The planet earth, on which we live in communities, is being increasingly ‘ruptured’ because of human activities; its carrying capacity is under great stress because of demographic pressures. The pressure is especially affecting the people living in the dry areas because of the marginal and fragile nature of the resources they have access to. There are over 2,000 million hectares of land that have been degraded, with a loss of agrobiodiversity, increased water scarcity and increased natural resource destruction. Superimposed on this is the fact that the neglectful and exploitive use of natural resources has set the train of global climate change in motion.
It is anticipated that the impact of climate change will cut across all boundaries. Crops, cropping systems, rotations and biota will undergo transformation. To maintain the balance in the system, there is a need for new knowledge, alternative policies and institutional changes. The marginalized people in dry areas are likely to be most seriously hit by the shifts in moisture and temperature regimes as a result of the global climate change. To help them cope with the challenges, there is a need for a new paradigm in agricultural research and technology transfer that makes full use of modern science and technology in conjunction with traditional knowledge. This necessitates more investment by international agencies and national governments for supporting the relevant integrated research and sustainable development efforts, with full participation of the target communities. Only such an approach can enable the vulnerable communities of the dryland areas to use the natural resources in a sustainable manner and thus help protect the environment for future generations.
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