‘Climate change hit small farmers in five years’

The report quoting the farmers claims that drought followed by flood-like situations caused significant loss of crops.
A farmer sowing fertilizer for his crops.
A farmer sowing fertilizer for his crops. (Photo | H Jashwanth Kumar)

NEW DELHI: A report released by the Forum of Enterprises for Equitable Development (FEED) in collaboration with the Development Intelligence Unit (DIU) says that climate change-induced extreme weather events in the last five years have impacted over 60% of marginal farmers in the form of crop and yield losses.

The report quoting the farmers claims that drought followed by flood-like situations caused significant loss of crops.

It underlined that the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases led to global warming, which is changing the regional climate pattern. The report ‘Impact of climate change on marginal farmers’ has found most marginal farmers out of the ambit of any crop insurance and credit facilities.

Marginal farmers, those with less than one hectare of land, constitute the largest segment (68.5%) of India’s agricultural sector but own only about 24% of the crop area.

Around 41% of farmers have experienced droughts, while 33% have faced excessive rains and non-seasonal floods, leading to significant crop losses, said the report.

Farmers are also affected by cyclones, prolonged summer and rise in temperatures above normal.

The report pointed out 50% of farmers experienced at least half their standing paddy crop loss, and 42% reported similar losses for wheat. Crops like rice, vegetables, and pulses are significantly affected by the uneven rainfall distribution.

“Such losses not only threaten food security but also exacerbate the economic instability of marginal farming households,” said Sanjeev Chopra, Chairperson, FEED. Geographically, paddy fields in northern states can remain submerged for more than a week, destroying newly planted seedlings and forcing farmers to wait for waters to recede so they can replant. On the other hand, scant rainfall can delay the planting of rice, corn, cotton, soybeans, groundnuts, and pulses in states including Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, and West Bengal.

One of the critical insights from the report is the inadequacy of current adaptation strategies. Only 30% of marginal farmers have access to crop insurance, and a mere 25% receive timely financial credit.

This highlights the need for improved access to financial credit, crop insurance, and advanced technological resources. It also emphasizes the benefits of Direct Benefit Transfers (DBTs) and the importance of irrigation facilities in enhancing resilience against climate shocks.

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