‘Finding climate change solutions offers big opportunity to private sector’

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on January 10, 2018

Climate change impact offers tremendous economic opportunities to the private sector. It can come up with local solutions to solve issues in agriculture and water utilisation, said Ronnie Coffman, Director of International Programmes at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, US.

The melting Himalayan glaciers and the rise in sea level up to 2 cm a year pose a huge threat for India, China and South Asian countries in the form of a drop in the water level in rivers, excessive flooding, etc. Therefore, encouraging private initiatives and public-private partnerships is important, he said.

Coffman was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Climate change implications for agriculture, animal and human health’ organised by the Sathguru Management Consultants and Cornell University. Climate change is real, it’s already happening and Innovation is the best approach to meet the challenges in agriculture, said Usha Barwale, Director, Mahyco.

Plant breeders, including Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug, have always tried to innovate and improve farm output. “The question therefore is not whether we can tackle the impact of climate change, but will we give complete access of the tool box (technologies) to plant breeders to deal with the future issues,” she said.

Need of the hour

Usha Barwale said the immediate task before the country is to build capacities in three vital areas — water utilisation, soil health management and data analysis and utilisation.

Referring to implications for animal health, Dhinkar Raj of the Translational Research Platform for Veterinary Biologicals, said: “We could see a whole lot of new diseases among animals, change in their spread and also crossing of species barriers.” He cited the example of dengue in dogs reported in Thailand recently.

Along with these, the other significant fallout of climate change is the increasing wildlife-domestic livestock conflict. “Are we prepared to face the challenges? Am not very sure at present,” he said.

Max Pfeffer, Executive Dean from Cornell, said climate change impact could be disruptive in nature. He cited the example of excess flooding in coastal areas which was causing significant changes in diseases. Similarly, the fire nuisance is building into a big threat in parts of the US.

Farmers stability, resilience and growth in food value-chain will be the biggest issue confronting global agriculture, said Sanjay Sacheti, Executive Director and Country Head of Olam Agro.

In India, land pooling in future will be a game-changer. Bigger landholdings will lead to better management, higher production, viable agri-business opportunities and growth of food-processing, he said.

In his welcome note, K Vijayaraghavan, Chairman, Sathguru, said that increasing crop stress and seasonal changes are becoming visible in the country in the past decade. India, Bangladesh and countries with huge populations will be under pressure.

Published on January 10, 2018

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