Impact of Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture

Climate change, the word which has been in vogue since the decades from 1970’s, gained prominence after the realization of the fact that if the levels of pollution and emission were not tackled actively the consequences of it would be grave for the future generations.

At International level the major and path breaking shift in the policies towards this concern was taken in the year 1992 when the United Nations Framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) came into actuality. UNFCCC is an International environmental treaty negotiated at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and entered into force on March 21, 1994. Then it was the Kyoto protocol which extends the 1992 UNFCCC and commits the state parties to reduce Green House Gases emissions in line with tackling the C02 level.

The affects of climate change, without doubt would have serious civilization threatening consequences. The increase in the global temperature will jeopardize the subsistence of living organisms, be it human or animals both will have to suffer as change in climatic conditions would not only cause an interference in climate but also the related things of it like living conditions, dietary habits, productivity of crops, effects on biodiversity, food chain, safe and clear surrounding etc which in sum can be said as it would refashion the contemporary life style proposition of subsistence.

So, in this regard the think-tank at global level are analyzing the possible mitigation it can do to contain the approaching menace. In line with this, the sustainable development goals were adopted by the members of United Nations. The goals being 17 in overall, for period between 2015-30, in such, the goal 13 urges countries to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts following the Cop to the UNFCCC in Paris, the member nations will have to make their strategies for their respective contribution to both adaptation and mitigation of climate change.

The areas of concern in this article would be the effects of climate change on the agriculture and practices related with it with focus being on India as here the agriculture is having prominence role in livelihood and economy. The firm issue in such is the unfavorable rise in the mean temperature, alteration in the rainfall patterns, sea level rise, constant and harsh coastal storms and tsunamis. If one would review the action taken so far in terms of activeness and affects, it would not be wrong to say that the rise in temperature would see an increase in up to 3 degree by the end of century and as if it happens the mean rise in temperature would alter the agriculture seasons and duration of cropping. For example, in north India there would be reduction in the duration of wheat resulting in a loss. But on the other side certain regions of the world would benefit from such rise which will result in the more productivity of crop. Thus, the climate change will have both the common and differentiated impacts.

On the policy front, India in line with its commitment to take steps to reduce the GHG emissions had announced the following two major decisions:
1. Reduce by 2030 the GDP level emission by 32 to 35 percent from 2005 level
2. Would generate about 40 percent of its electricity need from non-fossil based energy sources as nuclear, solar, wind, biomass, biogas, hydel etc.

The areas of concern as such the rise in mean temperature and sea level for which we have to take the prospect action to insulate lives and livelihoods in particular of the vulnerable areas from the adverse impacts of climate change. The blue print for such steps should include the strategy to maximize the benefits of good monsoons and increase the productivity and preparedness from any adverse impact. The unfavorable climatic condition and consequences related with it would be general in nature but we have to prepare laws and plans tailor made for the local situation. In India we have some central and state laws which deals with the programme and possible steps which can be taken to achieve sustainable results regarding climatic concerns. We do have a policy paralysis then policy optimality but still we fare good in terms of achieving the intended targets. Improvement in such situation can be deal by the decentralization of policies and steps. One such suggestion in this regard can be to establish at the panchayat level, climate risk management centre and train a cadre of community climate risk manager.

Another area is the change in dietary habits like the conservation climate smart millets and their reintroduction in the diet. The millets and other underutilized crops are more tolerant to drought and heat and also nutritious. The farming system for adaption to the climate change designed by ICAR, Agricultural universities, Krishi vigyan kendras and popularize through local men and women trained to become climate risk manager. There will be need for anticipatory research in several areas of farming which will need change. For example crops like wheat and rice breeder should shift attention to per day productivity from per crop productivity, since the duration of crop is likely to get reduced.

Another area which will require anticipatory attention is the preparation for halving the affects of frequent floods and hailstorms. We have the genes which can help the plant like rice to grow over the flood level such elongation genes will have to be introduced in all flood prone areas.

The challenge of coastal areas can be mitigated by increasing and conserving the mangrove forest as they serve as they serve as bio-sheilds. There is scope for now bio-saline farming involving both halophytes and marine aquaculture. Among the mitigation steps aforestation in the people centered manner will help to reduce the co2 burden in the atmosphere. Methane which is another green house gas can be used to promote biogas plant. This would help to both to prevent accumulation in the atmosphere and at the same time provide fuel and fertilizer for the farmer. Nitrous oxide emissions as a result of fertilizer application can be reduced through the use of neem coated urea.

The help of technology can be taken to use in giving information related with weather events and disseminating the knowledge to the concerned.

Climate change can be a mega catastrophe if we do not take action both in area of adaptation and mitigation. Anticipatory preparation to potential changes in temperature, precipitation and sea level can help to introduce new technology in farming. The technological transformation of small scale agriculture and fisheries can be a beneficial outcome. Climate change has increased the volatility of agricultural commodities. The future will belong to the nations with grains and not guns. The opportunities is now for changing a potential concern like climate change into a tool for accomplish the goal of sustainable agriculture.