Climatic changes hit farming in coastal Orissa

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Rise in temperature and sea level has made agriculture vulnerable as seawater is more often gushing into the paddy fields with saline water

Submitted on 02/06/2012 – 09:50:23 AM

Bhubaneswar: Agriculture across the coast of Orissa is now facing a situation of climate emergency, threatening food security in such areas where climate change has been a phenomenon.

Rise in temperature and sea level has made agriculture vulnerable as seawater is more often gushing into the land filling paddy fields with saline water.

“The sea is crossing the embankment more often and damaging our crops by filling the land with saline water”, a farmer in Udaykani village in Puri District laments.

Because agriculture is almost regularly hit by tidal waves and floods, food security of these people has been threatened as they have no other option to earn a livelihood and feed the family.

With no other option, the farmers work hard to grow paddy every year with a hope that this year would go well for them. However, their hope never sustain as the gushing seawater combined with erratic rain often destroys their crop.

“The saline water has become a threat to us. Every year it is betraying us. We lose our crop. As there is no alternate livelihood option available at this place, we are forced to starve”, says Dhabaleswar of Chhenu Village in Puri district.

While these people seriously look for an alternate option, scientists are advising the farmers to go for crop diversification as an adaptability measure.

Realising that agriculture is being worst affected by climate change, an Agronomist at Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) in Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa, says, “We are asking the farmers to go for crops that can sustain against the impacts of climate change”.

Changing climate pattern is not only affecting agriculture in coastal villages, the farmers living in forest areas are also facing the wrath of climate change. Rain pattern has also changed drastically in the forest areas during the last years

Veg or Non-Veg? India at Cross Roads a report by Brighter Green

A new policy paper, Veg or Non-Veg? India at the Crossroads (PDF), published by Brighter Green, a New York-based public policy action tank. Using the entry point of climate change, the paper documents the effects of the expansion and intensification of the livestock sector for India’s food security, resource utilization, and issues of equity and sustainability. Through data and analysis, as well as on-the-ground reporting by associate Sangamithra Iyer, Brighter Green explores whether India, with a long vegetarian tradition, a fast-urbanizing and growing population, an expanding middle class, as well as millions of people experiencing food insecurity, can—or should—use its natural capital to produce (and export) more animal products in an increasingly industrial landscape. Our hope is that this detailed research is a valuable contribution to current and future deliberations on the crucial interplay between climate change and food security within India, as well as in the international arena, where industrial animal agriculture is not yet a central topic.

 

Veg or Non-Veg? India at the Crossroads (PDF), can be read or downloaded online at: http://www.brightergreen.org/files/india_bg_pp_2011.pdf 

two-page summary policy brief (PDF) can be read or downloaded online at: http://www.brightergreen.org/files/india_brief_bg_4.pdf

 

Brighter Green has also produced three short videos to accompany the policy paper:

To watch a short documentary video on climate change and India’s poultry sector, visit:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClpXIzSzNoM&feature=player_embedded

To watch a two-part documentary video on climate change and India’s dairy and beef sectors, visit: http://brightergreen.org/a.php?id=47

 

Additional policy papers and short videos for Brazil, China, and Ethiopia, produced as part of Brighter Green’s Food Policy and Equity Program, are also available, as follows:

 

·  Cattle, Soyanization, & Climate Change: Brazil’s Agricultural Revolution (PDF). Policy brief available here (PDF):  Video here.

·  Skillful Means: the Challenges of China’s Encounter with Factory Farming (PDF). Policy brief available here (PDF):  Video here.

·  Climate, Food Security, & Growth: Ethiopia’s Complex Relationship with Livestock (PDF). Policy brief available here (PDF):  Video here.

