There is a fresh need to formulate an effective framework which is holistic and balanced and includes multiple issues that touch local communities for addressing outmigration, joblessness, and changing demographics due to climate change.
The year, 2020, will be marked in history as the year of the Covid-19 pandemic, much like 1918 was the year of the Spanish flu a century ago. The year actually began on an optimistic note as world output was predicted to improve and the US-China trade tensions showed signs of resolution. And one daresay that despite the virus pushing the world into recession, 2020 ends too with optimism and hope as successful vaccine discoveries preview the pandemic’s end on the horizon. It does not, however, overlook the year’s distressful imprints, most notably on unemployment and inequality. The permanent damages inflicted by it will surface over time. The year challenged governments and people all over the world, opening their eyes to previous neglects.
J&K has surpassed the world average in temperature rise (for the last 100 years). As against the global increase of 0.8 to 0.9, the state has recorded a 1.2 degree Celsius rise in temperature. Seasonal air temperatures also show a rise in all seasons, which, according to experts, is a cause of concern.
The annual rainfall in the Himalayan region is likely to vary between 1268±225.2 and 1604±175.2 mm in the 2030s. Kashmir Valley-based environmentalists / agriculturalists believe that an abnormal rise in temperatures in particular can prove drastic for some of our native plants, increasing their sterility and hence lowering the overall production.
Irrigated rice, wheat and mustard production in J&K may be reduced by six per cent, four per cent and four per cent, respectively. The deficit in food production in the Kashmir region has reached 40 per cent, while the deficit is 30 per cent for vegetable production and 69 per cent for oilseed production.
Changes in climatic conditions are causing expansion of the normal range of pests leading to occurrence of more diseases in crops and ultimately resulting in the decreasing production of food crops.
In the last few years, because of climate change, there has been a dismal production of paddy every year, and farmers of many areas of the valley are adopting horticulture.
As a matter of fact, Kashmir, which used to produce sufficient agriculture produce like rice or wheat, is now meagrely producing these cereals and if the change of climate continues at the same pace, Kashmir will very soon be importing every bit of the food, which the people of Kashmir will consume from the neighbouring states.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) stated in 2016 that climate change is increasingly affecting nearly 80 per cent of the world’s poor who depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
The Jammu and Kashmir State Action Plan on Climate Change, a report prepared by the Climate Change Cell of the state government, has also warned that Kashmir is “heading for a peculiar climatic scenario with the net temperature going up”.
Climate change has disproportionately affected the production of the top crops in J&K. According to the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Government of Jammu and Kashmir’s Annual publication 2013-14, the output of rice, maize, wheat, barley, pulses and oilseeds has already started to dip in half. The deficit in production in the Kashmir division is mainly due to geographical and climatic conditions as most of the area is mono-cropped.
Foodgrain production in the state has more than trebled, since the year 1950-51, when the production was 4.53 lakh million tonnes. Despite such significant strides, the state still imports about 40 per cent and 20 per cent of its requirements of food grains and vegetables, respectively.
Saffron production in the state has a historical background and J&K is the only state in India to produce saffron for commercial purposes. Saffron production has decreased during the past two decades due to global climatic changes.
There is a real danger of loss of food security of more than 4 million people dwelling in the vulnerable karewa (table land) areas and enclaves like Uri, Gurez, Karnah, Drass, Leh and Kishtwar and Doda areas in case of failure of fruits and food grains.
It is concluded from the foregoing facts that the future climate and its impact could well trigger bloody wars fought over access to basic necessities like drinking water and food grains.
Looking at the present situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the figures in terms of production, area and yield rate are not satisfactory as the gap between deficit and requirement is increasing at an increasing rate which has gone up to 81 per cent against the current population growth.
The major causes of the decline of the top food grains in J&K are: land use changes, global warming, climate change / variability, reduced availability of water for irrigation affected by erratic rainfall, loss of soil moisture, degraded soil health, extreme drought events and shifts in the rainfall regime resulting into failure of crop germination and fruit set.
Climate refugees would face hostility from local residents and this could lead to conflict. Large scale migration and competition for food resources could become a serious security challenge. Climate change has made it clear that this change is happening largely because of human activity.
Certain measures are required to be taken to overcome this problem which include creation of laws; desilting, growing of pulses, millets and adoption of agroforestry.
•Improvement in agriculture and weather forecasting and awareness among farmers
•Use of best practices for water conservation like sprinkle irrigation
•Adoption of organic farming and reintroduction of non-polluting traditional methods
•Introduction of drought and pest-resistant crops
•Cultivation of wild edible plants/fruits
•Shifting of dependence on artificial fertilisers towards organic fertilisers like green manure, bio-manure, vermi-compost, compost etc
•Increased evaporation from the soil and accelerated transpiration in the plants themselves will cause moisture stress; as a result, there will be a need to develop crop varieties with greater drought tolerance.
The changing climate will create havoc in future if the same trend continues. With increasing water crisis, population explosion and climate change, the import of grains is going to be an uphill task in future and will further widen the already stressed fiscal deficit.
Dozens of colonies are coming up on agricultural land in different parts of the state. The law enforcement agencies, climate change groups need to curb the menace before the problem assumes horrendous proportions.
Action Plans formulated by the Government for Climate Change contain both adaptation & mitigation measures to cope with the climate change. The Action plan aims to develop, apply and diffuse technologies, practices and processes that control, reduce or prevent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases in all relevant sectors, including water, energy, transport, industry, agriculture, forestry, waste management and health sectors. It is recognized that such Action Plans cannot be implemented without the financial and other resource assistance from multilateral institutions. Sectors/mission namely power, water, sustainable habitat, sustainable agriculture, tourism, sustainable Himalayan ecosystem, health, disaster management, solar mission, and renewable energy and enhanced energy efficiency are covered in the Action plan. The wide range rainbow cover of the issues to mitigate the climate change threat has to be implemented in true tone. In developing regional policies for climate change there is definitely a reason to work towards enhancing community resilience.
There is a fresh need to formulate an effective framework which is holistic and balanced and includes multiple issues that touch local communities for addressing outmigration, joblessness, and changing demographics due to climate change. Adaptation measures should be designed and aligned with local conditions, resources, and needs and aim towards building community cohesiveness in PPP mode.
With recent changes, the government and local communities are finding ways to tackle the climate change with new approach to foster relief for the people against threat of global warming and climate change.