Climate change casts a shadow on agriculture; growth rate dips to worryingly low

New Delhi: Climate change has emerged as a formidable challenge to sustainable agriculture as an erratic monsoon this year hit India’s farm output triggering a rise in food inflation which forced the government to take mitigation measures such as clamping down on exports.

As kharif production fell due to the freak weather, the growth rate of the country’s agriculture sector declined to a meager 1.2 per cent in the July-Sept quarter. The adverse impact has spilled into the ongoing rabi season with the total sown area declining by over three per cent with a below-normal monsoon leading to moisture deficiency in the soil and decreased water storage in reservoirs.

The acreage under wheat and pulses has declined by three per cent and eight per cent respectively which has raised concern over a fall in overall food production going ahead.

There is now a great concern within policymakers and the scientific community to evolve dynamic response strategies to deal with this complex phenomenon of climate change, especially since vast areas in some states are still dependent on rain-fed agriculture.

However, despite the current decline in rabi acreage, officials in the agriculture ministry believe that the gap can potentially be narrowed in the next few weeks. They anticipate that the overall sown areas for rabi crops might reach the average levels of the last five years (648 lakh hectares).

Officials attribute the reduced acreage for pulses to late harvesting of kharif crops, like paddy, and a trend toward crop diversification.

There is some consolation in that the acreage for oilseeds, including mustard and rapeseeds, is higher this year by 1 lakh hectares compared to 2022 which would help in reducing the country’s import bill for edible oils.

Senior officials point out that the emphasis on oilseeds reflects strategic measures to enhance self-sufficiency. While challenges persist due to weather-related constraints, the agriculture ministry’s positive outlook of a potential rebound is based on the resilience of the agricultural sector.

Balancing crop diversification and addressing moisture deficit will be pivotal for securing a robust foodgrain output in the upcoming season.

“Since 2014, as many as 1,888 climate resilient varieties of seeds have been developed for crops. Besides, 68 location specific climate resilient technologies have been developed and demonstrated for wider adoption among farming communities in districts and regions prone to extreme weather conditions like droughts, floods, frost and heat waves,” Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar informed the Lok Sabha earlier this year.

India is the world’s second-largest producer of wheat, rice and sugar, but has been forced to restrict exports of these commodities to rein in rising domestic prices. The country is the world’s largest rice exporter and has been ensuring food security in countries across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The ban on exports has, therefore, impacted the food availability in these countries as well. India’s agricultural exports are expected to drop by $4 billion to $5 billion this year.

However, senior government officials are optimistic. Rajesh Agarwal, an additional secretary in the commerce ministry, is of the view that growth in exports of other farm commodities will offset the export deficit this year.

“If we remove agricultural commodities like wheat and rice, whose exports are controlled, other food exports are growing by over four per cent,” Agarwal told journalists.

“So, despite the shortfall of about $4 billion to $5 billion that we face because of restrictions on sugar, wheat and rice, we should be able to meet last year’s export levels,” he said.

Data from Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) showed that exports of meat and dairy, cereal preparations, and fruits and vegetables rose between April and November this year.

On the other hand, according to a report by rating agency ICRA, the first advance estimates of kharif production suggest foodgrain production declined to a four-year low of 148.6 million tonne, a sharp 4.6 per cent lower than last year’s final estimates. Even crops that recorded an increase in their sown areas this year are expected to see a dip in output, including sugarcane (-11.4 per cent), rice (-3.8 per cent) and coarse cereals (-6.5 per cent).

“Notably, the decline in the output of most crops is larger than the fall in their area sown, reflecting a contraction in yields,” the ICRA report added.

A weaker rural economy also prompted the rating firm to add downside risks to its forecast of a 0-2 per cent growth in tractor sales for the year, after they declined 3.7 per cent in the first half and 0.5 per cent through October and November.

Climate change has also triggered unseasonal rains that have damaged crops. Around 8.68 lakh hectare crop area across states is reported to have been affected by floods or heavy rainfall this year.

The monsoon had got off to a delayed start in June after which there was excess rain in July followed by a deficit in August and then excess rains in September again in certain parts of the country, such as Punjab and Haryana, which hit the standing crop.

This had resulted in a sharp increase in the prices of vegetables, especially tomatoes and onions that triggered a spike in inflation.

Another crucial factor weighing on the farm sector going ahead is the amount of water that is currently available in the country’s reservoirs across states. About 80 per cent of India’s rainfall comes during the southwest monsoon which also fills up the country’s reservoirs that are used for irrigation during the next agricultural season. With the deficient rainfall this year, the water storage in the reservoir is reported to be around 75 per cent of last year which could impact agricultural output in the forthcoming rabi season.

IANS

Quickly addressed the issue: Google on ‘illegal’ AI responses to questions on PM Modi

New Delhi: Google on Saturday said that it has worked “quickly to address” the responses generated by its Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform Gemini regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The IT...

Bank deposits losing attractiveness as govt savings schemes see strong growth

New Delhi: Global brokerage Goldman Sachs has flagged multiple headwinds to deposit growth in Indian banks as it loses its attractiveness. It has cited head winds like strained financial savings,...

India does not rush into free trade pacts: Goyal

New Delhi: Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said that the government does not rush to conclude trade negotiations, but follows a careful and calibrated approach because Free...

Space industry welcomes new FDI norms, expects $25 bn fresh investment in 10 years

Chennai: India’s decision to revise its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms for the space sector is expected to bring in fresh foreign investments up to $25 billion over the next...

Nifty closes at all-time high, up for fifth straight session

Mumbai: Nifty ended higher for the fifth straight session on Monday after hitting an all-time high on the intra-day charts, said Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities....

RBI inks pact with Nepal Rastra Bank for UPI link

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) on Thursday signed and exchanged terms of reference for integration of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) of India and...

Japan loses its position as the world’s third-largest economy to Germany

New Delhi: Japan has slipped to the world's fourth-largest economy as it fell behind the size of Germany's in 2023, says Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research, HDFC Securities. Japan's...

Indian banks face a slowdown in growth and profit margins as deposits lag

New Delhi: Indian banks face a slowdown in growth and profit margins as deposits lag despite higher interest rates. In the 2023 October-to-December quarter, most major banks reported income gains,...

US inflation touches 3.1% leaving doubts over whether Fed will resort to rate cuts

New York: Inflation in the US, which cooled in January, rose again exceeding Wall Street’s expectations, signalling that the Federal Reserve might hold back its reported move to cut interest...

Microsoft ends week with $3.125 tn MCap, becomes most valuable company ever

New York: Microsoft ended the week with a market capitalisation of $3.125 trillion, the highest for any company ever, Barron’s reported. The company’s market value topped the previous record set...

China is worst performer among emerging markets equities

New Delhi: All the emerging markets indices saw negative performance in January with China being the worst performer at 10.6 per cent. As far as developed markets are concerned, Japan...

White Paper on Economy: UPA mismanagement plunged India into economic crisis

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented a 59-page 'White Paper' in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, highlighting the economic mismanagement by the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government,...

Read Previous

Indian-flagged oil tanker hit by Houthis in Red Sea: US military

Read Next

Delhi records 7.6 degrees minimum temp, air quality still ‘severe’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com