Over the last decade, many of Bundelkhand’s villages have faced significant depopulation. Famous of late for farmer protests, the region, which occupies parts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, has been adversely impacted by climate change.
Impact on Agriculture:
1. Depopulation/ abandonment of lands and villages:
• Due to climate change areas like Bundelkhand which once had ample rainfall are now dealing with dry conditions. Due to patchy rainfall, crop failure is becoming more common. The farmers are also unable to maintain their cattle. All this leading to farmers increasingly abandoning their lands and heading to nearby towns to find work as labourers .
2. India is very vulnerable to the rising temperatures:
• Though India has been blessed with the phenomenon of monsoon but still it is ranked 14th on the Global Climate Risk Index 2019.
• India has vast land suffering from some form of degradation, leading to decline in household’s income for the farmers and rise in household poverty due to droughts.
• Further since 67% of area is under rain fed agriculture, any variation in climate can cause heavy losses.
• A predicted 70% decline in summer rains by 2050 would devastate Indian agriculture. Within 80 years, there can be 22% decline in wheat yield, while rice yield could decline by 15%.
3. The impact of climate change will affect India’s food security, while reducing fodder supplies for
• Promotion of conservation farming and dryland agriculture, with each village provided with timely rainfall forecasts, along with weather-based forewarnings regarding crop pests and epidemics in various seasons.
• India’s agricultural research programmes need to refocus on dryland research, with adoption of drought-tolerant breeds that could reduce production risks by up to 50%.
• planting dates, particularly for wheat, should be changed, which could reduce climate change induced damage by 60-75%, by one estimate.
• Insurance coverage should be expanded to cover all crops.
• Interest rates should to be subsidized with help of government support and an expanded Rural Insurance Development Fund.
• The recently announced basic income policy by the government is a welcome step as well.
• On-ground implementation of compensatory afforestation is required which will help tackle air pollution.
• Restructure the Indian Forest Service, in order to make it equivalent to the police and the army, albeit in the environmental domain.
• State-of-the-art training to its personnel must be provided, and specialisation should be encouraged in wildlife and tourism.