punjab's population grows, this case studys examines the option Punjab has to increase local sustainability

 

At the level of India in relation to the interface India/international markets - Looking at the factors affecting the viability of the metabolic pattern of India as a whole (national level of analysis) we find equally worrisome trends. In fact, we may reasonably expect in the future a constant increase in the international price of energy (energy is needed at the local scale for irrigation and at the Indian scale for making fertilizers) and, as a consequence, in the international grain prices. An increase in international prices will make it more difficult for India to import grains from abroad and as a consequence it is likely to increase pressure for a further intensification of grain production in Punjab. If the "fair price" of grain procurement from Punjab farmers by the central government is to be linked to changes in international prices, as often claimed in official policies, India will have to accept a proportional increase in the cost of the internal supply of grain that will reflect, sooner or later, the increases in the international price. However, if an increase in international food prices coupled to an economic crisis of India will force the country to: (i) reduce subsidies; (ii) adopt procurement prices lower than international prices, and (iii) prevent Punjab from exporting its food production abroad, then it is reasonable to expect strong social tensions in the state of Punjab.

At the interface between societal metabolism and ecosystem metabolism - As regards the ecological compatibility of the metabolic pattern of rural Punjab, so far the socio-economic tensions within Punjab and between Punjab and India have been externalized to local ecosystems in the form of overexploitation of aquifers and soil degradation. The big question is for how long these tensions - which are expected to keep growing in the future - can be mitigated by further externalization to local ecosystems before a dramatic negative feed-back will cause the entire agricultural system to collapse.

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