Agriculture Current Affairs

Climate change costs India $10 billion every year: Government

In its recent report, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture has observed that extreme weather events are costing India $9-10 billion annually. It also observed that climate change is projected to impact agricultural productivity with increasing severity from 2020 to the end of the century.

It also mentioned that the extreme weather events are not always linked to climate change but their frequency and severity is increasing and this is being increasingly read as fallout of climate change.

Impact of Climate change on agriculture

Decrease in Productivity

The productivity of major crops will be marginal in the next few years but it could rise to as much as 10-40% by 2100 unless farming adapts to climate change-induced changes in weather. Major crops such as wheat, rice, oilseeds, pulses, fruits and vegetables will see reduced yields over the years.

It will force farmers to either adapt to challenges of climate change or face the risk of getting poorer. It could turn India into a major importer of oilseeds, pulses and even milk. Adaptation to climate change will need different cropping patterns and suitable inputs to compensate yield fluctuations.

Food Security

Vulnerability of Indian agriculture due to vagaries associated with climate change and low adaptation capacity of majority of Indian farmers poses risk to food security of the country. By 2030, India may need 70 million tonnes more of foodgrains than the expected production in 2016-17.

The demand for food is also going to increase due to an increasing population, expanding urbanisation and rising income.  To meet increasing demand, India to depend on import if it does not act on time to increase production and productivity of major food crops, pulses, oilseeds and milk by adapting to climate change.

Projected food demand

The ICAR-National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research has projected food demand of 345 million tonnes (MT) by 2030- almost 30% higher than in 2011. The projected demands for fruits, vegetables, milk, animal products (meat, eggs and fish), sugar and edible oil, by 2030 is estimated to be 2-3 times more than that in 2011.

Economic Losses

According to the economic survey estimates, India currently incurs losses of about $9-10 billion annually due to extreme weather events. Of these, nearly 80% losses remain uninsured. The quantum of losses are going to increase substantially in future if one takes into account the impact of climate change on farm productivity.

Improve in Yields

Though there is possibility of decrease in yields of certain crops in traditional sown areas due to climate change but it may increase elsewhere due to change in weather pattern. Though most crops will see reduced production, but climate change may also help improve yields of soyabean, chickpea, groundnut, coconut (western coast) and potato (in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh).

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Economic Survey 2016-17 Volume II: Agriculture and Food Management Reforms Measures

The Economic Survey 2016-17 Volume II released recently has taken into consideration various challenges faced by the Agriculture sector in India. It has suggested multi-dimensional Agricultural and Food Management Reforms Measures.

Challenges

Small Operational Land Holdings: The average farm size in India is small and declining since 1970-71. It is a major limitation to reap the benefits of economies of scale in agriculture operations.

Credit: The predominance of informal sources of credit for farmers is a concern. Moreover, there is regional disparity in the distribution of agricultural credit.

Post- harvest losses: The horticulture sector in India faces problems like post-harvest losses, availability of quality planting material and lack of market access for horticultural produce of small farmers. 

Reforms suggested

Price risks in agriculture and allied sectors: Strengthening and building marketing infrastructure along the entire value chain.

Production risks: The share of irrigated area should be expanded by increasing the coverage of water saving irrigation systems like micro irrigation systems.

Increase productivity of crops: Standards should be set and enforced for better quality, pest and disease resistant seeds.

Trade and domestic policy changes: It should be announced well before sowing and should stay till arrivals and procurement is over.

Enhance women’s involvement in the dairy projects: Funds should be earmarked through appropriate mechanisms.

Formal and institutional credit: It should be provided in timely and affordable manner to the small and marginal farmers is the key to inclusive growth. Regime based on timely interventions needs to be adopted.

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