Climate change: Challenges for Food Security
Authors: Dr Ravindra Singh Shekhawat and Neelam Shekhawat

Kautilya” the wise minister of King Chandragupta Morya said that “Stability of an empire depend on the stability of its environment.” In other words he emphasized the concept of sustainable development i.e. proper use of natural resources for continuous development to satisfy human needs without damaging the environment and misusing natural resources. As Russia faces summer heat wave, this lost millions of acres of wheat and thousand of lives worse than in the historical record as well as deluge in Pakistan that has upended the lives of 20 millions people. Seemingly disconnected, these far flung disasters are reviving the question of whether global warming is causing more extreme. The collective answer of the scientific community can be boiled to a single word is that “climate is changing.” Thermometer measurement shows that we are on threshold of crossing 2°C temperature rise over preindustrial period (before 1850) as soon as the conc. of carbon dioxide in the environment exceeds 400 ppm, which is at present 380 ppm. More significant fallout of the global warming is changes in climatic pattern leading to irregular rainfall, droughts, flood cyclones and ultimate damage to agriculture. In India rainfall received due to cloud burst in Leh on a single day is higher than the highest in Cherrapunji and this is an area which was not known for even decent seasonal rainfall, was a definite sign of the impact of climate changing having on a country. Blame of changing climate are go to enhanced emission of green house gases such as carbon di oxide, methane, HFC, perflur°Carbon, sulphar hexafluoride in the environment leads to rise in the temperature. The changing climate is likely to put stress on crops and livest°Ck alike and cause serious food shortage for half of the world population. Climate change will affect all four dimensions of food security, food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food systems stability. People who are already vulnerable and food insecure are likely to be the first affected.

Agriculture-based livelihood systems that are already vulnerable to food insecurity face immediate risk of increased crop failure, new patterns of pests and diseases, lack of appropriate seeds and planting material, and loss of livest°Ck. Sinha and Swaminathan (1991) showed that an increase of 2°C in temperature could decrease the rice yield by about 0.75 ton/ha in the high yield areas, and a 0.5°C increase in winter temperature would reduce wheat yield by 0.45 ton/ha. Increased temperatures will also impact on the total duration of a crop cycle by inducing early flowering, thus shortening the `grain fill’ period, due to this the lower the yield per unit area. Increase in temperatures will result in shifts of lower altitude tropical and subtropical forests to higher altitude temperate forest regions, resulting in the extinction of some temperate vegetation types. The Researcher urged investment in development of crop varieties that can withstand higher heat. It means heat tolerance. Though climate change may benefit agriculture and food production somewhat in a small number of places, overwhelmingly the reports coming out on increasing temperatures, °Cean acidification, and changing precipitation patterns show that in the vast majority of places the impact will be negative. So according to FAO (food and agriculture organization) impact of climate change can be minimized only by proper monitoring of all the four element of food security through managing uncertainty and new risk, protecting l°Cal food supplies, management of risk specific to different ecosystem as marine, coastal, inland water and floodplain. It must be research and dissemination of crop varieties and breeds adapted to changing climate condition, introducing tree crops to provide food, fodder and energy and enhance cash incomes. And it will be necessary that use of more energy-efficient technologies by agro-industries, protecting ecosystems through provision of such environmental services as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) carbon sink tree plantings, watershed protection, prevention of land degradation ,protection of coastal areas from cyclones and other coastal hazards, preservation of mangroves and their contribution to coastal. So in this way climate change is a burning issue and it will be necessary to adapted for it to get food security.


1. The Hindu, news paper
2. Economical and Political, weekly Oct.2007
3. Journal of Agricultural Economics, Jan-march,1999
4. FAO report 2008

About Author / Additional Info:
I am currently working as Scientist, Division of Forecasting and Agriculture System modeling at ICAR-IASRI, New Delhi.