Impacts through policies and partnerships

L. Sebastian (IRRI/CCAFS)
Outcomes & Impacts

India protects its farmers from climate change

South Asia
Climate-Smart Technologies and Practices

India is taking climate change seriously. With tens of millions of lives at risk, the government is looking to new technologies to equip farmers to face the future. CCAFS research is contributing to this mission: Climate-Smart Villages, solar power and an innovative crop insurance scheme are helping farmers in India cope better with a changing climate.

In Haryana, a major agricultural region in the country’s north, Climate-Smart Villages have started to spread rapidly. In these villages, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) together with CCAFS worked with national partners and farmers’ organizations to develop and test a range of innovations and technologies. Farmers used climate-smart agriculture practices such as zero-tillage, crop residue management, direct dry seeded rice, agroforestry and climate information services. When used in the right combination, these practices can save water and energy, and increase farmers’ incomes through higher productivity. At the same time they help build resilience to extreme and variable climatic events.

Evidence from the villages, combined with public awareness and dialogue, convinced the Department of Agriculture of the State Government of Haryana to launch a pilot programme of 500 Climate-Smart Villages in the rice-wheat systems districts of the state.

“The Department of Agriculture in close association with CIMMYT-CCAFS piloted the concept of climate-smart villages in Karnal District … The results were very useful...” Dr A.K. Yadav, Director General Agriculture, Haryana, Panchkul

Solar-powered water pumps

Another example of India looking to reduce the effect of climate change is seen in irrigation. In certain areas, climate change will likely bring droughts, but affordable irrigation would reduce its impact. In drought-prone Bihar state, measures such as subsidizing fuel for diesel-powered pumps had proven ineffective because of the scale of the costs involved. But solar-powered water pumps can make irrigation affordable while helping to drought-proof crops, according to research with local farmers. The project was implemented in collaboration with CIMMYT, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

P. Vishwanathan (CCAFS)

Scientists presented the research to the Ministry of Finance in pre-budget policy discussions organized by the Chief Economic Advisor to the Minister. Following on from this meeting, the Indian government increased its budget allocation to launch a credit-cum-subsidy scheme to install 10 000 solar pumps across India.

Insuring crops

As well as erratic rainfall, climate change will inevitably cause crops to fail. As a way of reducing the crippling impact of crop failure, about 30 million farmers in India subscribe to crop insurance schemes. Nearly 38% have weather-based index insurance coverage, but the schemes have been unpopular. Farmers often have trouble settling their claims and insurance companies do not like the high transaction costs. The Government of India, however, has expressed a commitment to make crop insurance more accessible to farmers, and index insurance may provide the answer.

Successful index insurance schemes depend on having good rainfall triggers, which indicate when crop growth is likely to begin to suffer and subsequently activate payments to affected farmers. Using several scientific techniques such as crop and statistical models to examine crop–weather relationships, CIMMYT scientists developed new region- and crop-specific rainfall triggers in Maharashtra state. The state government adopted the new approach to protect several thousand farmers of key crops from the vagaries of the weather. Then several insurance companies, notably AIC of India, applied them to provide rainfall risk cover to the crops of almost 1 million resource-poor, rainfed farmers.

“The final product is an improvement on what is currently available and attempts to provide a win–win situation for all: farmers, the insurance industry as well as the government.” Pramod K Aggarwal, Program Leader, CCAFS South Asia