New Delhi: In 2030, India’s agriculture output might be 7 points lower at 1.56 times the 2010 level against a potential 1.63 times without climate change, and the number of hungry 22.5% higher at 90.5 million against 73.9 million without climate change, according to an international food security report.

“Climate change is the most pressing issue facing [south Asia], given its implications for the food security of already vulnerable populations,” according to the 2018 Global Food Policy Report, launched on March 20, 2018, by the International Food Policy Research Institute, a global agriculture think-tank based in Washington DC, US.

“Increasing climatic variability, extreme weather events, and rising temperatures pose new challenges to ensuring food and nutrition security in the region,” the report said.

Concerns regarding the impact of climate change on India’s farm sector were also highlighted in India’s 2018 Economic Survey. With half of the country’s farms unirrigated, agriculture growth rates in India fluctuate a lot, according to the survey.

Between 2004 and 2016, India’s inflation-adjusted agricultural growth averaged 3.2% but the standard deviation--a measure of how much individual values deviate from the average--was 2.7 compared with 0.7 for China where growth averaged 4.4% in those years, the survey said.

A one-degree-Celsius rise in temperature reduces farmer incomes by 6.2% during the kharif (winter) season and 6% during rabi (monsoon) season in unirrigated districts, the survey said.

For every 100 mm drop in average rainfall, farmer incomes fall 15% during the kharif season and 7% during rabi, the survey said.

Temperatures in India are likely to rise by 3-4 degree Celsius by the end of the 21st century, according to the survey.

Extreme increases in temperature (rising to the top 20% of a district’s temperature range) and decline in rainfall (dropping to the bottom 20% of a district’s rainfall range) cause farm income losses of 15-18%, on average, in irrigated areas, and 20-25% in unirrigated areas, translating into Rs 3,600 a year for the median farm household, the survey said.

Extreme rainfall shocks increase the risk of severe floods. India could see a six-fold increase in population exposed to such floods by 2040--to 25 million people from 3.7 million facing the risk between 1971 and 2004--if no efforts are made to mitigate the circumstances, IndiaSpend reported on February 10, 2018.

We storified our tweets on the Global Food Policy Report:

(Vivek is an analyst with IndiaSpend.)

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