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ITC's Ambitious Plan: Climate Smart Initiative to Benefit 1 Mn Farmers

ITC, a diverse conglomerate, is expanding its climate-smart agriculture effort to assist farmers facing weather-related issues. ITC, which was launched in 2020 to de-risk farmers from irregular weather conditions, plans to cover a million farmers and 3 million hectares (MH) of land under the climate smart programme in the next years.

Shivam Dwivedi
ITC's Ambitious Plan: Climate Smart Initiative to Benefit 1 Mn Farmers
ITC's Ambitious Plan: Climate Smart Initiative to Benefit 1 Mn Farmers

So far, the company's project has covered 1.8 million acres of agricultural land in 17 states, benefiting about 0.6 million farmers. It applies to crops such as soyabean, wheat, paddy, rice, sugarcane, onion, chilli, coconut, banana, and other vegetables grown in states like as Rajasthan, Maharashtra, UP, Telangana, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.

"We have developed region-specific practices to reduce the impact of heat waves and unseasonal heavy rains," said S Sivakumar, ITC's group head of agri-business and sustainability.

Heat resistant cultivars, crop cycle approach, in-situ and timely planting, dry land agricultural practices such as broadbed and furrow system, mulching, crucial irrigation, and use of heat-ameliorating sprays are examples of these measures. ITC is currently conducting climate risk modelling at the village level for numerous crops such as potato, spices, and rice in order to establish a climate resilient value chain. Climate risk modelling for the pulpwood and wheat value chains is complete.

Kumar stated that the company's super app, meta market for advanced agricultural rural services (ITCMAARS), as well as an established farmer producer organisation (FPO) network supported by field demonstration under Choupal Pradarshan Khets, enable farmers to adopt climate-change-fighting practises. The concept also promotes weather smart, water smart, seed or breed smart, carbon or nutrient smart, and institutional or market smart practises in order to make villages climate smart.

According to a 2021 study, this strategy reduced greenhouse gas emissions from certain crops by 13% -66%. According to a corporate release, it resulted in an increase in net returns of farmers ranging from 93% to 99% during a five-year period from 2016 to 2021. "We began working on climate-smart agriculture a few years ago." After a few years, ITC will have reached roughly 70% of the villages where it works with farmers. "High yields will benefit farmers, resulting in higher farmer incomes," ITC chairman Sanjiv Puri recently stated at an event.

ITC launched 'e-Choupal,' internet-based rural kiosks, in 2000, and has since reached 4 million farmers growing a variety of crops- including soyabean, coffee, wheat, rice, and pulses- in over 35,000 villages via 6,100 kiosks in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.

ITC is also focusing on providing tailored climate smart guidance to farmers through the super app, in addition to a variety of products and services that will expand over time.

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