Weather-based crop cover finds favour with Indian farmers

Sandip Das

New Delhi, Dec 10:

With unpredictable weather conditions, such as erratic rainfall, fluctuations in temperature and changes in relative humidity affecting crop output, the Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (WBCIS) offered by various private and public sector companies is gradually being accepted by farmers seeking protection from crop losses.

The scheme, piloted in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in rabi of 2007, has, for the first time in the country, given farmers a cover against crop losses from adverse weather conditions.

Provided by Agriculture Insurance Company of India (AICI), a company mainly owned by four state-owned general insurance companies and Nabard, the scheme covers more than 35 perennial crops such as apple, citrus fruit, grapes, mango, pomegranate, cashew nut, oil palm etc.

As per AICI data, the weather-based product scheme, when implemented across 13 states in kharif 2012 and 14 states in rabi 2012-13, had insured 35 lakh and 37 lakh farmer, respectively.

“Although the share of weather-based crop insurance scheme amongst farmers opting for output-based insurance cover is small, it has caught on as it’s easier for the states to administer — we need not do a crop-cutting exercise needed for the implementation of national crop insurance policy. What we need to know is the weather condition of a given area during the life cycle of the crop,” PJ Joseph, chairman and managing director of AICI, told FE.

Joseph said new products like weather -based insurance provide protection to cultivators in the event of a loss in crop yields resulting from adverse weather incidences such as unseasonal or excess rainfall, temperature fluctuations, frost, relative humidity etc. “Triggers are broadly fixed so as to capture the adverse incidence of weather parameters on crop yield,” he said.

“Weather based insurance provides risk management tools for farmers to deal with climate change adaptation initiative,” Pramod Aggarwal, regional programme leader, Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) platform, said. CCAFS has been, in collaboration with AICI, promoting the weather-based insurance among farmers.

So far, only about 30 million farmers out of 120 million have been covered under the National Crop Insurance

Scheme, which mainly covers yield losses. About 70% of these are accounted for by farmers who own less than four hectares.

For the national crop insurance scheme, companies provide coverage based on yield, for which historical yields of the crops concerned are taken into consideration while for weather-based insurance, the historical data of yield is not needed.

The Comprehensive Crop Insurance Scheme (CCIS), introduced in 1985 by the centre in collaboration with state governments, was linked to short-term crop credit, where all loans for notified crops in a specific area were compulsorily covered.

Close to 60 lakh farmers benefited from the CCIS and the majority of claims were paid in states such as Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa.

Conservation of Mangroves for climate change mitigation

Conservation of Mangroves for climate change mitigation

Mark Spalding, principal investigator on the project and a marine scientist at the US-based worldwide conservation organisation The Nature Conservancy, says: “These results can help guide decisions regarding priority areas for the conservation and rehabilitation of mangroves for climate change mitigation.”

International Union of Conservation (IUCN) advisor on coastal ecosystem and famously known as father of mangroves, Tahir Qureshi said, “About 20 years ago, mangroves were at 5,000 hectors in Karachi but now its limited to less than 3500 hectors, Port Qasim, Karachi Harbour, Mai Kullachi, Boat Basin, Kaka Pir, Baba Bhit, Salehabad, Manora, Ibrahim haideri and all other areas at east and west coast of Karachi are witnessing shrinking mangroves deposit and as a result population of birds, fishes on decline while shrimps and lots of other species are alarmingly vanishing” he added.

Beside threats to nature, scientist believe that Sindh coast lies in a dangerous zone where storm surge could be dangerous and Karachi is one of vulnerable city where Industrial effluents, oil spills, municipal waste and land mafia are the real time threats for sea itself.

Worldwide study of mangrove swamps’ carbon storage capacity will help scientists identify where efforts should be focused to protect these rich resources for climate change mitigation.

India’s farmers turn ‘climate smart’

Bihar, Haryana farmers turn ‘climate smart’

Sandip Das Nov 26, 2013
New Delhi : Horil Singh, a farmer from Rajapakkar village of Vaishali district in Bihar, has been seeing fluctuations in rainfall pattern and temperature for almost a decade now.This has impacted his paddy and pulse produce to a large extent till a global initiative launched in 2010, to help small farmers in dealing with climate change, helped him in creating vertical drainage systems that let excess rainwater seep quickly back into a natural acquifer.

Vikas Chaudhary, a farmer from Karnal in Haryana, has adopted conservation farming methods such as zero tillage, direct seeding and soil health-based fertiliser application for the last three years.

Farmers like Singh and Chaudhary are being helped under this initiative. Farmers from around 40 villages are being trained through this method and ‘climate smart’ villages are being piloted in Bihar and Haryana.

Many farmers in the two districts of Bihar and Maharashtra have been trained on the usage of technology such as increasing carbon content in the soil through agro forestry, manure management and optimum application of nitrogen through ‘crop sensors device’, which saves cost and keeps in check greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Through collaborative efforts of various international agencies including ministry of agriculture under Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) platforms, hundreds of farmers have been trained on various agronomic practices that save the crop from excessive rains and drought through ‘climate smart’ villages concept.

“With encouraging response for the climate smart villages concept, the programme would be implemented in Maharashtra in a larger scale shortly,” Pramod Aggarwal, Regional Programme Leader, CCAFS told FE

He said the focus of climate smart village programme has been integrating available local knowledge on conservation technique along with global prospective on climate change mitigation. “We want more villages to adopt these techniques,” Aggarwal said.

Agriculture ministry and Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) provide support through various schemes and data on weather to farmers, global agencies are bringing in technical know-how to help farmers impacted by climate change.

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) helps farmers in prioritising adaptation and mitigation options, International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has been helping farmers in dealing with water-logging through vertical drains. International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is providing inputs on conservation agriculture through precise use of fertiliser.

“The challenges faced by farmers are going to be more pronounced as climate change worsens. Let’s hope that sustainable agricultural practices show promising results and lower costs.,” said Ashok Gulati, chairman, Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

India tests ways to help farmers cope with climate change

Concerns about how climate change may be affecting India are bringing fresh urgency – and funding – to longstanding challenges in sustainable agriculture. A number of new efforts are combining water and soil conservation measures along with access to better seeds and information to help farmers cope with more erratic weather. Read story here.