Globally, food production declined in the last one year due to the pandemic but the Indian farm sector has stayed largely unaffected by the pandemic, as it grew consistently over the same period. It recorded a 3.5% growth in the first quarter of 2020-21; declined marginally to 3% in second quarter and recorded 4.5% growth in the third quarter.
India is one of the top ten food exporting nations in the world. The export of agricultural and processed-food items increased 21.8% between April-August 2021 vis-à-vis the same period last year. In FY’21, India exported farm produce worth nearly USD 42 billion, witnessing a growth of 18%.
However, like other countries, India’s food production system is also getting impacted by disruptions caused by climate change. Extreme weather events and rising temperatures are impacting food production and productivity globally. It is also affecting the crop yield and the nutritional quality of cereal crops.
Close to 60% of the net-sown area in the country depends on the annual summer monsoon and any disturbance in the weather pattern can have huge repercussions on farm production. Cognizant of this emerging issue, the Indian Government had initiated efforts to climate-proof agriculture as early as in 2011.
Through the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)’s network project called National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) launched in 2011, the Government aims to address the impact of climate change on Indian agriculture.
As per ICAR’s ‘Vulnerability Assessment of Indian Agriculture to Climate Change’ released in February this year, 109 districts out of 573 rural districts assessed were ‘very high-risk’ districts, while 201 districts were considered risk districts.
In the last few years, the Government has also highlighted the need for increased investment in research for producing adequate nutritious food, gradual shift towards eco-friendly farm practices and reduced stress on resources through technology and innovation.
Speaking at the recently held 16th Sustainability Summit of CII, the Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the Government is serious in tackling all the challenges faced by India’s farm sector, including the impact of climate change.
Due to the imbalance in weather, there is either drought somewhere or flood; in view of such adverse conditions, the Government is completely serious and our scientists are working very diligently for proper seeds etc, he shared. The National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), set up in 2010, also seeks to address issues associated with climate change by devising and encouraging adaptation of appropriate strategies.
However, agriculture is also a major part of the climate problem as it is responsible for significant greenhouse-gas emissions (nearly 30% globally), depleting natural resources, biodiversity destruction, air pollution and food wastage. Indian agriculture will have to adapt radical sustainable practices and overhaul the food processing ecosystem to make the sector resilient to the changing climate.
CII through its Centres of Excellence works with stakeholders to address climate change risks and identify opportunities through capacity building & advisory services as well as actionable solutions ranging from sustainable agriculture interventions (in-situ management and agricultural biodiversity) to use of biomass (ex-situ management) in green and clean products or as clean fuel.
Through the Crop Residue Management (CRM), CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development galvanized industry action on crop residue management and demonstrated solutions in a highly participatory manner.
CII – Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre’s Green Village rating assists in conservation of water, reduction in fossil fuel use, proper waste handling and adopting other eco-friendly practices.
By working with FPOs in all the regions of the country, CII Jubilant Bhartia Food and Agriculture Centre of Excellence (CII-FACE) enables farmers to enhance productivity through efficient, cost-effective and sustainable resource use.
CII Water Institute’s Water Planning & Assessment Tool (WATSCAN) is an integrated IT driven, GIS and Remote Sensing based information system aimed at devising community-centric water management interventions. WATSCAN identifies critical pockets/areas/ villages for intervention and devises the appropriate solution.
CII’s Climate Change Council aims to direct the implementation of the National Action Plan on Climate Change and to engage industry, policy makers and R&D institutes to formulate strategies to commit to accelerate deployment of clean energy technologies, build capacity to access and internalize cutting edge technologies.
There is an urgent need to accelerate the interventions that can be embedded in R&D, improved technology & best practices, creation of infrastructure, facilitating access information exchange and promoting capacity building. Without the adaptation of these appropriate measures, the impact of climate change on the Indian agriculture would be severe.