With the onset of winter, a blanket of smog has once again settled over northern India, caused in part by deleterious agricultural practices. Heedless of the environmental outcome of their action, farmers in the region are burning crop stubble in fields to reduce manual drudgery and expedite sowing of winter crops. It is an annual civic tragedy, a reflection of how current farming practices contribute to public health and climate challenges. But there is quiet cause for hope.
Over the last couple of years, some farmers near Delhi have opted to sell crop residue so its rich organic content including carbon can be used to enrich soil rather than be released into the atmosphere as a planet-warming gas. It is an example of regenerative agriculture located on the fringes of cities and urban food practices that can be an important climate solution, drawing down carbon from the atmosphere, restoring nutrients and microorganisms to the soil, and bolstering food security.
This is critical to both achieving India’s climate goals and ensuring that its growing urban population has enough nutritious, high-quality food. Globally, food systems are responsible for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions. “The largest contribution came from agriculture and land use/land-use change activities…