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A grain of truth about Climate change

| | New Delhi
A grain of truth about Climate change

Climate change has proved to be both a boon and a bane for agriculture in India. Though it has led to a decline in cultivation of crops like sorghum (chara), pearl-millet (bajara) and groundnut, there has been an increase in sowing of soyabean, wheat, and cotton in the country.

There will be 10-20 per cent growth in the yields of rice, wheat, legumes  and oilseeds with increase in carbon dioxide (Co2) level to 550 parts per million (PPM). However, one-degree-Celsius increase in temperature may reduce yields of wheat, soybean, mustard, groundnut and potato by 3 to 7 per cent. This was stated by the Agriculture Ministry before a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture.

Various studies have also indicated overall reduction in productivity by 4 to 6 per cent in rice, 6 per cent in wheat, 18 per cent in maize, 2.5 per cent in sorghum, 2 per cent in mustard and 2.5 per cent in potato due to climate change.

However, climate change may increase production of potato in Punjab, Haryana and western and central Uttar Pradesh by 3.46 to 7.11 per cent during 2030s while potato production may decline by 4 to 16 per cent in West Bengal and southern plateau region. The high inter and intra-seasonal variability in rainfall distribution, extreme temperature, and rainfall events are causing crop damages and huge losses to farmers due to climate change.

The climate change also impacts crop duration, reproduction, pollination and fertilisation processes. The indirect effects operate through changes in water availability and water demand due to inadequate or excess rainfall and warming effects on pest and disease proliferation. The high inter and intra-seasonal variability in rainfall distribution, extreme temperature and rainfall events are causing crop damages and huge losses to farmers due to climate change.

In its reply, the Agriculture Ministry has said during 2004-5 and 2014-15, there was a decline in cultivated area of sorghum by (3.5 million hectare (mha), pearlmillet (1.3 mha) and groundnut (1.2 mha) while sown area increased in case of soybean, wheat and cotton by more than 4 mha.

“The other crops which gained area during the period were chickpea (2.3 mha), maize (1.9 mha) and rice (1.7 mha).  Similarly, nutrient use through fertilisers has increased substantially during the last decade and consumption of fertiliser nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium together increased from 17 to 25 million tonnes (mt), according to the Agriculture Ministry’s report.

“There has been a significant fluctuation in production in important crops grown in the country during the last 10 years (between 2005-06 and 2014-15). Rice production (89 mt) had a big dip in drought year 2009-10. Wheat, rapeseed, mustard and chickpea production suffered an adverse impact in 2014-15 (89, 6.3 and 7.2 mt, respectively).

Production of Pearl millet was affected badly in 2009-10 (6.5 mt) and 2012-13 (7.3 mt). Maize production was robust enough except in year 2009-10 (16.7 mt). The groundnut production experienced lot of fluctuations throughout the period. Soybean production witnessed a declining trend from 2012-13, it said.

According to the Ministry, consumption of fertiliser nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium together increased from 17 to 25 mt. “There was about 10 mha rise in net irrigated area (between 2002-03 and 2012-13). Net irrigated area as a percentage net sown area also rose from 40 to 46. The increase in gross irrigated area is about 15 mha,” the Ministry said.

 
 
 
 
 

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