Climate Change Affecting Food Production
India is particularly vulnerable to global warming, and it is now well established that rising temperatures make for anaemic harvests. India’s long struggle with hunger and food security may have become tougher.
According to research by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, in the peninsula, temperatures may rise by as much as 6° Celsius by the end of this century.
The ADB study predicts that, in the southern states, rice yields may decline by 5% in the 2030s, 14.5% in the 2050s, and 17% in the 2080s. With climate change set to make food production in South Asia more difficult and push production costs upwards, this is bound to affect food security in India. Food shortages are expected to increase the number of malnourished children in South Asia by seven million.
Scientists have found to compound woes that higher temperatures hamper the nutritional value of harvests, particularly rice and wheat — staples for most Indians. According to a study in Environmental Health Perspectives, greater levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would lead to protein deficiencies. In a few decades, as many as 53.4 million Indians may be newly at risk of protein deficiency.
Experts at the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Bonn last November argued for faster and further investment in agriculture to support livelihoods of small farmers, and to curb emissions.
Small farmers, herders and fishing communities in developing countries provide the bulk of the planet’s food, but they are also disproportionately affected by global warming.
Superior grain are known for their climate-resilient features, including the ability to adapt to a wide range of ecological conditions, low irrigation requirements, better growth and productivity even without fertilisers and minimal vulnerability to environmental stresses.
Millets are also nutritionally superior to other major cereals because they are rich in dietary fibres, resistant starches, vitamins and essential amino acids.
While asking the U.N. to declare 2018 as the International Year of Millets, the central government has said in a recent release, n times of climate change, millets are often the last crop standing.