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    HomeBusinessFor a smooth transition to net-zero, agriculture reform is imperative 

    For a smooth transition to net-zero, agriculture reform is imperative 

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    In 2015, the historic Paris Agreement was signed to make conscious efforts to tackle climate change and its negative impacts. The COP21 agreement has completed more than six years ago but are we close to reaching our goals? In 2021, at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, India promised a highly-ambitious target to become a net-zero nation by 2070.  

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to cut the country’s overall carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030. While people worldwide had qualms about India’s ambitious targets and pledges, BBC reports suggested that the world’s third-largest CO2 emitter might have found a way to take serious actions against climate change without compromising its economic potential.  

    However, according to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), which monitors government policies and actions, India’s current climate policies and commitments are not in line with the Paris Agreement. The emissions will continue to rise and will not result in a fair contribution to the fight against climate change.

    According to experts, while India must curb its dependence on fossil fuels, it must take holistic measures to come closer to a net-zero economy. In this context, the agriculture sector plays a pivotal role.  

    Can new technologies, techniques help? 

    After China and the US, India is the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. And according to the International Energy Agency, agriculture and livestock account for 18 per cent of its gross national emission. A considerable chunk of agriculture-based greenhouse gas (GHG) emission materialises due to improper management of fertilisers, pesticides, crop residue and irrigation practices.  

    It is pertinent to note here that while the agriculture sector is a significant contributor to increasing GHG components in the atmosphere, it is not immune to the ill effects of climate change. In fact, frequent dry spells, heat waves and uncertain weather conditions caused by climate change are becoming a major threat to the growth of India’s agronomy.

    Needless to say, for the good of both India’s COP21 and COP26 pledges and the betterment of its agriculture sector, a well thought out agricultural reform is crucial. Against this backdrop, here are a few ways that can help the agriculture sector can make contributions to ensuring India reaches its net-zero goals:  

    Healthy soil practices

    The advent of modern technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones have made possible farmland soil, even though limited to storing up to 1.2 billion of carbon.

    The best part is, with the right techniques and technology integration, it (soil) has the ability to offset only 4 per cent of the average GHG component in the next 70 years. This practice can also help enhance soil quality, improve crop health, and decrease dependence on fertilisers.  

    Carbon farming or carbon sequestration

    This method helps farmland store more carbon and decrease the GHG emission released into the atmosphere. Indian farmers can adopt this method by effectively managing their grazing lands to conserve vegetation.

    They can also utilise improved fertiliser strategies and plans to cut down the amount of GHG and other toxic gases trapped in vegetation.  

    Sustainable innovation

    Many leading Agritech platforms are stepping up to use soil as the world’s deepest carbon sink. For instance, leading players provide small-hold farmers resources to decompose their stubble instead of burning it and generating massive amounts of CO2.

    Similarly, they are also making provisions to equip farmers with cutting-edge digital technologies to garner reliable insights about soil health, weather conditions and other inputs required for precision agriculture and regenerative decisions.

    These approaches not only help reduce GHG emissions from Earth but also enable farmers to produce profitable yields.  

    Livestock and crops

    Usually, cultivating crops and livestock have always been kept at an arm’s distance from each other. Farmers don’t mingle these two approaches and tend to treat (?) them separately. However, a 2017 study revealed that by integrating livestock and crops, farmers could gain profitable yields along with increased soil carbon, scaled-down on-farm emissions from fertilisers and lower water footprints.

    A smart mixture of crop and livestock production can have significant environmental benefits. This as well relates to establishing closed-cycle ecosystems for farming based on the introduction of highly efficient organic fertilizers and soil activators from processed manure. 

    Towards net zero goals 

    The cardinal rule to achieving success is to optimise the goal. India, as a nation, has already achieved that feat. As our Prime Minister pledged at the Glasgow summit, the country intends to become a carbon-neutral nation by 2070, and it has already commenced its sustainability journey to achieve its goal. And in this fight against climate change, the country’s agriculture sector is prepared to stand at the forefront.  

    Already the agricultural sector has taken huge strides in integrating futuristic technologies and encouraging digital connectivity to every nook and corner of India.

    Leading Agritech platforms are working strenuously to unlock sustainable opportunities for the farm parties to produce quality products by harnessing pro-environment practices.

    Agriculture stakeholders who also want to become a part of this battle against climate change can start their journey by implementing the aforementioned methods. 

    So, buckle up!! Let’s make the Earth a better place for us and future generations.  

    The writer is co-founder, Agrotech India

    Published on June 05, 2022

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