Impact on Agriculture
• The integrated Agricultural Sustainability Index (ASI), prepared by Sharma and Shardendu (2011) for Gangapur village (25deg83'N, 85deg65'E) of Bihar, based on social, economic and ecological sustainability variables, has shown improvement although marginally in 2000–2010 as compared to the previous two decades i.e. 1950–1960 and 1980–1990 @
• The livestock sector in 2007 produced 334 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq). Cultivation of rice, a key Indian crop, contributes just 21 percent of India’s agricultural emissions, or 70 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq) #
• Nearly half of India’s landmass is drought prone, according to India’s environment ministry #
• Production of meat resulted in 3.5 million tons of wastewater in 2007. That is nearly 100 times as much wastewater as India’s sugar industry generates and 150 times more wastewater than the manufacture of fertilizer creates #
• It is estimated that about 32% of India's total land area is affected by land degradation and 25% of the geographical area is affected by desertification. About 69% of the country's land is drylands and degradation of this land has severe implications for the livelihood and food security of millions ##
• The major process of land degradation is soil erosion (due to water and wind erosion), contributing to over 71% of the land degradation in the country ##
• Simulations using dynamic crop models indicate a decrease in yield of crops as temperature increases in different parts of India*
• Yields from rainfed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 per cent by 2020 in some countries**
• In Central and South Asia, yields could decrease by 30 per cent by 2050 due to climate change**
• About 30% of global emissions leading to climate change are attributable to agricultural activities, including land use changes such as deforestation***
@ Assessing farm-level agricultural sustainability over a 60-year period in rural eastern India by Deepti Sharma and Shardendu Shardendu, Environmentalist (2011) 31:325–337, http://www.springerlink.com/content/0051808851j537rq/
# “Veg or Non-Veg: India at the Crossroads”, Brighter Green,
## Elucidation of the 4th National Report submitted to UNCCD Secretariat, 2010, Ministry of Environment and Forests, GoI,
* Climate change, sustainable development and India: Global and national concerns by Jayant Sathaye , PR Shukla and NH Ravindranath, Current Science, Vol. 90, No. 3, 10 February 2006
** Climate change: Building the resilience of poor rural communities by IFAD
*** April, 2008 Report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development,
Highlights of the report named—“Veg or Non-Veg: India at the Crossroads”, Brighter Green (2012), http://www.brightergreen.org/files/india_bg_pp_2011.pdf are as follows:
• To satisfy domestic consumption, and with an eye on export markets, India has joined the livestock revolution. It has a large and growing population of farmed animals and intensification in how they are produced, in the Western mould, is underway. The government also has ambitions for India to assume a more significant role internationally. “As the country’s livestock industry is changing, India attempts to become a key player in the global meat market,” states India’s National Meat and Poultry Processing Board, established by the government in 2009.
• Investment in Indian agribusinesses by U.S. and European animal protein and feed producers is increasing, and the government is encouraging this trend. In 2011, it announced a new policy: foreign direct investment for intensive livestock operations with 100 percent foreign ownership would be welcome.
• Marked increases in India’s meat, egg, and dairy production have considerable impacts on India’s environment, food security, and social and economic equity, as well as the global climate.
• The effects of global climate change are expected to hit India particularly hard in the form of rising temperatures, erratic monsoon rains, more frequent and more intense droughts, flooding, cyclones, and growing water scarcity and desertification. Food production will not emerge unscathed.
* Contribution of Livestock to Climate Change
• India’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are the world’s fifth largest, after China, the U.S., the E.U., and Russia, although per capita GHG emissions are still extremely low: just 1.7 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq) in 2007.
• India’s emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from livestock, particularly the enormous population of cows and buffalo, are larger than any other country’s.
• The livestock sector in 2007 produced 334 million tons of CO2 eq. Cultivation of rice, a key Indian crop, contributes just 21 percent of India’s agricultural emissions, or 70 million metric tons of CO2 eq.
