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The Effects of Environmental Degradation on Indian Agriculture




  • India being an agrarian country heavily relies on the agriculture sector even today for its sustenance and progress. With recent environmental problems such as global warming and pollution speeding to its peak India is at the verge of facing a collapse as a nation.

    There are certain key features of these changes that is adversely affecting the agricultural society of India.

    The prime among them has to be the imbalance in the distribution pattern of rainfall. With high intensification of rainfall coupled with its short stay the crop cultivation cycle is heavily affected by this. As per a recently published report by the Ministry of Agriculture of India the intensity and distribution of rainfall and cyclone both are likely to be increased in the near future with number of days of rainfall estimated to be lessen at least by 15 days both during monsoon/non-monsoon period. This will for obvious reasons result in an imbalance in the distribution of rainfall and crop production. India stands on quite a vulnerable note with majority of its farmers being small or marginal, i.e. with less or equal to 1 ha of lands. Thus they are more prone to get swiped away by the climatic changes as they do not have the required provisions to cope with it.

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    There are certain key characteristics of Indian agriculture that makes it vulnerable to climatic changes. High dependence on monsoon has to be prime among them with areas such as Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh which are low in rainfall-distribution chart suffering heavily if the reserved quota of rainfall sometimes chooses to give a miss to these regions. Frequent occurrence of droughts adds up to the already existed problems faced by the marginal and small farmers of these regions with each of their effort going simply in vain with minimal or even zero productivity in certain years. Other areas such as Bihar suffer from intensification of rainfall resulting into floods almost every year. The crop cycle gets disturbed because of such climatic extremities and most of the farmers in India are left with minimal options to cope with such situations.

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    With the next few decades of climate change are likely to bring benefits to higher latitudes through longer growing seasons, but in lower latitudes, even small amounts of warming will tend to decrease yields” – One of the reports from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reads.

    The situation of farmers might get affected in other ways as well. The continuous climatic changes will increase the risk of new diseases which the cattle and livestock, which also plays a significant role in the crop production, might get affected with. For example, poultry, one of the most preferred livestock is high on probability to get affected by excessive heat or rainfall. What really is the need is a knowledge-intensive rather than inputs-intensive approach for farmers for the development of sustainable adaptation strategies.

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    Thinking of such a situation indeed creates a shudder inside, doesn’t it…?? I mean think of this guys that farmers who form the base of our nation, and our economy to be more precise, suffers the worst in our country. The worst part is that it is not their deeds which have lead to their downfall but it is us, the so called “enlightened” and a more civilized class  who are exclusively responsible for this. Brimming with ambitions to climb up the social ladder we are not hesitant to stoop to the lowest extent possible. In the process we completely ignore that by doing so we are not only damaging the environment around us but also those who are continuously rearing it – the farmers. Both the environment and farmers in literal and metaphorical way form the base of sustenance for us but it is them whom we completely ignore.

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    The recent cases of farmers suicide and frequent occurrences of floods and droughts in areas such as Bihar, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and parts of Assam and West Bengal are the perfect examples that reminds us that we must stop exploiting nature on an immediate note. The frequent occurrences of such incidents is nothing but the degradation of the earth on a continuous basis. Over abundance of rainfall causes the water bodies to overflow. While sweeping through several lands, towns, and cities this wild reckless flow of water washes through the top layer of the soil along with it. And as we all know the top layer of the soil is the most rich in nutrients required for the cultivation of crops. Weathering away of the top layer is a great loss for the farmers, especially in the regions of Bihar where farming forms the prime occupation for majority of the population. Bihar experience floods almost every year yet less has been done to curb this problem. This is one of the main reason why the state till date lags behind in almost everything in the national scenario since little is being done to promote or upgrade the main source of livelihood in the region. Repeated incidents of droughts year after year especially in the regions such as Gujarat, and Rajasthan gradually leads to the loss of nutrients, humus to be precise, leaving the land barren for ever. Repeated occurrence of droughts at a particular point for 5-6 years in a row dries up the soil to the deep leaving it of no use. And such areas actually exist in our country which have received no rainfall probably for over 8-10 years in a row.

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    Lack of knowledge and precautionary measures is yet another cause due to which the environmental degradation is able to adversely affect the agriculture to such a great extent. Though the recent initiatives by the India government such as establishments of Kisaan Call Center which provides free service 24*7 to the farmers regarding seeds, crop cultivation, organic farming, pesticides, crop rotation and crop cycle – all of which form the basic of the farming activity.

    These call centers lead by qualified and active figures in the agriculture field also provides precise information regarding the correct use of technology. Regular field visits by the engineers and experts are also generated in by the government free of cost. The initiation of Kisan Credit Cards are yet another significant contribution that our government has made to help the farmers with quick financial aids.

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