Punjab and Haryana farmers to get carbon credit for sustainable agri-practices

In a first-of-its-kind initiative to incentivise farmers for adoption of environmentally sustainable agriculture practices, in India’s rice and wheat growing states, farmers in Punjab and Haryana will be awarded carbon credits soon for adopting practices such as direct seeding and low tillage.

The carbon farming programme has been initiated by a private entity Grow Indigo (GIPL), a joint venture between domestic seed major Mahyco and US-based Indigo.

According to Umang Agarwal, head, carbon, Grow Indigo, the audit of the programme has been completed under the carbon standard (Verra) protocol, which is a global voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction programme. On the basis of certification by Veera, the carbon credit will be awarded to farmers in the next couple of months.
“Our carbon program helps food companies procure low-emission crops. Farmers get the option to either earn through carbon credits or receive a premium for their produce,”, Agarwal, told FE. GIPL will help farmers market their produce for better prices.

With over 300,000 hectares area currently enrolled under the programme, the company is aiming to expand to 1.5 million hectares over the next few years. 

The company will aggregate the credit and sell it to buyers while 75% of revenues earned from the credit flow back to farmers.

Carbon credits from farmers can be purchased by those industries, especially aviation, mining or manufacturers of fertiliser, who are not in a position to reduce their carbon footprints because of the very nature of their business. 

The farmer registered with the programme could earn one carbon credit annually per acre and currently the value of one carbon credit is $ 40 and is equivalent to a reduction of one tonne of Co2 emission. 

Farmers who adopt farming techniques – direct seeded rice, which improves water use efficiency and no tillage practice which conserves soil organic biomass, prior to planting of paddy and wheat register for the programme for getting carbon credit

Currently, the company has taken up four projects covering crops such as rice, wheat, maize, cotton and sugarcane and agro-forestry across 15 states including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra,

Indian Agricultural Research Institute, is providing its expertise in remote sensing technology for satellite monitoring of paddy and wheat fields registered by farmers under the project for validating claims of their adoption of sustainable practices. 

According to scientists, microbes in flooded rice fields produce methane, some of which is emitted into the atmosphere. 

Recently the agriculture ministry has released framework for voluntary carbon market carbon aimed at bringing all the stakeholders together and its objective was to shift current practices and help mitigation efforts

Because of the intensive farming system adopted after the Green Revolution, soil fertility has dropped sharply. If paddy straw is not burnt and put back into the soil, the organic carbon content of the soil gets enhanced, thus improving fertility.

India is the world’s second-biggest rice producer after China with an estimated production of 135.7 million tonne (mt) in 2023-24 crop year (July-June). India continues to be the world’s biggest rice exporter with estimated exports of 22 MT in FY23.