• In 2009, the first India-wide study of emissions of methane from India’s livestock, conducted by scientists at India’s Space Applications Centre, found that these emissions had risen almost 20 percent between 1994 and 2003, to 11.75 million metric tons annually. Emissions have almost certainly risen further: in the four years between 2003 and 2007, India’s population of cows and buffalo increased by 21 million.
• Over a hundred-year period, methane has at least 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Calculated over a 20-year period, methane’s warming impact is much greater: 72 times that of carbon dioxide. Methane’s lifetime in the atmosphere is about ten years, while carbon dioxide’s is at least a hundred years. Given its shorter lifespan, if methane emissions are lowered, the benefits would be realized sooner than for reductions in CO2.
• A lifecycle study of GHG emissions of various foods by researchers at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute found that a non-vegetarian meal including mutton (meat from lamb or sheep) emitted 1.8 times the GHGs of a vegetarian meal without dairy or eggs. The authors concluded: “Change in food habit thus could offer a possibility for GHG mitigation.”
* Likely Impacts of Climate Change
-- On Animals:
• While the livestock sector in India contributes to global warming through emissions of GHGs, it will also be impacted by climate change. Possible temperature increases in India of between 2.3 to 4.8 degrees Celsius by 2050 will add to heat stress in animals used to produce milk and affect reproduction and the amounts of milk each animal provides.
• Crossbred cows may be most vulnerable to higher temperatures. Increased temperatures and sea-level rise may also reduce the availability of land to grow feed, and result in lower crop yields and an increase in the severity and spread of animal diseases.
• U.K.-based risk-analysis firm Maplecroft placed India second in a list of 170 countries assessed for their vulnerability to the effects of climate change. “Almost the whole of India has a high or extreme degree of sensitivity to climate change, due to acute population pressure and a consequential strain on natural resources,” the assessment concluded.
-- On land and water:
• India’s livestock has grown significantly since Independence in 1947, but areas of permanent pasture and grazing land have continued to decline.
• The anticipated effects of climate change in India, such as rising heat and aridity, will reduce further the size of grazing land and make growing fodder crops, as well as maize and soybeans, more difficult.
• According to a 2009 UN report on water and development, water shortages as a result of climate change, urbanization, population growth, and the water needs of agriculture and food production, represent significant challenges to continued rapid economic growth across Asia in coming decades.
• The report notes with concern the rising consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy products in fast-growing developing countries, which are, “much more water-intensive than the simpler diets they are replacing”.
• Vegetarian diets require an average of 2.6 cubic meters of water per person per day, according to a study by researcher Shama Perveen at the Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata. The diet of an average person living in the US, containing much higher quantities of poultry, beef, and dairy, uses more than twice as much water: 5.4 cubic meters a day.
• Nearly half of India’s landmass is drought prone, according to India’s environment ministry. The monsoon is also critical for recharging groundwater, the source of 80 percent of farm irrigation and water supplies in India’s rural areas.
• By 2030, India’s water requirements will increase to 1.5 trillion cubic meters (m3) (396 trillion gallons). Agriculture in India will require a large majority of this, 1.195 billion m3 (315 billion gallons). India’s current annual water supply is 740 billion m3 (195 trillion gallons). As a result, by 2030, India’s river basins, including some with the largest human populations, including the Ganga and the Krishna, are likely to experience severe shortfalls, “unless concerted action is taken,” according to the 2030 Water Resources Group report.
* Livestock impact on Water Pollution and Energy Use
• The by-products of animal agriculture – animal wastes and run-off from pesticides and fertilizers used on feed crops – enter India’s rivers, streams, and groundwater. These organic and inorganic pollutants contribute to the contamination of an estimated 70 percent of India’s surface water and an increasing percentage of its groundwater, according to a 2009 report by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
• Production of meat resulted in 3.5 million tons of wastewater in 2007. That is nearly 100 times as much wastewater as India’s sugar industry generates and 150 times more wastewater than the manufacture of fertilizer creates.
• According to India’s environment ministry, “Inadequate treatment of human and animal wastes also contributes to [the] high incidence of water-related diseases in the country.”
