Adaptation Strategies to Sustain Food Security in India against Climate Change Impact


Impact from proposed climate change/climate variability on Indian food security needs to be addressed urgently and this would be greater task for India considering the population growth.

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Across the countries of the World, the present day talk by the public, politicians, policy-makers, social workers, scientists and mass media is on climate change and its impact. Melting of glaciers in Gangothri in India, slowing down of the Atlantic- conveyor (Atlantic Merdional Over turning Current) at north Europe, drought in the Amazon rain forest, changing the habitats of migratory and static species of birds including their extinction, changing the food habits of some of the prominent reptiles, occurrence of new pests and diseases including the increased gravity of human disease like malaria are some of the striking examples.

Kothawale and Rupakumar (2005) reported that while all-India mean annual temperature has shown significant warming trend of 0.05°C/10yr during the period 1901-2003, the recent period 1971-2003 has seen a relatively accelerated warming of 0.22°C/10yr, which is largely due to unprecedented warming during the last decade. In another study it is found that annual mean temperature, mean maximum temperature and mean minimum temperatures have increased at the rate of 0.42, 0.92 and 0.09°C respectively. The question, whether the climate change is already occurred in India or tend to occur is not the matter of the debate now, but the impact from proposed climate change/climate variability on Indian food security needs to be addressed urgently and this would be greater task for India considering the population growth.

 Food Production in India:

The food grain production of 50.83 Million tonnes in India (1950-’51) rose to 108.42 during 1970-’71 and 203.61 during 1998-’99 and there is record of 213.19 during 2003-’04.These data suggest that in the initial years there was jump in food grain production more than 100 per cent and in the middle block the jump was between 50 and 100 per cent, while in the late years the jump was less than five per cent. Annual per capita food grains production has declined from 207 kg (1995) to186 kg (2006).At present per capita food grains availability in the country was 155 kg against 177 kg during 1989-’92 The reasons might be due to many and among them frequent occurrence of weather aberrations and lesser capital investment in agricultural research and development are important.

The examination of food grain production from each year, between the two seasons (Kharif and Rabi), the highest production of 53 per cent comes from kharif season (June-Oct) as compared to Rabi season (Nov-Feb) where the production is around 47 per cent. The constraint for food grain production during kharif in India is soil moisture as influenced by the seasonal rainfall from Southwest monsoon season, while it is minimum temperature and stored soil moisture as prevailed during Rabi season. The Indian economy is mostly agrarian based and depends on the onset of South west monsoon and its further progress. The year 2002 was a classical example to show how Indian food grins production depends on rain fall of July and this year was declared All India drought year, as the rain fall deficiency was 19 per cent against long period of average of the country (Met Std, ≥10) and 29 per cent of area (Met Std, ≥ 20). was affected due to drought.

Further in India rain fed agriculture constitutes about 60 per cent of the total net sown area. These areas are the major domain for pulses, coarse cereal, and oil seeds production. The intensity and distribution of kharif monsoon rainfall determine the crop prospects in a majority of the areas. The area under food grain production over 16 to 20 years witnessed an average annual decline of 0.26 per cent during the period from 1989 –’90 to 2005-’06, largely due to a shift from coarse grains.

Among the food crops viz., rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses based on the annual food grain production data from 2001-’02 to 2005-’06, the mean contribution of these crops to total annual food grain production is 43 per cent from rice, while it is 34,16 and 06 per cent from wheat, coarse cereal and pulses respectively

Further analysis of data indicate that between 1950-51 and 2006-2007 production of food grains increased at an annual rate of 2.5 per cent, compared to population growth which is averaged to 2.1 per cent and this made India self sufficient in food grains till 2005-’06. The scenario, however got changed between1990 and 2007, when the rate of food grain production fell to 1.26 per cent, which was lower than the average population growth rate of 1.9 per cent. With increase in population, India imports some little quantity of food grains in the past one or two years to maintain the food security. As a result the share of agriculture in GDP steadily decreased from 36.4 per cent (1982-83) to 18.5 per cent (2006-07), yet this sector continues to support more than a billion people, providing employment opportunity to 52 per cent of work force.

