Climate Change Resilience & Social Protection for Farmers
By Isha Sharma and Arya Raje
01/ The problem
Agriculture is the backbone of India’s economy, contributing 20% to the national gross domestic product and providing livelihoods to almost two-thirds of its population. Unfortunately, agriculture in India has also become more greenhouse gas-intensive due to the use of climate-unfriendly inputs such as mineral fertilisers, for instance. As a result, agricultural production accounts for 18% of the total GHG emissions in India, making it crucial to find sustainable solutions for the future1.
Additionally, the impact of climate change on smallholder farmers, who are most often vulnerable to income shocks in the form of natural calamities, scarcity of resources, and a drop in farm output, is a critical problem. Smallholder farmers and their families constitute nearly 50% of India’s total population. 85% of all farms in India are less than two hectares2 in size.
02/ Smallholder farmers and climate change
Some of the key ways in which climate change affects smallholder farmers in India include:
- Variability in crop yield due to erratic rainfall and rising temperatures. Smallholder farmers often need access to irrigation and modern farming technologies and are more susceptible to these fluctuations.
- Water scarcity, which affects both crop irrigation and livestock management.
- Crop losses and damage to infrastructure because of the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.
- Warmer temperatures and changing rainfall patterns can contribute to the proliferation of pests and diseases.
03/ Agriculture schemes and their impact on farming practises
The government implements multiple welfare measures that directly or indirectly combat climate change. These programmes and policies aim to enhance productivity, conserve natural resources, and improve farmers’ livelihoods while adapting to changing climatic conditions.
Some of the schemes for farmers that help in mitigating and combating climate change include:
Using Solar Energy:
- The PM Kusum Yojana offers subsidies on solar water pumps, promoting the use of renewable energy among farmers.
- The Solar Rooftop Scheme provides subsidies for installing solar panels in households, mitigating the dependence on fossil fuel-based electricity generation.
Reducing reliance on solid fuels:
- The PM Ujjwala Yojana, which gives LPG (liquid petroleum gas) cylinders to families who are below the poverty line.
- The GOBAR-dhan scheme (Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources) for collecting cattle dung and solid waste in villages to produce organic manure and biogas.
Monitoring Soil and Water Health:
- Soil Health Cards are issued to farmers, which record crop-wise recommendations for nutrients and fertilisers, which are analysed by soil testing labs to improve the productivity of the farm.
- The Krishi Sinchai Yojana offers financial assistance to farmers to purchase equipment for drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation. These practises reduce water loss by directly directing water supply to the crops’ roots.
Organic Farming and Crop Diversification:
- The Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana provides financial assistance to farmers to adopt organic farming methods, including organic inputs and crop rotation.
- The Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture Schemes is for the holistic development of the horticulture sector in India through protected cultivation, water harvesting, and post-harvest infrastructure, which help in carbon sequestration, to mitigate climate change.
Livelihood protection for farmers:
- The PM Fasal Bima Yojana provides insurance coverage and financial support in the event of crop failure due to natural calamities, pests, and disease.
- The PM Kisan Samman Nidhi supplements the financial needs of smallholder farmers with income support of INR 6,000 a year.
- MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) enhances livelihood security through guaranteed wage employment.
- The Jal Jeevan Mission provides drinking water through tap connections in rural areas.
04/ Haqdarshak’s work
At Haqdarshak, we are working on the last-mile delivery of these programmes, specifically across Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Some examples of what we are doing:
- We are building programmes leveraging blended finance to enable farmers to access subsidised finance for acquiring climate-friendly assets.
- We are building a dedicated platform for farmers to discover and apply for climate-focused schemes.
- We are researching and piloting implementation programmes to ensure the uptake of welfare schemes, which provide a ring fence for disaster relief.
And we have already seen some traction. In Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh, we have enabled 10,000 farmers and their families to unlock benefits for farm investments and livelihood enhancement, like diversifying their crop portfolio, subsidies for irrigation, soil testing, uptake of agroforestry, and water access.
Our work on implementing schemes indirectly related to climate change has been ongoing.
Since 2017, we have facilitated:
- 17,857 benefits for the Ujjwala Yojana
- 4,831 benefits for the PM Fasal Bima Yojana
- 15,479 benefits for PM Kisan Samman Nidhi
05/ HQ’s take
Government welfare programmes provide farmers with access to financial resources, insurance, information, and advisory services that can help them cope with the impacts of climate change. Social protection programmes can provide safety nets for vulnerable farmers and their families.
These programmes could include cash transfers, food vouchers, and health insurance. By providing these safety nets, governments can help smallholder farmers cope with climate change’s economic shocks and stresses. Overall, enabling climate change resilience in smallholder farmers is essential for sustainable agricultural development and poverty reduction.