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The elnino effect and agriculture in India.

INTRODUCTION: EL NINO
EL NINO a Spanish word meaning "Little Boy" is a weather phenomenon that leads to increase in sea surface temperature above normal by 0.5°C and heating up of water off the western coast of South America which in turn change the wind pattern in central-eastern equatorial pacific and trigger floods and droughts in different parts of the world. El Nino re-emerges after a gap of 3 to 5 years in central and east Pacific Ocean and remains in effect on an average of 12 months to 2 years.

SYMPTOMS OF EL NINO EFFECT:

  • Weakening of trade winds allowing warm water of western pacific towards east.
  • Increase in temperature near Peru and Ecuador due to spreading of warm water from western pacific towards eastern pacific.
  • Shift of rainfall from tropical rain forest of Indonesia to deserts of Peru.
  • Drought in western pacific zone and floods at the coast off the eastern pacific.
  • Reduced upwelling of nutrient rich cold water off the west coast of South America

AGRICULTURE IN INDIA:
Since Independence, India largely depends on its agricultural production which accounts for 16.6% of GDP in 2009 and constitute about 50% of total work force and rightly India ranks second worldwide in agriculture output.
In the era of globalization where secondary and tertiary sectors are given priority, the fact cannot be overruled that many industries depends on raw material output of farms such as sugar, food processing, cotton and jute. Agricultural products also forms vital component for foreign exchange earnings for India and products includes jute, cotton, coffee, spices, tobacco, sugar, oil, cashew etc are foreign earning products for India. During the year 2013-2014, India earned $ 253.51 million from export of processed and value added agricultural products.

The above data shows that inspite of shift of economy towards industrial era, agriculture still forms important part of India's growth and development.

EL NINO EFFECT: IMPACT ON AGRICULTURE IN INDIA:
Like other parts of world, India also becomes victim of El Nino which affects overall production and growth of agricultural sector of India. Below are the salient

points in support of impact of El Nino:
  • Poor Monsoon in India – Year 2014 an El Nino year, as per the atmospheric and meteorological institutions, will see less agricultural production in India which is largely depends on Monsoon rain. The diversion of moist winds from Indian Ocean towards the eastern coast of South America will be the reason of poor Monsoon this year.
  • Drought conditions – El Nino may cause droughts in India but not necessarily. Historical data shows that about 65 % of El Nino year have brought below normal rainfall in India which leads to draught as was faced in year 2009.
  • Impact on GDP – It is expected that there will be 5% deficit in rainfall due to El Nino effect which in turn will have negative bearing upto 1.75% in fiscal year 2014-2015. Due to less rain food prices will rise and leads to inflation which will affect the GDP by 0.35% during fiscal year 2014-2015.
  • Effect on Sugarcane production – India accounts the largest area under cultivation of sugarcane in the world and second largest producer of sugarcane in the world. Poor monsoon will surely effect the sugarcane productions because sugarcane can grow where plenty of water supplies are available and in some states like UP, Bihar irrigation facilities are not of high standards to support the production if there is no or less rainfall.
  • Impact on crop – India is the second largest producer of rice and wheat in the world. El Nino will certainly affect the production of rice, wheat, oilseeds and maize in India. In southern parts of India, El Nino has negative impact on production of crops such as pearl millet, rice, food grains and crops like coaster, pigeon pea, Rabi crops remains unaffected by El Nino.

CONCLUSION
From the above picture, one can say that El Nino is a natural calamity which is beyond the control of human beings and affect not only agriculture but overall economy of the country. But El Nino has some benefits also in terms of losing bumper crop lying with government in warehouses, particularly in case of India. Government can liquidate its piled tons of rice and wheat during El Nino season which will help in fighting food inflation. There are other remedial actions available to face El Nino if we are ready in advance, such as:

  • Identifying the areas which will be affected and help farmers to understand which crop to grow during this season.
  • High quality seeds of alternate crop should be distributed in draught affected area at a minimum support price.
  • Educate the farmers on alternate cropping system and prevent hoarding.
  • In months to come, El Nino will certainly form a part of agenda for the new government of Mr. Narendra Modi and it will be a worthwhile to see how this new government who believes to work on policies will save our farmers and economy from EL NINO.

-Manish Bhojwani