Diversified conglomerate ITC is scaling up its climate-smart agriculture initiative to support farmers facing weather-related challenges.
Launched in 2020 for de-risking farmers from erratic weather conditions, ITC aims at covering a million farmers and 3 million hectare (MH) of land under climate smart initiative in the next couple of years.
The company’s initiative has so far covered 1.8 MH of agricultural land in 17 states benefiting close to 0.6 million farmers.
It covers crops such as soyabean, wheat, paddy, rice, sugarcane, onion, chilly, coconut, banana and other vegetables in states like Rajasthan, MP, Maharashtra, UP, Telangana, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
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“We have worked out region specific practices to minimise the impact of heat waves and unseasonal heavy rains.,” S Sivakumar, group head, agri-business and sustainability, ITC, said.
These measures include introduction of heat tolerant varieties, crop cycle approach, in-situ and timely planting, dry land agricultural practices such as broadbed and furrow system, mulching, critical irrigation and use of heat-ameliorating sprays to reduce heat stress.
At the village level, ITC is currently undertaking climate risk modelling for several crops such as potato, spices and rice for developing a climate resilient value chain.
The climate risk modelling for pulpwood and wheat value chains has been completed.
Kumar said the company’s super app, meta market for advanced agricultural rural services (ITCMAARS) along with established farmer producer organisations (FPOs) network which is supported by field demonstration under Choupal Pradarshan Khets enable farmers to adopt practices to combat climate change.
The model also aims at making villages climate smart by promoting weather smart, water smart, seed or breed smart, carbon or nutrient smart and institutional or market smart practices.
Through this initiative, there has been reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of select crops by 13% -66% as per assessment done in 2021.
It resulted in an increase in net returns of farmers between 93% – 99% respectively, over a period of five years during 2016-2021, according to a company statement.
“Some years back, we had started to work on climate-smart agriculture. After a few years, nearly 70% of the villages where ITC is working with the farmers will be covered. The farmers will benefit from high yields resulting in better farmers’ incomes,” Sanjiv Puri, chairman, ITC, recently said at an event.
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ITC had launched ‘e-Choupal’, internet-based rural kiosks in 2000 and has currently reached 4 million farmers growing several crops such as soyabean, coffee, wheat, rice, pulses — in over 35,000 villages through 6,100 kiosks located in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Through the super app, ITC is also working on offering personalised climate smart advisory to farmers besides a range of products and services that will continue to evolve over time.