Climate change is real and it is taking a toll on India’s farmlands.

According to the Global Climate Risk Index [2021], India is the seventh most vulnerable country at risk. Its impact is being felt in the form of floods, droughts and unseasonal temperature swings, which are hitting crop yields.

The Challenges

The monsoon is the lifeblood of Indian agriculture. Rainfed agriculture constitutes around 52 per cent of the net sown area in India, contributing 46 per cent of foodgrain output and supporting livelihood for nearly 40 per cent of our population.

Monsoon data over the last 15 years examined by M&M shows that while there has been an increase in pre-monsoon and post-monsoon rainfall, rain during the traditional monsoon period has actually declined. This has disrupted the kharif season, crucial for rice cultivation, as well as the rabi season, key for wheat.

Heatwave conditions also hurt horticultural crops, livestock, fisheries and the poultry sector as there is an increased demand for water.

Nearly 80 per cent of our freshwater is used for agriculture putting significant pressure on our groundwater supplies.

India, however, is striving to adapt. Our farmers are building resilience by deploying innovative, new-age technology.

They have, for instance, turned to high-yielding climate-adapting cultivars.

As a result, the country’s overall productivity of foodgrains has increased from 522 kg/hectare in 1950-51 to 2,386 kg/hectare in 2020-21.

At the same time research into farming technologies, genomics, and soil health management is addressing challenges posed by climate change.

Precision farming

It is enabling precision farming which is helping farmers improve yield and profitability, regardless of the size of their landholding. Advanced digital solutions are paving the way for a new approach to farming involving smart fertilising to smart harvesting, drone spraying and soil mapping.

Agriculture’s share of Gross Value Added (GVA) stood at 18.3 per cent of the economy in 2022-23.

Thus, it is imperative that all efforts are made to ensure growth and development of the sector.

Businesses must increasingly collaborate with farmers and the government to energise Indian agriculture.

Advanced tractors, farm machinery, better quality seeds, precision farming, satellite technology along with farmer education, will go a long way in paving the road for farm prosperity.

M&M Farm Sector’s Krish-e initiative is providing multiple advisory services to farmers, helping them increase yields and income while reducing cultivation costs.

At this critical juncture for Indian agriculture, we would do well to remember Mahatma Gandhi’s words.

“The farmers are the real heroes and saviours of our society,” he said. “They deserve our utmost respect and support.”

The writer is President – Farm Equipment Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd