India has always been an agricultural society, with farmers being at the forefront of its economy. The agricultural sector of India is the primary source of livelihood for a large chunk of the population. It contributes to almost 18% of the country’s GDP and employs over 50% of the workforce. India’s geography and climate changes significantly depending on the region, with the southern regions experiencing tropical weather, and the northern regions being colder. However, these regions, regardless of location, experience seasonal changes, with the monsoon playing a vital role in the success of the harvests.
This year, the Indian agricultural sector could face a new challenge that could significantly affect its yields. The El Nino phenomenon, which occurs every few years, brings with it a range of weather disturbances that could impact the harvests of crops like rice, wheat, sugarcane, and pulses, among others. El Nino is a weather phenomenon triggered by the warming of sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. Under the effect of El Nino, the Indian monsoon that irrigates India’s fertile farmlands is either weakened or delayed, leading to a decline in rainfall in various parts of the country, which ultimately impacts the crop yield.
One of the most crucial impacts of reduced rainfall in the agriculture sector of India is that it leads to low soil moisture, which directly affects crop production. With low soil moisture, the crops require additional irrigation to sustain themselves, which puts additional financial burdens on farmers. Low soil moisture also makes crops more susceptible to pests and diseases, which can decimate a farmer’s yield.
The El Nino phenomenon could also impact the Indian economy, as agriculture is a critical contributor to it, and a decline in productivity would be directly linked to a fall in GDP. The dip in agricultural productivity would also lead to market instabilities caused by the gap between supply and demand, which could lead to a hike in food prices, which directly impact the consumer.
India is known for being the second-largest producer of rice in the world, and with the El Nino phenomenon looming over the country, the production of rice could be severely impacted. Rice is a crop that requires a lot of water and is grown mainly in the eastern and southern parts of the country. A lull in the monsoons could lead to a shortage of water, directly impacting the country’s rice cultivation. This would make importing rice from other countries necessary, which puts a strain on the economy and creates a ripple effect across the agriculture sector.
Agriculture in India is heavily reliant on the monsoon season, which typically spans from June to September. A delay or a dip in rainfall could have lasting effects that impact the entire economy, making finding alternate solutions a priority. Most farmers in India rely on government subsidies for farming to make their crops more resilient against natural disasters like El Nino. This could lead to a strain on the government’s resources, which is already overwhelmed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Another significant effect of the El Nino phenomenon on the agriculture sector is its impact on soil health. Soil degradation is a long-lasting effect of El Nino, as the reduced monsoon can accelerate soil erosion, leaving a barren and infertile soil behind. In turn, this leads to poor yields and could exacerbate food insecurity in a country that already faces many hurdles in addressing the issue.
The heat waves that come with El Nino could lead to crops drying up faster, impacting their quality even more. Crops like wheat, which are cultivated primarily in the northern regions of India, require cooler temperatures, and a lull in monsoon season, accompanied by heat waves, would create an inhospitable environment for these crops.
Finally, the El Nino phenomenon could also impact the income of farmers, with lower yields mean lower income from their crops. This would create financial burdens for farmers, who would have to deal with high-priced inputs like seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, and also have to cope with the lost income from lower yields.
In conclusion, it is apparent that the El Nino phenomenon could cause significant disruptions in the Indian agricultural sector, leading to lower crop yields, higher food prices, and market instabilities. The only way for the Indian agricultural sector to cope with the effects of El Nino is by employing alternate measures to ensure that crops are resilient to the challenges posed by erratic weather patterns. This would require government and farmer cooperation towards finding sustainable solutions to mitigate the impact of El Nino on the country’s agriculture sector. Otherwise, the impact of the El Nino phenomenon could be devastating to a country that heavily relies on agriculture for its livelihood.