Climate variability and change, and the progressively depleting natural resources base pose significant challenges to food security and stability across South Asia and India, threatening the life, livelihoods, and economic wellbeing of the population. Despite significant advances in plant breeding and soil and crop management best practices, seasonal climate variability and impacts of climate change continue to impose serious limitations on the realization of potential crop yields in India. This has negative ramifications for other sectors dependent on agriculture.
The government is doing all efforts to make Indian Agriculture climate resilient but considering the challenges, there is still lot more to be done in terms of scale of implementation and adoption more climate resilient technologies, said Shobhana K. Pattanayak, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi.
The government is giving adequate emphasis to make agriculture sustainable through effective agronomic management including soil health and water resources, said Pattanayak, while inaugurating a ‘Managing Climate Risk in Agriculture,’ organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Bima Yojana (PMKBY) has been operationlised for addressing the concerns of farmer due to crop damage and extreme climate events. Various other initiatives like enhanced credit support, market infrastructure, post harvest management are being emphasized for the benefit of farming community. Information and support and agriculture extension systems are being strengthened through the Mission on Agriculture Extension & Technology, said Pattanayak.
“The IMT forecast on weather is a welcome development for us because we all know that there has been a shortfall of rainfall in the last two seasons and most of the mini parts of the country especially ten states are having drought like conditions so the predictions of the normal monsoon is a very good news for all of us especially the farmers because our khariff will go on in full swings”, said Pattanayak.
On the issue of distribution concern Mr. Pattanayak said, as you know the crops are sensitive to distribution of rainfall and we expect that there should be even distribution of rainfall but there has been prediction that around August and September rains may be slightly more than in past, but we have to closely watch the situation.
The Agriculture ministry got a higher allocation for micro irrigation this year and for entire Sinchayee Yojana which includes the micro irrigation, stated the Secretary.
The adverse impacts of climate changes can therefore be devastating for agriculture, disproportionately affecting the poor. Rise in temperatures would affect tropical countries like India much more as these are already at the higher end of the temperature band.
The recent study has done by Indian Agricultural Research institute indicate the possibility of loss of 4-5 million tons in wheat production with every rise of 1 degree centigrade temperature throughout the growing period even after considering carbon fertilization. Losses for other crops are still uncertain but are expected to be smaller, especially for crops grown during monsoon season, said Pattanayak.
To minimize the impact of climate variabilities, government has developed contingency crop plans based on models on projected climate conditions for about 600 districts taking into account 126 agro-ecological zones of the country, highlighted Pattanayak.
To focus on sustained production of specific commodities to meet the projected consumption demand, National Food Security Mission has been launched to address the production and productivity with respect to major crops viz rice, wheat and pulses.
For increasing productivity as well as encouraging economic returns from the wasteland, dry & degraded lands, horticulture plantations have been encouraged under the scheme of National Horticulture Mission (NHM).
Ambassador Jonathan Addleton, Mission Director, USAID in India said ‘lack of reliable climate information at local level is one of the primary challenges that affect decision-making at the farmer level. There is a critical need to improve access to good scientific data and a comprehensive approach to utilizing this data, supported by appropriate risk mitigation approaches’.
To fill thus critical void, USAID-Skymet program’s is establishing a network of ‘Automatic Weather Stations’ in 31 districts across nine states in India. The program sends daily crop advisory to farmers as a text message, alerting them about today’s weather conditions. To further mitigate risks, the program is also promoting farmers to purchases crop insurance. Majority of smallholders farmer in India and in other developing countries are vulnerable and do not have the financial capacity to mitigate risks associated with crop failure, said Ambassador.
The India-US strategic partnership is a significant contributor to regional and global stability and prosperity and the two governments are working together and leveraging our combined capacities to assist other developing countries and address global development challenges for the benefit of the wider region and the world. This program will not only strengthen the agricultural sector in India, but also create stories of success and resilience that will replicated across Asia and Africa, added Ambassador Addleton.