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Climate Change and Agriculture in India

Greenhouse Gas Emissions:

  • After China and the United States, India is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, emitting roughly 2.6 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent yearly.
  • India’s per capita emissions, on the other hand, are only 1.8 tonnes, far less than the global average of 4.4 tonnes. India has pledged to “lower emission intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels” in its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
  • Emissions by Sector in India: Electricity and heat generation, agriculture, forestry, and other land use account for half of world emissions.
  • However, India’s energy industry (44 percent), manufacturing and construction sector (18 percent), and agricultural, forestry, and land use sectors account for the majority of the country’s emissions (14 percent ).
  • The rest is split between the transportation, industrial, and garbage sectors.

Climate Change and Agriculture:

Emissions of Total Greenhouse Gases:

  • Agriculture’s contribution to overall emissions has gradually decreased from 28% in 1994 to 14% in 2016.
  • In actual terms, however, agricultural CO2 emissions grew to almost 650 Mt in 2018.
  • The livestock sector (54.6 percent) and the use of nitrogenous fertilisers account for the majority of agricultural emissions in India (19 percent ).
  • Anaerobic rice growing accounts for a significant share of agricultural emissions (17.5 percent ).
  • The largest single source of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions is agricultural soils.
  • Between 1980-81 and 2014-15, N2O emissions from nitrogen fertiliser consumption increased by 358 percent.
    Developing Carbon-Neutral Agriculture

Providing Legal Support for the Concept:

  • A carbon strategy for agriculture must be framed with the goal of reducing emissions and rewarding farmers through globally marketable carbon credits.
  • Also, India must specify in its policy how it will adjust carbon credits sold to polluting companies in other countries, so that emission reductions are not counted twice in India and the country purchasing carbon credits.

Feeding Practices Are Changing:

  • With the world’s largest livestock population (537 million), India requires better feeding practises and increased production from fewer cattle.
  • Rice production, along with cattle, is another source of methane emissions, particularly in irrigated areas of north-west India.
  • While direct seeded rice and other wet and dry methods can help reduce carbon emissions in rice fields, the actual solution is to transition areas from rice to maize or other less water-intensive crops.
  • It can also be a win-win situation if a system is devised to compensate farmers for moving to maize, which will make it more profitable than paddy.
  • Encourage the use of water-saving crops like maize to make ethanol, as well as the generation of ethanol from non-food feedstock.
  • It will not only help India reduce its massive reliance on crude oil imports, but it will also help India lower its carbon imprint.

Encourage Fertigation:

  • Encourage fertigation (fertiliser injection) and subsidies soluble fertilizers as an alternative to better and more efficient fertiliser use.
  • The government should encourage and provide subsidies for drip irrigation, as well as transitioning from rice to corn or other less water-intensive crops and pushing soluble fertilisers at the same rate as granular urea.

Dairy Practices That Are Sustainable:

  • There is a need to proactively ramp up sustainable dairy practises, which could involve realising existing GHG emission reduction potentials through technical and farm best practises interventions and solutions.
  • By better integrating cattle into the circular bio-economy, it can reduce its resource use.
  • This can be accomplished by recycling animal excrement and recovering nutrients and energy.
  • At various scales, closer integration of livestock with crops and agro-industries to make use of low-value, low-emission biomass.
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