Rice cultivation in east India is ‘net carbon sink’


Sandip Das

New Delhi, Dec 16:

Rice cultivation through flooded cultivation method, often seen as a source of methane emissions, which contribute to global warming, does not release carbon into the atmosphere, a study by the Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), a premier body under the ministry of agriculture, has stated.

Instead, the study has said the tropical low land submerged ecosystem in mainly eastern India is a ‘net carbon sink not a carbon source’.

The low land flooded rice ecosystem has the capacity to store carbon in soil and can behave as net carbon sink, the study says.

“Carbon inputs in rice field through photosynthesis, biomass and organic carbon added as manure exceed output, making paddy cultivation in eastern regions as carbon sinks rather than carbon emitters,” Pratap Bhattacharya, a senior scientist at CRRI told FE.

The findings of the study is expected to help agricultural scientists in fixing climate responsibility.

Pratap and other scientists at Cuttack based CRRI measured the amount of carbon dioxide and methane produced by a two hectare rice field during 2012 and 13, including the wet (July-November) and dry (January – May) seasons.

We have found out that flooded paddy cultivation do not contribute to climate change. In fact it helps in mitigating the adverse impact of climate change on agriculture,” A K Nayak, who co-authored the study said.

The findings of the study is expected to help agricultural scientists in fixing climate responsibility.

However the CRRI scientists recommended a long term study to incorporate different paddy cultivation practices, exhaustive soil testing and various temporal variations would provide a greater clarity on the issue.

As much as 16 million hectare of agricultural land in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam which has share of 40% of country’s rive cultivation, is under low land cultivation.

The assessement report of the Inter-governmental Panel on climate change earlier this year had stated that paddy fields in tropical countries account for up to 11% of man-made global methane emissions estimated at between 493 and 723 million tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent a year.

Paddy cultivation in standing water is often seen as emitting methane – a major Green House Gas (GHG) along with carbon dioxide. More than 90% of flooded paddy cultivation area is in India and China.

Meanwhile, minister for state for agriculture Sanjeev Kumar Balyan on Tuesday said in Lok Sabha that GHG emissions from agriculture and allied sectors is about 18% of the total GHG emission in the country.

Balyan said the government through National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture is providing support to low carbon agriculture technologies such as direct seeded rice, system or rice intensification, intermittent irrigation, reduced or zero tillage, irrigation and agroforestry to reduce GHG emissions in the agriculture sector.

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Springs, not glaciers, fighting back climate change in eastern Himalayas

Armed with science, villagers are pioneering a unique and replicable spring-fed water management system in the eastern Himalayan state of Sikkim. Subhra Priyadarshini reports.

Basung Doma never went to high school. She would much rather help her father in their farmland. So it comes as a surprise when she rattles off names of all the lithographic formations in and around her small hilltop village in south of Sikkim, a tiny north-east Indian state nestled in the eastern Himalayas.
“This one is a contact spring and that one, on that hill, is a fracture spring“, Doma, now all of 24 and a mother of two, points to a distant blue hill. She amazes further with her precise knowledge, down to millimetres, of how much water each of these rock formations allow to pass within them. Her fellow village folks seem equally at ease with topographic information that’s of use to their agriculture and water use.

Robin Prasad Sewan, the Block Development Officer of Namthang, a small town 21 km away from the state’s capital Gangtok, explains the unusually high level of scientific knowledge among the villagers, “They use science in their daily life to tackle the effects of climate change. So it is only in their interest that they master technical knowledge upon which their very survival rests.”

And so ‘water recharge’ and ‘surface run off’ are part of the lingo across villages in Sikkim, a state which is transforming its springs into perennial water sources that don’t dry up in the winters. “It is like recharging your mobile phone, no?” Doma asks playfully.

Glaciers far above, rivers far below

Robin Sewan, BDO of Namthang in South Sikkim, points to a trench dug in the mountains that will hold surface runoff during monsoons.
© S. Priyadarshini

In the Himalayas, glaciers and rivers are hailed as the life source of water. “Springs don’t get much attention but they can turn into the only source of perennial water, if kept recharged”, says Pem Norbu Sherpa, coordinator of Sikkim’s successful Dhara Vikas (or spring development) programme. Sherpa oversees a cadre of young para hydrogeologists trained specifically for the purpose. He spearheads the science-backed watershed management project which has brought to life over 50 small springs and 4 lakes across the winter drought-prone villages of south and west Sikkim since 2008.“Springs and streams are largely unstudied,” agrees Sandeep Tambe, a Commissioner in Sikkim’s rural management and development department. “We always talk about the hydrogeological significance of the mountains in terms of the lowlands. We forget that mountain people in remote villages depend solely on these springs. For them glaciers are far above and rivers far below,” he says explaining the rationale behind the ambitious spring revival programme.

For the mountain folks, ‘climate change’ translates to a marked decline in winter rains. “Even a decade back, these springs would discharge groundwater almost all year round making sure villagers got water for agriculture and household use,” Robin Sewan says. Slowly, as winters saw lesser and lesser rains, the spring waters started to become a trickle1. Population has been on the rise putting pressure on the already scant water resources. “We did not have a choice but to travel long distances to fetch water in the winter months,” says Cheki Sherpa from the Tengaymendang village near Ravangla in South Sikkim, reflecting the general plight of women in the region.

