Climate Smart Agriculture

Building Resilience in India's Agriculture Sector

The Context

Climate change poses significant challenges to the world's food systems. Rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and more frequent extreme weather events threaten agricultural productivity and food security. Agriculture is a critical pillar of the Indian economy, engaging more than half of India's workforce. The impact of climate change can make food security a critical issue, given that India is the world's most populous country. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has already warned that if temperatures increase between 1-4 degrees Celsius in India, rice production could decrease by 10-30%, and maize by 25-70%.

The Programme

Deeply engaged with India's agricultural community for decades, ITC has been working for the development of the rural sector through farmer empowerment programmes that range from disseminating knowledge of new age practices and technologies to implementing multi-dimensional programmes for sustainable farming.

Climate Smart Agriculture

ITC's Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) programme helps farmers across its agri value chains to manage climate risks specific to their contexts. The programme aims to make agriculture sustainable, regenerative and climate resilient. It aims to de-risk farmers from erratic weather events through the promotion of climate smart agriculture practices, such as introduction of heat tolerant varieties, customised crop cycle approach, timely and in-situ planting, broadbed & furrow system, mulching, critical irrigation and use of heat-ameliorating sprays. At the same time, ITC is also focusing on building new and diverse farm value chains for crops like millets for improving climate adaptability and ensuring food security.

ITC's initiatives follow the principles of 'regenerative agriculture', which leads to development of healthy soil, capable of producing high quality nutrient dense food while simultaneously improving, rather than degrading the land, and ultimately leading to productive farms, healthy community and economies. ITC also works towards creating an enabling environment for farmers by providing technical assistance and market linkages. The CSA initiative is closely aligned to Indian Government's PM KUSUM, Sustainable Agriculture, Natural Farming and Mission Millets programmes.

Climate Smart Villages

The Climate Smart Village (CSV) programme plays a critical role in the CSA strategy. ITC has been working with the Climate Change and Food Security (CCAFS) programme of CGIAR, to convert entire villages into CSVs in its core agricultural catchments. ITC strengthens the capacity of farmers to respond to climate-related challenges by helping them adopt a range of weather smart, water smart, seed/breed smart, carbon/nutrient smart and institutional/market smart practices.

In the first phase (2016-2018), the programme covered seven key crops including soya, paddy, wheat, sugarcane, onion, mango, and gram, while in the second phase (2019-21), ITC extended its CSV programme to all states where its Natural Resources Management programme was implemented.

Improving agricultural water efficiencies through demand-side water management

ITC has been helping farmers and communities adopt modern agronomical practices and micro-irrigation technologies to conserve water in agriculture. Its 360-degree Water Stewardship programme promotes innovative crop- and area-specific agronomic practices to reduce water consumption.

For more details, refer to ITC's Water Stewardship programme.

Impact and outcomes

The programme has been successful at sustainably growing rural incomes, lowering agricultural emissions, and improving food security for millions by reducing farmers' climate-related risks and improving their resilience.

  • The first phase of CSV covered 15,000 farmers in 600 villages in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
  • By 2024, the CSA initiative has benefitted over 1 million farmers, covering nearly 28 lakh acres in 19 states.
  • 278,000 student farmers were trained through 8,200 Farmer Field Schools.
  • Currently, the CSV programme covers 4,800 villages and 10 lakh acres. GHG emissions of select crops were reduced by 13% -66% as per a 2021 assessment.
  • Net returns of farmers have increased upto 90%, over a period of five years from 2016 to 2021.
  • A study of 43 villages that were part of the first phase shows that 70% of the villages have moved into the High Resilience, High Yield category, thus becoming Climate Smart.
  • As per an assessment of 89 villages in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, High Resilience, High Yield category villages increased by 350% and Low Yielding, Low Resilience villages decreased by 50%.

The Way Forward

Sustainability 2.0 goals - Scaling up CSA to transform agricultural systems

ITC's Sustainability 2.0 agenda reimagines sustainability under the pressing challenges of climate change and social inequity.

ITC aims to promote the climate smart village approach in its core agri-business catchments for climate change adaptation, and actions for sustainable improvement of yields and rural incomes to cover 30 lakh acres and reach out to close to 10,000 villages by 2030. Additionally, ITC also aims to improve crop water use efficiency in agri-value chains to enable annual savings of 2,000 million kiloliters of water by 2030.

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