Shielding farm sector from climate change

News: Climatic anomalies affect agriculture directly. Hence, there is a need for effective strategy to protect agriculture from its ill effects.

Changes in the intensity, frequency, and seasonality of climate patterns, extreme weather events, rainfall pattern and river flows etc. are likely to impact agriculture sector.

How would climate change affect the farm sector?

The findings of various studies and the projections made by UNFCCC present a mixed picture.

Impact on rainfall: Monsoon rain might increase as a consequence of heat-induced acceleration in the hydrological cycle.

Unpredicted weather pattern: The incidence of severe and extended dry spells, interspersed with heavy downpour, might also increase.

Decrease in farm productivity: According to the vulnerability assessment done by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the overall productivity of paddy, irrigated paddy, wheat, maize might decrease between 2050 and 2080.

Benefit to few crops: Some crops might benefit from climate change. For instance, Chickpea (gram or chana).

Drop-in farm income. The government’s Economic Survey 2018 reports that every one-degree Celsius rise in temperature could reduce agricultural income by 6.2% in kharif and 6% in the rabi season in non-irrigated areas.

Other challenges: Reduces water availability, variations in the incidence of pests and pathogens (crop diseases).

What are the steps taken to address the issue?

India, nearly a decade ago launched the countrywide project on National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA).

Objectives of NICRA: 1) Identify vulnerable areas, 2) Assess the potential impact of temperature rise on crop farming, livestock, and fisheries, 3) Evolve crop varieties and agronomic practices adaptable to the emerging weather patterns.

How has NICRA helped farmers to cope up with Climate change?

Many water-harvesting structures have been created under the NICRA project to facilitate crop irrigation at critical stages of plant growth. These have resulted in yield gains in some low-rainfall areas.

Situation-specific advanced technologies for imparting climate-resilience to farming have also been evolved and successfully transferred to farmers in 151 climatically vulnerable districts.

Several climate-resistant crop varieties have also been developed.

More importantly, contingency plans to cope with climate anomalies have been drawn up for as many as 650 districts.

Almost all agricultural activities such as crop farming, horticulture, livestock rearing, and fisheries have continued to scale new highs, regardless of the increase in the frequency of weather-induced natural disasters.

Source: This post is based on the article “Shielding farm sector from climate change” published in Business Standard on 15th Nov 2021.

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