New Delhi: Effects of climate change will be felt sooner by the farmers in India, a document of department of agriculture has revealed suggesting that rice production in the country may reduce by 4 percent in the year 2020. The impact, the note said, will be far more severe and persistent for other crops.
For instance, potato production is likely to go down by 11 percent in 2020. The effects of global warming will be seen on maize crop that may take a hit with decrease of 18 percent while mustard production is likely to see a reduction by 2 percent. The department has suggested that adjusting to various measures including time of sowing, suitable variety, fertilizers and irrigation is likely to help in tackling the problem to a certain extent.
The government is working on strengthening supply chain of fertilizers and other alternatives like creating 1 million compost pits under Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MNREGA) scheme annually with output of 1,500 kilotons that would be sufficient for 5 lakh hectare of cropped area.
On the other hand, the climate change is likely to increase production of coconut in western coastal region, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, North-eastern States, Andaman and Nicobar while it may adversely affect the crop in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Milk production in the country, which increased by 6 percent in 2017 is expected to see a decline due to climate change. The department’s note said that rising temperature may lead to a loss of 1.6 million tonnes in 2020 if no measures are adopted immediately.
The losses will be highest in Uttar Pradesh as well as Rajasthan and West Bengal. The department has argued that sharp increase in heat stress days and decline in water availability could severely impact the animal productivity.
The government has admitted that small farmers, who own less than 4 hectare of farm land may not be able to support their families with agriculture income alone due to the impact of climate change. A staggering 85 percent of Indian farm households has approximately 5 acres or less cultivable land and of this 67 percent are marginal farmers with less than 2.4 acres.
The impact of global warming will also affect the quality reducing the concentration of grain protein. The heavy rainfall due to climate stress will affect the production of tomato and onion and production of the latter may go down by 27 percent in 2020. The lack of water resources in comparison to population is another major challenge as the country currently has 15 percent of world population but only 4 percent of the world’s water resources.
The department has blamed successive governments in the Centre for failure in water conservation for agriculture activities suggesting that despite construction of 4,525 large and small dams, the country could barely manage storage of over 200 cubic meters much less than 6000 cubic meters in Russia and 4000 cubic meters in Australia.
This despite the fact that Indian agriculture uses twice the amount of water to harvest a crop as compared to China. The government is aiming to create 1.1 million hectare of additional irrigation potential annually, claimed the note, but crops like sugarcane in drought prone areas has triggered water famine.
It quoted example from Maharashtra indicating that sugarcane cultivation in the state has gone up by 8.5 lakh hectares since 1971 and the crop now uses about 70 percent of Marathwada’s irrigation water despite having just 4 percent of cultivable land.
While the department of agriculture has claimed that 450 climate resilient varieties have been released to mitigate the large-scale problem in agriculture, the patent of seed by corporates causing huge distress to small and marginal farmers as they have to buy new seeds for every planting season that is contributing to poverty and indebtness. “Small and marginal farmers cannot survive seed monopolies. Wherever such experiment was introduced, famers were forced to suffer losses,” the note claimed.
The department is focusing on organic farming in order to reduce the greenhouse gases and to increase soil fertility. The government is giving Rs 25,000 per hectare as financial support to farmers willing to switch from inorganic to organic form of cultivation. Generally, it takes 3 years to convert land from chemical based farming to organic status and they are given certificate to export the harvest.
It is a known fact that the increased use of fertilizers and other inputs are major drivers for increase in greenhouse gases emission in agriculture sector that has gone up by 80 percent since 1970s. The national food security mission that is facing the challenges of climate change had adopted two-pronged strategy- area expansion and productivity enhancement- to increase food grain production. The department has advised the state government to adopt latest varieties of hybrids for coarse cereals, wheat and rice.
The government is working on various fronts to formulate a strong policy against climate catastrophe for effective response in the agricultural system. Instead of one size fits all, the aim is to promote location specific integrated farming. Since 2014 the government has allocated more than Rs 790 crore for Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY) to promote use of biofertilizers and micro irrigation system to reduce irrigation cost and electricity consumption.