Why in news?
=>The government along with the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has launched an agriculture project with USD 33.5 million grant from Global Environment Facility (GEF) that seeks to bring transformative change in the farm sector through conservation of biodiversity and forest landscapes.
=>The project aims to transform agricultural production to generate global environmental benefits by addressing biodiversity conservation, land degradation, climate change mitigation and sustainable forest management.
=>India is signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity. As four of the 35 biodiversity hotspots are located in India, it is biodiversity-rich. However, climate change and development without consideration for biodiversity are leading to loss of biodiversity.
=>India’s National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) recognises the importance of biodiversity for inclusive development.
=>The Green Agriculture project takes a novel approach to support the NBAP and synergise biodiversity conservation, agriculture production and development.
=>It is being implemented in five landscapes adjoining Protected Areas/Biosphere Reserves: Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
=>Man-animal conflicts in the fringes of Protected Areas or animal corridors, and conflicts over unsustainable procurement of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) have been contentious, especially in Odisha and Uttarakhand.
=>A participatory and landscape approach can ensure sustainability of conservation efforts. Keeping the focus on initiatives for sustainable NTFP harvest, eradication of invasive alien species, and mitigation of wildlife conflicts is essential.
=>Biodiversity conservation is a part of traditional wisdom. The landscape approach will aim to restore traditional knowledge systems, such as the conservation of common property resources.
=>Examples include the Orans of Rajasthan and the village safety and supply reserves in Mizoram. Traditional farming systems such as jhum encouraged crop diversity. However, climate change and shortened fallow cycles are undermining jhum cultivation sustainability. Participatory learning tools will encourage farmers to adopt more sustainable indigenous soil conservation.
What it offers for India?
=>The project will address the policy and practice of agriculture in India by strengthening agro-ecological practices, which can support food production and food security, and nutrition while restoring the ecosystem services and biodiversity that are essential for sustainable agriculture.
=>By project closure, global conservation objectives will be mainstreamed within the productive landscape in locations where biodiversity conservation is of highest concern. The five target States will adopt and operationalize conservation strategies for around 1.8 million hectares of priority biodiversity landscapes.
=>This will help improve habitat and population of keystone species in five ecosystems such as the Great Indian bustard, Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, Gangetic dolphin, and Clouded leopard. Additionally, farmers across 1,04,070 ha will utilise and conserve genetic diversity of at least 10 globally significant traditional and/or endemic plant and animal species or varieties.
=>The project will assist the Government of India to prioritize investments in agriculture to deliver global environmental benefits at locations of highest conservation value. Policies and institutional structures will be modified to enhance conservation of biodiversity, reverse land degradation, drive sustainable forest management, and improve mitigation of climate change.
=>At least 49.9 Mt CO2 e sequestered through improved agro ecosystems management. Partnerships between agencies, at both the national and state level responsible for agricultural production and conservation will be better coordinated to identify, engage, and monitor cooperative conservation practices effectively.
=>Decision-makers will have the tools required to generate agricultural policies that reflect environmental concerns and innovative practices. The project will support Government efforts to capitalize and integrate global best practices.
=>To transform policy into action, the project will support a generation of self-sustaining and replicable models for augmented livelihoods of small and marginal farmers both men and women while giving highest priority to improving conservation and management of productive landscapes.
=>India gave the world crops such as rice, chickpea, pigeon pea, mango and eggplant. However, with the focus on policies that cater to market demands, its reservoir of indigenous traditional crops has dwindled.
=>Most keepers of these crop genetic diversity are smallholder farmers, including women. The approach will be to strengthen their role as agrodiversity guardians by developing value chains for their indigenous crops such as traditional rice varieties in Odisha.
=>Any effort to increase farmers income and food production should happen within the framework of sustainable management of natural resources to avoid further depletion of water tables, biodiversity and habitat for wild species, and land and soil degradation which have contributed to the environmental crisis facing India today.
=>Environmental concerns are inadequately reflected in the development rhetoric. Thus, projects such as Green Agriculture are essential in equipping decision-makers with the necessary instruments to design effective and informed policies to underpin environmental concerns.
Pic courtesy:IMoT Forum
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