• Producing meat, eggs, and dairy products on a industrial scale requires electricity for lighting, heating, and cooling, and then for slaughtering, processing, packaging, and refrigeration or freezing. India faces power shortage and 40 percent of India’s households still lack electricity.
• In his speech to the World Vegetarian Congress, held in India in 1957, India’s then president, Rajendra Prasad, observed that: “[N]o doubt that within the foreseeable future, it will be impossible to increase the land under cultivation. Increase in yield per unit of land has also conceivably a limit.” He urged consideration of “whether cereals or meat can be more economically grown on the land,” and continued: “It is therefore a very lucky and fortunate coincidence that our vegetarianism, limited though it may be, reduces tremendously the pressure on land, which is already being felt in many parts of the country.”
Key findings of the study titled Assessing farm-level agricultural sustainability over a 60-year period in rural eastern India by Deepti Sharma and Shardendu Shardendu, Environmentalist (2011) 31:325–337, http://www.springerlink.com/content/0051808851j537rq/, are as follows:
• Sustainable agriculture is multi-dimensional, and is the combined product of environmental, social and economic sustainability. The area is relevant since India being an overpopulated country is in danger of facing the Malthusian catastrophe. The present study has collected social, economic and ecological data from 150 farms for 3 decades to find what has happened to agricultural sustainability overtime.
• Agricultural Sustainability Index (ASI) for rural eastern India has been prepared and used to calculate the ASI for 150 farms for three decades over a 60-year period, viz., 1950–1960, 1980–1990 and 2000–2010 for a representative Indian village of Gangapur (25deg83'N, 85deg65'E) of Bihar. The ASI was calculated using 30 variables, 10 each of social, economic and ecological sustainability. An extensive questionnaire based survey was carried out to collect the relevant data.
• Increased ecological literacy and better implementation of government policies, aiming at health, education and better scientist–farmer interactions, must target improved ASI values in coming decades, finds the study.
• The integrated ASI, prepared by the authors, based on social, economic and ecological sustainability variables, has shown improvement although marginally in 2000–2010 as compared to the previous two decades i.e. 1950–1960 and 1980–1990.
• A variety of factors affect the overall agricultural sustainability. Increase in average age of farmer has been perceived as a weakness owing to the fact that with increased age the vigour and output of the farmer decreases. With age, the farmer becomes more and more reluctant towards adopting new scientific methods.
• Social inequality is another factor impeding sustainability of agricultural practices in the study area. Social inequality is reflected by the gap between high- and low-income groups. This inequality has shown signs of decreasing over the last 60 years but still remains substantially high. Its effect on farmer psyche casts a negative effect on sustainability of agricultural practices. Moreover, resource allocation also suffers.
• Due to the location of the area under study in the eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains where it enjoys the advantages of fertile soils and high water table level, one can expect a higher sustainability of agro-practices in the village.
• Among local reasons of low socio-economic sustainability scores may be quoted the Zamindari system which was part of the history of the study area. Zamindari system is responsible for the low agricultural productivity of the region.
• The Zamindari Abolishment Act that was passed as early as in 1948 and the Land Reforms (Ceiling, Land Allocation and Surplus Land Acquisition) Act that was passed in 1961 have made little impact on land distribution.
• Another significant social factor limiting sustainability of agriculture in the study area is population pressure. With increasing population pressure, resource poverty is enhanced, leading to declining returns from the natural capital and complicated ownership feuds.
• Increase in average age of the farmer is among other social factors afflicting agricultural sustainability. Power crisis in the study area is again a significant limiting factor.
• The decreasing trend in agricultural biodiversity at both crop and livestock variety levels has made the ecological condition of the agro-ecosystem precarious.
• The study concludes that interaction of farmers and agricultural scientists must be made easier, frequent and enriching, and the gap between the laboratory and the agricultural field must be reduced so that ecological awareness can supplement literacy. Consolidation of landholdings must be propagated as a suitable measure to combat the problem of low-sized landholdings.
