The aim of Government of India to double farmers’ income by 2022 will be challenged by extreme weather events, lower rainfall and rise/fall of temperature. A latest annual economic survey has been conducted by the Indian Government, shows that climate change can hurt farmers income by 20–25% in the medium term.
Recent government report also show that average temperatures are rising across the country and annual rainfall is declining. Rise in the number of days with extremely high temperatures and a corresponding decline in the number of days with low temperatures is noticed.
Extreme temperature shocks, when a district is significantly hotter than usual, results in a 4.7% decline in agricultural yields. Similarly, when it rains significantly less than usual there is a 12.8% decline. Areas where irrigation methods don’t exist are the ones affected the most by these extreme weather conditions. For example, a single temperature shock reduces yields by 7.6% in an area which is not irrigated. In the same way, the affect of extreme rainfall shock is 14.7% greater in an area which is not irrigated than an irrigated area.
Lower yields result in low income for the farmers. Reports estimate that, extreme temperature shocks in the near future would reduce incomes of farmers by 4.3% whereas the number is 13.7% in case of extreme rainfall shocks.
In a year where temperatures are 1℃ higher, farmers’ incomes would fall by 6.2% in districts with no irrigation facilities. Similarly, in a year when rainfall levels were 100 mm less than average, farmers’ incomes would fall by 15%.
Some researchers state that temperatures in India are likely to rise by 3 to 4℃ by the end of 21st century. Also, in the absence of any adaptation by farmers, farm incomes will be lower by 20 to 25% on average in the coming years especially with lack of irrigation.
Here are some methods that will help India face climatic changes in a much effective way.
Depleting groundwater resources and rising levels of water scarcity demand for a significant need of appropriate irrigation systems.
Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh are still extremely vulnerable to climate change due to poor irrigation. Smart irrigation systems such as drip, sprinklers and efficient water management should be brought to top on the priority list and must be allocated across the country.
16% of fruits and vegetables which valued 6 billion dollars were lost in the year 2015. Only 2.2% of fruits and vegetables are sorted and packed for consumption in India, increasing the chances of wastage as it gets sent abroad. In contrast, the US (65%) and China (23%) are far ahead of India in processing their own crops.
So there is an overwhelming need to develop technologies for local processing, smart packaging and transport facilities which do not disadvantage small farmers.
India must start using data to continuously improve the efficiency of agriculture supply chains. New technologies such as sensors, GPS and satellite imaging can help collect meaningful data to make India’s agriculture system more resilient.
This enables different sections of the supply chain to monitor environmental and other conditions. It can be used to adapt how crops are produced, stored and distributed to reduce waste.
To compensate for the uncertainty caused by climate change, an effective crop insurance program is required to protect farmers from bad yields. Many already pay into insurance programs but they provide little protection. The system needs overhauling so that small farmers are protected by low premium and long-term insurance cover, instead of being designed, as it seems to be at the moment, purely for the profit of insurance companies.
Agricultural research will be vital in increasing yields but also in increasing resilience to problems like — extreme heat and precipitation, pests and crop disease. Research will be especially important for crops such as pulses and soyabean, as they are highly vulnerable to climatic changes.
In a world where development is much needed, these measures will improve crop and water management practices. They are tailored to small farmers and to the fragmented to directly improve efficiency, boost productivity and minimize the environmental impact on farming.
Images Source — Flickr
Originally published at blog.farmguide.in on February 20, 2018.