Climate change impacting agriculture in India: Swaminathan

Climate change impacting agriculture in India: Swaminathan

New Delhi: Noted agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan on Friday said the impact of climate change on farm sector would be profound and one degree Celsius rise in temperature could lead to wheat yield losses of around 6 million tonnes per year in India.

“Climate change is impacting agriculture in countries like India. For one degree rise in temperature in areas like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana could amount to a loss of about 6 million tonnes of wheat annually," Swaminathan said here, delivering a lecture on sustainable development.

He added, however, that climate change has different meaning for different parts of the globe. Canada may benefit as the rise in temperature will allow them to grow more crops, but it would have a totally opposite effect here in India, Swaminathan said.

In India climate change impact could be in terms of high temperature and rise in sea levels, he said in the lecture, ‘Sustainable Development: 20 years after Rio´.

“Temperature not only affects the grain output but is also critical in terms of grain filling and pest attack," Swaminathan said.

Suggesting steps to counter climate change, he said India should utilise its panchayati raj system effectively.

“One woman and one male member of every panchayat should be trained to become Climate Risk Managers who would be taught about various aspects related to the phenomenon," he said, adding that every farm should have a biogas plant and pond to check emission and ensure energy and water security.

“We need to classify our crops into those which are climate resilient and those which are climate sensitive for instance, wheat is a climate sensitive crop, while rice shows a wide range of adaptation in terms of growing conditions," Swanathan said.

Sharing similar concerns, Centre for Media Studies (CMS) chairman Bhaskar Rao said that agriculture is as important as corruption and no nation can be at peace if the disparities between the haves and have nots are huge.

Swaminathan’s lecture was part of the CMS-Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) national lecture series on challenging issues in contemporary India.