Climate change has become a major concern for ensuring food security globally, more so in developing countries like India, where agriculture is heavily dependent on monsoons. Significant impacts of climate change and variability on agriculture sector are already evident in many tropical countries including India. Despite the deployment of many drought proofing technologies, the drought of 2015 has sharply brought down the food production in India by nearly 10 million tonnes. Unseasonal rainfall, floods, hail storms and heat waves are taking a heavy toll on Indian agriculture and horticulture sectors, affecting the livelihoods of millions of small holders. The situation is no different in many other developing countries where small farmers do not have adequate capacity to cope with such events.
Climate change impacts agriculture directly by reducing crop yields due to variation in temperature and rainfall and indirectly through impacts on natural resources like soil and water. Heavy rainfall events in a short period cause erosion of top soil resulting in loss of soil carbon. Warming of atmosphere results in higher evapo transpiration and increased water requirement for agriculture crops. When the rainfall is deficient, the dams and reservoirs do not get filled up, and even irrigated agriculture is threatened. Pest and disease incidences are likely to increase with elevated temperatures, carbon dioxide and heavy rainfall events. Modelling studies in India on rice and wheat indicated that yield losses up to 6 to 10 per cent could occur due to projected warming by 2030, and in the long term the losses could be much higher. Similarly water availability for agriculture is expected to be significantly affected by climate change.
Agriculture is one of the most vulnerable sectors to climate change. It also contributes to global warming through emission of GHGs. In India, 18 per cent of the total emissions are from agriculture, bulk of which is from enteric fermentation (58%) followed by nitrogen (21%) and paddy cultivation (18%), according to the biennial report of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (2016). Therefore adaptation of crop, horticulture and livestock sectors to changing climate and mitigation of greenhouse gases are urgently required not only to ensure national food security but also to contribute to global efforts of reducing emissions.
The recently concluded Paris agreement signed by 192 countries has mandated the conference of parties to take up concrete steps towards reducing green house gas emissions so that the global warming can be limited and adverse effects on agriculture are minimized in order to attain the millennium development goals (MDGs). This seminar therefore will bring together the global experience on understanding the impacts of climate change on agriculture and water sectors, cataloguing promising technologies for adaptation and mitigation and identifying areas for future research and collaboration.