Living Income for Farmers
Agriculture is the source of livelihood for more than 40% of Tamil Nadu’s population. The majority of the farmers are smallholder farmers. Many are poor and food insecure and have limited access to markets and services. Nonetheless, they produce food for a substantial proportion of the State’s population. Reducing farmer incomes and their inability to harness technological innovations is a real cause of concern in Tamil Nadu and globally.
Water scarcity is one of the top challenges the world and Tamil Nadu faces today due to its inextricable linkages with food, energy, disease and livelihood. In 2017, 1.2 billion people were reported to suffer from water scarcity, up from 700 million in 2014. Climate change impacts alongside wasteful practices point to a situation where half the world’s population living in water stressed areas by 2030. Agriculture accounts for about 70% of global freshwater consumption and 80% of Tamil Nadu’s total ground water extraction. Tamil Nadu has been declared as an ‘extremely water-stressed’ State with ground water levels at minus 85% under the 10-year average.
Soil degradation has become a serious problem in both rainfed and irrigated areas of Tamil Nadu. 17.61% of the State’s total geographical area is degraded land. Soil fertility has reduced by half in 30 years. A recent estimate on the cost of land degradation places annual cost at INR 820 million for Tamil Nadu. This problem persists in other farming heavy parts of the world.
Energy & Climate Change
Energy, agriculture and climate change, are intricately linked. Energy is required at each step of the food value chain to produce food and to meet the growing demand for food. In Tamil Nadu a major portion of the energy required in agriculture goes on the account for water pumping in irrigation. Reducing water consumption requirements is directly proportional in reducing energy requirements and saving carbon emissions.