 

 

METHANE EMISSION AS INFLUENCED BY DIFFERENT CROP ESTABLISHMENT TECHNIQUES AND ORGANIC MANURES

H.M. Jayadeva, T.K. Prabhakara Setty, R.C. Gowda, R. Devendra, G.B. Mallikarjun and A.G. Bandi
Agricultural Research Station, Kathalagere, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore-560 065, India
Source: Agricultural Research Communication Centre, 2009

ABSTRACT

The field and laboratory experiment was carried out during kharif, 2005 to know the methane emission as influenced by different crop establishment techniques and organic manures. The experiment involved three crop establishment techniques viz., Transplanting, System of rice intensification (SRI) and Aerobic and four sources of nutrients viz., recommended NPK, in-situ green manure (Sunnhemp) + Rec. NPK, paddy straw manuring + Rec. NPK and FYM + Rec. NPK. The SRI establishment technique recorded significantly higher methane emission during early stages of crop growth (40 and 50 DAS). The methane emission under aerobic establishment technique was lower than normal transplanting during early stages (40 and 50 DAS). During early stage of crop growth (30 DAS), application of FYM with recommended NPK recorded significantly higher methane emission. At later stages, incorporation of paddy straw with recommended NPK recorded higher methane emission.

Cows conserving carbon

03 Oct, 2011 05:00 AM
WHEN it comes to climate change, livestock animals have become confused with human management of livestock, Tony Lovell says.A cow is just a cow, the co-founder of Soil Carbon Australia observed, but how a cow impacts on the environment is entirely the product of human decisions.

Those decisions are particularly relevant when the cow is being targeted as a methane-producing agent of climate change, in Mr Lovell’s view.

Instead of positioning cattle and sheep as problems, he suggested that the focus switch to how humans manage both livestock and fire.

A co-founder with Bruce Ward of Soil Carbon Australia, Mr Lovell recently contributed to Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room initiative in London.

The non-profit organisation is dedicated to harnessing entreprenurial drive in the development of climate change solutions. Managing livestock as a solution, rather than a problem, was one of the options on the table.

Mr Lovell has pursued lines of enquiry that put livestock in a more holistic light.

Grazing animals play a vital role in the ecology of grasslands, in that they provide an efficient way of cycling plants.

Left unchecked, a grassland will grow until it becomes moribund and dies off. The only means left to quickly cycle the plant material is fire – a tool used to excess across the world.

NASA estimates that fires each year consume 1.8-10 billion tonnes of biomass, releasing billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Mr Lovell asked, what if each year the edible portion of the biomass that is now burned is instead eaten by livestock?

Scientists suggest cycling the biomass through livestock wouldn’t create as much greenhouse gas as fire, despite livestock’s reputation in this area.

Mr Lovell asked a CSIRO scientist to calculate how much greenhouse gas would be emitted by burning a tonne of grass, and feeding the same tonne of grass through a cow.

The response in rough terms (given that much depends on the feed quality) was the “greenhouse gas intensity” of burning the grass would be 3.6 times more than if it was eaten by cattle.

And if grass is eaten, instead of being burned, it produces food – potentially quite a lot of it.

Mr Lovell roughed out some calculations under which two billion tonnes of biomass was eaten by livestock instead of being burned, and arrived at a figure of around 100 million tonnes of extra meat production.

Global meat production in 2000 was about 56 million tonnes, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Those extra animals would produce extra methane – but the net greenhouse effect would depend on how they were managed.

Properly managed livestock – that is, livestock managed to allow plant recovery from grazing and buildup of biodiversity – have been shown to be a regenerative force on degraded rangelands across the world.

If livestock were managed in a way that improved soil and groundcover on currently degraded land, that would immediately increase “grass albedo” – the ability of the Earth’s surface to reflect heat, rather than store heat as happens when sunlight hits bare ground.

More rough calculations – by an engineering professor at a Scottish university – came up with the figure that if grass albedo was employed, only 0.4 per cent of the Earth’s land area would be needed to repair the “thermal damage” done to the planet’s surface since preindustrial times.

Mr Lovell also contacted two US professors who discovered that if methane-emitting landfills are covered in fertile, biologically active soil, most of the landfill’s methane is oxidised by bacteria in the soil.

“Asked if it was possible that all the methane from a grazing cow could be similarly oxidised by the bacteria in a good pasture soil, a professor responded that with qualifications, ‘it should be attainable’.”

