Bhubaneswar, October 25 (LocalWire): The state government has signed a tripartite agreement with the central government and the World Bank for a US$165 million loan to support smallholder farmers.
The loan will also be used for strengthening the resilience of their production systems as well as to help the farmers diversify and improve the marketing of their produce for higher income.
The US $165-million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a six-year grace period and is payable in 24 years.
The loan agreement is aimed at supporting the Odisha Integrated Irrigation Project for Climate Resilient Agriculture that will be implemented in rural areas vulnerable to droughts and largely dependent on rain for agriculture.
It will benefit about 125,000 smallholder farmer households from 15 districts of Odisha managing 128,000 ha of agricultural land.
The project will strengthen the resilience of smallholder farmers against adverse climate by improving access to resilient seed varieties and production technologies, diversifying towards more climate-resilient crops, and improving access to better water management and irrigation services, sources said.
“The Government of India is implementing several missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change, which also extensively leverages adaptation of climate-smart agricultural practices and technologies,” Department of Economic Affairs additional secretary Sameer Kumar Khare said.
“The project in Odisha is among several such initiatives supported by the government to achieve the sustainable agriculture-related targets of the SDGs by 2030,” he stated.
The project will support the rehabilitation of 532 water tanks – expected to irrigate 91,435 ha, promote productivity improvements at the farm level, support farmers to reduce the current emphasis on food grains (especially paddy and wheat) and increase the share of high-value and more nutritious products like fruits and vegetables.
It will also provide marketing support to farmers who are able to generate a marketable surplus, support aquaculture in rehabilitated tanks, help the farmers in accessing affordable and quality fingerlings, and disseminate improved aquaculture practices and post-harvest management.
“Rehabilitating existing tanks will make agriculture more productive and climate-resilient for smallholder farmers,” said Ranjan Samantaray, Senior Agriculture Specialist and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project.
“This project will support the Government of Odisha’s vision to build the resilience of the agriculture sector to climate change, expand the cultivable area under assured irrigation and improve water use efficiency,” he added.
In recent years, climate variability has seriously affected agriculture in Odisha, where farming is largely dominated by farmers with landholdings of less than two hectares.
More and more agricultural areas are coming under the ambit of extreme weather events and since 2009 the frequency of droughts in the state has increased from one in five years to one in two years, with 70% of the total cultivated area becoming prone to droughts as compared to 40% in the 1970s.
“In fact, since 2013, floods are now devastating areas beyond the traditional flood zone. Drier areas are projected to become drier, while wetter areas will become wetter.
Agriculture is also a major source of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in Odisha, responsible for about 25 percent of the GHG emissions in the state,” sources said.
“Across Odisha, small-scale farmers are bearing the brunt of climate change.
Erratic and extreme weather are responsible for declining yields and falling incomes.
At the same time, agriculture is a large contributor to GHG emissions,” World Bank Country Director in India Junaid Ahmad said.
“The project is intended to be a game-changer for the state; creating a more resilient agricultural sector, enhancing food security, increasing farmers’ incomes and reducing the GHG footprint of the sector,” he stated.