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04.08.2016

Agriculture 115 Indian areas most exposed to the risk of climate change

As floods ravage eastern and northern India, agriculture in 115 districts across 15  states is "highly vulnerable" to climate change.
Agriculture 115 Indian areas most exposed to the risk of climate change
The first to analyse 38 meteorological, agricultural and social data across all of India's 572 rural districts, the study creates a climate vulnerability index for agriculture, divided into five categories of vulnerability: Very high, high, moderate, low and very low.

The vulnerability index has already been used by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research to demonstrate climate-resilient agricultural practices in 121 of either the "very high" or "high" vulnerability districts identified by the study, its co-author, Alok K. Sikka, India's representative and principal researcher at New Delhi's International Water Management Institute, told IndiaSpend.

While the study is possibly the most comprehensive yet, independent observers said it may yet be inadequate to inform local decision-making on climate change.
Most of the "very highly vulnerable" districts come from India's western and peninsular regions. Rajasthan has 25 "highly vulnerable" districts, the most in this category nationwide. Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar also exhibit "very high" and "high" vulnerability, the study said.

Least vulnerable to climate change are districts along India's west coast, northern Andhra Pradesh and the northeastern states. Assam has the highest number of districts, 13.

Adaptation indicators included workforce in agriculture, literacy, gender gap, rural electrification and paved roads. The index furthers research into India's climate-change vulnerability, at a time when, as IndiaSpend reported in April 2015, extreme rainfall events in central India.
This is not the first time scientists have tried to compute Indian agriculture's vulnerability to climate change, but these have been localised.
The vulnerability index paper is the result of a 2011 central government programme called Nicra (National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture), which enables research partnerships between 40 ICAR institutes in various agricultural sub-sectors, such as field crops, horticultural crops, livestock, and fisheries.

The vulnerability index may have its flaws, but it is possibly the only tool currently available to assess Indian agriculture's susceptibility to changing climate. How it will be used to make a difference to farmers so affected is another matter.


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