Pune, India: An analysis of the remote sensing data collected by NASA satellites on the changes in vegetation in India during the last 25 years has confirmed that the growth rate of crop yield in India has been stagnant in the last decade. The study expressed fear that the groundwater-based expansion of grain production in India may have reached its limit and a further overexploitation of the aquifers may lead farmers to revert to low productivity crops.
A nine-member team of scientists from NASA, the Boston University and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, analysed the satellite remote sensing data from 1982-2006.
The IITM conducted an independent study two months ago about the increase in night-time temperature in the country during the last decade and its impact on rice yields. This study is based on changes in vegetation greenness measured using satellite data.
The study found that the growth rate in annually integrated vegetation greenness, a measure of crop growth, has declined significantly in 23% of the water-limited tropic (WLT) cropland area during the last decade.
MS Swaminathan, the architect of India’s green revolution, has called for efforts towards a second green revolution in eastern India to tide over this challenge to the country’s food security. “We must step up our efforts to promote conservation- and climate-resilient farming in this area, and to derive benefit from the vast untapped production reservoir existing in eastern India,” said Dr Swaminathan.
The study covered more than 40 developing countries in water-limited tropics, a region where 1.5 billion people live and depend on local agriculture that is constrained by chronic water shortages, with a focus on India. Recent declining growth rates are seen in the main foodgrain producing states in the Indo-Gangetic Plain and in the central portion of India (Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka to Andhra Pradesh).
Source: The Economic Times