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'Climate change kills farmers'

A World Bank study discovers a link between climate change and farmer suicides, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Dec 08, 2006 02:58 IST

A World Bank study released on Thursday has found a link between climate change and farmer suicides. It says poor farmers who are unable to adapt to changing climate fall into debt and later, death traps.

The study found that richer farmers adapted better to the vagaries of climate since they had the resources to diversify and try out other crops that suit the changed climate pattern. "Small farmers fall into a debt trap because of their inability to pay. The situation is worse in villages where private money lenders hold their sway," the report said.

The report is based on pilot studies conducted by The Energy and Research Institute (TERI) in various parts of the country.

After a study of drought-prone villages in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, the report said there was a need to shift to less water-intensive crops. In Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, the experts suggested that long-term micro credit was the only way farmers can escape the debt trap.

The report pointed out how areas where sugarcane was cultivated extensively had reported a drop in income as they had become arid due to climate change. "There is need to change the crops to mitigate the impact of climate change," it said.

Detailed analyses of the impact of climate change in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa have shown that fall in crop production is directly related to climate change — there has been either a sudden increase in temperature or a sudden burst of shower before the actual monsoons.

In the Pennar basin of Andhra Pradesh, decrease in yield is directly related to increase in temperature. In the Mahanadi basin, the fall is attributed to an increase in rainfall during the monsoons. But in the Godavari basin, the increase in rain had resulted in better crop yield.

Though the final report will be released next year, some findings were discussed at the European Commission's conference on climate change in Delhi. World Bank's lead environment specialist Bilal H. Rahill sought more money to tackle climate change. Environment secretary Prodipto Ghosh, however, contended that India has done its bit to check climate change.

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First Published: Dec 08, 2006 02:58 IST