Indian farmers could lose 25% of their income due to climate change
The Indian government has released its annual Economic Survey this week which has drawn attention to the potential economic damage from climate change to agricultural livelihoods.
The survey provides analysis and predictions across all sectors of the country’s growing economy, and is used by lawmakers to make key policy decisions. It is presented before the Indian Parliament each year, covering the current financial year.
Agriculture remains an important part of the economy and a vital lifeline to many rural areas, but the report points out that it is being threatened by climate change.
“Climate change could reduce annual agricultural incomes in the range of 15 percent to 18 percent on average, and up to 20 percent to 25 percent for unirrigated areas…At current levels of farm income, that translates into more than 3,600 rupees per year for the median farm household”, the survey said.
“Against the backdrop of water scarcity and limited efficiency in existing irrigation schemes...technologies of drip irrigation, sprinklers and water management may well hold the key to the future of Indian agriculture,” it added.
Kiran Vissa, a farm activist, criticised the survey for not recommending how to combat falling finances: “The Economic Survey only analyses the climate risks faced by the farmers…It leaves out critical aspects, only making passing references to falling crop prices and rising indebtedness among farmers”
Many leading development organisations are advocating climate smart agriculture policies to adapt to a world with more extreme weather and rising temperatures. Along with drip irrigation, innovations currently being developed include growing fodder crops and utilising mobile technologies to maximise crop yields.
The Indian government has a goal of doubling farm incomes by 2022, which provides a challenge under conditions of increased drought and ‘failed monsoons’ in rural areas. The survey also recommended increasing the uptake of new technologies and extending irrigation techniques among farmers.
Image Credit: Chelsea Aaron