Be Mains Ready

How has the change in climate affected the cropping pattern in recent times? Elaborate on the potential and challenges of climate-resilient crops in the context of climate change. (250 words)

02 Aug 2019 | GS Paper 3 | Economy

Approach / Explaination / Answer


  • Briefly state India’s vulnerabilities to climate change.
  • Discuss the effect of climate change on cropping pattern.
  • Elaborate the potential and challenges of climate resilient crops.
  • Give conclusion.


  • India, with its diverse agro-climatic settings, is one of the most vulnerable countries. Its agriculture ecosystem, distinguished by high monsoon dependence, and with 85% small and marginal landholdings, is highly sensitive to weather abnormalities.
  • Economic Survey 2017-18 had estimated that climate change could reduce farm incomes by 15-18% on average, and by as much as 20-25% in unirrigated areas without any policy intervention.


Impact of Climate Change on Cropping Pattern

  • Higher temperatures and changing precipitation patterns due to climate change will severely affect the production patterns of different crops.
  • India’s grain production is vulnerable to climate change. Major crops such as wheat, rice, oilseeds, pulses, fruits and vegetables will see reduced yields over the years.
  • Studies have found that the yields from grains such as millet, sorghum, and maize are more resilient to extreme weather. Their yields vary significantly less due to year-to-year changes in climate and generally experience smaller declines during droughts. However, yields from rice, India's main crop, experience larger declines during extreme weather conditions.
  • Though most crops will see reduced production, but climate change may also help improve yields of soybean, chickpea, groundnut, coconut (western coast) and potato (in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh).

Potential of Climate Resilient Crops

  • Climate resilient crops would help negate the threats of climate change by adapting to extreme conditions.
  • Climate exposure can be reduced through agronomic management practices such as:
    • inter and multiple cropping and crop-rotation
    • shift to non-farm activities
    • insurance covers
    • up-scaling techniques such as solar pumps, drip irrigation and sprinklers.
  • They are pest-resistant and thus save loss to crop yields by pest attacks.
  • Climate resilient crops increase productivity and efficiency of inputs (fertilizer and water use), and even have co-benefits for mitigation by reducing carbon emissions.

Challenges in Adapting Climate Resilient Crops

  • Subsistence Farming with traditional methods slows down the adoption of new climate-smart agro-practices among Indian farmers.
  • Knowledge gap among agriculture scientists, policy makers and farmers is too wide to change the cropping pattern immediately.
  • Lack of timely institutional initiatives to direct and guide farmers for crop diversification.
  • Lack of research and academic interventions in motivating farmers to adopt climate-resilient crops.


  • Increasing the production of alternative grains in India can offer benefits for improving nutrition, for saving water, and for reducing energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
  • The Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on “Global Warming at 1.5°C” distinctly propagates the need to strengthen and enhance existing coping capacity and to remain committed to the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
  • There is an urgent need to educate farmers, reorient Krishi Vigyan Kendras and other grass-roots organisations with specific and more funds about climate change and risk-coping measures.
  • With climate change being a phenomenon with such multiple levels of impact, a more comprehensive strategy to deal with its myriad effects needs to be developed.