Marrying natural science with social science

A water body in a south Sikkim village revived as a groundwater recharge system.
© S. Priyadarshini

Learning from sporadic experiments in the Western Himalayas and blending it with available science and social science, Tambe and his team are making use of funds from India’s flagship national rural employment scheme MNREGA to revive critical springs, streams and lakes in Sikkim2. The plan is to involve villagers in recharging groundwater on the hilltops, holding surface runoff from monsoon months in trench dig-outs, continuously assessing their climate change related vulnerability and updating a ‘Spring Atlas’ that maps 704 springs across the state. [More: http://www.natureasia.com/en/nindia/article/10.1038/nindia.2014.167]


Agro Vox-Pop 02-12-2014

Story Description:- Farmers say in Dhaibung VDC, Rasuwa District in Nepal irrigation problem for vegetable production. There are favourable land/field but difficult to survive lacking irrigation.
They wanted professional vegetable production instead of own use. And they are asking to GOV to manage irrigation facility.

Climate change to hit 46 million hectare farmland in India

Sandip Das

New Delhi | December 3, 2014

Summary The Indian government has identified 46 million hectare of agricultural land spread across 122 districts that is likely to be adversely
The government has identified 46 million hectare of agricultural land spread across 122 districts that is likely to be adversely impacted by extreme weather events and cause decline in farm output, agriculture minster Radha Mohan Singh on Tuesday said.

“Uncertain and erratic rainfall, delay in onset of monsoon, agricultural droughts, excess rainfall events and other extreme weather events during crop growing seasons may affect agricultural productivity and profitability of the farming community including small and marginal farmers,” Singh said in Lok Sabha.

The agricultural output in the vulnerable districts  spread across states including Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh are likely to be impacted because of frequent erratic rainfall pattern.

Singh said that Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), under the agriculture ministry, has prepared vulnerability assessment on major food crops in different production zones to climate variability under the National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture.

“The ICAR study revealed that around 81.3 million hectare in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid regions of the country may suffer from extreme weather condition and out of these, 46 million hectare are agricultural land,” he said.

ICAR,in association with state agriculture universities and concerned state departments, has developed agricultural contingency plans of 580 districts, which helps farmers and administration dealing with extreme weather conditions.

Meanwhile, ICAR had conducted climate change impact analysis on crop yields using crop simulations models and it has predicted reduction in crop yield for irrigated maize and wheat of about 18% and 6% annually, respectively, while the output of irrigated and rainfed rice is expected to decline by 4% and 6%, respectively, by 2020.

“Rainfed rice yield in India is likely to be lower by close to 6% by 2020 but, in 2050 and 2080 scenarios, the output is projected to decrease only marginally,” the ICAR report has stated.

However, the study projected increases in kharif soybean yield of 8% and 13% by 2030 and 2080, respectively. Even the output of groundnut is projected to increase by 4% and 7% in 2020 and 2050, respectively.

Climate change is likely to benefit potato-growers in Punjab, Haryana and western and central Uttar Pradesh, with 3-7% increase in output by 2030.

The government had launched National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture  in the current fiscal with budgetary allocation of R1,500 crore which aims at making agriculture more productive, sustainable, remunerative and climate resilient by promoting location specific farming system.

The country produced 106.5 million tonne (mt) of rice in 2013-14, with around 44 million hectare of land under cultivation.

This year, the cyclone Hudhud had hit many districts of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh’s coast, which may impact rice production  in these states, an agriculture ministry official told FE.

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Climate smart villages help women farmers in Nepal

Seven years ago, Tanka Maya Magar, who lives on the outskirts of Belbari, a town in Morang district in eastern Nepal, suddenly had to do something she had never done before. Her husband had moved to Qatar to earn money and so it was now up to her to run their family farm, a job traditionally done by men.

Since then, she has ploughed the fields for hours at a time. And at harvesting time, she spends weeks cutting, threshing and cleaning the crops by hand. She has learnt to handle the water pumps and she also knows which kind of tractors work best for the fields and which she can afford to hire on her limited budget.

Magar begins her day by tending to the cattle before dawn, then prepares breakfast, before sending her three daughters to school and starting work in the field.

She’s not the only one. According to a 2009 World Bank survey, 57 per cent of all households in Nepal have at least one member who is or was a migrant, with 2.1 million Nepali migrants, mostly men, working abroad – in a bid to earn more money.

Besides the increased workload, these women, many of whom have little or no education, must grapple with an erratic monsoon and drying water sources — effects of a changing climate.

Read more : http://www.scidev.net/south-asia/farming/news/climate-smart-villages-women-farmers-nepal-1.html

Looking beyond IPCC reports in the Himalayas

Moving beyond the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports can help integrate scientific and traditional knowledge for effective adaptation action in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, an international gathering of climate experts in Kathmandu heard.

Participants from 22 countries stressed at the 9-12 November conference in Kathmandu the need for increased knowledge and science to fill the data gaps and mechanisms to move science-based evidence into adaptation policies and actions in the HKH region.