Sep. 5, 2019
The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is looking at undertaking a study on the impact of climate change and sustainability on the agriculture sector in India and come out with probable solutions to address these.
According to Ajay Mathur, Director-General of TERI, there is a need to take a re-look at the cropping pattern adopted by various States keeping in mind the way climate change is impacting major crops and sowing pattern.
“We are aware of the issues confronting the agricultural sector that need to be addressed and I am hoping that we would work on those,” Mathur told BusinessLine when asked if TERI would look at studying the impact of climate change and sustainability on agriculture and cropping pattern in the country.
Mathur was speaking on the sidelines of the environment and energy conclave organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the city recently.
Farmers in dry land areas should opt for cultivation of millets which can be grown in less water rather than going in for plants like wheat and paddy which are water-intensive. However, that does not happen because the minimum support price (MSP) offered by government on crops like paddy and wheat acts as an incentive to farmers to grow more of these crops.
If there has to be a change in the cropping pattern, there needs to be change in the MSP system. A slew of other changes need to be brought in to be able to make a noticeable difference in the cropping pattern adopted by different States.
“It is our belief and it is also empirical evidence now agreed to by most agricultural economists that paddy is grown in Punjab because of MSP. Without that it will be mainly the Basmati part and nothing else, which would solve a large part of the problem. So the changes that will occur in the agricultural pattern are not that easy and will come about because of a variety of changes. MSP is one such change,” he pointed out.
Nitin Desai, Chairman, TERI, said the impact of climate change on India’s agricultural sector can be “quite deep” and there is a need to undertake a great deal of research to understand how the country can cope particularly when the rainfall has become unpredictable. There are long periods of drought followed by periods of unprecedented rains. High temperature levels also pose a challenge.
“We have some major issues in India of variations in North Indian rivers due to glacier melt that will arise and then we will get much more water in early spring and much less in summer. So there is a huge challenge before us as to how do we manage agriculture. The key would be water management – it is strategic thing if we get that right then we can get other things right,” he said.
The Centre had, in March, rolled out the PM-KUSUM scheme to encourage farmers to generate solar power in their farms and use the clean energy to replace their diesel water pumps.
“Through this programme we have a chance of managing water, managing grid electricity and giving the farmer a new source of revenue,” Mathur said.