Climate change mitigation measures have received ‘subdued’ attention in comparison to adaptation interventions in most of the agricultural development initiatives, including National Food Security Mission, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, Integrated Dairy Development Programme, implemented by the government, an independent study has stated.
To build the country’s capability in dealing with erratic weather, the study has identified ‘weak’ areas such as mechanisms for early warning systems on important weather related events, surveillance and alert systems for pest and disease outbreak, biodiversity conservation, collection, compilation and dissemination of indigenous techniques for climate change adaptation. “The existing framework gives relatively less emphasis on important areas that are necessary to strengthen climate resilience in agriculture,” a study by National Centre for Agricultural Economic and Policy Research (NCAP) a body under the agriculture ministry and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has stated.
It also states that the Indian agriculture sector is characterised by unfavourable factors such as low access to inputs and services, low market access, low mechanisation, high price variability, high levels of natural resource degradation, high climatic variability with frequent droughts, floods, etc, high incidence of pest and diseases, weak institutional support etc, that make ‘the farmers even more susceptible’.
“Under such circumstances, climate resilient agriculture with its multi-dimensional approach has promising potential to strengthen farming,” the study titled ‘Convergence of policies and programmes for sustainable and climate resilient agriculture in India’ has noted.
Noting that the cause of climate change adaptation and mitigation has caught the attention of policymakers only recently, the study has suggested integration of agricultural development programmes so that noticeable changes on the field are brought in dealing with eventualities arising out of changes in climate.
The findings come at a time when agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh stated in Parliament last month that over 46 million hectare of agricultural land spread across 122 districts is likely to be adversely impacted by extreme weather and cause decline in output.
Agricultural output in vulnerable districts spread across states such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and UP is likely to be impacted because of frequent erratic rainfall. “Uncertain and erratic rainfall, delay in onset of monsoon, droughts, excess rainfall events and other extreme weather events during crop growing seasons may affect agricultural productivity and profitability of the farming community, including small and marginal farmers,” Singh said in the Lok Sabha.
Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), in association with state agriculture universities, has developed agricultural contingency plans of 580 districts, which help farmers and administration in dealing with extreme weather conditions. Besides, ICAR conducted climate change impact analysis on crop yields using crop simulations models and has predicted reduction in yield for irrigated maize and wheat of about 18% and 6% annually, respectively, while the output of irrigated and rainfed rice is expected to decline by 4% and 6%, respectively, by 2020.