According to Elucidation of the 4th National Report submitted to UNCCD Secretariat, 2010, Ministry of Environment and Forests, GoI,
According to Ecological farming: Drought-resistant agriculture (2010), which has been produced by the Greenpeace,
• Biodiversity and a healthy soil are central to ecological approaches to making farming more drought-resistant.
• Over 60% of the world’s food is produced on rain-fed farms that cover 80% of the world’s croplands. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, where climate variability already limits agricultural production, 95% of food comes from rain-fed farms. In South Asia, where millions of smallholders depend on irrigated agriculture, climate change will drastically affect river-flow and groundwater, the backbone of irrigation and rural economy.
• There will be a drop in precipitation of up to 10% in South Asia by 2030, accompanied by decreases in rice and wheat yields of about 5%.
• According to a review by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in the 1990s, about half of the cultivable soils in India were degraded, and the situation has not improved. Since World War II, soil degradation in Asia had led to a cumulative loss of productivity in cropland of 12.8%
• Soil degradation, mainly the decline both in quality and quantity of soil organic matter, is one of the major reasons linked to stagnation and decline in yields in the most intensive agriculture areas in India, such as Punjab.
• Over-application of nitrogen fertilisers (usually only urea), common in Punjabi farms and influenced by the government’s subsidy system on nitrogen, is not only causing nutrient imbalances, but also negatively affecting the physical and biological properties of the soils.
• Burning rice straw after harvest, now a widespread practice in many places of the Indo Gangetic Plains of India, is also causing large losses of major nutrients and micronutrients, as well as organic matter
• Another common detrimental effect of the excessive use of nitrogen fertiliser on soil health is acidification, and the impact it has on soil living organisms, crucial also for natural nutrient cycling and water-holding capacity.
• Some varieties of wheat developed during the Green Revolution have only short roots – decreasing their capacity for drought tolerance
• Increasing temperatures and less and more erratic rainfall will exacerbate conflicts over water allocation and the already critical state of water availability.
• In 2007, MAS 946-1 became the first drought-tolerant aerobic rice variety released in India. To develop the new variety, scientists at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore, crossed a deeprooted upland japonica rice variety from the Philippines with a high yielding indica variety. Bred with MAS, the new variety consumes up to 60% less water than traditional varieties. In addition, MAS 946-1 gives yields comparable with conventional varieties
• In 2009, IRRI recommended two new drought-tolerant rice lines for release, which are as high yielding as normal varieties: IR4371-70-1-1 (Sahbhagi dhan) in India and a sister line, IR4371-54-1-1 for the Philippines. Field trials in India are being reported as very successful, with the rice tolerating a dry spell of 12 days.
• Agriculture will not only be negatively affected by climate change, it is a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. However, by reducing agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions and by using farming techniques that increase soil carbon, farming itself can contribute to mitigating climate change
• In the race to produce larger industrial monocultures fuelled by agrochemicals and massive irrigation, the diversity of plant traits available to cope with little water in industrial cultivated crops has been reduced.
• In sub-Saharan Africa, something as simple as intercropping maize with a legume tree helps soil hold water longer than in maize monocultures.
• Scientists have computed that “agricultural losses in the US due to heavy precipitation and excess soil moisture could double by 2030”.
• Scientists now believe that practices that add carbon to the soil, such as the use of legumes as green manure, cover cropping, and the application of manure, are key to the benefits of increasing soil carbon in the practice of soil conservation and reduced tillage.
• It has been shown that a combination of harvesting 25% of the run-off water combined with reducing evaporation from soil by 25% could increase global crop production by 20%.
• Healthy soils rich in organic matter, as the ones nurtured by agroecological fertilisers (green manures, compost, animal dung, etc), are less prone to erosion and more able to hold water.
• Organic matter improves the activity of micro-organisms, earthworms and fungi, which makes the soil less dense, less compacted and with gives it better physical properties for storing water.
• Mulching with crop residues, introducing legumes as cover crops, and intercropping with trees all build soil organic matter, thus reducing water run-off and improving soil fertility.
• Many fungi associated with plants (both mycorrhizal and endophytic species) increase plant resistance to drought and plant water uptake.
