Climate crisis threatens India’s food security, warn scientists

Updated on Nov 02, 2022 05:00 AM IST

Climate scientists have warned that scorching heatwaves in India, among other extreme weather events, are “most certainly” being driven by global warming, posing a risk to the country’s food security.

Several studies have now predicted that stronger and early-onset heatwaves, along with large variations in rainfall patterns, could jeopardise the country’s output of rice and wheat, leading to shortages. (PTI)
Several studies have now predicted that stronger and early-onset heatwaves, along with large variations in rainfall patterns, could jeopardise the country’s output of rice and wheat, leading to shortages. (PTI)
By, New Delhi

Climate scientists have warned that scorching heatwaves in India, among other extreme weather events, are “most certainly” being driven by global warming, posing a risk to the country’s food security.

Heatwaves in the country, which shaved off 3 million tonne of wheat output this year compared to the year before, are being driven by changing weather patterns induced by global warming, scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, have concluded.

“The only reason behind these heatwaves is global warming,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, climate scientist at the IITM. Koll pored through data from seven decades to conclude that the severity and frequency of heatwaves were directly correlated to a warming globe.

Also read: Two pivotal pillars that will dominate COP27

Several studies have now predicted that stronger and early-onset heatwaves, along with large variations in rainfall patterns, could jeopardise the country’s output of rice and wheat, leading to shortages. The impacts on agriculture, which employs half the population and accounts for 18% of the India’s economic output, are already visible.

India witnessed its hottest March on record this year, shrivelling wheat production in states such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. This raised the staple’s domestic prices by nearly 20%, prompting a ban on exports.

Climate change may “force many Indians into famine by 2030 owing to a reduction in agricultural productivity” and cause “ripple effects across the food-supply chain”, the International Food Policy Research Institute’s 2022 Global Food Policy Report said.

The dire consequences have prompted Indian scientists to hunt for mitigation and adaptation strategies. For the first time, scientists from India Meteorological Department and IITM demonstrated that heatwaves can be predicted up to one season in advance. Their studies were published in the September 2022 edition of the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society.

Also read: ‘Greenwashing, lying, cheating’: Greta Thunberg says climate summit Cop27 ‘scam'

Of the 30 million hectares under wheat, about nine million hectares have been categorised as being prone to sudden heat stress, according to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

A recent landmark study by Koll also noted rising temperatures over the Indian Ocean, or ocean heatwaves, which is altering the monsoon’s course and distribution.

A patchy 2022 southwest monsoon, which saw a late surge in rainfall, led to a 4% deficit in rice sowing. The government then put restrictions on overseas shipments to deal with potential shortages and high cereal price inflation.

Get Latest India Newsalong with Latest Newsand Top Headlinesfrom India and around the world.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Zia Haq reports on public policy, economy and agriculture. Particularly interested in development economics and growth theories.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, December 07, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals