Climate change is one of the most daunting issues that our world is facing right now. Over the last few years, we have had extreme weather events like floods, droughts, storms, and wildfires amongst others. All of these pose a grave threat to our existential ecosystems like agriculture, food, and water supplies.
In its latest ‘State of Climate’ report, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) notes that four key climate change markers – greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations, rise in sea levels, ocean heat, and ocean acidification – have hit record highs in the last year alone!
The tangible impact of climate change is so severe that leading climate scientists believe that the unprecedented heatwave in India was made 30 times more severe due to a man-made climate crisis.
How agriculture is a leading contributor to climate change
In an agrarian society like India, agriculture and its allied sectors are one of the largest livelihood providers. However, they are also one of the largest GHG emitters. India is the third-largest emitter of GHGs with agriculture alone accounting for about 19% of these emissions.
For a majority of people in India’s rural areas, agriculture is the primary source of income and despite its record food production year after year, India needs to substantially increase its agri output to feed its ballooning population. This ever-increasing demand for food puts added pressure on farmers to produce more with each passing day. To achieve this, farmers engage in intensive farming that demands excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, frequent shifts towards livestock and cash crops, and land-use changes that accelerate GHG emissions like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.
Additionally, common agricultural practices like stubble burning and flooding of paddy fields further amplify GHG emissions.
As the saying goes, what goes around, comes around. While the agriculture sector is responsible for climate change due to GHG emissions, it is also one of the most severely impacted sectors by the disastrous effects of a changing climate.
So, what can we do to tackle this global issue? One simple change that can mitigate the impact of climate change is the adoption of “Climate-Smart Agriculture”. Let’s explore how climate-smart agriculture can help mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.
Demystifying climate-smart agriculture
While agriculture is significantly responsible for climate change, it can also be a solution. Using the right techniques and technologies, agricultural land alone can store up to 1.2 billion tons of carbon and could offset 4% of the average annual GHG emissions over the rest of the century. This is where climate-smart agriculture comes in.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines “Climate-Smart Agriculture” as an approach to leverage agricultural ecosystems to mitigate the effects of climate change by achieving the below “Triple Wins”:
WayCool: Leading from the front
WayCool, India’s largest Agritech and Agricommerce company, has shown a way to effectively tackle climate change through climate-smart agricultural practices.
Through its Outgrow agriculture extension program, WayCool has been helping thousands of smallholder farmers in India improve their soil health, enhance biodiversity, and integrate livestock-based natural inputs to improve farm productivity, reduce cultivation costs, and generate sustainable income throughout the year.
Soil Organic Matter (SOM) defines the fertility and crop productivity of the soil. It acts as a reservoir of nutrients for crops and increases the soil’s water-holding capacity. Through sustained regenerative farming techniques like cover cropping, green mulching, minimum/no-tillage, and livestock-based green manure, WayCool’s OARS model farm near Bengaluru recorded an improvement in SOM from 0.8% to 1.58% in 2021-22, which resulted in an improvement in the soil’s organic carbon from 0.5% to 0.8%.
What this essentially means is that within the next two cropping seasons, the OARS model farm will only require micro-nutrients as per the soil composition, and the entire macro-nutrients requirement will be completely fulfilled by the SOM.
Furthermore, due to a significant improvement in SOM and SOC, the cultivation cost of crops like tomatoes and pumpkins at the OARS model farm has been reduced by 10% to 30% which has helped increase farmers’ incomes by 15% to 30%.
As part of Outgrow’s farmer advisory services, WayCool actively promotes and educates farmers on the importance of water conservation.
Demonstrating water optimization measures like drip and pitcher irrigation, farm ponds, rainwater harvesting, and groundwater recharge, WayCool recharged approximately 7 lakh liters of water into the ground last year and has ensured water availability for the OARS model farm as well as all nearby farms throughout the year, across the past two years.
At the COP26 summit in Glasgow last year, India pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2070, and WayCool is committed to actively contributing to this ambitious goal.
At WayCool, we strongly believe that ESG is something that you do every day. Whether it is adopting regenerative agricultural practices to improve the per acre farm yield, solarising our facilities to generate clean energy, installing advanced water treatment plants for optimizing water usage, and infusing automation at every stage of the agri value chain, we are doing everything we can to contribute to a healthier planet.
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