According to the Climate change, sustainable development and India: Global and national concerns by Jayant Sathaye, PR Shukla and NH Ravindranath, Current Science, Vol. 90, No. 3, 10 February 2006, http://www.iisc.ernet.in/currsci/feb102006/314.pdf:
Due to climate change, the hydrological cycle is likely to be altered and the severity of droughts and intensity of floods in various parts of India is likely to increase. Further, a general reduction in the quantity of available run-off is predicted.
Simulations using dynamic crop models indicate a decrease in yield of crops as temperature increases in different parts of India. However, this is offset by an increase in CO2 at moderate rise in temperature and at higher warming, negative impact on crop productivity is projected due to reduced crop durations.
Climate impact assessments using BIOME-3 model and climate projections for the year 2085 show 77% and 68% of the forested grids in India are likely to experience shift in forest types under A2 and B2 scenario, respectively. Indications show a shift towards wetter forest types in the northeastern region and drier forest types in the north-western region in the absence of human influence. Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration and climate warming could also result in a doubling of net primary productivity under the A2 scenario and nearly 70% increase under the B2 scenario.
Malaria is likely to persist in many states and new regions may become malaria-prone and the duration of the malaria transmission windows is likely to widen in northern and western states and shorten in southern states.
Globally, about 1900 Mha of land are affected by land degradation, of which 500 Mha each are in Africa and the Asia-Pacific and 300 Mha in Latin America. Climate change leading to warming and water stress could further exacerbate land degradation, leading to desertification. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) aims to address the problem of land degradation, which is linked to climate change.
It is important to note that the climate-sensitive sectors (forests, agriculture, coastal zones) and the natural resources (groundwater, soil, biodiversity, etc.) are already under stress due to socio-economic pressures. Climate change is likely to exacerbate the degradation of resources and socio-economic pressures. Thus, countries such as India with a large population dependent on climate-sensitive sectors and low adaptive capacity have to develop and implement adaptation strategies.
According to Climate change: Building the resilience of poor rural communities by IFAD, http://www.ifad.org/climate/factsheet/e.pdf
• Between 15 and 37 per cent of land plants and animal species could become extinct by 2050 as a result of climate change
• Emissions of greenhouse gases have increased, on average, by 1.6 per cent per year over the past 30 years
• Agriculture and deforestation together contribute up to 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions: forests act as carbon sinks, so deforestation results in higher carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
• Recent climate changes and variations are beginning to have effects on many natural and human systems, including earlier spring crop planting at the higher latitudes in the northern hemisphere
• Yields from rainfed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 per cent by 2020 in some countries
• In Central and South Asia, yields could decrease by 30 per cent by 2050
According to the April, 2008 Report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development,http://www.agassessment.org/index.cfm?Page=IAASTD%20Reports&ItemID=2713
• Developments in agriculture over the last fifty years have increased yields sufficiently to provide enough food for every person on the planet. Yet approximately 850 million people around the world are not able to obtain enough food to lead healthy and productive lives. The recent volatility in food supply and price, which led to food riots in the summer of 2008, has placed some 100 million additional people at risk of food insecurity. Ongoing energy, financial and climate crises make it likely that food price volatility will persist in the future. Enhancing national food production capacity will help countries to better withstand international food price shocks.
• Modern agriculture generates large environmental externalities, including accelerated loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, such as water cycling and quality, intensive energy use and greenhouse gas emissions; and the environmental health impacts of synthetic pesticides. Many of the externalities derive from the failure of markets to value environmental and social harm and provide incentives for sustainability. In a number of cases, e.g., loss of biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions, there is clearly an inadequate pricing system, as these negative externalities are simply not priced at all.
• About 30% of global emissions leading to climate change are attributable to agricultural activities, including land use changes such as deforestation. The relative prices of carbon, oil, nutrients and farm outputs, as well as human ingenuity in designing appropriate policies and institutions, will determine the profitability of emission reduction and sequestration for farmers.
