India is in the midst of its second drought in four years, with rainfall roughly 20 percent below average nationwide, and 70% below average in Punjab, its food basket region, reports Robert Eshelman at ClimateWire. Agriculture employs close to a billion Indians, and produces a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product. The drought played a part in India’s nationwide electrical blackout, decreasing hydroelectric power and forcing farmers to tap into the electrical grid to pump up groundwater for irrigation. The drought highlights India’s vulnerabilities to climate change. Although it is extremely difficult to predict rain, scientists predict that under climate change, dry areas get drier, and wet areas wetter. In India, this is made worse by its history. The 20th century green revolution increased crop yields but at a high cost to Indian natural resources, and current Punjabi farmers are decreasing finite underground water supplies to grow unsustainable crops. Growing water-loving crops in rainier areas and improving agricultural energy efficiency will help, but ultimately, less water will fall on an already large, and still growing population. And that will be the real challenge.
India’s drought punishes farmers, highlights challenges to climate change adaptation. India is in the midst of its second drought in four years, with rainfall roughly 20 percent below average nationwide. In Punjab – India’s “food basket” – rainfall is 70 percent below average. ClimateWire http://www.eenews.net/public/climatewire/2012/08/03/1