Sunday, December 12, 2010

Vulnerable agriculture in India

Sandip Das in Financial Express (India): Climate change is springing an unpleasant surprise on agriculture in India, catching both farmers and governments unprepared. The erratic and deficit rainfall pattern and rise in temperature in recent years has even forced farmers to change cropping patterns and several areas have been declared drought-hit.

Agricultural scientists acknowledge that even a mere one degree increase in average day temperature would adversely impact production of both wheat and rice crops (total annual production is close to 180 million tonnes). In fact, agriculture scientist MS Swaminathan says the total wheat production loss is estimated to be 8 million tonnes in case of one degree rise in mean temperature in northern India.

A model prediction by climatologists warns that India will suffer severe climactic changes, including longer drought, lesser amount of total rainfall, unequal distribution of rainfall with very heavy precipitation at shorter duration causing flooding, high temperature flux and higher incidences of tropical storms. Scientists have also called for speedy development of various stress-resistant varieties of rice for sustaining production in the future.

“Future farming and food systems will have to be better adapted to a range of abiotic and biotic stresses to cope with the direct and indirect consequences of a progressively changing climate,” says TK Adhya, director, Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI). Adhya notes that rice varieties need to be developed that can deal with abiotic stress, which is caused because of high temperature, drought and submergence because of flood and salinity. Besides, varieties resistance to pests and diseases need to be altered….

Hillsides in the Nilgiris being prepared for planting vegetables, shot by Rafeek Manchayil, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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