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Scientists suggest smart farming

Shillong, Aug. 4: Scientists have urged farmers in Meghalaya to adopt “climate-smart agriculture” by adhering to recommended climate change mitigation strategies as various parts of the Northeast are facing a drought-like situation because of global warming.

An awareness-cum-training programme on Contingency Plan for Drought-like Situation was held recently at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) for the northeastern region in Umiam under the National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture project.

According to the ICAR, the entire Northeast, barring a few districts, experienced severe water problem in June and July this year because of scarce precipitation, as a result of climate change, that posed a serious threat to agricultural production.

The drought-like situation has an adverse impact on kharif crops that might lead to largescale yield loss, especially in kharif paddy.

More than 180 farmers from most of the districts of Meghalaya along with a few NGOs working in the agricultural sector and scientists, among others, attended the awareness programme.

The programme aimed at developing awareness on climate-resilient agriculture and to campaign on a largescale for implementation of contingency plans for adaptation to climate change.

ICAR scientists highlighted suitable adaptation and mitigation strategies for addressing the farmers’ problems arising put of scanty rainfall.

Water-lifting pumps, seeds, planting material and vitamins and minerals for livestock were distributed among farmers to tackle the drought-like situation because of the dry spell.

S.V. Ngachan, director, ICAR Research Complex, Umiam, suggested that the farmers go for “climate-smart agriculture” by following the recommended mitigation strategies.

The strategies include exploring the possibility for irrigation through water sources like streams, community ponds, dug wells or any stored water (jalkund). Conservation of soil moisture in the fields through mulching with locally available biomass, by applying foliar spray, weeding in crops and planting short-duration rice varieties like Sahabhagi and Vandana in upland areas for better yield.

Scientists also deliberated on contingency measures in agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, and fishery sectors for adaptation under climate stress condition.

The objective of the project is to enhance the resilience of Indian agriculture, covering crops, livestock and fisheries, to climate change through development and application of improved production and risk-management technologies.