Friday, October 11, 2013

Climate change affecting Indian agriculture.

The agricultural sector represents 35% of India’s Gross National Product (GNP) and therefore plays a crucial role in the country’s development. So while the magnitude of impact of climate change on agriculture in India varies greatly by region, it is still believed to impact agricultural productivity and shifting crop patterns gradually each year. Climate change can affect crop yields (both positively and negatively), as well as the types of crops that can be grown in certain areas, by impacting agricultural inputs such as water for irrigation, amounts of solar radiation that affect plant growth, as well as the prevalence of pests. And these changes in agriculture could then affect food security, trade policy, livelihood activities and water conservation issues, impacting large portions of the population in India. Scientists at IARI (The Indian Agriculture Research Institute) have studied the subject and have used a variety of crop growth models to evaluate potential climate change impacts on wheat and rice (India’s primary crops), and other crops such as sorghum and maize. This study based on models shows that the changes in temperature, CO2 levels, precipitation, and solar radiation are the major factors affecting the agro sector. The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climatic Change ( IPCC) of the United Nations in its report for 2001, projected using different models that the globally averaged temperatures might rise by 1.4°C to 5.8°C over the next 100 years. And for India, the area-averaged annual mean warming by 2020 is projected to be between 1.0°C and 1.4°C and between 2.2°C to 2.9°C by 2050. Though, the increase in temperatures would be less in the rabi season (winter season). Further, the kharif (monsoon season) rainfall is expected to increase in most places whereas rabi rainfall may decrease in some areas. Though no immediate adverse impact of global warming is visible in India, experts feel the country should draw sharp strategy to deal with the long-term effects of climate change on agriculture. “Rise of 0.2 degrees in the temperatures now is not a cause of worry for agriculture in the country, but there could be a problem after 5-6 decades for which we need to be alert” says, S. Ayyappan, Director General of ICAR. However, programs like Macro Management of Agriculture, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna, National Food Security Mission, National Horticulture Mission and National Mission on Micro Irrigation are already in place to make Indian agriculture climate resilient, by embedding various adaptation measures.

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