The changing climate has made India’s government so anxious about food security that politicians are now trying to predict the country’s crop output until as far as 2099.
Global warming is a factor in the nation’s increased number of extreme weather events, and simulation studies showed the country’s wheat yields may plunge between 6% to 25% toward the end of the century, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said in a written response to parliament.
Fluctuating weather patterns will also reduce production for most other crops including maize and rice, the minister said. Chickpeas are an outlier, with output likely to rise as much as 54%, he said.
India, the world’s second-most populous nation, has already been grappling with the impact of climate change. This year’s monsoon, which typically waters more than half of the country’s total farmland, caused floods and poor rains at the same time. Rain was more than normal in 12 out of 36 states, while four states received deficient showers.
The South Asian country will have about 1.4 billion people to feed by 2100, according to the United Nations. While the production of food grains has jumped five-fold since 1950-51, 14.5% of the population still suffers from undernourishment, with India ranking near the bottom of the Global Hunger Index, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.
S. Mahendra Dev, director for Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, remained skeptical over the country’s long-term forecast.
“One can predict production for the next 20 to 30 years but beyond that, it is very difficult,” said Dev. “With the changing climate, technology is also changing. Like water for irrigation is a problem, but then agriculture is also adapting and solutions are coming for judicious use of water for irrigation.”
© 2019 Bloomberg