Climate Change Impact
Climate change has significantly impacted farming in India, posing numerous challenges to the farmers and affecting agricultural productivity and livelihoods. Various climate change-induced conditions such as erratic rainfall patterns, droughts, heatwaves, changing pest and disease patterns, reduced water availability, changing cropping patterns, crop failures and reduced yields etc. have been seriously impacting agricultural practices and farm earnings in our country.
Recognizing the vulnerability of Indian agriculture to climate change, the Union Agriculture Minister, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, observed in Parliament that higher temperatures tend to reduce crop yields and favour weed and pest proliferation. Climate change can have negative effects on irrigated crop yields across agro-ecological regions both due to temperature rise and changes in water availability. Rainfed agriculture will be primarily impacted due to rainfall variability and reduction in number of rainy days.
The Climate Transparency Report of 2022 highlights the consequences of extreme events occurring between 2016 and 2021. Cyclones, flash floods, and landslides have collectively caused extensive damage to crops, affecting over 36 million hectares of agricultural land. This damage has resulted in a significant loss of approximately $3.75 billion for farmers across the country. The states of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Bihar, and West Bengal have been particularly affected, reporting the highest crop damage due to flooding and heavy rainfall.
According to Hyderabad-based Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture under Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), India is one of the countries that are more vulnerable to climate change. “The Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) 5 projections for India show that the average climate is likely to be warmer by 1.7 to 2.00C for 2030s and by 3.3 – 4.80C for 2080s compared to the pre-industrial times. The precipitation is likely to increase by 5 to 6 per cent and 6 to 14 per cent, for 2030s and 2080s, respectively.” “Agriculture, being a biological production process, is obviously affected by climate and hence the projected change in climate will have implications to sustainability of agricultural production and of livelihoods of those dependent on agriculture, the Institute noted.
“As climate change aggravates all other problems such as land degradation, market volatility, rising input costs, slowing response to added inputs that hinder agriculturalgrowth, it is recognized as a potent threat to sustainability of agriculture. Developing countries such as India, with their relatively higher dependence on agriculture for livelihoods, are more likely to suffer from such an impending climate change.”
The ICAR Institute observed that there is emerging evidence that the productivity of crops, livestock and fish is likely to be affected with implications to food security, livelihoods and sustainability in agriculture.
Acknowledging the impact of Climate Change in Agriculture, the Union Agriculture Minister has estimated that in absence of adoption of adaptation measures, rainfed rice yields in India are projected to reduce by 20% in 2050 and 47% in 2080 scenarios while, irrigated rice yields are projected to reduce by 3.5% in 2050 and 5% in 2080 scenarios. “Climate change is projected to reduce wheat yield by 19.3% in 2050 and 40% in 2080 scenarios towards the end of the century with significant spatial and temporal variations. Climate change is projected to reduce the kharif maize yields by 18 and 23% in 2050 and 2080 scenarios, respectively. Climate change reduces crop yields and lower nutrition quality of produce. Extreme events like droughts affect the food and nutrient consumption, and its impact on farmers”, the Minister stated in Parliament.
The impact of climate change is increasingly evident as traditional fertile lands experience a decline in yield and productivity, leading to frequent crop failures that adversely affect farmers.
Tobacco cultivation, for example, is predominantly practiced in semi-arid regions where alternative sustainable crops are not economically viable. However, even these arid lands are becoming more inhospitable due to climate change.
Due to the impact of climate change manifested through cyclones like Nivar and Pethai, floods and droughts, Flue-cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco production has consistently fallen short of the levels of production authorized by the Tobacco Board. Between 2015-16 and 2020-21, the authorized production versus actual production in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, the two States where FCV tobacco is grown, declined by more than 100 million kgs from a cumulative quantity of 1,572 million kgs to 1,468 million kgs.
Addressing these climate change driven challenges requires a multi-pronged approach, including adaptation strategies such as improved irrigation systems, the use of climate-resilient crop varieties, sustainable water management practices, and the promotion of climate-smart agricultural techniques. Policy interventions, investment in research and development, and support for farmer education and training are also crucial for building resilience and ensuring the long-term sustainability of Indian agriculture.
- Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, July 19, 2019
- Country Profile: India, Climate Transparency Report 2022
- Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Lok Sabha, March 21, 2023
- Risk and Vulnerability Assessment of Indian Agriculture to Climate Change, National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture, ICAR – Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, Hyderabad, 2019