A marginal change in climate can affect production: Experts

According to a report by the government of India, the production of wheat, grains, mustard may decrease in the coming two years due to climate changes. The effects can majorly be seen in the crops of Rabi. It can decrease the production of wheat by 23% until 2050

Arvind ShuklaArvind Shukla   24 Aug 2019 1:22 PM GMT

A marginal change in climate can affect production: Experts

Arvind Shukla/ Mithilesh Dhar Dubey

Unprecedented rainfall and hailstorms early this year in Malerkotla, Punjab, broke the record of 108 years. The sudden change in climate was so unusual that the two generations living in Malerkotla had not witnessed anything like this before. "It has destroyed crops of wheat," Kulvinder Singh, a farmer, told us over the phone.

This marginal change in climate is directly affecting cultivation. It is not only affecting the growth of crops, but also production. According to the report by the government of India, the production of wheat, grains, mustard may decrease in the coming two years due to climate changes. The effects can majorly be seen in the crops of Rabi. It can decrease the production of wheat by 23% until 2050.

In the past few years, rainfall occurring during the rainy season has decreased. However, incidents of uncertain climatic changes have increased. According to a report that was submitted to the agricultural minister in January, if certain necessary measures will not be taken in soon then the production of wheat may decrease by 23% till the year 2050. However, the production of grains may decrease by 4-6% until the year 2020. Also, if necessary measures are taken, production may increase by 17-20%. In the survey conducted in the year 2018, the government authenticated the harmful impact of climatic changes on cultivation.

"In India, climatic change has a pernicious effect on India. It is destructive because in India 52% suitable soil is dependent on rain. The scarcity of rainfall will affect production. According to the statistics of government, 30-35 crore population was affected during drought condition in 2016," said Harjeet Singh, Climatic change expert and global lead for Action Aid. His institute is working on climate changes in 45 countries. However, he is putting pressure on developed countries for developing countries like India.

Changes occurring due to climate changes at present may be catastrophic for the world in the future. Such as, melting of glaciers in The Great Himalayas, and increasing water levels in oceans. These changes are detrimental to the environment. Uncertain heavy rainfall, flood, drought conditions and cyclonic storms are emblematic for malign future. "In India, 50% population is dependent on farming. While in the village the statistics are 70%. More than 80% farmers work at a small or limited scale. It is heavily affecting such farmers. However, India is not ready to face such severe problem," says Harjeet Singh

According to the report of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), around 20 lakh people starve per year in India. For five years, India is lagging behind the world in the Global Hunger Index. India was ranked 103 in 119 countries. Hunger is a severe problem in India. Such conditions will prevail unless demand is fulfilled.

Impact of climatic changes may not form breaking news in news channels but its effects are hostile. "Due to climate changes, alternative energy is the root of the talk. However, ways to save agriculture from the impact of climatic changes should be the root of the discussion. Agricultural production has decreased by 2% from 2014 to 2017. Neither our escalation is good nor is the adaptability of farmers. This is why India is majorly affected," said Harjeet Singh.

"If we talk about this season (January) then it is difficult to reduce any changes in the climate. Temperature is moderate even in February. While sometimes temperature increases in March. As such, with a weekly increase of one-degree temperature, production of wheat may decrease by one quintal per hectare," said Dr BS Tyagi, chief scientist at Wheat Research Institute in Haryana. He added: "In March, grains start forming inside wheat-earrings. If temperature increases in such conditions, the development of earrings will stop."

"People classify climatic changes as variation in temperature. It is absolutely a wrong interpretation. Climatic change refers to the uncertain arrival of summers during the winter season. In other words, climate changes refer to the irregularity in the weather. We are ready to tackle such conditions. We have a variety of wheat which requires less water. It is a climatic resilient," said Dr BS Tyagi.

Earlier, the C-306 type of wheat was majorly grown. It was sown in October and harvested during April-May. According to agro-informers, the effect of climatic changes is more on long term crops. During this season, wheat has ripened from Karnataka till Madhya Pradesh. However, it is still immature in Uttar Pradesh. The temperature will increase by the time (end of March) it will get ripened in Uttar Pradesh. As a result, it will affect production. Moreover, the effect of increasing temperature is not limited to production. It brings several other problems for farmers.

"It has been validated that the production of wheat, maize, and other crops got heavily affected due to climatic changes. Nowadays, the scarcity of subtle nutrients in grains is another problem of production. Decreasing the value of nutrition is also dangerous. ICAR is researching it," said OM Prakash, a research fellow at Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Hyderabad. He added: "If the temperature is reduced by 1% then the probability of diseases in crops increases by 30%. The farmers will use insecticides to get rid of insects from their crops. It will increase their expenditure."

In the past five years, the production of grains has failed to sustain continuity. Lack of growth is majorly seen in the production of wheat and oilseeds. Production was 275.11 metric tons in 2016-17. While it was 260.18 metric tons in 2017-18. Production of wheat and oilseeds was reduced by 1.4% and 4.5% respectively.

In the end, Harjeet Singh said: "To save farming and farmers, we have to plan schemes considering farming. Moreover, we have to initiate the usage of indigenous seeds. Also, we should practice rainwater harvesting. We should reduce the farming rate of rice and sugarcane in drought influenced regions of Punjab and Maharashtra respectively. We have to classify new dimensions for farming because the massive population of India is dependent on farming."

This story is part 4 of our series Farming 2.0: Go Desi

Also Read part 1: PM Modi urges farmers to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides. It's high time farmers go back to the drawing board to achieve this

Also Read part 2: To beat the ill effects of climate change, farmers are going back in time

Also Read part 3: Climate change: Organic pesticides are a Brahmastra for farmers

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