Agri extension
Agriculture Pollution & Climate Change

The Role of Agricultural Extension in Climate Change Adaptation

Climate change has become a real and tangible, affecting people’s life worldwide. India is ranked as the sixth most vulnerable nation to climate change impact in Global Climate Risk Index 2017. The country is more vulnerable to impact of Climate Change in view of the high population dependent on agriculture and high dependence on climate parameters. The cost of climate change is estimated at around 1.5 % of GDP from agriculture every year. (ICAR- NICAR project)

Agricultural extension has been defined as a series of embedded communicative interventions which supposedly help to resolve problematic situations. This definition confers to agricultural extension the mandate to accommodate the issue of climate change in its duties. However, in order to achieve results, there is a need for change in roles and capacity in the extension system so as to accommodate the new dimensions brought about by climate change. 

The cost of climate change is estimated at around 1.5 % of GDP from agriculture every year  –  ICAR-NICAR project.

Agri extension
An extension activity carried out to Farmers of Tamil Nadu; Photo: Nirmal

Adaptation strategies of climate change for farmers

The core challenge of climate change adaptation in agriculture is to provide more efficient food under more volatile production conditions and with net reductions in GHG emissions from food production. There are a lot of current emerging strategies among farmers. 

  • Climate Information and Forecasting
  • New Traits and Varieties
  • Cropping Adjustments
  • Investment in Water Management and Irrigation
  • Production Management and Practices
  • Insurance systems

Extension traditionally has played a role in providing information and promoting new technologies or new ways of managing crops and farms. Extension also links farmers to researchers and other actors in the innovation system. Farmers, extension agents, and researchers must work together on farmers’ fields to prioritize, test, and promote new crop varieties and management techniques. Extension agents can introduce locally appropriate technologies and management techniques that enable farmers to adapt to climate change i.e. disseminating local cultivars of drought-resistant crop varieties with information about the crops.

One of extension’s major activities over time has been adult and non formal education. This role continues today and is even more important in light of the changing climate. In addition, extension is also responsible for providing information using techniques ranging from flyers and radio messages to field demonstrations.

With climate change, it will be increasingly important for the extension system to link farmers and other people in rural communities directly with private and public institutions that disseminate adaptation technologies, and funding programs for adaptation investments. Increased access to meteorological information will be imperative.

Climate finance by NABARD

NABARD being a leading Development Financial Institution and accredited National Implementing Entity (NIE) has been playing a pivotal role in the deployment of funds for the climate related projects in India. It has been also helping State Governments, civil society organizations and other agencies to source resources from international/national funds like Adaptation Fund Board, Green Climate Fund and National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC). NABARD has taken various initiatives in addressing the challenges posed by climate change, particularly in the area of agriculture and rural livelihood sector. Keeping in view the need for focus attention on capacity development in the area of climate finance among the stakeholders, NABARD has taken the lead in establishing the Center for Climate Change at BIRD, Lucknow. The center is supported by Indo-German Cooperation Project on Center of Excellence on Climate Finance coordinated by GIZ, Germany (NABARD, 2019). Climate change adaptation funding shall be focused on extension systems and programs that incorporate a good understanding of what practices and skills are needed to best promote activities that help in the climate change effort and on increasing the capacity of extension agents and farmers, where needed.

The KVKs are evolving as the future grass root level institutions for empowering the farming community. The vast network of KVK could be effectively utilised for spreading of climate resilience agriculture to farmers.

Krishi Vikas Kendra or Farm Science Centre – Usually associated with local agricultural university, serve as the vibrant link between the Indian council of agricultural research and farmers, and aim to apply agricultural research and development in a localised ambience. Due to the growing use of ICT, KVKs have implemented technologies to provide farmers information such as weather advisories  or market pricing through radio mobile phones and social media. The KVKs are evolving as the future grass root level institutions for empowering the farming community. The vast network of KVK could be effectively utilised for spreading of climate resilience agriculture to farmers.

The key role of transfer of technology regarding to extension functioning in agricultural adaptation to climate change was in retraining of extension staff to acquire new knowledge and skills (capacity) in climate risk management. These will of course reduce the anthropogenic causes and hence the effects/impacts of climate change. Also, there is a need for increased research and innovation in agriculture to find more sustainable ways of adaptation to climate change.

Article by Amit Kumar (Research Scholar), Department of Extension Education CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar. amitkumarmungarwal@gmail.com                  


References

Mustapha, S.,B., Undiandeye, U., C., and Gwary, M.,M.(2012) The Role of Extension in Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change in the Sahelian Zone of Nigeria. Journal of Environment and Earth Science. 2(6): PP.48-58.

NABARD (2019). ProClimate- Quarterly Newsletter by Centric for Climate Change at BIRD