Put all the “back-of-the-envelope” figures together, Mr Lovell said, and they suggest that properly managed ruminant livestock have a place in addressing climate change.

“I’m not saying we have the answers, but if we think of livestock in terms of environmental cycles rather than just as methane producers, we get a very different picture,” he said.

And if grass is eaten, instead of being burned, it produces food – potentially quite a lot of it.

Mr Lovell roughed out some calculations under which two billion tonnes of biomass was eaten by livestock instead of being burned, and arrived at a figure of around 100 million tonnes of extra meat production.

Global meat production in 2000 was about 56 million tonnes, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Those extra animals would produce extra methane – but the net greenhouse effect would depend on how they were managed.

Properly managed livestock – that is, livestock managed to allow plant recovery from grazing and buildup of biodiversity – have been shown to be a regenerative force on degraded rangelands across the world.

 

If livestock were managed in a way that improved soil and groundcover on currently degraded land, that would immediately increase “grass albedo” – the ability of the Earth’s surface to reflect heat, rather than store heat as happens when sunlight hits bare ground.

More rough calculations – by an engineering professor at a Scottish university – came up with the figure that if grass albedo was employed, only 0.4 per cent of the Earth’s land area would be needed to repair the “thermal damage” done to the planet’s surface since preindustrial times.

Mr Lovell also contacted two US professors who discovered that if methane-emitting landfills are covered in fertile, biologically active soil, most of the landfill’s methane is oxidised by bacteria in the soil.

“Asked if it was possible that all the methane from a grazing cow could be similarly oxidised by the bacteria in a good pasture soil, a professor responded that with qualifications, ‘it should be attainable’.”

Put all the “back-of-the-envelope” figures together, Mr Lovell said, and they suggest that properly managed ruminant livestock have a place in addressing climate change.

“I’m not saying we have the answers, but if we think of livestock in terms of environmental cycles rather than just as methane producers, we get a very different picture,” he said.

‘Virtuous circles’ can help secure food supplies and address climate change

Submitted by Mike on Tue, 22/11/2011 – 00:01

A book published today by IIED paints a vivid picture of an alternative future in which food, energy and water supplies are sustainable and in the control of local communities.

The book show how the linear systems that shape our world are flawed as they assume a limitless supply of resources and a limitless capacity for the environment to absorb waste and pollution.

The global food system’s dependence on fossil fuels that contribute to local pollution and global warming is just one example of an unsustainable system.

The authors call instead for circular systems that mimic natural cycles to produce food, energy, materials and clean water.

“Circular economy models that reintegrate food and energy production with water and waste management can also generate jobs and income in rural and urban areas,” says co-author Dr Michel Pimbert, a principal researcher at IIED. “This ensures that wealth created stays within the local and regional economy.”

One example is a system that recycles food waste and chicken manure to feed a worm farm. The worms in turn feed the chickens and farmed fish whose bones are used as fertiliser in a market garden. Human waste via a compost toilet also enriches the garden, whose crops — together with the farmed fish and meat and eggs from the chickens — feed the people.

The system is a closed circle with loops within it. All the nutrients stay in the system and just move about through the circle, rather than being pumped as sewage into the sea and leaving the soil forever poorer.

“A transformation towards re-localised food systems will significantly help to address climate change and other challenges,” says Pimbert. “Circular systems also provide the basis for economic and political sovereignty – the ability of citizens to democratically manage their own affairs and engage with other communities on their own terms.”

Dr Caroline Lucas, a member of parliament from the Green Party of England & Wales, has written the book’s foreword.

“I warmly welcome this book’s contribution to the debate on how food systems can be redesigned and re-localised to sustain diverse local ecologies, economies and human well being,” she writes.

“The authors rightly emphasise the need for a systemic and fundamental transformation of industrial food and farming in the face of peak oil, climate change, biodiversity loss, the water crisis, food poisonings, and the impoverishment of farmers and rural communities.”

