Wheat production in MP, other central States vulnerable to climate change: Study
Punjab, Haryana far better thanks to willingness to adapt
Central Indian States, including Madhya Pradesh, which account for nearly one-fifth of wheat production in the country, would be severely hit by climate change, leading to a drop in yield by 2050, says a study by Indian wheat scientists.
Researchers at the Karnal-based Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR), which is a constituent lab of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, found that the other worst-hit States would be Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Assam.
Wheat-growing regions in these States cover 6.38 million hectares, and accounted for 18.56 million tonnes in 2016-17, according to the study, which appeared online in the journal Ecological Indicators recently.
Another six regions in Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat, which account for 12 per cent of the national production, are moderately vulnerable.
Projections made by climate scientists have estimated that in arid and tropical regions, a further rise in temperature would be detrimental as it would increase the heat stress and rate of evaporation. It is projected that wheat output would fall to the tune of 10 per cent if atmospheric temperature increases by 2 degrees Celsius.
According to Ramadas Sendhil, an agricultural economist at IIWBR, who is the lead author of the study, the team developed a composite index for different wheat-growing regions based on variables such as sensitivity, exposure and the adaptive capacity of respective regions.
While Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh are found to be highly vulnerable on the basis of the composite index, Punjab and Haryana are least so as the latter’s farmers are more progressive and ready to undertake adaptive strategies, said Sendhil. This is an attempt to use multi-dimensional data to arrive at the degree of vulnerability of each wheat-growing region so that policy makers can set priorities for management against climate change and variability, he said.
Food for thought
The study has shown that States in the central region are highly prone to production risk, the scientists said. The potential loss, on the other hand, can be minimised if region-specific adaptation and climate-smart farming practices are adopted, they added.
Highly vulnerable States holding a significant share in wheat production should be the focus and priority for researchers, extension agencies and policymakers to draw up farm-specific and region-specific programmes, the scientists said.