Contrary to popular belief, protecting agriculture against the adverse impacts of climate change is not a very costly proposition. Scientists at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have conducted a pilot in the rain-fed districts of Telangana and called for promoting climate-smart villages (CSV) to ensure sustainable agricultural production by building resilience to climate change.

The project helped prioritise climate smart agriculture (CSA) practices for 8,000 farm households in Mahabubnagar district and the organisation has proposed a framework to apply the climate-smart village approach to other parts of the State.

It is about prioritising the spending based on policies on science and making investments that are important to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change. “It won’t cost the exchequer a great deal of additional investment. It is about prioritising the investments on appropriate technologies in a context-specific manner, building farmers’ capacity and incentives for adaptation,” Shalander Kumar, Deputy Global Program Director at Icrisat, told BusinessLine.

A team of experts from the Icrisat has done a pilot project on ‘scaling up climate-smart agriculture in the Telangana’ to highlight the importance of CSA in the rainfed farming systems.

He said that rainfed farming systems in Telangana were increasingly affected by high climate variability. “The current efforts to address this challenge are not unified. It’s important to imbibe a climate lens in all agricultural development plans and strategies. Science- policy interface, backed by data and analysis, and sensitisation of all stakeholders is the key to mainstream CSA into development planning action,” he said.

“Funds and subsidies are available to buy machines and other farm equipment. It is about what machinery and equipment to buy. It is about prioritisation,” he said.

After gathering information, the team conducted a climate risk analysis and implemented a multi-stakeholder participatory prioritisation of CSA practices. “This approach has the potential to be replicated across India and beyond,” Shalander Kumar said.

In order to improve the effectiveness of CSA practices, the team has done a climate exposure (or climate risk) assessment for baseline and mid-century climate conditions was carried out.

Division into grids

After dividing Telangana into 350 grids representing mandals, the team collected information on temperature changes, heat and cold wave events, rainfall variability and changes in the frequency or intensity of consecutive dry and wet days.

Using the information, the team created maps to highlight the ‘hotspots’ or mandals at higher climate risk. These hotspots would require immediate attention.

“This long-term climate analysis indicates high to very high climate risk in almost all the mandals in Nalgonda, Adilabad, Yadadri and Nagarkurnool districts,” the report said. “It is important that the climate smart and sustainable agriculture strategies become integral to the development and agricultural action plan from village to national level,” Shalander Kumar pointed out.

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