Food security: Effects of the climate crisis on agriculture - Hindustan Times
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Food security: Effects of the climate crisis on agriculture

ByHindustan Times
Oct 23, 2023 12:57 PM IST

This article is authored by Harshvardhan Bhagchandka, president, IPL Biologicals Limited.

India's food security is at a crossroads, with the looming threat of climate change echoing across its agricultural economy. As temperatures rise, agricultural yields drop, providing suitable ground for the growth of weeds and pests in this changing environment. The climate crisis has spread a wide shadow, not just sapping agricultural yield, but also threatening agriculture's essential base - water. In a country where rainfed farming has always been the foundation, the uncertainties brought about by changing rainfall patterns and a decline in rainy days provide a significant and fretting challenge.

Indian women farmers place paddy saplings at one place before replanting in a field at Tiuri village, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)(AP)
Indian women farmers place paddy saplings at one place before replanting in a field at Tiuri village, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)(AP)

Even while India has made tremendous progress towards ensuring food security, a number of significant challenges linger. Malnutrition is still a problem, and there are rising concerns about water shortages and low harvests. In light of this, the climate crisis stands out as an enormous threat.

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The economic effects of the climate crisis on agriculture are significant and have an impact on trade, profitability, pricing, supply, and demand. These changes have the ability to have an impact on domestic and international commerce and food production patterns. Furthermore, India's capacity to feed its people is dependent upon how well it handles the complex interactions between environmental problems, population expansion, and the climate crisis, all the while ensuring the food security of its rural areas.

The road to food security is paved with several obstacles, ranging from food's nutritional value to its cost and safety, all under the ominous shadow of the climate crisis. Rising temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, and extreme weather events like droughts and floods all have an adverse impact on agricultural output, which is seen across the whole food production cycle. Additionally, through soil erosion, which poses serious risks to harvests, unsustainable farming practices worsen the situation. Unfortunately, scientists have cautioned that industrialised nations may only have 30 to 40 years of sustainable harvests remaining. This dire prediction is mostly attributable to industrialised nations' reliance on chemical inputs and poor tilling methods. In light of these intricate problems, achieving food security necessitates a comprehensive strategy that takes into account not just the quantity but also the quality and sustainability of our food supply.

It's crucial to achieve the right balance between conventional knowledge and modern technology in our search for sustainable food security. While we cannot abandon the advantages of modern inventions, excessive dependence on them runs the risk of causing damage to our farmlands. Therefore, utilising our traditional knowledge is crucial to improving topsoil quality and lowering the use of synthetic chemicals. In addition, postmodern technology should support these tried-and-true methods rather than replace them.

India has a lot of space to enhance its agricultural production per acre, which now falls short of international averages. In order to overcome this shortage, it is crucial to use contemporary agricultural methods and make use of synthetic chemicals, fertilisers, and pesticides. It can have devastating effects to disregard their importance. Thus, to increase crop yields and total agricultural output, we must draw on the abundance of information and practical solutions created by top brains and international organisations.

Modern technologies are essential for lowering our dependence on chemical inputs. For instance, by using solar-powered and laser-assisted robots for mechanical weed eradication, we can greatly reduce the need for herbicides. Additionally, cutting-edge techniques like aquaponics, aeroponics, and vertical farming, especially in metropolitan areas, have the potential to use less water and chemicals while lowering carbon emissions.

India's food security is under increasing threat from the climate crisis, and there has never been a more pressing need for all-encompassing solutions. We have examined the complex issues brought on by varying climatic patterns, decreased crop yields, and unsustainable farming methods. But there is still hope. India can steer more sustainably towards food security by achieving a balance between tradition and technology, adopting contemporary agricultural techniques, and utilising cutting-edge inventions.

This article is authored by Harshvardhan Bhagchandka, president, IPL Biologicals Limited.

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