“The challenge is to design resilient food systems with, by and for citizens – to reduce ecological footprints and foster local democratic control over the means of life. But rather than look at food and agriculture in isolation, we need to consider ways of re-integrating food and energy production with water and waste management in a diversity of local contexts in rural and urban areas, – and at different scales. “

To mark the launch of the book – Virtuous Circles: Values, systems and sustainability — IIED invites bloggers to join a virtual circle to share their blog posts about the book. Once you have posted a blog on your own site please send us the link (toSuzanne.Fisher@iied.org). IIED will then profile the best posts on its own blog and via Twitter with the hashtag #vcircles.

Download the book: Virtuous Circles: Values, systems and sustainability

Let’s make climate change talks inclusive M. S. SWAMINATHAN & KANAYO F. NWANZE

Climate-resilient sustainable agriculture requires knowledge. Successful projects such as these can provide a model for others to follow. Knowledge transfer that brings the benefits of research from the laboratory to the farm is essential.
The HinduClimate-resilient sustainable agriculture requires knowledge. Successful projects such as these can provide a model for others to follow. Knowledge transfer that brings the benefits of research from the laboratory to the farm is essential.

Price volatility and the persistence of widespread and hidden hunger underline the need for enhancing the productivity and profitability of smallholder agriculture in an environmentally sustainable manner.

When world leaders sit down again to discuss climate change, we hope that the people who live and work on the world’s 500 million small farms will be with them, at least in spirit. Their voice — and the issue of agriculture as a whole — has, for too long, been missing from the conversation. But without increased support to smallholder farmers now, the number of hungry people will grow, and future food security will be placed in jeopardy.

The upcoming 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 — marking the twentieth anniversary of the landmark Earth Summit that produced Agenda 21, “a roadmap” for sustainable development — will both need to ensure that agriculture and the world’s smallholder farmers are high on the agenda if we are to overcome the many challenges we face in achieving the Millennium Development Goal 1.

The front line

In the last 20 years the global population has risen from about 5.3 billion to seven billion; the reality of climate change has been accepted beyond doubt; and the number of hungry people in the world has remained stubbornly around the one billion mark. Meanwhile, aid to agriculture has only just recently begun to pick up after decades of stagnation. More needs to be done — a lot more — and supporting smallholder farmers must be at the heart of any agenda.

The rural poor across the world, including India, have contributed little to human-induced climate change, yet they are on the front line in coping with its effects. Farmers can no longer rely on historical averages for rainfall and temperature, and the more frequent and extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, can spell disaster. And there are new threats, such as sea level rise and the impact of melting glaciers on water supply.

How significant are small farms? As many as two billion people worldwide depend on them for their food and livelihood. Smallholder farmers in India produce 41 per cent of the country’s food grains, and other food items that contribute to local and national food security. Small farmers cannot be ignored, and special attention must be given to the most vulnerable groups — particularly women, who make up a large percentage of farmers in the developing world.

Small farms also add up to big business: In the world’s 50 least developed countries, agriculture is the backbone of the economy, accounting for 30 to 60 per cent of Gross Domestic Product and employing as much as 70 per cent or more of the workforce. Addressing the plight of smallholders isn’t just a matter of equity, it’s a necessity if we are going to be able to feed ourselves in the future. Smallholders farm 80 per cent of the total farmland in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. If we don’t help them to adapt to climate change, their achievements — feeding a large portion of humanity — will be endangered.

With appropriate support, smallholders can play a key role in protecting our environment, for example through actions that contribute to carbon sequestration and limit carbon emissions (planting and maintaining forests, engaging in agro-forestry activities, managing rangelands and rice lands, and watershed protection that limits deforestation and soil erosion).

To continue farming in a sustainable way in the face of climate change, rural women and men need to be given the resources to cope with the challenges. Smallholder farmers need support such as resilience-building technologies (including drought- and salt-tolerant seed varieties and new methods of rainwater harvesting), and training in sustainable practices of conservation agriculture, such as minimum-till farming to reduce erosion and moisture loss. Investing in adaptation measures now will be far less costly than in the future.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the M.S. Swaminathan Foundation, together with the government of India and other partners, have undertaken a range of projects to do just that.

