Climate Adaptation and Resilience
The south-west monsoon has finally left the Indian coast after bringing with it disturbing trends, a worrying development for India to say the least. For instance, although the total amount of rainfall in the country was just short of the normal mark, some regions received eight per cent excess rainfall while in some regions the deficit stood at 18 per cent. Among the states, Uttarakhand and Punjab received excess rainfall, while Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Karnataka faced drought-like situations. The Northeastern region also received limited rainfall this monsoon. The overall rainfall graph also varied between the monsoon months. While in June and August, the rainfall deficits were 9 and 36 per cent respectively, the country received excess rainfall in the months of July and September. In fact, such changes in the rainfall pattern made a mockery of the forecast of normal monsoons as weather experts never predicted such diverse rainfall.
Of late, it has become common to describe even minor changes in the weather as the fall out of global warming. But we must realise that we can’t escape the wrath of nature by simply blaming climate change; rather we have to make effective strategies to adapt and become more resilient to the change in weather. This is necessary especially for a country like India, where the livelihoods of many people are linked with the monsoon. In India, the monsoon season lasts for four months, between June to September. Major agricultural activities take place in the country during these four months. If the monsoon continues with the trend that it had shown this year, farmers will certainly have to rethink the time to start cultivation. This year too, paddy cultivation was badly hampered due to lack of rain in June. To cope with the threat of reduced food grain production, the government had imposed a ban on the export of rice, wheat and sugar, although the decision affected foreign trade and bilateral relations. Similarly, this August was one of the driest as it had recorded 36 per cent deficit rainfall. As a result, seeds did not grow at expected rates and thus put a question mark on the quality of food grains.
Henceforth, we must consider the uneven pattern of this year’s monsoon as a normal occurrence and start working to adapt effectively with the changing climate. Maximum importance must be attached to rainwater harvesting along with increasing irrigation capacity to ensure smooth farming activities even amidst rainfall deficit. Changes in farming schedule can also be considered without harming the production of other crops. Moreover, banning food grain exports is not a feasible option as such decisions put pressure on the country’s foreign exchange reserve. The country and its farmers have to adapt to these new practices as the global warming menace cannot be defeated overnight. To win this prolonged battle, flexible plans must be developed to checkmate the threat of adversity, lest erratic monsoons become a grave threat to human civilisation.