Impact of global warming on India’s agriculture

In the twenty first century, global warming has become an issue of high concern among most countries in the world.  Not even a single day is passed without hearing news such as farmers committing suicide because of meteorological drought or people being displaced by flood or heavy rainfall in a particular region. These natural disasters are the consequences of the global warming which is relentlessly affecting the climate of most countries. Its regressive impacts are relatively more on the countries that are significantly dependent on agriculture for economic development and those that are technologically less developed in comparison to the other countries (Asian Development Bank 2014). In this category, India is among those countries that are continuously exposed to the threat posed by the change in climatic conditions.

Changing climate patterns and crop yield in India

About 65% population of India depends upon the agriculture for subsistence and it claims 22% share in India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Tyagi 2012). One of the main features of the Indian agriculture is that it relies heavily upon the monsoons, as irrigation facilities are poor in most parts. Changes in climatic conditions severely affect the crops since increase in the temperature of the earth due to the anthropogenic activities modifies the precipitation pattern that results in decreased rainfall over all regions (Mccarl & Adams 2010). In addition to having an impact on rainfall pattern, these conditions also affect yield, growth rates, soil moisture and water use pattern. Furthermore, higher levels of CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere causes the change in transpiration rules and crop diversity. For instance, 75 ppm increase in CO2 will result in an increase of rice yield by 0.5 h/a, but yield will decrease by 0.6 t/ha for every 1o C increase in temperature (Mccarl & Adams 2010).

Different and varied impacts on India’s agriculture productivity can be seen in different parts of India. Rising temperature will result in higher rainfall in semi arid regions such as Gujarat, Maharashtra while areas that falls in the central regions will experience 10% to 20% decrease in the rainfall which will adversely affect the crop production in these regions (Srivastava 2012).

Wheat and Rice is affected the most

Wheat and rice are majorly affected by the variation in temperature of the climate. India is the world’s largest producer of wheat (Srivastava 2012). 10 C rise in the temperature in the states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab can decrease the wheat yield significantly. In 2003-04, when night time temperature was recorded at 30 C significantly above the normal in Haryana, wheat production came down to 3937 kg/ha from 4107kg/ha (Rannuzi, Srivastava, 2012). The areas under different crop production has also been significantly decreased over the years due to the contractionary effect of climate change. For instance, area under Ragi cultivation was 1779 thousand hectares in 2003-04 which has massively decreased to 1258 thousand hectares in 2010-11(Jeyalakshmi et al. 2013).

Food security concerns

Climate change due to global warming has become one of the crucial causes of concern over food security to support the Indian population. India, being one of the countries for having world’s largest malnourished children and women, stands to be heavily impacted by climate change in many dimensions. Although efforts are being made in this direction but a lot needs to be done by adopting pragmatic policy measures so that India could achieve unique and dignified place in international arena.


Deepak Kumar

Deepak Kumar

Research analyst at Project Guru
Deepak is a policy analyst, columnist and commentator on India’s multilateral policies. He writes on the issues of global importance for various newspapers and international news services such as “Project Syndicate”. Training from Research and Information System for Developing Countries, Policy Research body under Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India is another credential that Deepak has as one of his academic backgrounds. In addition to it, he is also a member of G20 Task Team on South-South Cooperation, a framework of United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).
Deepak Kumar

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