Sunday, 7 June 2009

Climate change will have a serious impact on the agricultural scenario in Andhra Pradesh

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, June 5: Climate change will have a serious impact on the agricultural scenario in Andhra Pradesh, affecting the incomes of farmers by as much as 20 per cent.

According to the latest World Bank report on the impact of climate change on India, dryland farmers in Andhra Pradesh may see their incomes plunge by 20 per cent. The WB report, one of the first of its kind in South Asia, finds that climate change will have a serious impact on India where about one-third of the land is already drought or flood prone.

N Harshadeep, World Bank senior environmental specialist for South Asia, said, "If climate projections are indicative of future trends, the risks associated with water-related climate variability are likely to intensify and worsen."

Besides farmers in Andhra Pradesh, agriculturists in neighbouring Maharashtra and Orissa will also be hit badly. "In Andhra Pradesh, dryland farmers may see their incomes plunge by 20 per cent. In Maharashtra, sugarcane yields may fall dramatically by 25-30 per cent. In Orissa, flooding will rise dramatically leading to a drop in rice yields by as much as 12 per cent in some districts," the WB report warned.

It said other climate hotspots in India like the fragile Himalayas, the biodiverse Western Ghats, the vast coastal areas, and the prolific agricultural lands of the Gangetic plains will need to be looked at in subsequent studies. Harshadeep said "monsoonal rainfall over India has decreased by approximately five to eight per cent since the 1950s, and combined with impending climate change, this might contribute to more intense, longer, or more widespread droughts across the region."

Emphasising the ill-impact of climate change on agricultural productivity in Andhra Pradesh, the WB report pointed out that in the arid regions of Andhra Pradesh, the yields of all the major crops like rice, groundnut, and jowar are expected to decline, although groundnut is expected to fare better than others.
Under a modest to harsh climate change scenario - a substantial rise in temperatures (2.3 C - 3.4 C) and a modest but erratic increase in rainfall (four per cent to eight per cent) - small farmer incomes could decline by as much as 20 per cent.

"Agriculture as it is practised today will no longer be able to sustain large
populations on small rain-fed farms," the report predicted.

To arrest the problem the World Bank suggested that unrestrained competition for ground water should be regulated and there should be aggressive pursuit of water conservation. "While much research is being conducted for rice, horticulture, and other crops, farmers will need greater support with knowledge and policy assistance to make the transition to sustainable dryland farming on a large scale. They could also diversify into agro-forestry which is more resilient, as well as livestock production," it said.

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