Agriculture & climate change

Examine impact of agriculture on climate change. Also examine how reducing food waste could help mitigate climate change.

Agriculture is said to be a major driver of climate change because of following reasons:
  1. It accounts for 13% of total green house emissions currently.
  2. More CO2 emissions on account of deforestation for agricultural purpose. Eg: Jhum cultivation in India.
  3. Methane emissions from rice cultivation.
  4. Enteric fermentation from Animals causes methane emissions.
  5. Nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizer use.
Reducing food wastage would help mitigate climate change in following ways:
  1. Food production requires intensive inputs and the processes cause GHG emissions and if food does not reach plates, these emissions are without any substantive output. With population set to rise 10 billion by 2050 the need for food is set to rise and thus stopping food wastage would reduce GHG emissions.
  2. Animal based food causes more GHG emissions and changing dietary practices towards protein based food in developing countries without any effort to reduce food wastage will further increase GHG emissions and ths it is prudent to stop food wastage from not only economic point of view but also ecological point of of view.
There is need to reform food distribution system across countries. India can do its part by efficient supply chain management, promotion of Food processing industry, APMC reforms etc.
How does climate change impact agriculture?
  • Climate change would impact soil health, with increasing surface temperatures leading to higher CO emissions and reducing natural nitrogen availability.
  • Mitigating this by increasing chemical fertilizer usage could impact long-term soil fertility, leaving the soil open to greater erosion and desertification.
  • Meanwhile, migration patterns, farmer suicides and stagnating rural incomes, along with increasingly ad hoc land acquisition in the name of public goods, have politicised the idea of climate mitigation.
  • Marginal farmland will increasingly be useless for agriculture.
  • Our regional crop patterns assume a specific range of weather variability, failing to cope with the recent high periods of heavy rainfall with long dry intervals.
  • India’s flood-affected area has doubled since Independence, despite generous state spending on flood protection schemes.
  • Climate change will impact the entire food production chain, affecting our food security.
  • Livestock production, often considered to be a substitute to farming for marginal farmers, would face reduced fodder supplies given a decline in crop area or production
  • Research has highlighted the deleterious impact of climate change on crop production.



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