India is located in South Asia and is home to over 1.2 billion people, making it the world's second-most populous country. The country has shown tremendous progress in the last four decades, in terms of both food production and availability. Yet, large numbers of food insecure and undernourished people remain.
India covers a range of climatic regions: the tropical south can be wet, dry or humid; while the Himalayan north is defined by temperate alpine mountain ranges. Year-round, it experiences four different seasons, two of which are shaped by the affects of the monsoon. Out of this variety has grown 15 different agro-ecological zones, each differing in climate, soil type, fertility condition, cropping patterns and hydrology.
Today, India is the second largest country in the world in terms of agricultural output. About 180 million hectare land, 60.5% of total land area, is used for agriculture. In total, the sector contributes about 14% of total GDP and employs more than 50% of the total workforce. Despite the steady decline in agriculture’s contribution to the total GDP, farming is the biggest industry in India and plays a key role in the socio-economic development of the country.
The Indian cropping season is classified into two main seasons: (i) Kharif (July-October) and (ii) Rabi (October-March) based on the monsoon. The kharif crops include rice, maize, sorghum, millets, pulses, soybean, and cotton. The rabi crops include wheat, barley, oats, chickpea/gram (pulses), linseed and mustard. In terms of economic value of total production, rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton, soybean and pulses are the major crops in India.
Only about 35% of total agricultural land in India is irrigated and two thirds of cultivated land is entirely dependent on rainfall. As such, the agricultural production system in the country is more vulnerable to damage from extreme climatic events, which causes increased water stress leading to inadequate water supplies for irrigation. Already, rises in average temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns, increasing frequency of extreme weather events such as severe droughts and floods and the shifting of agricultural seasons have been observed in different agro-ecological zone of India. Long drought spells during kharif and increased temperatures and unseasonal heavy rains during the rabi season have caused serious distress to the farming communities in different states in recent years.
India has already started development and inclusion of climate change adaptation polices in various sectors. The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) of India identifies eight core missions that promote various climate smart interventions in agriculture and allied sectors. For example, National Missions for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) and National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change aim to support climate change adaptation in agriculture through the promotion of climate-smart practices and technologies across the country. State-level climate change adaptation plans in India focus on addressing the existing, as well as future, challenges of climate change and take actions to reduce the associated risks and vulnerabilities.
CCAFS’s major activities in India include test, evaluate and develop portfolios of climate-smart interventions for different agro-ecological zones and farm types; promotion of CSA through the Climate-Smart Village (CSV) approach; weather-based insurance; use of ICT for dissemination of climate information based agro-advisories; mapping hotspots of germplasm collection and conservation; crowdsourcing farmers preferences for stress resistant varieties; gender and social inclusion in climate change adaptation; and development of decision-support tools for planning and investment in adaptation and mitigation activities. CCAFS and CGIAR centers together are engaging with national and sub-national stakeholders including policymakers, NGOs and civil society groups, research organizations, farmers groups and private sector for promotion of climate-smart agriculture in India. Priority areas include Indo-Gangetic Plan of Northern India and dryland agriculture systems in southern and western parts of India.