The green economy refers to an economy (William Hynes et al.2012)  that results in improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly resulting in a reduction in environmental risks and ecological scarcity. Thus, the green economy will be low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive (Vandana, 2017) . The concept of a green economy has some underlying principles, namely, planet integrity, polluter payments, dignity, justice, resilience, governance and the many principles. Many countries are looking forward to the green economy framework that provides a visible policy framework for sustainable development and poverty reduction. To study the green economy, it is necessary to evolve databases and parameters that measure changes in the green economy. The concept of green growth has evolved for this purpose. Key features of green growth are adoptability, desirability and measurability.
The effect of greenhouse gases and climate change mitigation has changed the way governments think of the development paradigm. The economic and social cost of development has been very large, and the result has been environmental degradation and climate change disasters. The climate and environmental impacts have introduced a whole new set of development issues without compromising positive economic growth and poverty reduction. Hence, the concept of the green economy has become the buzzword, and green growth has emerged as a new approach to development in place of the conventional economic growth model.
Greening the Economy with Agriculture
Currently a large volume of literature is available on the theoretical framework of the green economy. However, putting this abstract concept into practice has remained largely unexplored due to a lack of literature on green economy implementation. Evidently, there is a knowledge gap between theory and practice. Therefore, there is an urgent need to build a database required to track the changes in the green economy, at least in important sectors.
Akin to the conventional economic growth model, green GDP may be assumed to have three sectors, namely the agriculture and allied sector (primary) industry sector (secondary) and service sector (tertiary). The concept of greening the three sectors refers to the adoption of various environmentally and climate friendly strategies specific to each sector without compromising economic growth and poverty reduction. The focus of this paper will be to discuss a tracking strategy with regard to the greening of agricultural production. Activities related to agriculture are resource intensive and result in environmental degradation. Greening agriculture is not simple and straightforward, as it has a major impact on the livelihoods of a large number of farmers and people living in rural areas. Greening of agriculture may be achieved by adopting ecosystem approach to agriculture, forestry and allied sectors using eco-friendly activities.
Sustainable Consumption and Production
The major factors that indicate the growth of the agricultural sector are agricultural production and consumption. In recent years governments have focused on increasing agricultural production using nutrients, pesticides and other chemical inputs. The consumption of chemical products aimed at increasing agricultural yield and to ensure food conservation, are detrimental to environmental and consumer health, such as biodiversity, soil fertility, water consumption and water pollution, energy, climate change, chemicals, food safety, food security and biotechnology. Sustainable production and consumption is one of the important priorities identified at the Rio earth summit in 1992. Sustainable development also requires changes in production and consumption patterns worldwide.
Green economy in Indian context
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It is also signatory to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda adopted in September 2015. The Constitution of India contains enough provisions (Articles 48A and 51A) for protection of the environment. India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change along with State Action Plans form the basic framework for bringing the environment and climate to the main stream of development discourse. The Indian government under the Copenhagen Accord has committed to reducing emission intensity by 20 to 25 percent. India also announced a plan to reduce emission intensity by 30 to 35 percent by 2030. India recently ratified the Paris Agreement to ensure the welfare of its citizens without crossing the limits of the environment. India has also undertaken structural reforms in the form of rationalization of taxes. The rapid urbanization of the country has placed larger cities as the engines of economic growth, and at the same time, the country faces several pressures on infrastructure, such as power, telecoms, roads, water supply and mass transportation. Experts believe that the green economic transition has the potential to grow in India. However, the transformation is happening ever slowly, and the progress made thus far is not commensurate with what it is needed. Fortunately, the agriculture sector provides livelihood to two thirds of the population of the country. The greening of the agriculture sector as such, has a large bearing on sustainable production, consumption, economic growth and poverty reduction.
Green Economy and Agriculture in India
The development of sustainable agriculture is becoming increasingly favorable in India. New opportunities beckon stakeholders in the form of fresh markets and business opportunities. On the other hand, agriculture is also facing the crisis. Long term vision is needed for the inclusive growth of farmers and rural communities. Organic agriculture holds the key for sustainable agriculture in the future. Some experts believe that organic and natural farming are necessary for making agriculture self-reliant. In India, organic farming movements have been largely led by farmer communities and civil societies. The Government of India has increased efforts towards popularizing organic farming by launching PARAMBARGAT KRISHI VIKAS YOJONA in 2015-16. State governments, on their part, have come forward with strategies to become 100% organic states.
The organic farming movement in India is in the nascent stage rather than a mass movement. Only two percent of the net shown area is organically farmed, and approximately 1.3% of farmers in India are registered for organic farming. Few policy makers and businessmen of the country also believe that environmental protection is a hindrance to economic growth and development. Financial instruments for green investment and systems for direct funding of green projects are miniscule and inadequate. The business community also believes green technology to be unreliable and cost intensive. On the brighter side, organic products are priced at a premium on urban markets and with organic product retailers.
