‘Why our crops must be made resilient to climate change’
For India, the agricultural sector remains the main source of livelihood for nearly two-thirds of the population in India. But the net sown area is still predominantly rainfed; 60% of the crops depend on rainfall for irrigation. Rainfed agriculture accounts for nearly half of the total food production in the country. The implication of this dependency means that the agriculture sector of our country faces a high degree of climate variability; droughts and floods are frequent, and have the potential to throw our regular food supply completely out of swing.
We understand that India is projected to become the most populated country by 2030, and in order to ensure adequate food production, we will need to produce 100 million tonnes of food grain per year. For the farmers of India, this could mean a huge opportunity, provided they are supported with the right resources.
It is towards this goal that the Government of India is implementing policies and missions targeting various threats facing agriculture. These include the National Food Security Mission, Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture, National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana to promote organic farming practices, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana to promote efficient irrigation practices and National Mission on Agricultural Extension & Technology.
The National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture is designed to enhance food security and protect resources such as land, water, biodiversity, and genetics. The mission also looks into bettering technologies and practices in cultivation, genotypes of crops that have enhanced CO2 fixation potential, which are less water consuming and more climate resilient. Better short term prediction of weather will play an important role, in adapting our techniques, and preparing contingency plans based on early warning systems.
The Government of India has also adopted a mega project, the National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA), with focus on natural resource management, improving crop production, livestock and fisheries, and institutional interventions. A scheme has also been launched to provide Soil Health card to every farmer. More importantly, a new policy was launched, called the National Agroforestry Policy (NAP), which encourages expansion of tree plantation along with crops and livestock.
These policy measures could ensure that India’s agriculture sector is climate resilient and the nation achieves greater food security in the light of climate change which could lead to more droughts and famines. The level of preparedness that we need to achieve is still a way off, and ideally we need to achieve it in cooperation with other nations.
At the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 Summit, India is looking forward to solving these issues with the rest of the world; developed and developing nations alike have a lot to share with each other, in order to reach a just climate agreement.
Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, Bureau of Energy Efficiency & Spokesperson for India at COP21
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