Punjab and Haryana Farmers to Earn Carbon Credits for Sustainable Farming

Farmers can get $40 carbon credit per ton if they CO2 emissions. This will add to their annual income.

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Image credit - Outlook Planet

Farmers in Punjab and Haryana, two of India’s major rice and wheat-producing states, are set to be awarded carbon credits for adopting environmentally friendly farming methods. This initiative, a first in India, aims at incentivising farmers to switch to sustainable agricultural practices, such as direct seeding and reduced tillage, that contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

The pioneering carbon farming program is spearheaded by Grow Indigo (GIPL), a collaborative venture between India’s domestic seed giant Mahyco and the US-based agricultural technology company Indigo. According to Umang Agarwal, the head of carbon initiatives at Grow Indigo, the program has successfully completed its audit under the Verra protocol—a global framework for voluntary greenhouse gas reduction. Farmers participating in this program are expected to receive carbon credit certification in the coming months, marking a significant milestone in their journey towards sustainable agriculture.

Grow Indigo’s program is designed to reward farmers with carbon credits and offer them the opportunity to earn a premium for their low-emission crops. “Our carbon program assists food companies in procuring crops that are produced with lower emissions. Farmers have the option to benefit from carbon credits or receive a premium for their produce,” Agarwal explained. This initiative underscores a comprehensive approach to promoting sustainable farming practices while ensuring economic benefits for the farmers.

With more than 300,000 hectares of farmland currently enrolled, GIPL aims to expand the program to 1.5 million hectares across various states in India over the next few years. The program covers a wide range of crops including rice, wheat, maize, cotton, sugarcane, and also agro-forestry, spanning 15 states such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Maharashtra, among others.

Farmers participating in the program can earn one carbon credit per acre annually, each valued at $40 and equivalent to a reduction of one tonne of CO2 emissions. The initiative targets practices such as the cultivation of direct-seeded rice, which enhances water efficiency, and no-tillage farming, which conserves soil organic biomass.

The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) lends its expertise in remote sensing technology for satellite monitoring of the paddy and wheat fields enrolled in the program. This technology is crucial for validating the sustainable practices claimed by the farmers.

This innovative program aligns with the broader efforts by the Indian government, which recently released a framework for a voluntary carbon market. The aim is to unify all stakeholders under a common goal of transitioning to sustainable practices and enhancing mitigation efforts against climate change.

As India continues to be a leading global player in rice production and export, initiatives like these are vital for ensuring that the agricultural sector remains sustainable and environmentally friendly, contributing positively to the global fight against climate change.

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