Kerala is set to become the first State in the country to introduce carbon-neutral farming methods in selected locations, for which the government has set aside ₹6 crore in the 2022-23 Budget.

In the first phase, carbon-neutral farming will be implemented in 13 farms under the Agriculture department and tribal areas, and steps are on to convert the State Seed Farm at Aluva a carbon-neutral farm. In the second phase, model carbon-neutral farms will be developed in all the 140 Assembly constituencies.

The government believed that carbon-neutral agriculture was the need of the times for environmental balance and improved health and safe sustenance of future generations, Agriculture Minister P. Prasad said in the Assembly here on Wednesday.

Replying to a calling-attention motion moved by P.S. Supal on the importance of carbon-neutral agriculture, Mr. Prasad said the government was considering setting up special committees at the State and district levels for coordinating and reviewing the activities related to it.

Climate change was affecting both agriculture and the environment. The State was currently experiencing the fallout of global warming and climate change, as was evidenced by the unpredictable heavy rain and flooding in recent times and the intense drought that was expected to follow.

The Agriculture department was involved in a process of adopting new farming methods in phases, which would reduce carbon emissions and help carbon to be stored in the soil. The government had already initiated discussions with experts in this regard.

Improving soil health through integrated farming methods, rotation of crops, adoption of fertigation, precision farming methods, changing the ways in which the soil is irrigated and limiting the indiscriminate use of fertilizers were important for preventing soil degradation and thus reducing carbon footprint in agriculture.

For the soil to retain carbon, it needed to be healthy and fertile and hence the government would work with farmers to create awareness of improving soil health through climate-smart agriculture practices, Mr. Prasad said.

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