Kerala needs a long-term intervention strategy based on predictive modelling to deal with the impact of climate change, noted agriculture scientist Kadambot H.M. Siddique said here on Friday.
Addressing a gathering of teachers and students at the College of Agriculture, Vellayani, Professor Siddique, who holds a chair in Agriculture at the University of Western Australia, said the State could make use of the models developed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to develop a long-term programme to combat climate change.
“We assume the climate is going to change in the State over the next 30 years. We do not know, we can only wait and see, but that will lead to a lot of damage. The IPCC models will help assess the impact of climate change on rice production or farm-holding income and devise an appropriate interventional strategy. You have to have socioeconomic and biophysical modelling to understand the different dimensions of the threat,” Prof. Siddique said.
Mr. Siddique was given a warm welcome at the college of agriculture where he graduated, way back in the seventies. Sverup John, College Dean and Stephen Devanesan, Principal Scientist, All-India Coordinated Research Project on Honeybees and Pollinators, were present.
Prof. Siddique stressed the need for a long-term plan to deal with the problems faced by Kerala in the agriculture sector. “A multi-dimensional task force can identify the problems and come up with strategies to address agricultural problems, socioeconomic challenges, labour issues, introduction of new varieties etc. Highlighting the need to adopt new technology, he said, “if we continue on the same path, we will not reach anywhere. Instead of blaming GM (genetic modification) technology, let us do what we can.”
He also underlined the need to bring politicians on board on important issues like adoption of new technology and adaptability to climate change.
He proposed a participatory system involving farmers, scientists and policymakers to help Kerala cope with the challenges posed by declining crop yield, poor soil health and resistance to new technology. “Farmers have to be involved in the development of technology. A grassroots level approach will ensure that technology is not isolated,” he said.
He said the Climate Champion initiative in Australia held a lesson for Kerala. “Essentially, farmers, the climate champions, are developing strategies to combat climate change with existing technology. They also bring researchers on board, so that over a period, something is achieved,” he said.
Expressing reservation over the decision to start new universities for Fisheries and Veterinary Sciences in Kerala, Prof. Siddique feared it would affect the multi-disciplinary approach to education. “Three universities mean three Syndicates, three Senates and three Vice-Chancellors with no significant gain. In Australia, we do not have an agricultural university. Federal funding based on academic excellence is essential for universities to thrive,” he said.
Acknowledging the academic quality of the students and staff at the College of Agriculture, he called for steps to improve infrastructural facilities. “You cannot work on a shoestring budget,” he said.
Keywords: climate change