Climate Change and Agriculture
Mutaharra Abida W. Deva
In J&K about 70% of our population is based on agrarian economy.The growing population and changing food habits are driving up the demand for food.
We may have to face food shortage due to climate change which is triggered by declining water bodies, diminishing soil area, water pollution, and biodiversity loss. A 2020 report found that around 8.9% of the global population is hungry. The food security challenge will only become more difficult, as the world will need to produce about 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed an estimated 9 billion people and this will impact J&K also.
Since the industrial revolution, the mean surface temperature of the Earth has increased by 10°C, and temperatures are likely to rise, with serious consequences on biodiversity, natural ecosystems, agricultural productivity, food security and human livelihoods. In the Indian context, especially Jammu and Kashmir, which nestles in fragile Himalayan Ecosystem, there are natural fluctuations in climate; human induced changes due to large scale urbanization is driving the warming trend.
However, the government, NGOs, civil society, scientists and conservationists need to deliberate on the more important issues of the role that natural ecosystems, biodiversity and nature-based solutions can play in increasing resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change. The vulnerability and adaptive capacities are diverse and vary from place to place based on several sectoral and cross sectoral parameters. Sectoral parameters include key sectors of the economy and cross sectoral factors include (a) poverty (b) inequality and social discrimination over property rights and (c) access to resources (d) social attrition/migration and (d) unequal and unsustainable competition for scarce natural resources.
2012 marked the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit. In the birthplace of the three Rio Conventions, the Rio 2012 summit took place on 4 to 6 June 2012. It focused on two themes: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development.
The agriculture sector of J&K has extreme vulnerability to climate change which has already posed a challenge in the form of increasing temperatures, weather variability, shifting agro-ecosystem boundaries, invasive crops and pests, and more frequent extreme weather events.
Climate change is reducing crop yields, the nutritional quality of major cereals, besides lowering livestock productivity. Substantial investments in adaptation will be required to maintain current yields and to achieve production and food quality increases to meet demand.
Agriculture is a major part of the climate problem. It currently generates around 30% GHGs which can rise as the other sectors of GHG emissions are reducing their emissions. Further the food wastage or loss is critical to helping meet climate goals and reduce stress on the environment.
Vulnerability Profiling and Climate Sensitivity along with climate change projections of the J&K needs to be undertaken for better understanding of the climate issues confronting J&K. The district level data to compute climate change risk for J&K is also not available.
Vulnerability map of Indian subcontinent clearly shows some parts of J&K are having moderate to high vulnerability. A large part is under seismic zone but that cannot be strictly linked to climate change but to disaster risk management. Climate profile of J&K indicates variation in climate characteristics over the years.
According to IMD1 , besides temperature increase and amount of snow fall has reduced over the years. For the past two years snow and in fact early snowfall had its impact on horticulture and other parameters of economy.
As per UNEP and ICIMOD, the temperature in Himalayan region has risen by 1o C since 1970s. This has caused meltdown of snow and glaciers at rate of 15 m/year even in winter. As a consequence, the water availability is reduced. Further, changes in the rainfall pattern and relative humidity add to weather inconsistencies which exist at the time of plantation and harvesting.
The impact of change in climate shall be severe on natural resources and the environment associated with urbanization, industrialization and economic development.
Vulnerability of agriculture and allied activities due to climate sensitivity, temperature, precipitation and cold wave significantly impact the agricultural sector and enhance its vulnerability. This happens due to the early onset of rains or increased number of dry days. The valley has been receiving less amount of rainfall. Agriculture and Allied Crop Production practices in the Himalayan region have been impacted. In Western Himalaya, the traditional farming operation is a complex product of crop husbandry, animal husbandry and forest resources constituting interlinked diversified production systems. However, with changing land use, the area under cultivation for many traditional crops has been reduced and some others are on the verge of extinction. Deficit in food production is rampant in recent times in Jammu & Kashmir. With reduction in rainfall, the rain-fed agriculture will suffer the most. Horticultural crops like apple are also showing decline in production and a real coverage particularly due to decline in snowfall thermal stress effects on livestock productivity has its effects.
The THI (Temperature Humidity Index) changes in three distinct areas of the Himalayan region has been analysed for the months of January, February, March, May, June and July. The regions defined for this analysis include Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal in the Himalayan region. The analysis for the baseline period and the 2030 scenario has predicted an increase in THI in many parts of Himalayan region between March-September with a maximum rise between April-July. In the Himalayan region for 2030 scenario, thermal discomfort is likely to increase with THI > 80 than the baseline scenario, thereby indicating that in 2030’s, most places in this region are likely to remain under high temperature stress as compared to the baseline period.
The climate change indicators represent environmental conditions and increase our understanding of the cause and effects of climate change and act as tools for evaluating on-going and future development programmes. Some of these indicators include: (a) Increase in average temperature regime (b) Shift in rainfall pattern & deficit snow fall (c) Decrease in water levels of rivers and streams (d) Reduced snow fall as a result of heat-trapping gases (e) Drying up of springs & reduction in the flows (f) Shift in snow fall timing (e.g. February & March winters receive heavy snowfall whereas December & January, the usual snow time receiving less snowfall (g) Reported decline in glacial area in Chenab basin e.g. glacial area has reduced from 1 sq.km to 0.3 sq.km between 1962 – 2004 (h) Rising temperature & flash floods (i) Altitudinal movement of temperature sensitive plant species. Plant species responding to high temperature would grow at higher altitudes e.g. red algal bloom increased in Dal Lake due to water temperature rise.
Now this changing agricultural scenario needs Climate Resilient and Climate Smart Agriculture. Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach to managing landscapes—cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries—that address the interlinked challenges of food security and accelerating climate change. CSA aims to simultaneously achieve three outcomes:
Increased Productivity: Produce more and better food to improve nutrition security and boost incomes, especially the poor who live in rural areas and mainly rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.
Enhanced resilience: Reduce vulnerability to drought, pests, diseases and other climate-related risks and shocks; and improve capacity to adapt and grow in the face of longer-term stresses like shortened seasons and erratic weather patterns.
Reduced emissions: Pursue lower emissions for each calorie or kilo of food produced, avoid deforestation from agriculture and identify ways to absorb carbon out of the atmosphere.
CSA explicitly focuses on addressing climate change. Systematically considers the synergies and trade-offs that exist between productivity, adaptation and mitigation and aims to capture new funding opportunities to close the deficit in investment.
The banks need to show a commitment to deliver climate-smart agriculture that achieves the triple win of increased productivity, enhanced resilience, and reduced emissions with greater focus on adaptation and resilience. To screen all projects for climate risks and to use metrics and indicators to measure outcomes, and account for greenhouse gas emissions in our projects and operations. These actions will help J&K to implement Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the agriculture sector, and will contribute to progress on the sustainable Goals for climate action, poverty, and the eradication of hunger.