This artice is free to access.
Background: Rice is a major cereal crop and staple food of eastern India, and most farmers depend solely on rice for their livelihood. Rice farming provides both tangible and non-tangible benefits to ecosystems which need to be maintained and enhanced. These benefits are provided through ecosystem services (ES) that include both marketable and non-marketable. Methods: In this study, the rice farms in eastern India were valued by quantifying the economic value of the services under conventional method of rice cultivation and the gap of ecosystem services value and farm income per unit area were assessed. A stratified random sampling technique was used in this study for selection of agro-climatic zones, districts, blocks, gram panchayat, and study units (households). Soil sampling was also performed for assessing the regulating services (biocontrol of pests, carbon flow, soil erosion, nitrogen fixation), provisioning services (food and by-products), and supporting services (soil fertility, hydrological flow, nutrient cycling, and soil formation). Results: The results indicated that the total economic value of ecosystem services ranged from US$ 1238 to 1688 ha−1 year−1. The marketed (primary production) and non-marketed ecosystem services values ranged from 66–89 to 11–34% of the total, respectively. Valuation of some of the ecosystem services such as cultural services, biodiversity, and gas regulation, which may play a significant role in total ecosystem services, has not been made due to non-availability of data and appropriate methodology for rice ecosystem. Different values of parameters can explain the variability in ecosystem services among the agro-climatic zones in eastern India. Clustering of locations based on variability of ecosystem services helps in identifying intervention points for sustaining and improving ecosystem services, while permitting sustainable agro-ecological intensification. The highest total economic gap between ES value and farm income was found in the north central plateau zone (US$ 1063 ha−1 year−1) and the lowest in the north western plateau zone (US$ 670 ha−1 year−1). Conclusion: We suggest various measures to reduce the economic gap, including payments for ecosystem services for rice farming for sustainability of the ecosystem and agricultural development, while ensuring reliable farm income.
Nayak, A. K., Shahid, M., Nayak, A. D., Dhal, B., Moharana, K. C., Mondal, B., … Pathak, H. (2019). Assessment of ecosystem services of rice farms in eastern India. Ecological Processes, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13717-019-0189-1