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Indian farms worst-hit in tropical region

India has witnessed the maximum dip in agriculture growth among 41 tropical countries in the last decade, courtesy climate change, says a joint study of NASA and Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2010 00:18 IST
Chetan Chauhan

India has witnessed the maximum dip in agriculture growth among 41 tropical countries in the last decade, courtesy climate change, says a joint study of NASA and Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM).

The cause for the dramatic dip has been the phenomenal increase in night temperatures since the mid-1990s. “Up to the 1990s, we did not have night temperature problems. Since then, there has been four to five times shift in the night time temperatures,” said Krishna Kumar of IITM, the author of the joint study based on weather data generated by NASA satellites.

The study, to be published in journal Remote Sensing this month, says the impact of temperature rise has been seen more in case of rice than in wheat. “Increase in night temperatures during October is one of the causes for the fall in rice production,” Kumar said, adding that depletion of underground water resources was also a major reason for the fall in production.

Analysis of weather data can provide some hope to India, which is reeling under rising food prices due to poor agriculture growth. The country had been able to sustain good agriculture growth since the 1960s with the Green Revolution even though the monsoon --- the main source of water for non-irrigated farmland --- has been below normal.

“The trend (in agriculture production) may reverse if good monsoon returns," Kumar said at a workshop organized by the Centre for Science and Environment and IIT Delhi on Friday.

But no scientist can predict when the good monsoon will return, admitted climate scientist J. Srinivasan, who contended that it was extremely difficult because of the flaws in the modelling systems.

“It is time for the country to make policy changes to fight climate change even though our predictions for future may not be 100 per cent correct,” said B N Goswami, IITM director.