With the effects of climate change becoming evident by the day and farmers having to face the worst, the good news is that the agriculture ministry's attempt to prepare district-level contingency plans across India to deal the contingencies seem to be working.
Many farmers in coastal Andhra Pradesh, participating in one such contingency plan, could manage to save their paddy crop from the fury of cyclone Nilam as they had sown submergence-tolerant varieties.
As a part of a pilot project, submergence-resistant rice varieties were sown in select villages of two Andhra coastal districts of West Godavari and Srikakulam this year. And despite the severity of cyclone Nilam, many farmers could save large portion of their crop while others faced severe losses. Similarly in Bihar and Jharkhand, as part of piloting the district-level contingency plan, paddy nurseries were grown in a staggered manner thereby providing seedlings to farmers in villages which faceda delay in monsoons this year.
Initiated by the agriculture ministry through the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the respective state agricultural universities, a complete district dossier is being prepared which is expected to help the administration in dealing with vagaries of weather across the country. “The focus of the contingency plan is to prepare farmers in various districts against delayed monsoon, excessive rains and uneven rainfall so that they can grow appropriate varieties and save their crop,” Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (Crida) director B Venkateswarlu told FE. Crida is a Hyderabad-based body affiliated with the ICAR.
Crida, which is coordinating the work, has divided the country into five zones. The document being prepared for each district would also contain basic agricultural statistics, physical characteristics of the district (soil mapping) and details of the crops and methods of cultivation to be adopted in case of exigencies.
The contingency plan looks at a district's agriculture and allied sectors, which includes fisheries, animal husbandry and dairy farming. Currently, the government has data about these sectors from the states or at the agro-climatic zone levels.