 Problems for Food Security:

From the data given else where in this paper it is understood that, we have to describe problems to Indian food grains production and accordingly suitable action is to be taken. The identified problems are:

  1. Though the mean of South monsoon in India is 88cm, in the event of climate change there may variability in its total amount and its distribution and this may lead to frequent occurrence drought and floods, which have greater say on kharif food production, which contributes 53 per cent to total annual food grain production.

  2. In the event of climate change, water availability would be reduced and hence rice cultivation under normal water submergence (up to 5cm) would not be possible and this may affect the food production, since rice contributes to 43 per cent of total annual food grains production presently.

  3. The minimum temperature in many parts of northern India found increasing to 1°C in Rabi season. (Rao, et al. 2008). Sinha and Swaminathan (1991) presented a case study of actual change in temperature in Northern India. They brought out that while the mean air temperatures over the wheat growing regions were high by 1.7°C over a period of 15 days (Jan16 to Feb.1 ), the actual temperature rise was 2.3 to 4.5°C in the major wheat growing region of Punjab and Haryana( Sinha, et al., (1998). Rise in temperature during vegetative growth period of wheat would affect its productivity to a greater extent and this wheat crop presently contributes 34 per cent to total annual food grains production.

  4. The contribution of coarse cereals to annual food grain production could not be under estimated (16% to total food grain production). But the problem is the area under these crops found decreasing due to lack of MSP from the Government and as a result these crops are being substituted by high value crops including horticultural crops. Few of the coarse cereal crops would able to adapt well to increase in temperature that is being felt now.

  5. There is stagnation in pulse production over years and this crop contributes 6 per cent to annual total food grain production of the present day.

  6. In addition the structural weaknesses of the Indian agriculture are; low level of public investment, exhaustion of the yield potential of new high yielding varieties of wheat and rice, unbalanced fertilizer use, low seed replacement rate and inadequate incentive system and post harvest value addition.


Adaptation to climate change refers to adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities.

4.1 Monsoon Managers:

At each State there must be a monsoon management committee, consists of, Minister of Agriculture, selected officials from Department of Agriculture, selected scientists from the concerned State Agricultural University and selected farmers from different agro climatic zone of the State. This committee will meet before the monsoon on set based on the information on long range forecast on South west monsoon which is being issued by the IMD and decide the crop plan, and technologies to be recommended etc.


Similarly there must be Monsoon Managers at the district level of the State to monitor the crop growth in tune with monsoon rain fall performance and advice the farming community to take up weather based farm decisions. The information on medium range weather forecast and short range weather forecast also must be given to district committee to equip the committee to take decision in time.

(*)  Rice Management:

Recently in India technology packed rice farming systems like System Rice Intensification (SRI) and Aerobic Rice management are available and found suitable for practical application. The former package needs less water as compared to conventional system, while the latter uses only the limited water like irrigated dry crop or rain fed rice and the productivity is similar to conventional rice management.

(*)  Wheat Crop Management:

The present day cultivars of wheat does not adapt to warm temperature during vegetative stage and hence intensive time bound programme is needed to develop wheat crop, which tolerates warmness. Either through conventional breeding or through bio- technology this task must be done. Till then, agronomic ally the microclimate of the wheat crop can be modified to reduce the warmness at vegetative stage of the crop

(*) Coarse Cereals:

Though the crop sorghum gets replaced with maize, majority of the maize production goes to poultry and live stock feeds. In order encourage coarse cereal production, farmers must be given incentives to raise this crop both under dry / rain fed and irrigated condition.

(*) Pulse Crops Management:

Efficient zones must be identified for pulse crops and in these areas pulses must be cultivated either under irrigation or as irrigated dry crops in order to increase their productivity.

Other Adaptation Measures required:

  • The area under irrigation must be increased steadily by connecting the perennial rivers across the country.

  • Bridging the knowledge gap through effective extension strategies

  • Easy access to credit at affordable rates

  • Refocusing land use policy

  • The National Agriculture Insurance Scheme and the Pilot Weather Based Insurance Programme must be strengthened for wider coverage.


Though there is an expected shock to food security of India, it can be managed effectively by suitable planning.

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Author:  agmet_tnb
Posted On:  Saturday, 13 October, 2012 - 15:57

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