Linking science and policy to adapt to climate change

June 24, 2013 - 06:34

Climate change will have an impact on the agriculture and water sectors and affect rice and other crop production in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in India. A new research program aims to help.

A mechanical transplanter in operation in Andhra Pradesh. (Photo: Ragnar Våga Pedersen, Bioforsk)

Evidence shows that these regions will be adversely affected by climate change in the future.

Such effects could potentially include water availability – both with regards to the quality and the quantity of the water, and eventually the way farmers in the region respond to managing their land and water resources.

ClimaAdapt, a four year project supported by the Norwegian government, aims to develop adaption and mitigation strategies and capacity building of local stakeholders and agencies involved in climate change adaption in these regions. The goal is that the strategies developed in the project will eventually provide input to the state climate change adaption frameworks.

The programme is led by Bioforsk, in partnership with international, state and local research and training institutions from the two regions. With an emphasis on taking an integrated approach, it involves different sectors and brings together stakeholders from all levels, from policy makers and scientists, to managers and farmers.

Linking science and policy

Nagothu Udaya Sekhar, Programme Coordinator and Senior Researcher at Bioforsk - the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, says that to improve the resilience to climate change, it is crucial to strengthen the link between policy making and science:

“As it stands now in countries such as India and Bangladesh among others, policies are not well grounded in science and local needs. They are influenced by politicians and bureaucrats, and often driven by political interests. The policy guidelines and recommendations should be science based. We are trying to reduce that gap," he says.

“Our goal at the end of the project is to come up with policy and technical guidelines based on good science."

To achieve this, Sekhar points out that it is crucial to have stakeholders from all levels on board.

“It is important to involve stakeholders right from the start. We want to know what they think and what they believe would be relevant for the farmers, and we get feedback and reviews. This also helps to ensure that the stakeholders acknowledge the project results."

“We are attempting to develop innovative interactive platforms for stakeholder involvement,” he adds.

Looking at the current gaps

A situation analysis was carried out during the first year in order to understand the current situation and gaps, such as the capacity of the farmers and the variants for adaptation.

ClimaAdapt uses an integrated science-stakeholder-policy approach to develop an adaptation framework for water and agriculture sectors in India. In this photo stakeholders can be seen discussing the issues at hand. (Photo: Ragnar Våga Pedersen, Bioforsk)

“Based on this situation analysis, which is the main work we did in the first year of the project, we have now found base line indicators that showcase different current situations when it comes to adaption,” explains Sekhar.

He says they have also tried to summarise the climate and hydrology scenarios in the regions based on results from previous projects, besides looking at on-going public private partnerships, and the possibilities they hold.

“From all of this, we have now decided how we should approach the program the next few years,” he says.

Capacity building is crucial

According to Sekhar, one of the most significant areas of the project is capacity building of stakeholders including women and farmers:

“We have well planned capacity building activities for different categories of stakeholders. We want to build core capacity within the stakeholder groups, and have tried to identify what the capacity building requirements are on different levels. Based on this, we have prepared a strategy for capacity building. Training is an important component and we put a lot of emphasis on different aspects of training,” he explains.

Currently, he says they are in the face of developing the different training modules.

“In our consortium, there are specialised training institutes from the two different provinces, and they are responsible for the training. We have already started some training of managers and farmers in the second year.

“Farmers in these regions have access to some types of interventions. We try to conduct field training courses for the farmers where they can see certain measures demonstrated on the fields, for example Direct Sowing of Rice and System of Rice Intensification . We use model farmers to train other farmers, as we find it more effective in disseminating. We are also looking at ways of bringing on-board women and mainstreaming gender in adaptation,” Sekhar says.

Aim to scale-up

The plan is that the adaption measures selected through field demonstration will be integrated into state climate and sector frameworks.

“There are some parallel government programmes currently running. We need to look at how we can tie up with these, especially when you are talking about up-scaling. We are project based and have limited resources and limited time. We can come up with the guidelines and strategy for up-scaling, but the government and the farming communities need to take them forward," Sekhar emphasises.

“We will also attempt to ensure sustainability of project results through training, capacity building and linking with on-going state government initiatives.” 


Facts about ClimaAdapt:

  • The ClimaAdapt project is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Norway, through the Royal Norwegian Embassy, New Delhi.
  • The partners in the project are Bioforsk, the International Water Management Institute, the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, The Water and Land Management and Training Institute (WALAMTARI), Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) and the Irrigation Management and Training Institute (IMTI). About 25-30 scientists with expertise in various disciplines including climate and hydrology modelling, agronomy, soil science, irrigation, pests and diseases, economics, policy and gender are working in the project.
  • Numerous studies over the past decade conclude that the impacts of climate change are beginning to manifest on a global scale and developing countries are particularly vulnerable. Challenges include increasing temperatures, sea level rise, irregular rainfall distribution patterns both spatial and temporal, and late onset of monsoons. This is likely to lead to droughts and floods, water scarcity, ground water depletion, changes in cropping season, new pests and diseases affecting crops etc. and losses in food production.
  • The primary objective of ClimaAdapt is to improve the adaptive capacity of the farming communities and agriculture and water sectors in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in India. This will be done through pilot testing of selected adaption measures and developing methodologies for the up-scaling of the tested measures, as well as capacity building of local stakeholders and agencies involved in climate change adaption.
  • A Stakeholder Advisory Committee has been established in each province, to advise the project consortium on the suitability of the adaptation measures and up-scaling. About 1200 stakeholders in each province, including farmers, agricultural and water managers, women, policy makers will be trained on various aspects of climate and adaptation.
  • The multidisciplinary integrated project has been initiated in April 2012 and will be completed in May 2016.

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Bioforsk conducts applied and specifically targeted research linked to multifunctional agriculture and rural development, plant sciences, environmental protection and natural resource management. International collaboration is given high priority. Read more

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