Representative Image
Representative Image

Climate change is likely to affect agricultural productivity in Maharashtra, especially in four major crops - soybean, cotton, wheat and gram, according to a report.

Maharashtra faces an increasing risk from climate change that is likely to impact the production of the four crops grown in the state, according to a report by a global not-for-profit organisation Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC).

The report, titled 'Climate Change Impacts on Maharashtra Agriculture', has examined week-wise 30-year averages of years 1989-2018 and predicted rainfall and temperature data for years 2021-50 for eight districts across Khandesh, Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of the state.

ISC Associate Director (Water and Agriculture Program) Romit Sen said the report maps climate modelling and projections (both historical and futuristic) with crop phenology coupled with community-based participatory assessments.

The analysis maps the parameters at a much granular weekly scale to weave a comprehensive understanding on the likely impacts of climate change on each of the crops and the farmers, Sen added.

"Climate analysis predicts mismatch in rainfall and temperature patterns with crop phenology across the monsoon (kharif) and winter (rabi) season," Sen said.

The report further showed that the late onset of monsoon and intermittent dry and wet spells have impacted the germination of soybean and cotton.

Excess rainfall during the mid-kharif season will lead to an increase in fungal diseases, weeds and pests.

This is likely to impact the production of pods in soybean and boll formation in cotton, it noted.

Additionally, it stated that waterlogged soils and humid conditions will promote rot, leading to a loss of soil nutrients and fertilisers from the soil.

The overall impact of excessive rainfall during the fruit formation and maturity stage for both the kharif crops - soybean and cotton - will affect the yield and quality of the produce, it noted.

Further, it said the biggest challenge for wheat cultivation in the years to come is high temperatures at the time of grain ripening.

Grain weight goes down with a rise in temperature, and temperatures during grain filling are predicted to increase, it said.

Gram cultivation will see a sudden increase in temperatures during pod filling, causing pods to fill less, it added.

ISC Country Director (India) Vivek P Adhia said, "There is very little, or almost no rainfall predicted for the rabi season, making the crops entirely dependent on irrigation. With groundwater being the major source of irrigation, the pressure on it will increase." Adhia added that reducing the impacts of changing climate on agriculture will require integrating those in informing farming decisions, improving quality of inputs, enhancing knowledge on better cultivation practices, and adoption of better management practices for resource conservation.

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