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Climate Change and its impact on Indian Agriculture

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For the past several years, the global climate change is proving to have a grave impact on the important resources like water and atmosphere. These changes when intertwined with the biosphere, biodiversity and natural resources adversely affect the health and life of all kinds of species. India which is a monsoon dependent nation is projected to have higher impact. Resulting in the seasonal variation in temperature with more warming in the winters than summers.

What is climate change?

Climate change means a rise in the average global temperature which is due to increase in the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This results in numerous climatic shifts and impacts around the globe. The term Global warming is related to climate change and is used in many ways, though it is vital to identify and feel the increase in temperature, but individual locations will experience varied temperature and precipitation changes.

Causes for climate change

Human activities are the prime source for influencing the climate and increasing the earth's temperature. Activities like burning fossil fuels, cutting down rainforests and farming livestock resources adds enormous amounts of greenhouse gases than to those than naturally occurring in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming. There are many gases in the atmosphere, which acts like a glass ceiling in a greenhouse, trapping the heat energy and stops it from leaking into the space. Since these gases are increased due to human activities the temperature of the earth increases. How ? Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas, which is commonly derived from human activities, currently its concentration in the atmosphere is currently 40% higher than it was when industrialization began in 19th century. Besides, there are other greenhouse gases which are emitted in smaller quantities, but they have absorption capability which is more than CO2, and in some cases are thousands of times stronger. For example, Methane gas is responsible for around 21 per cent of man-made global warming, nitrous oxide for 8 per cent. Besides, fluorinated gases produce a very strong warming effect, up to 20, 000 times than Carbon dioxide.

How does it impact on Agriculture?

Indian agriculture is directly dependent on climate change and weather. The climate changes in temperature, rainfall and carbon dioxide concentration are expected to significantly impact the crop growth and production in the country. With climate change will prove to a stumbling block, the cycle of monsoons which originate from the Indian and Arabian Seas. For example, a warmer atmosphere will aggressively push the hydrologic cycle, which alters rainfall since it holds more moisture and it will push for more evaporation leading to dry lakes and other water bodies.

Besides, climate change results in longer growing season and warmer temperatures could lead to longer periods of crop growth and yield. But there could be adverse impacts like reduced water availability and more frequent extreme heat. These conditions could put agricultural activities at a greater risk, as most of the agriculturalists are dependent on rain water. Experts have already predicted drop in wheat yields, which is around 5-10 per cent with every increase of 1°C and overall crop yields could decrease up to 30 per cent in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh other countries. It is also predicted that India could experience a 40 per cent decline in agricultural productivity around 2060s.

When it comes to water resources, climate change greatly alters future water resources. In India, where the rising population continues to be a major concern, and there is always a need for water for drinking and other important purposes. But there is a decline in per capita annual freshwater availability along with the growth of population from 1951 to 2050. With the rising population there will be an increase in demand for water which can reduce the recharging time of the water-tables. Besides, Indian agriculture also consumes about 80-85% of the nation’s water resources. As the amount of water required for agriculture has increased proportionally over several decades since thousands of hectares were brought under cultivation.

How to solve climate change?

Global climate change is not a new marvel or great phenomena. But the effects of climate change pose many problems and threats; one of the important consequences is bringing about altering the amount of water resources and changes in crop production. This can greatly impact India agricultural which is very highly sensitive to climate changes. Since the entire climate varies in India from one place to another. We should create and adapt short term and long term strategies to human activities which can promote changes in climate. Firstly, develop new climate tolerant crop varieties, which can be a key tool for adapting agriculture to a changing climate. Besides, employ a cropping system development which can help agriculture adapt to different seasons. For example the use of crop mixtures that have several crops growing at one time can help systems exhibit greater durability during periods of flood or severe or heat stress.

To control nitrous problems, we should deploy improvements in plant nitrogen and water use in a better and efficient manner. In order to allow effective coordination about climate change data, private and government agencies should develop global testing sites and data collection and dissemination efforts. During such methods, one should use standard data protocols, to assess the performance of existing and new genetic material and management systems in the current range of agro-climatic conditions. Create a core team which enforces continuous field testing to track climate change, which also allows breeding for resistance to new diseases and pests. Besides, the team should also address changes in pollinator patterns and distributions have been identified as avenues to confront adaptation of crops in the face of climate change. Create and generate value based new assessment tools and methods which incorporate biophysical hurdles which affect agricultural productivity, climate and socioeconomic scenarios. Such scientific tools should be employed at regular intervals in various parts of the country.

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