India’s Agriculture Sector Produced 12.7% of Global Agricultural CO2e Emissions in 2021

India has one of the largest agricultural sectors in the world. Agriculture is a primary source of livelihood for about 58 percent of its population. With a population of over 1.4 billion people, India has the world’s largest cattle herd (buffaloes); the largest area planted for wheat, rice, and cotton; and the largest producer of milk, pulses, and spices. It is also the second-largest producer of fruits, vegetables, tea, farmed fish, cotton, sugarcane, wheat, rice, cotton, and sugar. It has the second-largest amount of agricultural land in the world generating employment for about half of the country’s population.

With a large country population of about 600 million directly involved in the agriculture sector in rural areas for their livelihood and three cycles of crop production, India’s greenhouse emissions are the highest of any county in the agricultural sector. It is noteworthy that India is ranked overall as the third largest greenhouse gas emitter with agriculture accounting for 0.73 billion tonnes of CO2e 100, 12.7 percent of global agriculture emissions according to Climate Trace data. Emissions in India’s agriculture sector were produced by a variety of sub-sectors such as cropland fires, enteric fermentation, manure management, synthetic fertilizer application, and other agricultural soil emissions with rice cultivation topping the chart in its contribution to emissions within the sector at a whopping 96.7 million tonnes CO2e 100, accounting for 10.8 percent of global rice cultivation emissions accordingly to Climate Track data.

India’s geographic expanse is as diverse as its topography and more than half of its population in agriculture grows high-quality rice (not high yielding) as climatic conditions including availability of water, weather conditions and good quality soil quite suit the rice production. More than 10 states, especially in the Eastern and Southern parts of India, lead the pack in growing and producing rice with an average yield of 2500 kg/hectare.

One of the advantages of growing rice in India is that it’s a staple food for most Indians and also gets easily sold out in domestic markets and has a high demand for exports across continents. India exported more than 4.4 million metric tonnes of rice valued at over USD 5 billion in 2018-19 to nations in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. Russia’s war on Ukraine has further leaned the world’s on India as a reliable rice export partner.

Climatic conditions for growing rice need a heavy dose of water for irrigation, pumps that largely run on fossil fuel, low-yielding variety of paddy, synthetic fertilizer, and processing of rice contribute to emissions to a large extent. It is notable that both the farmers and Indian governments both at the federal and sub-regional levels are getting more and more conscious of the climate crisis and aggregate of emissions of the agriculture sector to the country’s overall emissions and developing and working on pathways to both adaptation and mitigation strategies. Such steps are well reflected through policy and practice measures including the promotion of agriculture extension outreach and educational awareness for farmers and inter-ministerial coordination to tackle agriculture emissions.

Many steps taken into account and action following therefrom in recent times include the usage of a high-yielding variety of paddy which needs less water to grow, the introduction of solar pumps, reduced dependence on synthetic fertilizer and more on composted and locally produced manure, community-led rice growing practices and agricultural extension activities and mass awareness campaigns on technology infusion.

In India’s current federal budget presented on February 01, a total of USD 50 billion has been set aside to effectively tackle emissions and adverse effects of climate change in the lives and livelihoods of the farmers, people and community.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard India Country Manager Pooran Chandra Pandey


Climate change is real, and what governments do matters.

Help us work with key stakeholders globally to ensure continued support of the The Paris Agreement.