Rain-fed Anantapur farmers are reaping a golden harvest from carbon dioxide emissions.

Hyderabad: A group of Anantapur farmers whose crops depend largely on rain have found a new source of income. They reaped a golden harvest of carbon dioxide emissions. Last year, they earned 49 euros by selling carbon dioxide emissions with a pilot project covering 1,000 hectares for half a year. To earn credit, rice farmers had to switch to planting crops. They were persuaded to start growing a mixture of millets, pulses and garden produce. The Dutch cooperative bank Rabobank together with the AF Ecological Center helped the farmers by educating them about the basic parameters according to which orchards are entitled to compensation. The bank also ensured that farmers get 80 percent of the income.

Now they have sold 2189 credits with Rabo Bank to companies around the world. In total, the bank helps 10,000 farmers on an area of ​​approximately 10,000 hectares. One CRU (Carbon Removal Unit) offsets one ton of greenhouse gasses, allowing companies to purchase equipment to offset emissions or carbon footprint. Currently one CRU earns 32 euros. Microsoft is said to have offered a minimum support price of 20 euros if the interest rate on loans falls below that.

The Center in turn works with more than 35,000 farmers in the Anantpur region and provides market links to them to help them find better prices. It has developed about eight methods of adding millets, pulses and horticultural crops, ensuring food and nutritional security.

Changes in Crops

YV Malla Reddy, Director, AF Ecology Centre, told Business Line that Anantapur was once full of millet fields, but when people started consuming more rice, farmers switched to groundnuts. “Groundnut used to dominate agriculture in the region but recently it has failed farmers and made them look at other crops. Legumes, millets and garden crops help them survive the economic crisis. Now that farmers have demonstrated a viable carbon-free production process, this model is attracting investors looking to invest in horticultural crops that generate carbon emissions.

The center also reduces the risk by introducing intermediate crops. “We choose perennial plants (garden plants like mango or sweet lime) and 17-18 year plants (millet and pulses). The latter would threaten the short root, deep root and short and long duration, making it a well-distributed system that gives good returns” said Reddy. “If they try for 4-5 years, they have a good source of income, ” he said. Orchards are now spread across 15 mandals in the district. The center has hired a couple of unemployed youths to count the lots. The seeds of change have been sown – now farmers can reap the benefits.

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