• Fri. May 17th, 2024

Climate Change, Food Security and Climate-Smart Agriculture

According to the Global Food Policy Report (2022), climate change may push many Indians towards hunger by 2030 due to a decline in agricultural production and disruption in the food supply chain. In 2017, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that 821 million people, or almost one in nine people, were undernourished worldwide. With food insecurity on the rise, the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) aim of ending hunger by 2030 is at serious risk of not being met. The population of the world will rise by one-third by the year 2050. The majority of the additional 2 billion people will reside in emerging nations, and the number of urban dwellers will increase. According to the medium-variant forecast, if current trend of 1.1% population expansion per year continue, the world’s population would reach 9.7 billion by 2050 (UN, 2019). India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the United States of America, Egypt, and Indonesia are the countries where more than 50% of the world’s increase in population is projected to occur from 2019-2050 (UN, 2019). By 2050, the FAO predicts that production will need to increase by 60% in order to meet the anticipated demand for food and feed. Food is not simply a basic need for poor farmers; it also serves as their only, and often a precarious source of income. Even prosperous farmers are forced back into poverty by the negative effects of climate change. The paradox is that many people are overeating, especially in wealthier countries, which has potential long-term negative health effects. Due to the fact that the majority of these nations are low-income countries (LIC), it is projected that there will be few resources and access to technology available to sustainably increase food production for expanding populations.

Increases in world hunger are significantly influenced by climate variability and extremes (FAO, 2018). All four aspects of food security- availability (such as access to productive land and agricultural production), accessibility (physical, social, and economic), utilisation (such as food preparation and dietary diversity), and stability across the first three dimensions—are adversely impacted by the changing nature of climate variability and extremes (FAO, 2018). It directly affects crop productivity, with estimates stating that for every degree Celsius increase in the global mean temperature, major crop yields will decline globally by 3.1% to 7.4%. One of the largest challenges confronting the world is meeting the constantly changing and increased demand for food in ways that are both environmentally and socially sustainable meanwhile ensuring that no one goes hungry. If the entire agriculture industry adopts climate wise agriculture practises, then these objectives will be attained.

Recent discussions in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations have indicated a tax on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which may result in major trade-offs between emissions reduction and food security. In this context, the idea of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) has grown in importance as a potential strategy for securing food for the rising global population in the face of climate change (UNFCCC, 2017). In order to improve decision-making in the agricultural sector, the CSA suggests a framework that takes into account three fundamental outcomes and fully accounts for their trade-offs and interdependencies.

CSA is defined as “agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience, reduces GHGs, and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals”. CSA facilitates in achieving the sustainable development goals while integrating and organizing social, economic, and environmental development to provide a sustainable livelihood to farmers, food security to millions of hungry people, and poverty eradication. It comprises both conventional and cutting-edge techniques and equipment that boost agricultural output and produce income.

CSA is supported by four pillars: boosting agricultural output and revenue; fostering climate change adaptation and resilience; reduction in GHG emissions without damaging farmer interests and using agriculture as a key strategy for the mitigation of CO2 emissions. It aims to do so by increasing agricultural production while reducing the amount of land that receives rainfall through integrated water and river basin management, as well as by expanding agriculture on wasteland, wetlands, degraded fallow land, and urban areas. It is a strategy for resolving the development efforts toward the technical policy and investment scenario by incorporating agriculture into the overall development plan at the village level. It equips farmers to practice agriculture intelligence regularly and permanently in order to endure the assault of climate change, rather than on an as-needed or temporary basis.

Climate Smart and Sustainable Agriculture gives young family members the platform to explore a variety of skills, supports the establishment of local microenterprises based on demand and supply conditions or establish protected agriculture. Farmers using greenhouse technology also provide a security during natural disasters by way of crop insurance for crops and animal husbandry. Whenever necessary, whether during a drought or a lean season, it offers employment in community projects.

In order to produce crops that can be sustained by the soil, CSA involves crop patterns based on soil health and moisture analyses of particular pieces of land. Long-term, medium-term, and short-term local weather advisories providing advice to farmers on how to take preventative measures to avoid crop loss, cattle and poultry vaccinations for nutrition and disease prevention etc. The farmers are informed of all of this directly at their doorsteps. Additionally, exploitation of all forms of scientific technology to increase agriculture’s productivity, reduces costs, and connects it to value-added market mechanisms. The research and promotion of advanced technologies to boost smallholder farmers’ productivity are the main goals of CSA interventions.

However, methodological constraints may be responsible for the discrepancy between what CSA is theoretically and how it is applied in practise. It might be necessary to evaluate the potential of a particular practise by simultaneously pointing to the three pillars because the boundary between the three pillars overlap in many different ways. Analysis reveals that in industrialised nations, a large portion of research and development activities focused on GHG emission reduction with little emphasis on adaptation actions. But in the developing nations, interventions generally centred on creating the right conditions for higher crop output to provide climate change resilience. In general, it implies that a nation’s level of development affects how climate change concerns are addressed, whether through mitigation (often for developed nations) or through adaptation and productivity-increasing strategies. Hence, additional research may be required to develop a methodological framework that enables a systematic evaluation of the three pillars for CSA approaches in order to increase the understanding of climate concerns and options thereby providing a more conducive environment for its application.

(The article is solely the opinion of the author. The views expressed here are solely personal and not in any way connected to any organisation or any political party ).

Dr. Ritusmita Goswami

Writer Assistant Professor Centre for Ecology, Environment and Sustainable Development Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Guwahati Off-Campus

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