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Reducing Carbon Footprint of Agrifood Systems

  • Context (DTE): The World Bank recently released a report titled Recipe for a Livable Planet: Achieving Net Zero Emissions in the Agrifood System.
  • As per the report, the agrifood system remains an untapped climate change solution.

Agrifood System Emissions: A Global and Indian Perspective

  • Global: The agri-food system emits about 16 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases (GHG) annually (equal to one-third of all global emissions).
  • India
    • 60% of emissions from agri-food systems originate from the farm gate, with enteric fermentation from the livestock sector being the largest contributor.
    • Emission from rice production is 4% due to India’s high rice production volume.
  • India ranks high in total emissions but lower in per capita emissions.
    • Despite having roughly four times the population of the US, India emits only 30% more GHG.
    • India’s low-carbon diets and pervasive poverty contribute to lower per capita emissions.
  • High-income countries tend to have the highest per capita agrifood system emissions.
  • Top ten emitters in the agri-food system include China, Brazil, India, the United States, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Russian Federation, Canada, Pakistan, and Argentina.

Suggestions to reduce emissions from agri-food system

High-income countries

  • Support low & middle-income countries in adopting low-emission farming methods and technologies, including assisting with forest conservation programs that generate carbon credits.
  • Shift subsidies away from high-emitting food sources.

Middle-income countries

  • Implement greener practices such as reducing emissions from livestock and rice, investing in healthy soils, and minimising food loss and waste.
  • Shifting to sustainable land use practices can reduce one-third of the world’s agrifood emissions.

Low-income countries

  • Adoption of climate-smart opportunities.
  • Preserving & restoring forests in low-income countries, as over half of their agrifood emissions come from forest clearing for food production.

India specific recommendations

  • Replacing 25% of India’s 8.8 million diesel irrigation pumps with solar pumps could reduce agrifood emissions by 11.5 million tonnes annually. This reduction is more than double the 5 million tonnes of global emissions prevented by electric vehicles and solar panels in 2020.


  • A $260 billion investment is needed to halve emissions by 2030 and reach Net Zero by 2050. Cutting down wasteful agricultural subsidies can help finance some of these investments.
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