Climate Change Threats to Farming
Climate change refers to the long lasting and permanent changes in the weather conditions of a particular region due to various factors such as greenhouse gas emission, ozone layer depletion, excessive industrialization etc. The climate change may result into drought, floods, global warming etc. It ultimately impacts the basic inputs of agriculture such as temperature, rainfall, soil health etc.
Threats to Farming
Agriculture in India is considered as the backbone of the country which feeds the nation and makes the country self sufficient in food production. The share of agriculture in the total GDP though has reduced, its value can’t be underestimated as it still is the biggest employment generating sector of the economy and playing an important role in the overall social and economic upkeep of people at large.
The contribution of agriculture to the total GDP is about 16 percent which is quite less in comparison to its contribution to the GDP at the time of country’s Independence. The reduction is attributed to increasing growth in manufacturing and services sector which is a healthy sign of country’s progression from agriculture based economy into manufacturing and services based economy.
However, in recent times, the agriculture and food crops production has been threatened to be affected with multitude of factors in which climate change is one of the most potent and having far reaching consequences.
Monsoon Based Agriculture
Indian agriculture is primarily dependent upon monsoon and rainfall for the irrigation of crops, which is evident from the fact that rainfed area is comparatively more than irrigated area in the country. Climate change has made the monsoon quite unpredictable in terms of timing of its arrival/departure along with quantity of the rain poured. This erratic pattern of rainfall leaves heavy toll on crops. For example, what if it is cloudy during the wheat cutting season; it will affect the crop significantly.
Impact on Crops
Climate change in case of wheat is the biggest threat as a recently study has pointed out that one degree increase in temperature may affect the production of wheat about four to six percent which is a sign of big worry as wheat is a major staple food of the country and with increasing population and decreasing farmland, the production has to be increased in order to feed the masses. In fact, the temperature increase due to climate change is anticipated to affect the entire rabi season crops.
The similar effect of climate change is going to impact Kharif crops as well. Rice is the most important crop of the season being a staple food for millions. The increased temperature due to climate change and global warming is predicted to impact the eastern region of the country where increased temperature and decreased radiation will result in fewer grain production and shorter grain filing duration.
Impact on Crop Yield
Crop yield is most often the culmination of multitude of factors which includes meteorological parameters (temperature, rainfall, solar radiation, etc), soil characteristics, seeds quality, pest and disease control measures and so on. The pests and diseases cause significant losses to India’s food production. However, the climate changes invariable government the ecosystem of pests and diseases. The variation in temperature, rainfall, humidity and seasonal length to a great extent determine the severity of plant diseases and pests. The more impact climate change will be having on the basic agricultural parameters, the most loss it will incur to the food production and agriculture.
Impact on Livestock
The country’s agriculture to a great extent is supplemented by livestock which is an additional source of income especially during the days when no agricultural activity is carried out. In fact India has become the largest cattle rearing country only due to peoples’ tendency to rear animals for their various benefits. Climate change however can impact the economic advantage of livestock production due to its negative impact on the animals which results in their early deaths, reduction in milk or meat production, and inability to reproduce.
Minimizing the Impacts- Approach
In order to minimize the impact of climate change on agriculture, a holistic approach has to be adopted by the global community and special emphasis need to be given by the Indian government to its farmer through proper policy measures. The government has been aware of the adverse impact of climate change. Many policies and programmes have so far been enacted to save the agriculture. The National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture has started with the aim to enhance the resilience of Indian agriculture covering crops, livestock and fisheries to climatic variability and climate change through development and application of improved production and risk management technologies. TheNational Action plan on Climate Change envisages to address other climate change related problems in different areas.
The agriculture sustains the livelihood of nearly 60% of the population and any significant change in climate at global level is going to affect it on local scale which ultimately affects the global food production. The long term changes in temperature, precipitation, and radiation will have their impact on food production and livestock management which would affect the profitability, prices, demand and supply gap, employment, manufacturing, trade and investment etc. Hence, the need of the hour is to make concerted efforts at global level with heavy emphasis on improving the local conditions to mitigate the risk of climate change to make the agriculture sustainable.