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ITC Expands Its Climate Smart Agriculture Initiative, Helps in 99% Improvement of Farmer Returns

ITC’s Climate Smart Agriculture initiative has already covered 15 lakh acres of land across India benefitting over 4.5 lakh farmers. The multidimensional interventions focus on reducing vulnerability while increasing the resilience of farmers towards climate change.

Shivam Dwivedi
ITC has made sustainable development and climate action core pillars of its corporate strategy.
ITC has made sustainable development and climate action core pillars of its corporate strategy.

On National Farmers' Day, or Kisan Diwas, multi-business conglomerate ITC Limited reaffirmed its commitment to expand its interventions in the field of Climate Smart Agriculture with the goal of assisting Indian farmers in coping with increasing weather-related uncertainties while increasing their incomes.

 

According to experts, Indian farmers will be deeply impacted by extreme weather events in the days to come. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that with a temperature increase between 1-4 degrees Celsius in India, rice production could decrease by 10-30% and maize by 25-70%.  With India set to become the most populated nation in the world by 2023, ensuring food security for the country’s 1.3 billion population will be also critical.

As a company committed to its credo of ‘Nation First, Sab Saath Badhein’, ITC has made sustainable development and climate action core pillars of its corporate strategy. Given the urgent need to build climate resilience in agriculture, ITC has embarked on a mission to make Indian villages climate smart by promoting practices that are 1) weather smart, 2) water smart, 3) seed/breed smart, 4) carbon/nutrient smart and 5) institutional/market smart.

 

The Company’s flagship ‘Climate Smart Village’ (CSV) initiative in partnership with the Climate Change and Food Security (CCAFS) programme of CGIAR, focuses on lowering agricultural emissions and promoting food security for the nation, whilst augmenting rural incomes. So far, the initiative has covered 2,500 villages across 11 states. CGIAR is a leading global partnership that unites international organizations engaged in research about food security.

Inspired by the Sustainability 2.0 vision articulated by ITC Chairman Sanjiv Puri, the Company is scaling up its interventions in Climate Smart Agriculture, water stewardship – with a special focus on demand side water management, and biodiversity conservation, among others.  The aim is to extend its CSV program to over 3 million acres, biodiversity conservation to over 1 million acres and improve crop water use efficiency in agri-value chains to enable annual savings of 2,000 million kiloliters of water by 2030.

 

S Sivakumar, Group Head of Agri Business & Sustainability, ITC Limited, said, “Agriculture, which provides livelihoods to half of India’s population, is extremely vulnerable to the vagaries of nature and the devastating effects of climate change like frequent and extreme weather events, depleting groundwater, top soil erosion etc. Recognizing these challenges, we have made identification of climate risks and building climate resilience across the value chain key components of our approach to de-risk farming and making it profitable. We are encouraged by the success of the Climate Smart Agriculture initiative and the benefits that it has yielded for farmers and accordingly plan to expand it further.”

ITC’s Climate Smart Village programme has demonstrated encouraging results with GHG emissions of soya and wheat reducing by upto 66%, net returns increasing by upto 99% as well as enhancement in yield by upto 38%. As per a study of 43 villages across 3 states (Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra) that were part of the first phase, 70% of the villages have moved into the High Resilience, High Yield category, thus becoming Climate Smart.

Sharing his experience of joining ITC’s sustainable agriculture initiative, Vinod Tyagi, a farmer based out of Sehore, Madhya Pradesh, said: "With innovative yet simple agriculture equipment and techniques introduced by ITC such as Permanent Broad-Based Furrow and by shifting to a long duration Soybean variety, I have significantly minimized my losses, and I am able to manage the extreme weather impact better. I am witnessing a lower cost of cultivation in tilling, and irrigation & my gains have increased by about 40% just in Soybean crops.  I am sure I will benefit by adopting the recommended practices for other crops too.”

 

Building on its globally acknowledged ITC e-Choupal initiative, the Company has now spearheaded ITCMAARS to bring the benefits of digital revolution to farmers. The aim is to support nearly 4000 FPOs, benefitting 10 million farmers going forward.

 

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