Climate Change Shaping Assam’s Agriculture Yield

Assam, a state highly susceptible to climate change impacts, is witnessing significant fluctuations in its agricultural production. A recent study reveals that over half of the variations in the yields of key crops are linked to climatic elements. The study reports that production variations are as follows: rice (51%), wheat (65%), tea (55%), and small millets (60%).

Differential Impact on Crops

The research highlights that climate factors account for more than 50% of the production variation in these crops. Notably, rice and tea production benefit from higher relative humidity, while wheat and small millets suffer under the same conditions.

Research Funded by ICSSR

This pivotal research, funded by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) under the Ministry of Education, Government of India, was conducted by a team of scholars including A Premkumar, assistant professor of economics at Sacred Heart College (Autonomous), Tirupattur; D Kalaiarasi, a research scholar in agribusiness management; A Rohini, a professor at the Centre for Agricultural Rural Development Studies, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University; and D Murugananthi, an assistant professor at the same centre.

Climatic Trends Over the Decades

Over the past 30 years, Assam has experienced a decreasing trend in maximum temperature and an increasing trend in relative humidity, as observed by Premkumar. These climatic trends have been crucial in shaping the agricultural output of the region.

Data and Methodology

The study utilized secondary data sources, gathering crop production data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) Commodities Database and climatic data from NASA’s Prediction of Worldwide Energy Resources database, covering the period from 1981 to 2021. The research underscores the importance of maximum temperature and relative humidity as significant climatic factors in Assam.

Trends in Crop Production

The research findings indicate a mixed trend in crop production from 1991 to 2020. Rice, maize, tea, potato, and oil seeds have shown an increasing production trend, while wheat, sugarcane, small millets, gram, jute, and arhar have exhibited a declining trend. Specifically, tea production has increased by 55%, attributed to the positive effect of relative humidity, and rice production has risen by 51% due to similar climatic influences.

Significance and Call to Action

The study concludes that climate vulnerability in India is a pressing national concern, necessitating enhanced climate action. The significant influence of maximum temperature and relative humidity on crop production in Assam calls for targeted strategies to mitigate adverse effects and harness beneficial climatic conditions for sustainable agricultural practices.

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