As floods ravage eastern and northern India, agriculture in 115 districts across 15 states is “highly vulnerable” to climate change, according to a May 2016 study published Current Science of the Indian Academy of Science.
The first to analyse 38 meteorological, agricultural and social data across all of India’s 572 rural districts, the study creates a climate vulnerability index for agriculture, divided into five categories of vulnerability: very high, high, moderate, low and very low.
The vulnerability index has been used by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research to demonstrate climate-resilient agricultural practices in 121 of either ‘very high’ or ‘high’ vulnerability districts, Alok K Sikka, coauthor of the study and India representative of the International Water Management Institute, Delhi, told IndiaSpend, a data journalism portal.
The study’s 38 indicators are subdivided into three categories–sensitivity, exposure and adaptive capacity. Some of the indicators that define sensitivity include degraded land, annual rainfall, and vulnerability to cyclones or drought. Exposure is defined by indicators such as maximum and minimum temperature, heat-wave or cold-wave frequency and dry spells. Adaptation indicators include workforce engaged in agriculture, its literacy, the gender gap, rural electrification, access to paved roads and so on.
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(Top photo of tribals in drought-affected Beed district scratching for mungbeans. Photo by Vivian Fernandes)