Can India tame the impending El Niño?

Agriculture is vital to the economy of India as it provides our basic needs and is the largest employer in India. With agriculture dependent on natural resources such as soil, water, air and sunlight, even slight changes in the weather can affect farmers’ livelihoods and the livelihood of the entire nation. Let us examine whether El Niño, a weather phenomenon that occurs every 4 to 7 years, can be a concern for Indian agriculture and availability of food grains this year.

Predictions for 2023

The Global Meteorological Department predicted a 90 percent chance of a La Niña event from January to March in 2023. This prediction came true when India experienced record precipitation in March. Next, the dual monsoon task prediction system predicted a 50-50 chance of an El Niño event From July to September, coinciding with the monsoon season in India.

Also read: The Food and Agriculture Organization says El Niño could affect production of maize, soybeans and rice in India

expected effect

the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) He reassured that even if El Niño does occur, it may not necessarily cause significant damage to agriculture. The IMD projects that precipitation may remain at 94-96 percent of the long-period average with a margin of error of +/- 5 percent. “Most likely, the El Niño will be of mild to moderate intensity,” the Institute for Climate Change Studies stated.

It is also important to note this Not all El Niño events result in the loss of the monsoon. For example, 1997 saw the strongest El Niño to date, but it did not affect the monsoon.

Moreover, experts at the Ministry of Earth Sciences believe that although El Niño conditions are imminent, there are factors that may mitigate their impact. The monsoon starts in June and ends in September, El Niño is likely to take hold from late August to September (according to IMD), and more than 50 percent of the rains will remain unaffected. Thanks to many tips from the government, Farmers also know that El Niño is expectedIt is likely that they will resort to early sowing, which will allow a greater part of the crop yield to ripen under normal weather conditions. This means lower-than-usual Khareef crops will depend heavily on monsoon rains for irrigation, helping the Indian economy.

In addition, a “positive” phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) with warmer temperatures in the Arabian Sea is also expected in the same months, assuring us of an increase in precipitation.

Finally, IMD also highlighted that reduced snow cover in Eurasia in February and March could offset the effect of El Niño on the monsoons. Therefore, it is believed that El Niño will result in significant shortages In misplaced precipitation.

current scenario

India’s food grain reserves, consisting of rice, wheat and coarse grains, could be a lifesaver in mitigating the potential impact of El Niño on food availability. According to the latest data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, there are nearly 159 thousand tons of wheat and 104 thousand tons of rice in stock exceeding the requirements of buffer standards of 138 thousand tons and 76 tons respectively. These ample reserves ensure a stable supply of food grains and can effectively reduce the risk of food shortages during potential agricultural challenges posed by El Niño.

To prepare for what might follow this year, even if the probability is low – IMD is set to provide agrometeorological advisory services and forecasts to more than 700 districts across India, considering various rainfall scenarios. These forecasts will be disseminated by Krishi Vigyan Kendras, to provide guidance to farmers and stakeholders.

Also read: Sugar prices rose to an 11-year high amid supply concerns and El Nino concerns

What can we do

To reduce crop losses Facing climate challenges Like El Nino, implementing effective water management techniques, such as conserving soil moisture and diversifying crops, can be critical for farmers. Since the rain is expected to concentrate in a few days, water harvesting would be the best course. Techniques such as contour dams, gully plugs, and nala dams are ancient systems that have been used effectively for generations. In addition, it would be wise to plant drought-tolerant varieties of crops, such as millet, sorghum, cowpea, green gram, etc.

Urban residents can contribute by taking measures to reduce electricity and water consumption, using shared cars, and using public transportation to reduce pollution and mitigate the impact of climate change.

While El Niño may or may not cause temporary disruptions to agriculture, it is essential to remember that it is a natural climate pattern and is not directly related to climate change. Instead of focusing only on isolated weather events like El Niño, we need to tackle the larger problem of climate change that poses a threat to our planet. We must take proactive steps in our daily lives to protect the environment, rather than relying on short-term measures that may only last during the El Niño period. the The recent ban on exporting wheat With the heavy toll caused by climate change and the forecast for above-average heat waves to spread across the country serve as a stark reminder of the urgency to combat this global crisis. By prioritizing long-term solutions and taking action to combat climate change, we can create a sustainable future for agriculture in India and beyond, ensuring food security for future generations, rather than becoming overly concerned about temporary weather phenomena such as El Nino.

The author Founder and Director of Safex Chemicals Ltd.