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Need for Climate-smart Agriculture in India

Context:

The two primary challenges confronting humanity in the 21st century are climate change and food insecurity. Ongoing repercussions of climate change, including phenomena like heat waves, flash floods, droughts, and cyclones, are adversely affecting both lives and livelihoods. Environmental effects on farming output compound the difficulties, making traditional farming practices less effective. Farmers are compelled to reassess their methods as climate change heightens risks.

Relevance:

GS3-

  • Food Security
  • Environment and Ecology

Mains Question:

Climate­-smart agriculture has the potential to assure food security, empower farmers, and protect our delicate ecosystems. Analyse. (15 marks, 250 words)

The Dual Challenge:

  • Southern continents are reportedly facing severe droughts due to climate change, leading to a negative impact on agricultural production and the well-being of farmers.
  • The increasing demand for food, driven by both population growth and dietary shifts, poses additional challenges. To mitigate the adverse effects of climate change, farmers are adopting various adaptation measures.
  • Addressing the dual challenges of adaptation and mitigation necessitates a comprehensive strategy, especially considering the urgent need for a 60% increase in agricultural production by 2050 to meet growing food demands.

Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) as an Alternative:

About Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA):

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization articulated in 2019 that CSA is an approach aimed at transforming food and agriculture systems to support sustainable development and ensure food security in the face of climate change.
  • The three pillars of CSA encompass sustaining increases in agricultural productivity and incomes, adapting and building resilience to climate change, and, where possible, reducing or removing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • Climate-smart practices, such as water-smart, weather-smart, energy-smart, and carbon-smart approaches, enhance productivity, address land degradation, and promote soil health.
  • To effectively combat climate change, sustainably enhance agricultural output and income, a fundamental overhaul of the agricultural industry is imperative.
  • Aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which seek to end hunger and improve environmental management, CSA is rooted in achieving these objectives through sustainable agriculture and rural development.
  • The National Action Plan on Climate Change underscores the significance of climate-resilient agriculture in India’s adaptation efforts.

Community-Based Efforts and Climate Smart Agriculture:

  • Community-supported initiatives are increasingly recognized globally for their efficacy in minimizing and adapting to the impacts of climate change on agriculture.
  • There has been a surge in community-supported agriculture endeavors worldwide, aiming to establish resilient and environmentally friendly agricultural systems.
  • Tangible examples of these efforts include advancements in agroforestry, sustainable water management, and precision agriculture, demonstrating that CSA principles are applicable across borders.

Benefits of Climate Smart Agriculture:

Boosting Agricultural Output:

  • CSA encourages crop diversification, enhances water efficiency, and incorporates drought-resistant crop varieties, mitigating the disruptive effects of climate change.
  • The significance of CSA lies in its capacity to boost agricultural output while preserving ecological stability—a crucial aspect for long-term food security and sustainable resource utilization in a warming world.
  • By reducing exposure to climate-related risks and shocks, CSA enhances resilience against prolonged stressors like shorter seasons and unpredictable weather patterns.
  • Studies on various climate-smart techniques employed in India demonstrate their positive impact on agricultural production, making agriculture sustainable, reliable, and reducing GHG emissions.
  • For instance, a study in the northwest Indo-Gangetic Plain focused on wheat production reveals that site-specific no-tillage is advantageous for fertilizer management, enhancing yield, nutrient usage efficiency, and profitability while lowering GHG emissions.

Benefits for Farmers:

  • Beyond these benefits, a substantial outcome of CSA implementation is the increased economic autonomy of farmers.
  • CSA brings about a transformative shift in the economic and social structure of farming communities by disseminating information about and facilitating access to climate-resilient practices.
  • As the climate evolves, adopting climate-smart techniques, especially for already disadvantaged farmers, becomes highly advantageous. The growing popularity of CSA signifies a promising future for biodiversity conservation.

Environmentally Sustainable:

  • The ecosystem-based approach and diverse crop varieties promoted by CSA enable cropland and wild areas to coexist, safeguarding native plant species, maintaining stable pollinator populations, and alleviating the effects of habitat degradation.
  • Conversely, the agricultural sector is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for 17% of total emissions in 2018. Hence, the implementation of CSA is crucial for reducing GHG emissions and preserving biodiversity.

Can help India Achieve National and International Targets:

  • The success of the CSA is directly linked to the Paris Agreement’s objective of curbing global warming through the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • Examples like agroforestry and carbon sequestration represent CSA measures that could aid India in meeting its international commitments and contributing to the global effort against climate change.

Government Initiatives:

Government initiatives such as the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change, National Innovation on Climate Resilient Agriculture, Soil Health Mission, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, Biotech-KISAN, and Climate Smart Village are examples in India that focus on CSA. Public and private sector entities, including farmer-producer organizations and NGOs, are also actively working towards the adoption of CSA.

Conclusion:

CSA has the potential to ensure food security, empower farmers, and safeguard delicate ecosystems by integrating innovation, resilience, and sustainability. In the face of a changing climate, the path of CSA emerges as a source of inspiration and transformation for a world striving to ensure a sustainable future.


March 2024
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