Acute Food Scarcity By 2020 Warn Reports

An international and national report both warn that climate change and current policies could lead to acute food scarcity by 2020Levels of CO2 will reach 410 ppm by 2010 based on the current increase rate of 0.5% per year. This level of greenhouse gas concentration equals a 2.5 degrees Celsius increase in global temperature. The Advisory Group of Greenhouse Gases said in 1986 that an increase of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times would be dangerous.

A study by the Universal Ecological Fund warns that at the current rate, the earth will be 2.4 degrees Celsius warmer by 2020 and this could adversely affect food production.

The report, ‘The Food Gap — The Impacts of Climate Change on Food Production: A 2020 Perspective’, says that the overall impact of a warmer planet will be massive. Yields in India, the second biggest producer of rice and wheat, will fall by 30% by the end of this decade. Top producers of four crops — wheat, rice, soy and maize — will be hardest hit.

The report also projects a mismatch in global production and consumption in the coming years. There will be a 14% deficit between demand and supply of wheat, 11% deficit in rice, and 9% deficit in maize or corn. Only soybean will be a winner, with a 5% surplus.

The report comes at a time when the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) projects that India will require its agricultural output to grow if it is to meet the demands of the next decade.

There has to be a growth of 30% in rice and cereal production, 140% in pulses and 243% in oilseeds to feed a burgeoning Indian population in the next 10 years, delegates to the India International Crop Summit, held in Bhubaneswar on January 10-11, 2011, heard. “India needs to prepare itself in advance as acute foodgrain scarcity is likely by 2020,” said Swapan K Dutta, Deputy Director General (crops), ICAR.

Both agricultural output and land for agriculture are shrinking. In 2009, India produced 100 million tonnes of rice and 80 million tonnes of wheat. By 2020, it will require 130 million tonnes of rice and 110 million tonnes of wheat. But the projections are that yields will actually fall by 2020 — 15% for rice and 34% for wheat — due to drought, salinity and submergence, if these issues are not addressed.

ICAR reports that a 2 degree Celsius increase in temperature and a 7 degree Celsius decline in rainfall will mean that net agriculture revenue could fall by 12.3%.

Cultivable land in the country has remained a static 140 million hectares, Dutta added.

According to a report released at the summit by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, organiser of the summit, and YES Bank, India needs to raise its foodgrain production by 2% a year to keep pace with demand. By the end of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan, agriculture should grow at 4% as opposed to the current 2% to avert a crisis in the agrarian sector, the report says.


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