Extreme Heatwave Jeopardizes India’s Wheat Harvest, Big Impact on Food Security
This year’s hottest March and April have reduced India’s wheat harvest by around 15-20 percent; the heat stress may reduce agricultural productivity and disrupt the food supply chain
According to the Global Food Policy Report 2022, the extreme climate change and early heatwaves in India have drastically reduced the country’s agricultural productivity. Due to this, there are rippling effects mainly on India’s wheat harvest. It is because the temperature in certain north Indian states soared to 49 degrees Celsius. This made it one of the warmest summers in recent times.
However, the phenomenon is not going to stop just yet. The continued heatwave is still impacting the country’s agriculture and food security. Due to shriveling wheat crop, there will also be a huge increase in the cost of wheat goods. Besides the quantitative loss and limited production, the grain also suffered a qualitative loss. India’s food security is all about quantity and nutritional content. But due to less production and poor quality, there’s a huge impact on the country’s food security.
People at Risk of Starvation
As per the International Food Policy Research Institute’s Global Food Policy Report 2022, such drastic climate changes can even force several Indians to scarcity of food by 2030. The research says that around 65 million people are at high risk of starvation due to extreme climate change. The research also points out that even if the global food production rises by 60% by 2050, 50 crore Indians will remain at the risk of starvation.
To manage the food security in the country, India even banned wheat export on May 13. Wheat prices were already high due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a major wheat exporter. But due to India’s prohibition on wheat export, most underdeveloped countries will suffer the impact.
Many G-7 agricultural ministers criticize India’s approach. But this is the government’s attempt to control rising domestic wheat prices due to this year’s poor crop yield. However, due to the increasing wheat market prices that are above the Minimum Supply Price (MSP), more farmers are turning to private companies instead of the government. With increasing wheat prices, there will be a huge impact on everything from staple bread to noodles and cakes.
Other Food Crops Face Climate Impact
Not just wheat, but other food crops are also facing the impact of heatwaves. For instance, potato output might reduce to 53.60 mt this year, which is lower than last year’s 56.17 mt, says the Ministry of Agriculture. The reason behind the reduction in potato productivity is due to unseasonal rain and of course, the heatwave.
Therefore, the wholesale price of potatoes has increased 57% this year to INR 22-24 per kg, compared to INR 14-16 per kg last year. Besides potatoes, the prices of beans, tomatoes, carrots, turnips, and beets have also increased by 20% last week in the state of Tamil Nadu.
With the rising heat and drought, many farmers are even using excessive pesticides and fertilizers to grow their crops. But it will further lead to faster groundwater depletion, which will increase the production costs. Moreover, the food quality will be depleted.
As per another study by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), India’s high exposure to heat and crop sensitivity may jeopardize food security. It can even delay economic growth and impact the whole development process. Hence, poverty reduction will become a difficult task to achieve. India may not be facing famine right now, but as per the reports ,the country is at high risk of it.
Via: The Guardian