Climate change does not act in isolation. It compounds the effects beyond the human-created territory and boundaries and makes it tremendously complex and difficult to manage. Every act on climate change, directly or indirectly, impacts the food system badly. It is observed, that 2021 was one of the costliest years on record for climate-related disasters. Every time there is a drought, flood, or storm reported across the globe crippling agriculture, devastating livelihoods, food insecurity, and forcing people out of their homes is the first action.
Rising threat to India’s Food Security
India is primarily an agricultural driven nation. The impact of climate change is significantly greater and it’s ripple effects touches the whole food supply chain system. The temperature in some north Indian states reached 49 degrees Celsius during summer, making it one of the warmest places in recent time. 65 million people are in danger of starvation as a result of climate change, with 17 million people in India suffering famine by 2030, the most among all nations. Global Food Policy Report, 2022 goes on to say that even if global food production increases by 60% by 2050, 50 crore Indians will still be at risk of falling hungry. Seven crores of these 50 crore individuals would be hungry as a result of climate change.
These patterns are in line with findings from the latest assessment report (February 2022) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which issued grave warnings that climate change is already causing dangerous and widespread disruption across the globe. The climate crisis is outpacing the capabilities of governments and the international aid system to respond to escalating basic humanitarian needs. We are under-investing in climate action, and as a result, now it is no more a future generation issue; It is a current issue, and we are facing it across the globe in isolation now. Failure to realize the most severe threat in both medium-term (2 to 5 years) and long-term (5 – 10 years) can lead to unrecoverable losses. The environmental risks made up half of the top ten identified risks for the next decade, with extreme weather and biodiversity ranked second and third respectively.
Over 40% of the present global pollution already lives in places that are highly vulnerable to climate impacts. This means climate change can disrupt food availability and reduce access to food as well. Let me give you a simple example. An increase in temperature changes in precipitation patterns, changes in extreme weather events, and a reduction in water availability may all result in reducing food productivity and supply. This results in a spike in food prices.
An increase in food consumption as the world population has increased from 1 billion in 1800 to 7.9 billion today and is expected to be 8.5 billion by 2030 will drive food insecurity for sure. It is to be noted that the most populated cities are at the highest risk. Hand of the world’s population lives in cities. The impact of climate change does not distinguish between poor and rich. But low-income group people are hurt most. Neither they understand what is happening and why it is happening nor they have the economical strength to safeguard their lives. Sometimes these impacts cause irreversible damage.
“Higher temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, sea-level rise, and growing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, extreme heat, and cyclones are already reducing agricultural productivity, disrupting food supply chains, and displacing communities,” the report noted.
India’s recent ban on wheat export stands as a witness to the spiral effect of the heatwaves. Indian government notification on May 13, 2022 stated that India would suspend overseas sales of wheat to manage its food security. The price of wheat is already high due to the war between Russia and Ukraine. Even India’s move on wheat ban has been heavily criticized by the agriculture ministers of G-7 nations.
However, solutions are too available if we choose to adopt them along with active financial and political commitments. However, several countries are working on this space for sustainable solutions. We have to act fast before we run out of options. Several data points can be documented here but the idea was to let you know the topic and it is serious. The world is well connected with information technology now it matters of time when you, yes you need to put some effort to find out what’s going on around us and how you, your family, your neighbors, your locality, your city, your state and our country is working on this area.
Watching a cricket match or movie for 2 hours might now help you much but your 15 minutes of attention on the climate change topic can help you act responsibly. And in reverse, it will have a repulsive effect on your home, your location, your city, your state, and your country.