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Adaptation And Mitigation Of Climate Change By Improving Agriculture In India

R. Lal
Published 2019 · Environmental Science

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Between 1800 and 2050, the population of India would increase from 255 million to 1.71 billion, by a factor of 7, with a strong environmental impact. Rapid urbanization and its encroachment on agricultural land is a consequence of increase in population. Between 1950 and 2025, the population (106) would increase from 1.4 to 28.6 (20.4 times) of New Delhi, 4.5 to 20.1 (4.5 times) of Kolkata, 2.9 to 25.8 (8.9 times) of Mumbai, 0.6 to 6.6 (11.0 times) of Pune, 1.1 to 8.9 (8.1 times) of Hyderabad, 0.7 to 9.5 (13.6 times) of Bengaluru, and 1.5 to 9.6 (6.4 times) of Chennai. The city of Mumbai generates 11 thousand Mg of waste per day or 4 million Mg per year, which if recycled effectively, can improve urban and peri-urban agriculture. It takes about 40,000 ha of land to provide accommodation and infrastructure to 1 million people. An annual increase of 11.5 million people in India encroaches upon 0.5 million hectare (Mha) of agricultural land. Thus, there is a strong need to protect prime agricultural land against other uses. By 2025, India will have 7 cities of >10 million people, and a city of 10 million consumes 6000 Mg of food per day. Thus, nutrients brought into the city must be returned to the land by recycling waste as compost and for producing energy. Climate change, with increase in frequency of extreme events, is exacerbating vulnerability of agricultural soils to degradation processes. Land area (Mha) in India already affected by degradation includes 93.7 by water erosion, 9.5 by wind erosion, 14.3 by waterlogging, 5.9 by salinity/alkalinity, 16.0 by soil acidity and 7.4 by complex problems. In addition to the impacts of changing and uncertain climate, soil degradation is exacerbated by burning of crop residues, use of cow dung for household cooking rather than as manure, uncontrolled grazing, unbalanced use of fertilizers, and other extractive farming practices. The drought-flood syndrome, caused by water misuse and mismanagement, adversely affects agronomic productivity and wellbeing of millions of people despite the fact that India receives 4000 km3 of annual precipitation.
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