• A considerable debate exists over the magnitude of direct and indirect GHG emissions from biofuels; however, the intensive cultivation of energy crops is expected to produce adverse environmental impacts on soil and groundwater, and to result in deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Local, national and regional agricultural regulatory frameworks will have to take into account tradeoffs between the need for promoting higher yields and the need for environmental and biodiversity conservation.
• The growth in bioenergy production has been stimulated mostly by biofuel subsidies, fuel blending mandates, national interest in energy security, climate change mitigation and rural development programs. However, bioenergy has also triggered controversy. This attention is related to the soaring prices for grains, which have resulted, in part, from the expansion in global biofuels at the expense of food production. The underlying causes of the most recent increases in food prices are complex and include factors such as increased demand from rapidly growing economies (especially China); poor harvests due to an increasingly variable climate (e.g., the Australian drought); the use of food crops for biofuels (e.g., maize for bioethanol); higher energy and fertilizer prices; low food stocks; speculation on the commodity futures market; and, in response to the high food prices, restrictions imposed on agricultural commodity exports by a number of significant exporters (e.g., Argentina, India and Ukraine) to protect their domestic consumers.
• The total organic area in Asia is nearly 2.9 million hectares. This constitutes nine percent of the world’s organic agricultural land. 230’000 producers were reported. The leading countries are China (1.6 million hectares) and India (1 million hectares). The highest shares of organic land of all agricultural land are in Timor Leste (seven percent). Organic wild collection areas play a major role in India and China.
• 32.2 million hectares of agricultural land are managed organically by more than 1.2 million producers, including smallholders (2007). In addition to the agricultural land, there are 0.4 million hectares of certified organic aquaculture.
• The regions with the largest areas of organically managed agricultural land are Oceania, Europe and Latin America. Australia, Argentina and Brazil are the countries with the largest organically managed land areas.
• The highest shares of organically managed land are in Europe: Liechtenstein, Austria and Switzerland.
• The countries with the highest numbers of producers are Uganda, India and Ethiopia. Almost half of the world’s organic producers are in Africa.
• About one third of the world’s organically managed land – almost 11 million hectares -is located in developing countries. Most of this land is in Latin American countries, with Asia and Africa in second and third place. Countries with the largest area under organic management are Argentina, Brazil, China, India and Uruguay.
• Almost 31 million hectares are organic wild collection areas and for bee keeping. The majority of this land is in developing countries – quite the opposite of agricultural land, of which two thirds is in developed countries.
• Almost two thirds of the land under organic management is grassland (20 million hectares). The cropped area (arable land and permanent crops) constitutes 7.8 million hectares - a quarter of the organically managed land. Compared with the previous survey, there is a clear trend for cropland to increase. Relatively high shares for some crops have been achieved; organically managed coffee and olive areas reported, for instance, account for more than five percent of the total harvested areas, and in some countries the shares are even higher – 30 percent of Mexico’s coffee is organic.
• On a global level, the organic land area increased by almost 1.5 million hectares compared to the data from 2006. Twenty-eight percent (or 1.4 million hectares) more land under organic management was reported for Latin America (including 0.9 million hectares of in-conversion land in Brazil for which no data had been available previously). In Europe, organically managed land increased by 0.33 million hectares (+ 4 percent) and by 0.18 million hectares (+27 percent) in Africa.