State of Tamil Nadu
The state of Tamil Nadu is located on the southeastern tip of the Indian Peninsula. It has a geographical area of 130 thousand square kilometers and is the 11th largest state in the country. The state has been divided into 38 districts and 385 blocks. It has a long coastline of 1076 kilometers and a tropical climate. The state has a wide range of biospheres extending from southwestern Ghats, in east to rainforests in the Western Ghats; and the south Deccan Plateau to dry forests. The state has approximately 2000 species of native wild life. The state has a population of approximately 8 billion in 2021. It is one of the most urbanized states with a population intensity of 555 persons per square kilometer and one of the comparatively better developed states in the country. The state has a wide network of national and state highways supported by a good railway network. The production of food grains in the state was 7.5 million tons in 2009-10 and increased to 11.5 million tons in 2019-20.
Fertilizers play a pivotal role in maintaining soil fertility. They are used to increase crop production. India is second in fertilizer consumption, next to China. Here, fertilizer consumption increased over a period of four decades. It is one of the largest producers and consumers of fertilizers in the world. There is an increase in production because of efficient technologies used in the agricultural sector leading to economic and social development. During 2010, Egypt (368.7 kg/ha.), Korea (269.7 kg/ha.), Malaysia (265.4 kg/ha.), Vietnam (223.9 kg/ha.), Japan (212.5 kg/ha.) and India (156.3 kg/ha.) were the leading fertilizer consumers in the agricultural sector in the world. Among them, Egypt topped the list, while, India was consuming the lowest level of fertilizers compared to other large consumers in the world.
India was struggling to feed its population during the early 1950s and so the country introduced Green Revolution during the first half of 1960s to increase its food grain production. The country was able to achieve higher food grain production from 53.8 million tons in the year of 1960 to 296.65 million tons in 2019-2020. This increase was possible due to quality seeds and wide spread consumption of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Thus fertilizer consumption increased from 95.6 thousand tons in 1950-51 to 25.84 million tons in 2012-13. Notably food grain production always increases at a lower rate than fertilizers consumption indicating that higher dose of chemical fertilizers is required for increasing food grain production. The higher consumption of fertilizers resulted in soil degradation. Agricultural production started plateauing along with the increase in the cost of cultivation. Wide spread use of fertilizers and consequent degradation are noted across the agriculturally intensive regions of India and districts of Tamil Nadu as well.
As said earlier, the fertilizers consumption in the country increased from 65.6 thousand tons 1950-51 to 25.84 million tons in 2012-13. The rapid expansion of irrigation, introduction of high yield variety seeds, introduction of the retention prices scheme, distribution of fertilizers at lower prices, and expansion of dealer network are the major reasons for the increase in the fertilizers consumption. Higher consumption of fertilizers and pesticides let to second generation problems. It resulted in depleting soil fertility, deficient soil and micro nutrients, depleting water table and water quality deduction in organic carbon content and complete imbalance in soil health. The Indian Council of Agriculture Research has estimated that 120.40 million hectare of land is degraded in the country in 2010. While there are various estimates on the amount of degradation, the problems faced due to degraded land are evident. The agriculturally progressive states like Punjab, Bihar, Haryana, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand, used to consume high amount of fertilizers. On the other hand the North and Eastern State like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya consume less chemical fertilizers.
The average consumption of fertilizer in Tamil Nadu is (197 kg/ha). (Jothi Sivagnanam et al 2019) . In that, the Nitrogen consumption (109 kg/ha), is maximum followed by Phosphate (54 kg/ha) and Potash (34 kg/ha). In terms of the consumption of fertilizers (NPK pattern), the Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Villupuram, Tiruchirapalli and Tirunelveli districts consume high of nitrogen due to soil deficiency. The consumption of phosphate fertilizers is more in Cuddalore, Thanjavur, Villupuram, Tiruchirapalli and Dindigul districts due to soil deficiency. As far as potash is concerned Tirunelveli, Villupuram, Tiruchirapalli and Salem districts has the highest consumption.
The main reason for the higher consumption of NPK fertilizers among different districts of Tamil Nadu is due to varied soil conditions. The NPK deficiency ratio is found highest in Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Villupuram, Tiruchirapalli and Tirunelveli districts. Soil is deficient not only in NPK, but also in secondary nutrients such as sulfur, calcium and magnesium and micronutrients such as zinc, copper and iron in most Indian states. Due to lack of soil fertility, every year India loses 10 million tons of food grains. Declining water quality and organic carbon compound the problems faced.