The Required Climate Resilient Crops, Varieties, Technologies & Practices to Fight Climate Change-Induced Agricultural Problems in Kashmir

A deficit in food production is rampant in recent times in Jammu & Kashmir, and with a reduction in rainfall, rainfed agriculture will suffer the most
A deficit in food production is rampant in recent times in Jammu & Kashmir, and with a reduction in rainfall, rainfed agriculture will suffer the most

In J&K about 70% of the population is based on an agrarian economy, and the growing population with the changing food habits is driving up the demand for food. It is predicted that food shortage problems are being faced due to climate change effects which are triggered by declining water bodies, diminishing soil area, water pollution, and biodiversity loss. As per a 2020 report, it was found that around 8.9% of the global population is hungry. Thus, the food security challenge will become a tough task, as the world will need to produce about 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed an estimated 9 billion people and this will impact J&K also. The agriculture sector of J&K is extremely vulnerable to climate change which has already posed a challenge in the form of increasing temperatures, weather variability, shifting agro-ecosystem boundaries, invasive crops and pests, and more frequent extreme weather events. Climate change results in the reducing crop yields, and the nutritional quality of major cereals, besides lowering livestock productivity. Therefore, substantial investments in adaptation will be required to maintain current yields and achieve higher production and food quality values to meet the demand.

According to IMD, there has been an increase in the average temperature, and the amount of snowfall has reduced over the years. For the past two years snow and early snowfall had an impact on horticulture and other parameters of the economy. The vulnerability of agriculture and allied activities due to climate sensitivity, temperature, precipitation, and cold wave significantly impacted the agricultural sector and enhanced its vulnerability. This happens due to the early onset of rains or an increased number of dry days. The valley has been receiving less amount of rainfall, and because of this, the agriculture and allied crop production practices in the Himalayan region also have been impacted. In Western Himalaya, the traditional farming operation is a complex product of crop husbandry, animal husbandry, and forest resources constituting interlinked diversified production systems. However, with changing land use, the area under cultivation for many traditional crops has been reduced and some others are on the verge of extinction. A deficit in food production is rampant in recent times in Jammu & Kashmir, and with a reduction in rainfall, rainfed agriculture will suffer the most. Horticultural crops like apples are also showing a decline in production due to a decline in snowfall in addition the impacts of thermal stress on livestock productivity have also impounded its ill effects.

As per UNEP and ICIMOD, the temperature in the Himalayan region has risen by 1o C since the 1970s. This has caused the meltdown of snow and glaciers at a rate of 15 m/year even in winter. As a consequence, water availability is reduced. Further, changes in the rainfall pattern and relative humidity add to weather inconsistencies that exist at the time of plantation and harvesting.

Impacts on agriculture and horticulture crops:

Right now, the production of irrigated rice, wheat, and mustard has reduced by 6%, 4%, and 4% respectively. The deficit in food production in the Kashmir region has reached 40%, while the deficit is 30% in vegetable production and 69% in oilseed production, which accounts for putting food security at a greater risk. The invasions of weeds (Lantana camara, Parthenium sp.) increased in the croplands, although regularly weeded out by the farmers. The increased frequency of insect pest attacks has resulted in the decline of crop yield. Paddy lands are rapidly converting into rainfed orchards or drylands in districts such as Anantnag, Baramulla, Bandipora, Badgam, Pulwama, Kulgam, and Shopian in recent years. This has increased the area under apple cultivation however, the yield per hectare has dropped significantly during the past decade. (ENVIS Newsletter, Oct-Dec 2015)

These above factors have led to a loss in agri-diversity and require the need for change in crops varieties, practices, and cropping patterns as per the changing weather behaviors and extreme event challenges for the respective areas, to build the agricultural sector that is the predominant source of income for the Kashmir valley as a rich repository of agrobiodiversity and resilient to crop diseases.

Climate Resilient Practices:

Climate resilience is the principal view to fight climate risks. In the situation of Kashmir, resilience attributes to the competence of an agricultural system to foresee, prepare for, adapt to, absorb and get back from the impacts of changes in climate and extreme weather. Resilience can be built up by implementing short and long-term climate relief and adaptation strategies, as well as ensuring clear and comprehensive participation of multiple actors and stakeholders in decision-making and management processes. (FAO, 2021)

These precautionary strategies are suggested based on weather variables and fluctuations, such as changes in temperature and precipitation resulting in long-term altered temperature, rainfall patterns, and agricultural droughts, On the other hand, some result in natural calamities such as floods.

Keeping these climatic risks in mind, here are the practices outlined to manage climatic risks for the growth of the farming sector in the Kashmir Valley. The practices are for the following sections: crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture.

Smart practices towards climate resilient agriculture: (Kumar et al., 2018)

  1. Building resilience in soil:

  • Mandatory soil testing is done in all villages to ensure the balanced use of chemical fertilizers. Improved methods of fertilizer application, matching crop requirements to reduce nitrous oxide emission.

  • Land shaping - contour cultivation, land configuration,

  • Cover vegetation in pastures and also avoid overgrazing.