• India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) long range forecast (LRF) update for the 2009 south-west monsoon season (June to September) is that the rainfall is likely to be below normal. Quantitatively, monsoon season rainfall for the country as a whole is likely to be 93% of the long period average with a model error of ±4%. The Long period average (LPA) rainfall over the country as a whole for the period 1941-1990 is 89 cm*
• Over the four broad geographical regions of the country, rainfall for the 2009 south-west monsoon season is likely to be 81% of its LPA over north-west India, 92% of its LPA over north-east India, 99% of its LPA over central India and 93% of its LPA over South Peninsula, all with a model error of ± 8 %*
• The deepening shadow of a drought in the wake of a wayward monsoon on 8 August, 2009 saw Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking states to immediately commence relief operations while operationalising contingency plans for crops, drinking water, water and human and animal health. He warned that shortfall in kharif sowing was bound to increase inflationary pressure on prices and states needed, in tandem with the Centre, to keep a sharp eye on availability of foodgrains and essential commodities. Singh's reference to rising prices of pulses, sugar and some vegetables points to a concern that apart from ensuring proper functioning of the public distribution system, the general availability at retail points needs to be monitored. This may need, as PM suggested, strong action against hoarders and black marketeers. He said as many as 141 districts have been declared drought affected@@
• From 1871 to 2002, India has witnessed 22 major droughts each in 1873, 1877, 1899, 1901, 1904, 1905, 1911, 1918, 1920, 1941, 1951, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1972, 1974, 1979, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, and 2002 and five of them were severe**
• About 68% of the country is prone to drought in varying degrees. Drought leads to large-scale migration in search of alternative livelihoods, loss of human life due to stress, suicide, starvation or unhygienic conditions, and increased social conflict***
• Due to drought, the country has undergone various difficulties: (a) A shortage of raw material supplies to agro-based industries; (b) Reduced rural demand for industrial/ consumer products due to dampening of agricultural incomes; (c) Potential shift in public sector resource allocation from investment expenditure to financing of drought relief measures; (d) Small and marginal farmers are the hardest hit due to drought. Water and fodder shortages during a drought situation cause considerable stress to this section of farmers, as they own a bulk of the bovine population. Over 150 million of the 296.49 million-strong bovine population, across 18 states, were affected by 2002's drought; (e) The impact of the drought of 2002-03 on hydroelectric power generation led to a decline of 13.9%; (f) Drought leads to inflation in essential commodities and increased unemployment%
• Drought can be classified under 4 different categories, roughly@:
(i) Meteorological drought: This takes place when the actual rainfall in an area is significantly less than the climatological mean of that area. The country as a whole may have a normal monsoon in that case, but different meteorological districts and sub-divisions can have below normal rainfall. The rainfall categories for smaller areas are defined by their deviation from a meteorological area's normal rainfall –
(ii) Hydrological drought: This occurs with a marked depletion of surface water causing very low stream flow and drying of lakes, rivers and reservoirs;
(iii) Agricultural drought: Inadequate soil moisture resulting in acute crop stress and fall in agricultural productivity. Earlier years of all-India drought that affected agriculture were: 1987, 1979, 1972;
(iv) Droughts are also classified according to the timing of rainfall deficiency during a particular rainfall season, usually June to September in the Indian context. Rainfall during the period June to September is primarily caused by south-west monsoon. The cumulative seasonal rainfall for India as a whole during 2009’s monsoon has so far been 54% below the long period average (LPA). Rainfall was excess/normal in 6 and deficient/scanty in 30 out of 36 meteorological sub-divisions
• There is no provision for declaration of drought by Government of India. Drought is declared for each State or part of the State by the State Governments under the Relief Manuals or similar documents of the State Governments$
• The Drought Research Unit was set up at India Meteorological Department (IMD) in Pune under the instruction of the Planning Commission of the Government of India in June 1967. India Meteorological Department identifies meteorological drought for subdivisions every year based on rainfall analysis#$
• In January 1988, the Government of India approved the establishment of National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) as a constituent unit of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to help develop suitable numerical weather prediction (NWP) models for medium-range weather forecasts (3–10 days in advance) and prepare agrometeorological advisories for the farming community in 127 agroclimatic zones of India. The main objectives of NCMRWF are (1) to develop location-specific medium-range (3 to 10 days) weather forecasts, (2) develop weather-based agro-advisory services for the farming community, and (3) promote and coordinate research in related areas of meteorology and agrometeorology#$
• The space-based National Agricultural Drought Assessment and Monitoring System (NADAMS), which has been operational since 1989 under India’s Department of Agriculture, provides scientific information at the district level for most of the states and subdistrict levels in a few states#$
*** Drought in India: Challenges and Initiatives, prepared by Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) Programme (2001-2008), http://www.empowerpoor.com/downloads/drought1.pdf
@@ Prepare drought plan: PM to states, The Times of India, 9 August, 2009,