What is the hue and cry about global warming?
Global warming and its disastrous effects has been a hot topic of debate for what seems like decades now. Experts concur that while the ripples caused by global warming will negatively affect people across the globe, it is the farmers who will bear the true brunt of it. The rhythms of climate are evolving and are already setting into motion a number of adverse changes. These changes most often come in the form of ever-rising sea levels, droughts, floods and other natural disasters. While this impresses upon a need to immediately check the emission of greehouse gases, it also means that farmers will have to take some drastic measures to ensure significant crop yields in the coming years.
Global Warming and India
Agriculture and related businesses accounts for nearly 14% of India’s GDP and 60% of employment making for a grim future. In a country where more than 60% of the crop area is rain-fed, sparse, delayed or excess rainfall can spell disaster. Findings of several reports also pinpoint that a temperature increase of 20C-2.50C means that water provided for agricultural production will reduce drastically by 2050s impacting food availability for some 63 million people. Other possible impacts on India include:
- The occurence of an extreme wet monsoon every 10 years by the end of the century instead of the current once in 100 years
- Kolkata and Mumbai cited as potential disaster hotspots as they will have to deal with extreme river floods, vicious tropical cyclones, rising sea levels and very high temperatures
- New health problems that will crop up due to reduced supply of food
- 3-7 percent reduction in wheat, soybean, mustard, groundnut and potato yields
- Loss of 1.5 million tonnes of milk by 2020
How can agriculture turn climate smart?
The answer clearly lies in technology. Farmers today can leverage techniques such as direct seeding which sows seeds using machines eliminating the need for manual labour and high water consumption. Devices that deliver voice messages to farmers providing crucial information such as timely weather forecasts, new seed types, infestations and the best times to irrigate are also available. Another piece of technology that could ease the farmer’s workload is the laser leveler – tractor towed, laser-controlled device that helps create a flat surface for cultivation and saves 20-25 percent water in the process. Further, tools such as happy seeders which when attached to the back of tractors do away with crop residues by mixing them into the soil. The prior option of which was burning crop residues which led to increased emissions and depleted soil fertility.
Technology does not come cheap however. Especially in a country where famers are constantly struggling to pay off their ever-mounting debts. Debts that ultimately lead them to commit suicide. Financial support and security from the government is hence crucial to ensure that India’s agricultural productivity remains resilient despite the climate excesses.