Clean Air and Healthy Soil is a unique soil carbon sequestration project which addresses the severe crop residue burning issue in North India in an environmentally sustainable and cost-effective manner.
In India, agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of the population. However, there is a lot of wheat and paddy cultivation which generates much agricultural waste. These crop residues are burned every year, causing excessive air pollution in the area and in Delhi. In addition to that, excessive use of chemical fertilizer and the high water demand already degraded the land and significantly contributed to carbon emissions.
Since 2018, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has been working with local farmers in Northern India on crop residue management with the project Clean Air and Healthy Soil.
The project promotes Sustainable Agriculture Land Management (SALM) as a solution for the incineration of crop residues. This provides significant improvements in farmers' lives, such as improved air and soil quality.
The proposed activities in the intervention area include, amongst others - mulching, composting and improved tillage. In the first two years of the project, these techniques were used on 50-80% of the land area and are now used everywhere.
FairClimateFund and CII are also developing a carbon sequestration project to support the local farmers. Carbon sequestration is improved through advanced cropland management, and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by decreasing the combustion of crop residues.
The project in detail
The implementation of Sustainable Agriculture Land Management offers social, environmental and economic benefits to the local farmers and the ecosystem. The crop residue management contributes to agriculture productivity and offers better yield to the local farmers. The reduction of expenses with regards to the usage of chemical fertilizers also provides economic benefits. In addition, the carbon sequestration by the soil improves its health and increases the organic matter that provides necessary nutrients to the crop.
Finally, the removal of GHG emissions addresses global warming. Examples of other activities in the project are related to agroforestry where trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland. This increases the green cover and reduces water retention and water consumption. The project also trains farmers to make the ecosystem more resilient to the impact of climate change.