Global warming may be discussed at climate conferences, but manifests itself in Indian households by affecting food prices, which are swayed by agricultural production. Last year, rising temperatures hit India earlier than expected in March, but now the heat has arrived even before February's last week. The weather watchdog Indian Meteorological Department has warned that this might damage this year's wheat crop, at a time when the government is battling inflation.
Retail inflation, which is driven by food prices, has already surged beyond 6 per cent after remaining below that level for two months. The government is already selling wheat on the open market to bring down prices of the rabi crop, which is essential for kitchens across India. Days are set to be warmer by three to five degrees celsius than normal, and the IMD has asked farmers to keep an eye for the yellow rust disease it may cause.
Wheat shortage had triggered a 15 per cent price rise in Januart 2023, before the government decided to auction it on the open market. But another blow to production could further hamper the measures to tackle inflation in the crop needed for flour in day to day life. Apart from households, the FMCG sector will also be affected by the impacy of climate change on wheat production.
The shortfall also makes it additionally difficult for the government to procure wheat at lower rates, since farmers get record prices from private players. Last year it had also forced the government to replace wheat with rice for foodgrain distribution scheme in 11 states.
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