Indian government needs to initiate corrective measures to check decline in grains production in the next few years
The Parliamentary committee report on the adverse impact on agriculture production in India of the climate change needs to be taken seriously by the BJP-government in view of the increasing population in the country. Moreover, the present attitude of the government towards climate change impact and agrarian crisis in the country is lacking in many aspects and further deepening the farm crisis. It is worth noting that the report focuses on agriculture production that has adverse impact of the changing climatic pattern and leading to decline in production of grains, which has not been calculated in real terms. It also points out that if corrective steps are initiated, the grains production could in real effect increase the production by more than 21 percent. Otherwise, the increase in average temperature could impact the production and decline by more than 23 percent. If this trend continues, the average production of grains could also be bereft of minerals like zinc, iron and other compounds in the next two to three decades. This will further impact the foodgrains intake and impact the production of proteins that are available for the human consumption leading to deficiencies which have not been calculated scientifically. The report in the union agriculture ministry has also pointed out that wheat production alone could decrease by 6000 kilos for every 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature every season in India. This is not a small amount so far as the staple diet of common Indian masses is concerned. The ministry reports has also rung the alarm bells by suggesting that the production of maize could fall by 18 percent in the Himalayan belt where it is a staple diet of the majority of the population. At present, maize alone has witnessed inflation of 500 percent in the last decade and a half making it unavailable for the poor masses. Similarly, production of paddy falling by 4-6 percent in the next two years is worrisome but right intervention could also result in increase by 17-20 percent. Keeping in view these changes in the climate and predictable scenario, the National Action Plan suggests sustainable agriculture practices, which can be beneficial for both the farmers as well as the country.
It is also noting that the committee sought report from the ministry about the programmes which were in effect active and to what degree and the reply was abysmal. The committee has rightly pointed out that the climate change has impacted the agriculture sector around the planet and India is no exception, but still sustainable measures can be useful. The climate change can also adversely affect the quality of fodder. With the increase of carbon dioxide, there is a corresponding decrease in the amount of protein, zinc, iron and other minerals in grains. The committee has already expressed disappointment over the government’s efforts to tackle the effects of climate change on agriculture, which it termed insufficient. It added that combating the ill-effects of climate change – for the sake of farmers and agriculture – will require more emphasis on organic farming. If the same pattern continues, climate change will hit the production of potatoes and allied crops across the country creating a situation that could trigger panic for foodstuffs. At this stage, the central government needs to intervene at the right time and initiate measures that include discouraging stubble burning by the farmers in their fields besides checking pollution from industrial houses, power plants and vehicles in the next few years to sustain agriculture production. But, unfortunately, the government actions in the form of demonetization and Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation in the past two and a half years have played havoc with the rural and agricultural economy. The after-shocks can still be felt in the agrarian sector, which have yet to recover. The inflation of foodstuffs has witnessed an enormous increase during this period and farmers are on the brink of starvation and indebtedness. The failure of crops in the past few seasons and less or no return on their investments have further aggravated the situation. The loan remission of the farmers in some of the states on selective basis is not the solution. The centre and states need to give a serious thought to the entire sector for preventing the situation going from bad to worse in the coming years. Petty politicking can further harm the farm sector that is the main stay of two-third of the Indian population.
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