In November 2021, Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate / AIM4C), a joint initiative by the United States and the United Arab Emirates, was formed. This innovation mission aims to increase investment and support for climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation over five years (2021 – 2025). AIM for Climate wants to bring stakeholders together to address these challenges, considering the behemoth of climate change and food security.
Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate wants to focus on agricultural innovation and enable agriculture to be part of the solution to address the climate crisis. They plan to achieve this through partnerships with governments, the scientific community, academics, innovation hubs, etc.
As of January 2023, investments of more than US$ 8 billion have been mobilized to support the causes of 275 partners, including 42 governments.
In February 2023, on the sidelines of the I2U2 Business Forum in Abu Dhabi, the Indian Government’s agreed to join the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C).
The impact of climate change on agriculture in India and solutions
Before understanding why India’s entry is significant, let us understand the basics.
On the one hand, global warming is increasing the planet’s temperature; on the other hand, it also impacts weather and seasonality, on which most agricultural practices are based. If the seasons are thrown off balance, the productivity of crops suffers, reducing food supply and affecting farmers’ incomes.
Therefore, the agriculture sector needs to adopt new technologies and approaches that can mitigate and adapt to climate change while also supporting the growing population.
Why is India joining Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate is important
In spite of the rapid progress India has made from the economic front, a majority of the country’s population is dependent on agriculture directly or indirectly for their livelihood. As of 2020-21, more than 20 percent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) and about 50% of the country’s workforce is accounted for by agriculture.
All this effort is not for nothing; India grows a lot of agricultural products and is among the top producers and exporters of rice, wheat, pulses, fruits, cotton, sugarcane, tea, spices, etc., in the world.
Therefore resilient Indian agriculture is not only needed to feed its own 1.4 billion people but also many mouths across the world. During the pandemic and post-economic aftermath, India supplied 3.2 million tonnes of wheat to different countries during the April-October period of 2020-21, an increase of more than 500 percent in volume terms. Bangladesh, Nepal, UAE, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Afghanistan, Qatar, Indonesia, Oman, and Malaysia were the primary beneficiaries of India’s stockpiles.
However, there is a problem, Indian agriculture, like India’s landscape, is vulnerable to natural disasters, which are also aggravated by the impact of climate change. As per a report by the Centre for Science and Environment, India has seen a localized climate disaster nearly every day in the first nine months of 2022. The details show that the country experienced extreme weather events on 241 of 273 days till October 1, which affected 1.8 million hectares of the crop area and the economic losses and lives lost.
The increased frequency of these climate-related hazards adds a new dimension to food security and availability. Indian agriculture is already threatened by issues like the limited availability of water resources, land degradation, and air pollution; the weather vagaries are making the challenge even more frightening.
It’s not that India has not taken note of these climate risks. Over the last few years, many remedial strategies have been incorporated to deal with the situation.
In February 2016, India introduced Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), which provides financial support to farmers to mitigate the losses caused by natural disasters like floods, drought, crop diseases, and attacks by pests, etc. In 2011, National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) was launched to promote climate-resilient technologies in agriculture.
To leverage the agriculture expertise of Israel, in 2006, India signed an agreement with them to increase crop diversity and productivity. This India – Israel agriculture partnership has not only increased the cooperation in agriculture but has taken forward the bilateral cooperation.
India joining Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate is a further step towards climate-resilient agriculture in India. The exchange of information between its partners will greatly improve the productivity and quality of agriculture.
The agriculture sector remains a priority for India, and increasing the farmers’ income is a key focus area for the current Indian government under Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. Therefore agriculture development initiatives focussing on soil and water management, crop diversification, cropping system optimization, risk management, and localized forecasting and agro-advisory will help Indian farmers to adopt climate mitigation strategies and help India and the world to be more secure from a food perspective.
Meanwhile, India has also taken rapid strides in making a crop that kind of lost peoples’ imagination, back to our dinner plates. The humble crop, millet, has emerged as an answer to global food security. Read here.