  • Mulching

  • Wind break & Shelter belts

  • Strip cropping

  • Improved method of fertilizer application with the use of SSNM and Leaf Color Chart for rice, Slow release fertilizer (coated urea), Deep placement of urea, Fertigation, and INM

  1. Adapted cultivars and cropping systems:

  • Improved, early-duration drought, heat, and flood-tolerant varieties are introduced for achieving optimum yields despite climatic stresses.

  • Selection of Crop Variety (Short or Long duration)

  • Selection of a cropping sequence: In a sequence, if the first crop is shallow rooted then the second crop should be deep-rooted and vice versa and the inclusion of a legume crop is a must. Avoid burning crop residue in the field, go for sowing using residual moisture.

  • Crop diversification

  1. Rainwater harvesting and recycling:

  • Inter-row water harvesting: The crop is sown in narrow strips between wide intervals that are ridged as artificial miniature watersheds. The usage of crop residues as mulch, and the application of coir pith enhance the water-holding capacity of the soil.

  • Inter-plot or micro-plot water harvesting: In this case, water is harvested in the passage or furrows between the plots when rainfall is comparatively more. Runoff from the sloping area supplements rainfall for raising crops on level land.

  • In farm ponds and reservoirs: Surface runoff from small watersheds is stored in farm ponds for utilization as supplemental or lifesaving irrigation. Suitable lining material for pond beds and anti-evaporates should be found and used.

  • Water saving technologies: Use of technologies like Direct seeded rice, Drum seeded rice, zero tillage, micro irrigation, Improved planting measure like BBF, FIRB, etc., and land configuration like tied ridges, and tied furrows which arrest water.

  1. Farm machinery (custom hiring) centers:

  • Chisel plow and para plow to be used to help in conserving rainwater.

  • Bund former and channel former help in taking up immediate planting/sowing

  • Laser leveler helps in increasing nutrient and water use efficiency.

  • Direct seeder and drum seeder helps in sowing at labor scarce time.

  • To use immediate rain we can opt for transplanters

  • Harvesters help in the quick harvest of crops because of the forecast of rain at the maturity of the crop.

Crop diversification including intercropping of rainfed crops is an important risk-minimizing strategy for drought-proofing in scarce rainfall zones and paddy growing areas. In contingency situations such as delay in the onset of monsoon, the adoption of intercropping for delayed plantings can be remunerative instead of sole cropping. However, availability and access to farm implements for taking up the intercropping systems are to be ensured for wider adoption. In this context, village-level custom hiring service centers for making available farm implements can help increase the adoption by small and marginal farmers.

  1. Crop contingency plans:

The ICAR/CRIDA has developed district-level contingency plans for our country at the district level. These contingency plans for all the districts of Kashmir; are also available on the website and through operationalization of these plans during aberrant monsoon years, the district/ block level extension staff helps the farmers to cope with climate variability.

  1. Weather-based agro advisories:

Automatic weather stations at KVK experimental farms and mini-weather observatories in project villages are established to record real-time weather parameters such as rainfall, temperature and wind speed, etc. both to issue customized agro advisories and improve weather literacy among farmers.

  1. Village Climate Risk Management Committee (VCRMC):

A village-level committee representing all categories of farmers including women and the land may be formed with the approval of Gram Sabha to take all decisions regarding interventions, through promoting farmers’ participation and convergence with the ongoing Government schemes relevant to climate change adaptation. This VCRMC may be engaged for participating in all discussions leading to finalizing interventions, selection of target farmers and area, liaison with gram panchayat and local elected representatives, and maintaining all financial transactions under the project. These collective approaches help to support and elevate the agricultural sector in achieving the global climate change goals and may help in tripling the win of enhanced agricultural productivity, incomes, climate resilience, and carbon sequestration needs.  It is vital to include agriculture, food security, and land in the climate change negotiation.

  1. Integrated Farming System modules :

Diversification of farm enterprises needs to be encouraged among apple and crop growers in the remote villages to augment the farm income and build resilience among the farming community to tide over losses due to drought. (CEN, 2019)

To sort the climate change impacts the above smart practices may be practiced with guiding information on future weather conditions of the respective areas, due this implication of climatic variability or extremes over the agricultural sector could be wide-reaching and could affect food security, livelihood activities, trade policies, water conservation issues and the large portion of the population. The above adverse impacts of climate change on agricultural production would be severe in the absence of appropriate adaptation and mitigation measures. The key priorities proposed under actions of climate change by J&K are running under the  sustainable agriculture mission to undermine the impact of climate change both through adaptation and mitigation measures and also to enhance the sustainability of the sectors are as follows:

Sustainable Agriculture Mission

Key Priorities:

  1. Planning of cropping system and crop varieties through Crop diversification, drought-tolerant crops, and water-saving crops.

