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Rajasthan women farmers successfully battle climate change

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As the United Nations Climate Change Conference ― 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21), is underway in France, women farmers in Rajasthan drylands are implementing their own methods to battle climate change.

The impact of climate change can be felt most strongly in the drylands ecosystem. Rajasthan’s women farmers are adopting methods which would help overcome this obstacle and keep them out of poverty.

Sixty per cent of Rajasthan is covered by the Thar Desert, which spreads over 320,000 sq km. The region sees around two droughts in five years and faces an acute water shortage for 9 to 11 months in a year.

Mani and Rameshwari are women community leaders from Rajasthan’s Derasar village who have brought in improvements in farming and related issues which effectively combat the adversities of climate change.

Embankments have been constructed to prevent runoff soil and erosion, and also to capture rain water. To provide cattle fodder, grasses and fodder tress are planted, while crop varieties which are suited to the region are being concentrated upon. More fruit trees are planted which provide income as well as nutrition, and improved crop varieties such as pearl millet have been introduced.

In a move towards better management of common community resources such as the grazing lands, new institutional agreements have been employed. These agreements will also help the women easily form self-help groups which would allow them to weigh and market livestock in a proper manner, for higher income.

The CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems, which has brought in most of these changes, is working in Rajasthan, Karnataka and, Andhra Pradesh to assist the local institutions and farmers to build farming systems which can prevail against climate change. The program aims to lives of the billions living in rural areas and diminish the degradation of land and other resources in the dryland areas in the world.

The different initiatives are turning out to be quite successful, mainly due to the different organisations who have come together to lend a hand to the cause. The local community received ample assistance from the NGO, Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (GRAVIS), and the scientific expertise lent by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Donations from all around the world have also been coming in from donors under the CGIAR program.

ICRISAT scientist Dr Shalander Kumar said, “The strategy takes women’s needs into account by working directly with them. Women are empowered to take charge of their lives and reduce the vulnerability of the communities living in these harsh environments.”

 

 

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Climate change can have an effect on the taste of the wines

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Climate change can have an effect on the taste of the wine
Climate change can have an effect on the taste of the wine. wikimedia commons

New York, Jan 3, 2018: Although winegrowers seem reluctant to try new grape varieties apparently to protect the taste of the wines, new research suggests that they will ultimately have to give up on their old habit as planting lesser-known grape varieties might help vineyards to counteract some of the effects of climate change.

vineyards. wikimedia commons

“It’s going to be very hard, given the amount of warming we’ve already committed to… for many regions to continue growing the exact varieties they’ve grown in the past,” said study co-author Elizabeth Wolkovich, Assistant Professor at Harvard University.

“With continued climate change, certain varieties in certain regions will start to fail — that’s my expectation,” she said.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, suggests that wine producers now face a choice — proactively experiment with new varieties, or risk suffering the negative consequences of climate change.

“The Old World has a huge diversity of wine grapes — there are overplanted 1,000 varieties — and some of them are better adapted to hotter climates and have higher drought tolerance than the 12 varieties now making up over 80 per cent of the wine market in many countries,” Wolkovich said.

“We should be studying and exploring these varieties to prepare for climate change,” she added.

Unfortunately, Wolkovich said, convincing wine producers to try different grape varieties is difficult at best, and the reason often comes down to the current concept of terroir.

Terroir is the notion that a wine’s flavour is a reflection of where which and how the grapes were grown.

Thus, as currently understood, only certain traditional or existing varieties are part of each terroir, leaving little room for change.

The industry — both in the traditional winegrowing centres of Europe and around the world — faces hurdles when it comes to making changes, Wolkovich said.

In Europe, she said, growers have the advantage of tremendous diversity.

They have more than 1,000 grape varieties to choose from. Yet strict labelling laws have created restrictions on their ability to take advantage of this diversity.

For example, just three varieties of grapes can be labelled as Champagne or four for Burgundy.

Similar restrictions have been enacted in many European regions – all of which force growers to focus on a small handful of grape varieties.

“The more you are locked into what you have to grow, the less room you have to adapt to climate change,” Wolkovich said.

New World winegrowers, meanwhile, must grapple with the opposite problem — while there are few, if any, restrictions on which grape varieties may be grown in a given region, growers have little experience with the diverse — and potentially more climate change adaptable — varieties of grapes found in Europe, the study said.

Just 12 varieties account for more than 80 per cent of the grapes grown in Australian vineyards, Wolkovich said.

More than 75 per cent of all the grapes grown in China is Cabernet Sauvignon — and the chief reason why has to do with consumers.

“They have all the freedom in the world to import new varieties and think about how to make great wines from a grape variety you’ve never heard of, but they’re not doing it because the consumer hasn’t heard of it,” Wolkovich said. (IANS)

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