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Is Climate-Smart Agriculture the Strategic Investment for Business Sustainability?

As the effects of climate change cast a shadow over farms globally, the call for businesses to adopt climate-smart agriculture becomes increasingly urgent.

Shivam Dwivedi
Is Climate-Smart Agriculture the Strategic Investment for Business Sustainability? (Photo Source: FAO elearning Academy)
Is Climate-Smart Agriculture the Strategic Investment for Business Sustainability? (Photo Source: FAO elearning Academy)

The growing effects of climate change on farming are like a looming storm cloud over both our food supply and business stability. Picture longer droughts parching fields, fierce floods washing crops away, and unpredictable weather throwing everything into chaos. For big companies relying on a steady flow of agricultural goods, this poses a serious problem. But there's a ray of hope: embracing climate-smart agriculture. It's like putting on a sturdy raincoat before the storm hits, helping businesses not just survive but thrive in a world where the climate keeps changing.

What is Climate-Smart Agriculture?

A Multifaceted Approach Climate-smart agriculture, as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), revolves around three fundamental pillars: sustainable productivity increases, enhanced resilience, and reduced emissions. This holistic approach ensures not only higher yields but also the long-term stability of land and water resources, equipping farmers with adaptive techniques to combat climate-induced challenges.

It is also mitigating agriculture's contribution to climate change. Moreover, it focuses on the interconnectedness of landscapes, communities, and market opportunities, highlighting the importance of a comprehensive strategy for enduring resilience.

Risks of Sticking to Conventional Practices: How Climate Change Threatens Businesses

Continuing with conventional agricultural practices in the face of climate change spells disaster for businesses worldwide. From disrupted raw material supplies to the loss of agricultural land and productivity, corporations are vulnerable to the cascading effects of climate-driven disturbances.

Market instability further exaggerates these challenges, threatening food security and the very foundations of corporate operations. In contrast to this, investing in climate-smart agriculture offers a strategic shift from reactive crisis management to proactive adaptation, safeguarding businesses against future disruptions.

Rewards of Climate-Smart Agriculture Investment

Beyond risk mitigation, investments in climate smart agriculture yield a plethora of benefits for businesses:

  • Supply Chain Security: By making resilient farming operations, businesses ensure a stable supply of raw materials, protecting themselves from the volatility of markets affected by climate change.

  • Brand Trust & Consumer Loyalty: Aligning with consumer preferences for ethical and sustainable sourcing enhances brand reputation. It fosters long-term customer loyalty, particularly among younger demographics.

  • Innovation and Collaboration: Collaboration on climate-smart agriculture initiatives facilitates partnerships with local stakeholders, generating valuable insights and solutions with broad applicability across industries.

  • Community Prosperity: Prioritizing farmer livelihoods through climate-smart practices contributes to rural development. Thereby promoting the resilience of both communities and the market infrastructure important for business operations.

Integrating Technology and Community Empowerment

The convergence of technology and community empowerment serves as a linchpin for effective climate-smart agriculture implementation:

  • Watershed Management: Restoring degraded watersheds ensures reliable access to water for agricultural purposes, mitigating the impacts of drought and enhancing irrigation stability.

  • Climate Adaptation Training: Equipping farmers with knowledge and tools for climate adaptation, including drought-resistant crop varieties and efficient water management techniques, optimizes yields in adverse conditions.

  • Collective Empowerment: Farmer Producer Organizations play a pivotal role in enhancing cooperation among farmers, facilitating market-oriented crop planning, and improving bargaining power within supply chains.

Climate-Smart Agriculture in India: Impacts of National Programmes & Policies

  • The ‘More Crop per Drop’ approach is a good strategy in India's agricultural water management. Initiatives like Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMSKY) and MGNREGA have played important roles in conserving water resources and replenishing groundwater levels across the country. PMSKY, particularly, includes a Micro Irrigation Fund aimed at promoting efficient water use practices in a climate-conscious manner, benefiting both field crops and horticulture subsectors.

  • India's fertilizer policies have also contributed positively to crop production and productivity. The adoption of fertilizers resulted in an additional food grain production of 13.66 million metric tons, preventing the conversion of 11.48 million hectares of forest land into cropland and thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2013 million metric tons. The introduction of neem-coated urea has further decreased fertilizer input costs, improved nutrient efficiency, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizer sources.

  • Efforts to promote Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) have been earnestly undertaken throughout the country. ZBNF offers a commercially viable and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional agriculture, with better adaptability to climate change.

  • The area under agroforestry is steadily increasing, leading to more carbon sequestration and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Sub-Mission on Agro-forestry plays an important role in this. Including pricing policies would not only stabilize the livelihoods of agroforestry farmers in India but also enhance environmental services.

  • In 2017-18, India witnessed record milk production, reaching 176.3 million metric tons compared to 132.4 million metric tons in 2012-13. Several livestock-related policies focusing on animal health, vaccination, fodder availability, artificial insemination, as well as marketing and promoting agripreneurship ecosystems, have contributed significantly to this achievement.

Investing in Future-Proof Systems

In light of increasing climate risks, short-term fixes are no longer tenable for businesses. Adopting climate-smart agriculture demands a transformative approach. It is characterized by sustained investment and commitment to long-term resilience. By understanding and responding to what consumers care about, making sure we have the resources we need to thrive, and leading the way in sustainability, businesses can adapt to the challenges of climate change. In doing so, they not only protect themselves from uncertainty but also make a real difference in society and the environment.

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