As a comprehensive approach to sustainable agricultural development, the CSVs focus on climate change hotspots in Africa, Asia and Latin America with critical climate-smart interventions in key areas to encourage the villages to adopt (1) weather-smart activities (weather forecasts, ICT-based agro-advisories, index-based insurance, stress-tolerant crops and varieties, and climate analogues), (2) water-smart practices (resilient water management practices, aquifer recharge, rainwater harvesting, community management of water, laser land levelling, water conservation, drip irrigation, raised bed planting, crop diversification, alternate wetting and drying in rice, direct seeded rice, and on-farm water management, (3) carbon-smart practices (agro-forestry, livestock and manure management, conservation tillage, diversified land-use systems, and residue management enhancing carbon content in the soil), (4) nitrogen-smart practices (leaf-colour charts, hand-held crop sensors, and nutrient decision-maker tools for site-specific nutrient management and precision fertiliser application using nutrient expert decision support tools, residue management, and legume catch-cropping), (5) energy-smart technologies and practices (fuel-efficient agricultural machineries, residue management, biogas systems and minimum tillage conserving energy and reducing GHG emissions), and (6) knowledge-smart activities (cross-site visits of farmers, farmer-to-farmer learning, capacity enhancement on climate-smart agriculture, seed packets of adapted varieties, community seed and fodder banks, and market and off-farm risk management system). These activities and practices can jointly build the resilience of a village community to climatic stresses and ensure food and livelihood security to farmers.
Considering that climate change and increasing climatic variability are most likely to aggravate the problem of food security by exerting environmental pressure on agricultural systems, building the resilience of Indian agriculture to cope with the situation is crucial for the food and livelihood security of farmers in general and small and marginal farmers in particular.
CSA assumes special significance in India in view of the World Bank’s estimate that total crop production would increase by 60 per cent by 2050 without climate change, but the increase would be only 12 per cent in the event of climate change under a 2 degrees C warming by the 2050s.
Moreover, under climate change, the country will have to import twice the amount of foodgrain to meet per capita calorie demand when compared to a situation without climate change.
Adapting to such climatic changes is critical for ensuring sustainability and stability in crop production in the country, and food and livelihood security to farming communities.
The CSV approach was initiated first in Haryana and Bihar in 2011. Initially, 27 climate-smart villages from Nilokheri, Indri, Gharaunda and Nissing blocks in Karnal district of Haryana were brought under its ambit.
A tonne of rice and wheat residues, about 40 per cent of which is carbon, contains 5-8 kg of nitrogen, 1-2 kg of phosphorus and 11-13 kg of potassium.
Zero-tillage improves water and nutrient retention and reduces the use of diesel by 80-85 per cent compared with conventional tilling. Zero-tillage with residue management and diversification of crops can reduce the requirement of fertiliser by 20 per cent after three years. Direct-seeded rice reduces methane emissions by 40 per cent and water use by 25 per cent compared to the traditional transplanting method.
Similarly, direct planting of maize and wheat at a level raised from the soil, cuts water-use by 30-35 per cent. The use leaf-colour chart and Green Seeker helps farmers to fix the nitrogen requirement of crop and optimise the use of fertiliser. Farmers also use weather information and a technology to measure soil moisture. Zero-tillage and line sowing of seeds improve rice and wheat yields by 10-15 per cent.
The success of the trials in 27 CSVs in Karnal opens up exciting opportunities to scale out the CSV model and to mainstream CSA into development programmes and policies in a number of villages in several regions of the country contending with environmental problems.
Haryana has decided to extend the model to 500 more villages; Bihar has also planned to scale it up. Trials under the CCAFS programme are currently being conducted in 70 villages in Punjab, Odisha and Karnataka, besides Haryana and Bihar.
With climate change and increasing variability of rainfall and temperature and greater risks from pests and diseases, the weather-index-based crop insurance scheme (WBCIS), introduced in the country in 2007 as an alternative to the existing yield-index-based National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS), has been encouraging farmers to invest in their crops, raise agricultural productivity and mitigate climate change.
This has enhanced the resilience of production systems. This insurance scheme has the potential to increase food production by minimising the farmers’ risk in investing in farm implements and inputs such as improved varieties of seed and fertiliser.
The Economic Survey (2017-18) has emphasised the use of the crop insurance programme such as the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana to determine losses and compensate farmers within weeks.
The Integrated Agro-meteorological Advisory Service (IAAS) has been helping farmers maximise income from crop production by assisting them to cope with current, short-term climate-induced risk.
The meteorological services provide weather-related information including five-day forecasts and forecasts of severe weather. Specialists from ICAR, state departments of agriculture and agricultural universities translate the information into agricultural advisories to alert farmers to weather-related developments and offer advice on what action they should take to protect their crops.
The advisories are conveyed to farmers in local languages through various channels, such as SMS messages on mobile phones, local radio and newspapers, and face-to-face advisory and extension services.
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has been working on five different approaches (viz., watershed management, futuristic multi-model, digital technologies, meteorological advisory and farm systems, climate and crop modelling) for building CSVs and helping farmers cope with climate change.
It has developed climate-resilient dryland crops and a pool of climate-smart technologies that are used in all of its climate-smart project interventions. The approaches focus on equipping farmers to use climate-smart scientific interventions and innovations, use climate information for cropping decisions, diversify livelihoods, link to markets, make agriculture profitable, rehabilitate and restore their environment and influence policy makers.
Under the climate and crop modelling approach, the farmers, who followed cropping advisories based on seasonal climate forecasts in the drought-prone Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, were able to earn 20 per cent more than those who did not follow the advisories. The project has been extended to other villages of Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring Karnataka.
The writer is Professor of Economics, Visva-Bharati University. He can be reached [email protected]