February 18, 2024
Championing India's Agricultural Evolution: A Bold Perspective on the Impact of Carbon Credits
Climate & Environment Articles/Editorials Featured by VoM

Championing India’s Agricultural Evolution: A Bold Perspective on the Impact of Carbon Credits

Championing India’s Agricultural Evolution: A Bold Perspective on the Impact of Carbon Credits

By

Asheer Rahman

Agriculture in India is perhaps the most intricate part of the socio-economic structure, being not only a major cause of the greenhouse effect and pollution but also representing the backbone of food for almost 50% of its inhabitants, making it thereby the second-largest provider in the world.

The confluence between sustainability, technology, and farmer welfare within this complex sphere becomes increasingly important. As the founder of Karbonic, a carbon credit trading platform based in London, I am intricately involved with many challenges and opportunities presented by agricultural practices that are changing in Europe and Africa and how they affect the environment. This exploration thus aims to navigate complexities, draw out global parallels, and provide insights into how sustainability that is technology-driven can transform farmers’ lives.

India’s agriculture sector accounts for about 20% of GDP and provides employment for over half the population (World Bank 2013). It is estimated that India’s paddy fields alone contribute to almost a third of all agricultural emissions within India. The burning of paddy stubble in North Indian fields every year is one such practice that contributes to significant pollution in New Delhi and costs around $30 billion to the country. This highlights the urgency of adopting sustainable farming methods. As agriculturists, we must recognize the role it plays in assuring food security and supporting rural economies if we want to curb its environmental impact.

India’s ambitious targets detailed during COP26 imply a significant shift towards sustainability. Among them include reducing one billion tonnes of carbon by 2030, decreasing the carbon intensity of GDP by 45% by 2030, and aspiring for net-zero emissions by 2070. Agriculture emerges as part of the solution rather than seen as a major contributor to climate change. A transformative path appears when the focus shifts towards soil in the quest for sustainable agriculture. Properly employed through appropriate techniques and technologies, agricultural land can sequester carbon, offsetting a significant proportion of yearly greenhouse gas emissions. Through increasing fertility and farmer resilience, mitigating climate change, reducing fertilizer use, among other things, it enhances soil health while ensuring farmers’ prosperity. When a large portion of the world’s farmland is degraded, it is important to restore the value given to healthy soils through active interventions. Considering soil as being climate positive shows how sustainable agriculture practices can deliver mutually reinforcing outcomes.

Globally, carbon credits are considered certified emission reductions from climate positive projects. Carbon farming, which was historically connected with renewable energy and reforestation projects, is becoming increasingly popular. The approach seeks to incentivize agricultural activities that mitigate climate change by supporting offset production through the sequestration of soil carbon.

The voluntary carbon market, which was worth one billion dollars in 2021, is now being entered into by major companies including Microsoft. Carbon farming has great potential, especially in developing countries like India. Nevertheless, these projects need a simplified validation and verification process for carbon credits if they are to scale and promote sustainability.

The use of technology in agriculture can serve as a game-changer leading to great sustainability and profitability. Worthy of mentioning is nurture.farm among many other platforms for sustainable agriculture that show the potential of tech-driven solutions. Working with the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, nurture.farm was able to get thousands of farmers to practice sustainable farming processes that led to saving 1 million tonnes of CO2. Digital platforms such as CropIn employ artificial intelligence to help farmers make informed decisions while on the farm. Using technology like mobile-based advisory dashboards for sowing, soil health, seed treatment, and weather forecasts helps farmers in adopting regenerative practices that are efficient and profitable.

Although most carbon credit schemes have targeted large-scale farms in developed economies, small acreage farmers from developing countries also need access to the carbon credit system. Companies such as nurture.farm not only prevent emissions but also sell crop-based carbon credits which encourage farmers to do more. India, as it strives for carbon neutrality by 2070, must urgently address issues like the burning of stubble in fields, supporting farmers with digital tools, and developing regenerative agriculture. When carbon credit systems work together with digital inclusion and new technologies, they enable individuals to participate in practices that can sustain themselves while also addressing climate change.

Carbon credits present a significant opportunity, particularly in the case of developing nations such as India. By aligning economic activities with carbon-related targets and creating a favorable legislative and business environment, this sector is poised for substantial growth. The global market for carbon credits, which had experienced an amazing 164% surge year over year, is predicted to cross $100 bn by 2030.

The confluence of technology, sustainability, and the agricultural sector in India holds immense promise. As we navigate this delicate balance between feeding our growing population and mitigating climate change, we see innovations like carbon farming, digital platforms, and carbon credits as drivers of transformational changes. Achieving net-zero emissions needs a collective effort that deploys technological potential, triggering sustainability, thus making it resilient.

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