Adaptation to current and future climatic risks in agriculture: Maharashtra, India
Maharashtra state has diverse agro-climates which experience frequent and severe extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, heat stresses, and untimely rainfall. These risks are further compounded by climate change. Despite substantial development in the agriculture sector, such climate extremes cause periodic yield and livelihood losses creating agrarian distress in the farming community. Long-term measures are needed to develop climate-resilient agriculture production systems that can contribute to food security and poverty reduction. The Maharashtra State Action Plan on Climate Change, published in 2014, provided several strategic action items for the agriculture sector, aimed at reducing the sector’s vulnerability to climate risks and building its resilience. It focused on building farming systems resilience through diversified cropping patterns, soil conservation, and value addition. While these recommendations are important, there is a need to determine more specific subregional actionable items. Strategies to build resilience in agricultural systems will need to have a clear understanding of prioritized interventions that promote Climate-smart Agriculture (CSA), and address resources, policy, and institutional bottlenecks for their implementation. They also need to align with annual agriculture development plans and budgets including the government’s flagship programs/missions. There are several potential adaptation options available to mitigate moderate to severe climatic risks in agriculture. Changes in agronomic practices (altering inputs, timing, and location of cropping activities), adoption of new technologies (improvement in input use efficiency, conservation of water and energy, and pest/disease/weed management) and the use of relevant information (climate information based agro-advisories and weather index-based insurance) at the farm level can be key components in improving the adaptability of agriculture to climate change. These options can significantly improve crop yields, increase input-use efficiencies and net farm incomes, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many of these interventions have been successful individually in raising production and income and in building the resilience of farming communities in several regions. These interventions have, however, varying costs and economic impacts, and their implementation requires appropriate investment decisions in both on-farm capital and for wider agricultural outreach programs. The objective of this report is to provide a guiding framework for developing adaptation strategies to manage current and future climate risks to agriculture in Maharashtra.