The World Bank has announced a $420 million project to increase climate resilience financial and viability in agriculture for small and marginal farmers in India.
The project is set to benefit over 25 million people across over 5000 villages in India’s districts of Marathwada and Vidarbha which are most vulnerable to climate change.
The project, titled Maharashtra Project for Climate Resilient Agriculture, will be implemented rural areas that depend on rain-fed agriculture.
It aims to strengthen resilience of small and marginal farmers against the effects of climate change by promoting agricultural technology and farming practices that that will improve soil health, water-use efficiency and crop productivity.
The changing climate and variability of rainfall has seriously affected agriculture in Maharashtra. The area predominantly consists of small farmers whose productivity has suffered due to droughts.
Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India commented:
“For India to sustain its growth across generations and become one of the world’s largest middle-class economies, the country needs to shift to a more resource-efficient growth path, which is inclusive. This project will help the rural poor, largely dependent on rain-fed agriculture, use more climate-resilient farming technologies and conserve water, a scarce resource,”
“The project will also support the state government to shift towards a new paradigm that puts climate resilience at the core of agricultural growth and rural development in Maharashtra,”
The project will scale up climate-resilient technologies such as micro irrigation systems, facilitate aquifer recharge and expand surface water storage. This is expected to directly contribute to greater efficiency in water use.
Similarly, the project will introduce farmers to climate-resilient seed varieties; these have a short maturity, are drought and heat resistant and salt tolerant.
The project will also take up activities at the watershed level such as building drainage lines and preparing catchment area treatment plans that promote efficient water use.
Farmer Producers Organisations will also benefit from the project as it plans to improve their capacity to operate as sustainable, market orientated agri-enterprises. By mainstreaming the climate resilient agriculture agenda the value chains will be strengthened.
Patrick Verissimo, Lead Agriculture Economist commented:
“The state climate modelling results show that the annual mean temperature in the project area will increase by around 1.3 to 1.5 degree Celsius by the 2030s. The increase in rainfall during this period is also likely to get distributed over a shorter number of rain days. The Government of Maharashtra recognizes the need for a structural shift to make agriculture more sustainable and is keen to build climate resilience in agriculture which this project will support the government in achieving,”
India’s agricultural industry contributes 18% of the country’s Green House Gas emissions, its second highest contributor. The project will also aim to reduce the country’s emissions through carbon sequestration which involves planting trees in upper catchment areas and afforestation; growing fruit trees on small orchards; and incorporating crop residues into the soil.
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Image credit: Shree Vallabh