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Climate change to hit rice, ragi, groundnut crops in Karnataka: Study

Climate change will bring major changes in Karnataka’s agriculture landscape by 2035 with a study flagging drop in the yield of major crops such as ragi, rice, groundnut, redgram, soybean while some crops like cotton and sugarcane will see an increase in yield, thereby increasing the risk of glut in market.

Macro studies have already indicated that a temperature rise of 2 to 3.5 degrees Celsius will lead to up to 25% loss in net agriculture revenue. However, The vulnerability assessment by H S Shivaramu, former head of Agrometeorology section in University of Agricultural Sciences-Bengaluru, used crop simulation models to arrive at scenarios specific to Karnataka.

The overall productivity of crops during 2035 showed a 5.6% decline in productivity of rice compared to the existing yield. Other crops fared worse with productivity loss of sorghum put at 20.3%, soybean 28.9%, redgram 19.2%, ragi 12% and groundnut 9.6%.

There will be an increase in the yield of some crops that thrive in a relatively high carbon-di-oxide atmosphere due to the moisture-retaining nature of the soil in which they are grown. So, the productivity of cotton will go up by 55.6%, followed by maize (24.5%), chickpea (13.5%) and sugarcane (6.1%).

“That the yield of some crops goes up may not be the bright side of the issue,” said Prof Shvaramu, now dean of Horticulture College in Kolar. “Several problems may crop up. As some crops thrive, more farmers may adopt them, leading to a glut in the market. We are staring at a future where the diversity of crops is eroded and the cope-up mechanism of the farmers can’t withstand the weather extremes,” he told DH.

The study assessed the risk to crops based on data on soil properties, crop yield (2001 to 2018 data from the Union Agriculture Ministry), climate data (1981-2018) from IMD, rainfall projection by IISc (2021 to 2050) among other materials.

Welcoming the adoption of some of the existing mitigation measures, including crop diversification, drip irrigation and groundwater recharging among others, the study has proposed weather-based cropping pattern,  strengthening the agrometry services, flood adaptation and more programmes to encourage organic farming and conserve soil health.

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