Climate-resilient agriculture (CRA) is an approach involving the sustainable exploitation of existing natural resources, via crop and livestock production systems, in order to attain high long-term farm productivity and yields in the face of variability in the climate. The second component would advocate for climate-resilient approaches, which enable sustainable use of natural resource bases through agricultural and livestock production systems, with a focus on increasing long-term productivity and farm incomes under conditions marked by increasing climate and, particularly, precipitation variability.
Climate-resilient agricultural models have been successful at driving changes in farming practices, which could be described as critical for mitigating global climate change impacts on agriculture and water resources. Improved access to and utilization of technologies, transparent trading regimes, increased utilization of technology for resource conservation, increased adaptation of crops and livestock to climate pressures are outcomes of climate-resilient practices. Climate-resilient technologies could play a critical role to maintain gains, also aligning with Indian international commitments such as land degradation neutrality (balancing losses due to land degradation with restoration and sustainable land management)
Due to the huge impacts of climate change on agriculture, Indias Government programs are increasingly supporting small farmers in transitioning towards sustainable farming, as well as protecting water and natural resources. Realizing these challenges, the Indian Government, Department of Agriculture, and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have undertaken projects which are at different stages of realization, such as the National Initiative for Climate-Resilient Agriculture (NICAR). However, as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions are becoming reality, beyond control of farming communities, it is imperative that we address these issues with war-like urgency. If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of zero hunger, agriculture and food systems must be reoriented to become sustainable and to increase agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers (India has a high proportion of 86 per cent of Indias farming households falling under the category of small and marginal holdings with less than two hectares of arable land) who are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
In the immediate future, India needs to boost agricultural output at least 30 per cent, not just to cater for growing domestic demand and exports but to increase farmers incomes and jobs. India has been playing the balance of growth versus resilience in its climate change policies, and has led developed countries in placing agriculture at the forefront of ongoing negotiations.
The climate change, agriculture and food security program of CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) is also helping in the promotion of adaptive and sustainable agricultural and food systems in many countries including India. The Finance Ministry is looking at increasing efficiency of water usage; promotion of organic agriculture and conservation farming practices; and agroforestry in order to make agriculture more sustainable to changing climate. A deliberate adaptation approach to agricultural and development practices is essential for climate adaptation and making agricultural production more sustainable against the effects of climate change and shocks.
By understanding climate risks in your production systems, as well as practices that may mitigate these risks, you can identify some management steps that improve the resiliency of your farm or ranch to changing climate conditions, while still allowing for other sustainability goals. The good news is that many of the best strategies to manage climate risks are already familiar to farmers and ranchers, thanks to practices that are typically associated with sustainable agriculture, such as diversifying crops, livestock, businesses, and markets; improving soil health with cover crops, no-till, composting, and other practices; integrating crops and livestock; implementing managed intensive grazing; reducing use of inputs from outside the farm; and using holistic farm planning. Major interventions in WADI models include plantation agriculture, soil protection, water management, womens development programs, and activities that decrease labor intensity in order to build resilience against changing climate conditions. This model mitigates the risk from climate, restores land productivity capacity and ensures farmers have regular revenue streams from the diversification of outputs. There has been 25% improvement in yields from farms, over 700 acres are in climate-resilient agriculture and there has been an 80% decrease in migration from the beneficiary population.