The world is changing. The main reason is the impact that humans have had on it. Think about it. Is there any other species that has sent satellites into space, made computers, and is perhaps reading this on a screen of a mobile phone? And how is the world changing? Well, many ways, but one of the prominent ones is desertification. The land on which we stand is changing into the desert, day by day. This means a huge impact on agriculture. 

“As per the Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India, prepared by the Space Applications Centre for the period 2011-2013, 96.4 million hectares i.e. 29.32% of the Total Geographical Area of the country is undergoing the process of desertification/land degradation. Approximately 6.35% of land in Uttar Pradesh is undergoing desertification/degradation.”

Special Report on Climate Change & Land of Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change released in August, 2019 states that main contributors to desertification are land use change, land-use intensification and climate change. The effect is visible through increases in frequency and intensity of extremes, such as drought and floods. Such events have directly contributed to food security and terrestrial ecosystems as well as contributed to desertification and land degradation in many regions.

The Government has taken many steps to counter increasing desertification. “Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) through Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation (IISWC) has developed several location specific bio-engineering measures to check soil erosion due to run-off of rain water. Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpur has developed sand dune stabilization and shelter belt technology to check wind erosion. The Council through Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal and All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on Salt Affected Soils has developed reclamation technology, sub-surface drainage, bio-drainage, agroforestry interventions and salt tolerant crop varieties to improve the productivity of saline, sodic and waterlogged soils in the country. ICAR through National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) demonstrated Climate resilient technologies namely drought tolerant short duration varieties, crop diversification, integrated farming systems, soil and water conservation measures etc. in 151 most vulnerable districts in the country to minimize vulnerability against climate change. Agricultural Contingent Plans for 651 districts have also been prepared to cope up with any climate adversities.” 

“National Afforestation & Eco Development Board (NAEB) Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is implementing the "National Afforestation Programme (NAP)" for ecological restoration of degraded forest areas. Green India Mission, fund accumulated under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), Nagar Van Yojana etc. are also being utilised to counter desertification.”

Increasing population, lower land per capita, and rising economic disparity resulting in more arable land being converted for residential or industrial use will make it tough for India to achieve land degradation neutrality status by 2030.



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