Impacts of climate change on growth and yield of rice and wheat in the Upper Ganga Basin – A study by Indian Agricultural Research Institute

This study by Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), commissioned by WWF-India focuses on the impacts of climate change on the rice and wheat production system in the Upper Ganga Basin.

CoverThis report presents the results based on climate change scenarios and identifies potential adaptation strategies. The study is part of the ‘Climate Change Impacts on Freshwater Ecosystems in the Himalayas’ (CCIFEH) project, a joint initiative of WWF-India and WWF-Nepal, supported by WWF-Netherlands and aims to study and understand climate change impacts on freshwater ecosystems, livelihoods and the economy.

Change in climate conditions and the frequency of natural disasters in recent times has made it imperative to find lasting adaptation solutions for the agriculture sector. Given that almost 60 per cent of the country’s population relies on this sector for its livelihood and that it contributes approximately 15.7 per cent of India’s GDP, an analysis of changes which could impact crop yields and subsequently lead to an instable food security scenario is necessary.

Owing to the substantial dependence on the south-west monsoon, agriculture in India is considered to be quite sensitive to the ongoing and projected changes in climate parameters. Given the rise of global average surface temperatures by 0.74°C in the last 100 years, efficient management of the agricultural sector using appropriate adaptation strategies has become a necessity.

The study also identifies potential adaptation strategies for the agriculture sector to cope with the projected impacts in this region. This research uses the InfoCrop model to make projections of yield and growth change of these two crops based on climate projections in 2070-2100.

The results indicate that climate change is projected to increase the temperature more in the A2 scenario than in the B2 scenario and the projected increase is relatively higher during the Rabi rather than in the kharif season.

Adaptation options such as growing improved varieties, efficient irrigation, fertiliser management and application of additional nitrogen can reduce the impacts of climate change on rice and wheat crops in the region. Improved crop management, as well as, better risk management through an early warning system and crop insurance policies can also be beneficial measures to reduce the vulnerability of the farmers.

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