How to beat climate change? Lessons from ‘progressive farmers’ of Karnataka

Kalaburagi district (Karnataka): “Year by year, the quantity of rainfall is decreasing,” said Shyamrao Patil, 55, a lungi-clad, generously mustachioed wiry farmer who has learned to read the changing seasons and–most importantly–adapt to them in a country where climate change has started affecting the livelihoods of a fifth of the population, or 263 million people, that depends on farming.

Here in the pigeon-pea (tur dal) bowl of Karnataka, Patil and his wife Laxmibai, 50, grow a variety of crops as one bet against climate change in an area where farming risks include water scarcity, increasingly erratic rain, rising temperatures and decreasing soil quality, we found in a 2018 study of 419 farm households. Further, 91% of farmers surveyed in Kalaburagi reported a decrease in rainfall over a decade to 2016, and 61% reported regular scarcities of water for farming, we found across four blocks in this arid, poor northern Karnataka district where several human-development indicators match those in India’s poorest state, Bihar.