The unprecedented change in weather patterns is estimated to bring a 20-35 percent reduction in crop yields this year, according to a global environmental group.
As India gets ready to harvest its Kharif (monsoon) crop, a rainfall deficit in parts of the country will have an impact on rice production, according to experts and environmentalists.
India has two major sowing seasons – Kharif and Rabi. While rice is grown in the Kharif season (June-October), the other crops, or Rabi crops, are grown as winter approaches around October-November.
According to environmentalists in India, climate change is leading to changes in rainfall patterns in the country, which will impact the country's overall crop production this year.
India's Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said last week that the likely shortfall in the production of paddy for the 2022 Kharif season is approximately six percent.
“In domestic production, an estimated 6 to 7 million metric tonnes production loss is anticipated, but due to good monsoon rains in some pockets, the production loss may reduce to 4 to 5 million tonnes. However, this would be at par with last year’s production," said a government statement.
India last week also announced a ban on exports of broken rice and imposed a 20 percent duty on various grades of rice starting September 9.
Rice is a staple food for more than half of the country’s population.
Mahesh Palawat, chief meteorologist at India's Skymet Weather Services, identified the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and parts of West Bengal with deficit rainfall. These are major rice-producing states.
Impact on food security
Indian environmentalist Ravindra Khaiwal said a recent report by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification titled “Drought in Numbers in 2022” includes India as one of the countries badly affected by drought.
“Numerous locations of India appear on the global list of regions susceptible to drought. Geographically, India's vulnerability to drought is comparable to that of sub-Saharan Africa," he said.
Rohin Kumar, a senior agriculture campaigner at Greenpeace India, the Indian branch of the global environmental group, said that the unprecedented change in "rainfall pattern, droughts and extreme heat are estimated to bring a 20 percent-35 percent reduction in crop yields this year".
"It is a stark reminder that India needs to uphold and promote a transition from mono to multi-cropping systems or there will be a direct impact on agriculture and consequently on food and nutritional security," he said.
He said the government must approach food and nutritional security through "strengthening dietary diversity - the promotion of kitchen gardens and nutrition-sensitive agriculture that incorporates extensive livestock systems".
Kumar said instances of extreme weather events and chronic changes in climate systems are expected to increase in the coming years.
“India also needs to create adequate demand and supply of many indigenous grains, vegetables and fruits, where urban communities too step in and support farmers by directly buying from them," he said, adding that long-standing recommendations from the National Food Security Act of 2013 needs to be adopted.