  2. Capacity building of Planners farmers and extension workers and dissemination of new and appropriate technology.

  3. Integrated nutrient management (INM) in a 50000-ha area.

  4. Zero Tillage

  5. Trash mulching in agriculture and Horticulture

  6. Combating climate-related risk through the Micro Irrigation program

  7. Management of climate change risk for sustainable productivity

  8. Weather-based Crop Insurance

  9. Enhancing capacity for livestock disease management and forecasting monitoring and management

  10. Conservation of water bodies and fish stock augmentation in natural water bodies and promotion of fish farming

  11. Resource mapping (Agriculture) by using GIS and RS technology and Strengthening of agro advisory services by using Android Technology

  12. Screening of crops for moisture/heat/disease/pest tolerance and nutrient use efficiency

  13. Crop yield and weather modeling for future projections

  14. Carbon pool assessment/sequestration in forest and agricultural ecosystems

  15. Institutionalizing the role of research universities in developing sustainable agricultural practices and facilitating the pilot implementation

  16. Promoting sustainable floriculture practice

  17. Promoting sustainable horticulture practice

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture

The National Sustainable Agriculture Mission aims to focus on four areas crucial to agriculture for adapting to climate change, viz., dry land agriculture, risk management coupled with weather insurance, access to information, and use of Biotechnology. The Mission aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, the expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.

National Mission

J&K Mission

Key issues to be addressed

Sustainable Agriculture Mission

Mission on Sustainable Agriculture

1.      Develop new varieties of crops

2.      Flood-resistant varieties and dry-land agriculture

3.      Methane management from rice cultivation

4.      Soil and water conservation

5.      Promotion of Horticulture, Floriculture, and sericulture

6.      Climate-proofing of the animal husbandry sector

Through evaluation of past, present, and future conditions, i.e. being observed, in present naturally occurring and may in occurrence, it was examined that, these climate change indicators represent the environmental conditions and increase our understanding of the cause and effects of climate change and act as tools for evaluating on-going and future development programs. Some of these indicators include:

  1. Increase in the average temperature regime

  2. Shift in rainfall pattern & deficit snowfall

  3. Decrease in water levels of rivers and streams

  4. Reduced snowfall as a result of heat-trapping gases

  5. Drying up of springs & reduction in the flows

  6. Shift in snowfall timing (e.g. February & March winters receive heavy snowfall whereas December & January, the usual snow time receive less snowfall

  7. Reported decline in glacial area in Chenab basin e.g. glacial area has reduced from 1 sq. km to 0.3 sq. km between 1962 – 2004

  8. Rising temperatures & flash floods

  9. Altitudinal movement of temperature-sensitive plant species. Plant species responding to high temperatures would grow at higher altitudes e.g. red algal bloom increased in Dal Lake due to the water temperature rise.

Now, this changing agricultural scenario needs Climate Resilient and Climate Smart Agriculture. Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach to managing landscapes-cropland, livestock, forests, and fisheries- that address the interlinked challenges of food security and accelerating climate change. CSA aims to simultaneously achieve three outcomes:

  • Increased Productivity: Produce more and better food to improve nutrition security and boost incomes, especially for the poor who live in rural areas and mainly rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.

  • Enhanced resilience: Reduce vulnerability to drought, pests, diseases, and other climate-related risks and shocks; and improve capacity to adapt and grow in the face of longer-term stresses like shortened seasons and erratic weather patterns.

  • Reduced emissions: Pursue lower emissions for each calorie or kilo of food produced, avoid deforestation from agriculture and identify ways to absorb carbon out of the atmosphere.


The CSA theme explicitly focuses on addressing climate change. Systematically considers the synergies and trade-offs that exist between productivity, adaptation, and mitigation and aims to capture new funding opportunities to close the deficit in investment. The banks need to show a commitment to deliver climate-smart agriculture that achieves the triple win of increased productivity, enhanced resilience, and reduced emissions with a greater focus on adaptation and resilience. To screen all projects for climate risks to use metrics and indicators to measure outcomes, and account for greenhouse gas emissions in our projects and operations. These actions will help J&K to implement Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the agriculture sector and will contribute to progress on the sustainable Goals for climate action, poverty, and the eradication of hunger.


  1. Parvaze, S., Ahmad, L., Parvaze, S. and Kanth, R.H., 2017. Climate change projection in Kashmir Valley (J and K). Current World Environment12(1), p.107.

  2. ENVIS Newsletter, Oct-Dec 2015. Climate Change and Concerns of J&K. J&K ENVIS Centre Department of Ecology, Environment & Remote Sensing Jammu & Kashmir.

  3. Detail Project Report, Aug 2017. National Adaptation Fund For Climate Change (NAFCC): J & K Climate Change Cell. Dept. of Forest, Ecology & Environment, Civil Secretariat/ Jammu (Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture).

  4. State Action Plan on Climate Change: Jammu & Kashmir, Aug 2017. Dept. of Forest, Ecology & Environment.

  5. Climate Change and Agriculture, June 2021. Climate profile of J&K indicating variation in climate characteristics over the years, Greater Kashmir.

Karan Chhabra1, Manoj Kumar2, Preeti Mamgai3

ICAR-CITH, KVK Baramulla, J&K1,2

ICAR-ATARI, Zone-I, Ludhiana, Punjab3

1Corresponding author: karanchhabrakvk@gmail.com

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