Nutrition in a Warmer World
May 29, 2023


  • As the agriculture sector is highly dependent on climate,the emerging trend in climate change will have serious implications on agriculture and allied sectors.
  • As India has the largest workforce (45.6 percent in 2021-22) engaged in agriculture amongst G20 countries, the impact of climate change may be disproportionate for India.

G7 Hiroshima Summit’s Agenda on Climate Change

  • At the Hiroshima Summit 2023, the G7 nations stressed that the peak for global Green House Gas (GHG) emissions should be reached by 2025 and committed to an “Acceleration Agenda” for G7 countries to reach net-zero emissions by around 2040.
  • The summit urged emerging economies to do so by around 2050. However, China has committed to net zero by 2060 and India by 2070.

Climate Change Reports

  • WMO Report
    • World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has forecast that global near-surface temperatures are likely to increase by 1.1°Cto 1.8°C annually from 2023 to 2027.
    • It also anticipates that temperatures will exceed 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year within this period.
  • IMD Report: According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), India experienced its fifth hottest year on record in 2022.

Impact of Emerging Trend in Climate Change

  • Glacial retreat in the Himalayas: Rising temperature and rain can cause glacial lake outburst floods. It is evident from the February 2021 incidence of glacial burst from Uttarakhand.
  • Flooding, Landslides and Cyclones
    • Compounding effects of sea-level rise and intense tropical cyclones lead to flooding in India's various regions. e.g., Mumbai and Konkan region (2021 flood) is prone to sea-level rise and flooding.
    • Increasing cyclones (in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, and West Bengal) in the last 3-4 years are the cause of concern.
  • Draughts: Droughts are expected to be more frequent in some areas, especially north-western India, Jharkhand, Orissa, and Chhattisgarh.
  • Erratic monsoon
    • Monsoon rain will be dominated by aerosols and internal variability, but in the long term, it will increase.
    • Erratic monsoon rain caused a devastating loss in the 2021 floods in Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, and Kerala.
  • Intense heat stress: Heat extremes are increasing, and marine heatwaves will continue to increase. These are likely to impact India, for example, Andhra and Telangana region are currently affected.
  • Drop in Agriculture Yield: Agricultural production will be affected by 2040.According to the World Bank, climate change could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 by disrupting agriculture.

Challenges to Indian Agriculture Sector Due to Climate Change

  • A Large Population to Feed: India has to feed the largest population (1.42billion in 2023 and 1.67 billion by 2050),it must do so while contending with the increasing uncertainty of nature.
  • Nutritional Challenges: While India’s grain production (330MT in 2022-23) gives some comfort, the nutritional challenge remains.

What can Indian Policymakers do to address these challenges?

  • Focus on ARDE (Agricultural Research, Development, Education and Extension).
  • Research at ICRIER indicates that investing in Agri R&D yields much greater returns (11.2) compared to every rupee spent on the fertiliser subsidy (0.88), power subsidy (0.79), education (0.97), or roads (1.10).

Importance of Focusing on ARDE

  • Can Improve Agricultural Production: Increased emphasis on ARDE can help achieve higher agricultural production even in the face of climate change.
  • Critical for Improving Resource Use Efficiency
    • ARDE is critical for improving resource use efficiency, especially for natural resources such as soil, water, and air.
    • Precision agriculture, such as drip irrigation, can result in large water savings.
    • Implementing sensor-based irrigation systems, for example, enables automated control, improving resource use efficiency.
  • Can help develop variety of Seeds: ARDE will help in developing new seeds according to emerging trend of climate change. The development of seeds that are more heat resistant is already a reality.
  • Can Help Reduce the Carbon Emissions with Higher Outputs
    • Focusing on ARDE can accelerate Fertigation and development of nano-fertilisers that not only save on the fertiliser subsidy but also reduce its carbon footprint.
    • Implementing innovative farming practices and products will help more efficient use of water and other natural resources, resulting in higher output with fewer inputs, while lowering GHG emissions.
    • Research at the Borlaug Institute for South Asia shows that mulching (the process of applying natural or artificial layer of plant residue or other materials on the soil surface) not only contributes to higher soil organic carbon but also saves on water and reduces GHG emissions.

Allocation of ARDE by Sector

  • There is a skewed distribution towards the crop husbandry sector, whose relative share has marginally increased from 75 percent to76 per cent between 2008 and2020.
  • In contrast, the shares for soil, water conservation, and forestry have declined from 5 percent to 2 percent.
  • The shares for animal husbandry, dairy development, and fisheries sectors have decreased from 11 percent to 8 percent, despite the value of livestock having substantially increased in the overall value of Agri-produce.
  • This imbalance needs urgent correction, especially because much (54 percent) of the GHG emissions within agriculture come from the livestock sector.

What should the government do to push ARDE?

  • Ensure Research Intensity (RI) to be at least 1% of AGVA (Agricultural Gross Value Added). RI is the expenditure on R&D as a percentage of GDP.
  • Although, total expenditure has increased from Rs39.6 billion ($0.91 billion) Rs 163 billion ($2.2 billion) since 2005-06, the overall RI in agriculture falls short of the target of1% of the AGVA.

How can RI be kept at least 1% of AGVA?

  • Scaling up innovations and experiments under ARDE is critical and that is where larger allocations of funds is required.
  • India needs to almost double its budgetary allocations for ARDE.
  • The Union government can reduce its fertiliser subsidy, and state governments their power subsidy, and redirect those savings to Agri-R&D, ensuring RI tobeatleast1percent.

Way Forward

  • Political will: Going forward the ruling dispensation must have the political courage to bring innovative policies that ensure farmers’ incomes group.
  • Realigning Policies Along with Expenditures: Along with the substantial increase in the budgets for ARDE, the government needs to realign not just expenditures but also policies (such as fertiliser subsidy, power subsidy, etc) towards meeting the climate change challenge.


  • Livestock has been growing at more than double the rate of the cereal sector, as is horticulture. But our policies and programmes are stuck with the legacy of basic staples like rice and wheat.
  • A periodic review of nutritional status across States along with a process to monitor and evaluate programmes could address systemic challenges on the ground.