For example, in Tamil Nadu, we have been supporting rural communities to produce and market nutri-cereals like millet, which can easily grow in dry and arid environments. We worked with smallholder farmers to use simple techniques to increase their yields, while also helping rural women create and market modern recipes — for example, a millet malt drink now being sold in major health food stores in India. The result has been not only increased food for the community, but also increased income and non-farm employment opportunities.

To help farmers adapt to increasingly dry conditions, a programme in Chhattisgarh has expanded cultivation of traditionally produced Niger seed oil, which grows well in areas that receive little rain. Land and forest regeneration were promoted to improve soil structure and moisture levels, and solar energy technology and biogas digesters have been introduced, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as the need for fuelwood. Another project in the northeast has helped restore degraded jhumland and has benefited almost 40,000 households in 860 villages.

Climate-resilient sustainable agriculture requires knowledge. Successful projects such as these can provide a model for others to follow. Knowledge transfer that brings the benefits of research from the laboratory to the farm is essential.

Programmes targeted at vulnerable groups such as women and tribal communities are particularly important. IFAD-supported programmes and projects in India promote tribal development by building and strengthening grassroots institutions that enable vulnerable people to plan and manage their own development, negotiate improved entitlements, and broaden their livelihood opportunities. Conferences and talks among world leaders can do many things but they don’t feed people. We hope that leaders will keep in mind those who do: the smallholder farmers. Price volatility and the persistence of widespread, endemic and hidden hunger underline the need for urgent attention to enhancing the productivity and profitability of smallholder agriculture in an environmentally sustainable manner. This is the pathway to increasing agriculture’s contribution to climate change mitigation as well as to sustainable food security.

(Prof. M.S. Swaminathan is Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, and Chairman, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation. Kanayo F. Nwanze is President, International Fund for Agricultural Development, a U.N. agency and international financial institution dedicated to helping poor, rural people overcome poverty.)

Population has bigger effect than climate change on crop yields, study suggests

Bernard Appiah

4 October 2011 | EN

A maize farmer in BeninClimate change and population hike might mean smaller maize yields in the future

Flickr/IITA Image Library

Population pressure will be as significant a factor as climate change in reducing crop yields — and thus increasing food insecurity — in West Africa, according to a modelling study.

The authors inserted different climate change, land use, and demographic change scenarios, into an internationally validated model to estimate maize yields in Benin from 2021–2050.

They found that, as the population increases, farmers frequently cultivate cropland without allowing adequate resting periods for the soil to regain its fertility — thus reducing crop yields.

Overall, they found that various land use scenarios reduced maize yields by up to 24 per cent over the period, whereas climate change scenarios reduced them by up to 18 per cent.

But beyond 2050, “climate change is most likely to be the predominant driver for crop productivity”, they concluded.

“Our main assumption [before conducting the study] was that the low-input fallow systems (which allow resting periods for ploughed, but un-seeded land) in Benin and other West African countries would not change in the near future,” said Thomas Gaiser, lead author and a researcher at the University of Bonn, Germany.

“If governments in the region introduce policies such as the promotion of the use of mineral fertilisers, then the decrease [in the amount of land left fallow] will not be as serious as that without fertilisers,” he added.

Gaiser said farmers should use mineral fertilizers or intercrop with leguminous crops to promote soil fertility and increase yields.

He added that the findings are relevant to many Sub-Saharan Africancountries relying on leaving land fallow for soil fertility, like Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

“I am not surprised by the findings,” said Brian Keating, the director of Sustainable Agriculture Flagship of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), based in Australia. “It is important to look at all the factors that contribute to agricultural productivity output, and not just on climate change.”

But Keating told SciDev.Net that many farming systems in West Africa yield only 20–30 per cent of what would be possible if better practices and technologies were adopted.

Temi Ologunorisa, director of the Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research at Osun State University, in Nigeria, said African governments should adopt climate change adaptation strategies.

“Agriculture in Africa is about 80 per cent rain-fed, and this must change given the declining amount of rainfall,” Ologunorisa said.

The study was published in the August edition of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology.