Women plays a major role in the all the agricultural activities
Agriculture plays an important role in Manipur’s economy providing about 52.81% of employment in the state. Because of the difference in physical configuration, climatic pattern and fertility of the soils, the nature of agriculture in the valley differs from that of the hills. Accordingly, agricultural practices in Manipur can be differentiate into two distinct types, viz., (i) settled (permanent) farming practiced in the plains, valleys, foothills and terraced slopes and (ii) shifting cultivation (Jhum) practiced on the hill slopes. Agriculture in the valley accounts for 58.22% of the total crop area in the state.
Jhumming /Shifting cultivation being practiced in the hills of Manipur
Rice and maize are the main cereal crops in the state; arhar, urd, cowpea, pea, braod beans etc, are the pulses generally grown by the people; mustard, groundnut, soyabean are the major oilseeds of Manipur. Fruits like pineapple, lime/lemon, banana, orange, papaya, plum are also found in plenty while cauliflower, cabbage, tomato, peas, carrot, pumpkin are the commonly found vegetables of the state. Performance of agriculture in the state depends on rainfall patterns and weather condition. Further, irrigation system in the state is not fully developed and hence, rain water is the main source of water for irrigation.
However, in recent trends, many crops or crop varieties have shifted their season or even replaced by other crops in the state. The reasons for this changing crop suitability might be due to climate change. As climate change is a global issue and the climate variability more or less affect the agricultural production and farmers’ livelihood. These impacts in a number of ways, through changes in average temperatures, rainfall, and climate extremes; increase in flood intensity; changes in pests and diseases; and changes in the nutritional quality of some foods.
Changes in such parameters will probably increase the risk of food insecurity for some vulnerable groups, such as the poor section of the society. For example, in the past 10 years, frequent flood occurred in many part of the state, due to which various agricultural crops were destroyed and moreover, soil fertility has also decrease in those areas where frequent flood happened.
Indeed, climate variability damages agricultural crops, while on the other hand, agricultural crops also induced climate variability. Rice is one such crop responsible for enhancement of methane emissions (accounts for 40%) which is the second major greenhouse gas, after carbon dioxide. Rice, the staple crop of the state is generally sowed in flooded areas which is the main reason for soil damage and it affects the quality of future crops. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that rice cultivation is a major contribution to global warming. It is also estimated in 2015–2016 that only 40% of the total cropped area is cultivated more than once and the remaining areas lying as fallow land for several month, which is one of the sources of green house gas emission. Apart from rice plantation methods, rice leaves also have a system of releasing methane methanogenesis.
In spite of the negative impacts of the changing climate, the state is trying to bring up with the adaptation strategies. Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere can also have certain beneficial aspects in crop production, as many new crops varieties were introduced in the state which was not suitable earlier. Water melon, strawberry, cherry, kiwi and avocado are some of the varieties which are newly introduced in the state. With different aspects of climate variability, these varieties are found to be more suitable than some of the earlier crops. Introduction of coffee plantation in the state can be one of the effective solutions for alternative to jhum cultivation and also climate change mitigating factor in the state . Most importantly, many agricultural areas adopted SRI (System of Rice Intensification) cultivation method which aimed at increasing the yield of rice production, reduction in green house gas emission and pest infestation at low cost. In addition, organic cultivation is also becoming popular in the state.
System of Rice Intensification (SRI) has been introduced
as a measure of the climate change adaptation.
Apart from these various ways of adaptation and mitigation strategies, the government should study the feasibility of other such climate-resistant crops, open a ways to research more on it and work with researchers, suppliers, and farmers to provide affordable access of seeds or plants. And also incentivize farmers to adopt more efficient sustainable agricultural systems to mitigate these climate risks.