The districts of Marathwada and Vidarbha witnessing maximum farmer suicides in Maharashtra face higher risk to climate change. A report by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) recommends the state government to initiate policies and measures to adapt to climate changes that would be detrimental to the agro-sector in 14 districts affected by severe drought across Vidarbha and Marathwada.
According to the Central Research Institute for Dryland Farming, “The districts in Marathwada and Vidarbha face very high risk to climate change. Studies warn that if no action is taken, financial implications on account of damages due to climate change would be massive. Mumbai alone can incur financial damages of as much as Rs 2 trillion due to climate change-related damages.”
CRIDA has also mapped the vulnerability atlas of India, a collection of maps showing parts of India vulnerable to natural disasters.
At least 80 per cent of the total area under agriculture cultivation is rainfed in Maharashtra. “Climate change was never factored in our policy-making or annual state budget. Now, for the first time in 2014-15, unseasonal hailstorm and changing rain patterns extending to longer dry spells have come as an eye opener to policymakers in the state,” said sources in the agriculture and irrigation ministry.
Out of the total 355 talukas in the state, 226 talukas received deficiant rain. While 112 talukas received normal rainfall, only 17 talukas received excess rainfall.
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According to officials, a study done by TERI has identified Maharashtra as one of the most vulnerable states in India. Based on biophysical, social and technological indicators, the state has low “adaptive capacity” to climate change, meaning that it has little potential to respond successfully to climate variability and change, including adjustments in resources and technologies.
The state falls in the zone of high to very high climate sensitivity, with a widespread dependence on agriculture.
The region is also interpreted as an area of “double exposure” where globalisation and climate change pose simultaneous challenges to the agriculture sector.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, along with the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), has sought funds to undertake adaption and mitigation measures to tackle climate change.
The ministry has approved a proposal submitted by the state government related to challenges in agriculture growth due to climate change.Apart from the “Jalyukt Shivar” water conservation project, the government has emphasised on crop pattern changes and promoting horticulture.
Water management has been accorded the highest priority and the government is pushing for the adoption of new technologies to cope with the shortage in rainfall.
The policy also includes agriculture practices to improve soil fertility. Higher yield and lower input cost is being modelled to help farmers.