See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

How Climate-Smart Villages in Bangladesh, India and Nepal Are Preparing Farmers for the Future

56 years old Kamla Devi listens to messages of weather and best climate friendly crop practices on her mobile phone while working in the cowshed at her home in Anjanthalli. Image by Prashanth Vishwanathan. Used with permission.

56-year-old Kamla Devi listens to messages about the weather and best climate-friendly crop practices on her mobile phone while working in the cowshed at her home in Anjanthalli village. Image by Prashanth Vishwanathan. Used with permission.

One of the initiatives to come out of the United Nations’ summit on climate change on September 23 was the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture, a group of 16 countries and 37 organizations that aim to enable 500 million farmers around the world to practice climate-smart agriculture by 2030.

What is climate-smart agriculture? It's the idea of helping farmers adapt to changing climates while weaning them off techniques and technologies that produce greenhouse gases. In a number of countries in Africa and Asia, Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), a research program of CGIAR (a global partnership dedicated to agriculture research), has already set up “climate-smart villages” to put the idea into practice.

Farmers in northern India have grown used to a wide range of weather, and work their fields around monsoon seasons that regularly bring them torrential rains. But as climate change begins to change the weather, scientists predict that growing conditions in the country are likely to become even more challenging and could alternate abruptly between periods of severe rainstorms and drought, according to the group.

In response to the farming challenges brought on by climate change, Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), together with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre and partner organizations are introducing a portfolio of climate-smart agriculture practices and technologies in their climate-smart villages.

Paramjeet Singh uses the “Green Seeker” to check the nutrient levels of his paddy fields in Uncha Samana. The device helps him decide the most appropriate dosage of nitrogen fertilizers (Urea) for his crops.

Paramjeet Singh uses the “Green Seeker” to check the nutrient levels of his paddy fields in Uncha Samana. The device helps him decide the most appropriate dosage of nitrogen fertilizers (Urea) for his crops. Image by Prashanth Vishwanathan. Used with permission.

Researchers, farmers’ cooperatives, government bodies and private sector partners are working together at these villages to identify which agriculture practices and technologies can improve productivity and incomes and build resilience to climate risks. “Climate-smart” agriculture is highly localized; interventions that work in one place will not necessarily be suitable for another.

In India the project is undertaken currently in Haryana, Bihar and Punjab. The same model also operates in Khulna, Bangladesh and Rupandehi in Nepal. This video explains the idea behind the villages:

In the climate smart villages in India, farmers have begun to alter their use of mobile phones, the Internet, and basic measurement devices to adapt to the changes initiated by climate change, according to CGIAR. An interesting aspect is that farmers are actually not talking much about climate change, but rather are engaging themselves in alternative and innovative practices. The money that they are saving by doing things like using new planting methods for rice that reduces the amount of labor and water needed are resulting in a significant cost savings, CGIAR says.

Harpreet Singh checks the water level through a Tensiometer in his paddy fields in Birnaryna as a part of the Climate Smart Village (CSV) programme.  Image by Prasanth Viswanathan. Used with permission

Harpreet Singh checks the water level through a Tensiometer in his paddy fields in Birnaryna as a part of the Climate Smart Village (CSV) programme. Image by Prasanth Viswanathan. Used with permission

Under the project, voice and text messages are sent to farmers twice a week in Hindi or in other local language. The text messages include information on weather forecasts and suggestions for farmers, information on pests and remedies, etc. Last year messages were sent to 1,400 farmers in 50 villages in Karnal and Bihar and 10 villages in Punjab, according to the group.

Farmers are being encouraged to improve their nutrient management, for example through the use of a leaf color chart:

27 year old Vinod Kumar (L) uses the Nutrient Expert computer programme to ascertain his farms nutrient needs being part of the Climate Smart Village programme in Anjanthalli. Image by Prashanth Vishwanathan. Used with permission.

27-year-old Vinod Kumar (L) uses the Nutrient Expert computer programme to ascertain his farms nutrient needs being part of the Climate-Smart Village programme in Anjanthalli. Image by Prashanth Vishwanathan. Used with permission.

The CCAFS South Asia Program has also successfully implemented a climate insurance program as part of their climate-smart village model to save farmers from losses due to failed crops as a result of natural calamities.

The success of the models in India has prompted replication of the initiative under climate smart village in various South Asian and African countries. The CGIAR's blog narrates a lot of initiatives and challenges that the climate-smart villages face.

  • Wow, very interesting project! Thanks for the post Rezwan!

  • Kevin Schmidt

    Hopefully, they can finally get rid of Monsanto’s death and impoverishment GMO terminator seeds.

Our work building bridges across cultures, languages and perspectives is more urgent than ever before.

Learn more about Global Voices »

Donate now

Close