India must have a contingency plan for El Niño


    In News

    • NITI Aayog has recently stressed that Indian agriculture is resilient to El Nino shocks.


    • India has witnessed four good monsoons in succession and the probability of a fifth normal monsoon this year looks challenging because of El Niño.
    • In this regard, experts have recently deliberated on the El Niño’s impact on India’s monsoon and have stressed the need for having a contingency plan to minimize the threat to the farm sector.
    • El Niño is a phenomenon of abnormal heating up of the ocean surface that triggers a change in wind patterns and impact weather across the world
    • The US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has indicated the possibility of El Niño conditions developing this year.
    • While the first estimates of the impact of El Niño on India’s monsoon expected by April, its impact can happen in the latter part of the monsoon season in August-September
    • La Niña, the colder counterpart of El Niño, is the last event in India and coincided with below-normal rainfall.

    Possible Impacts on India

    • El Niño can lead to below-normal rainfall, which affects India’s agricultural sector leading to droughts and crop-failures.
    • The share of the crop affected by rainfall is declining steadily due to the resilience of Indian agriculture.
    • The Indian agriculture sector is becoming more resilient to deal with the impact of El Niño.
    • Policymakers should have safeguards against too much dependence on rainfall to minimize the El Niño impact.

    Contingency plans

    • Need to stress on three dimensions of rainfall – timing, total quantity, and distribution.
    • Contingency plan at the district level should be in place
    • Seeds of late sowing variety should be available if the arrival of rainfall gets delayed.
    • The government should initiate water conservation and management, and closely watch the monsoon while maintaining water bodies.

    EL Nino

    La Nina

    • It is a phenomenon of abnormal heating up of the ocean surface that triggers a change in wind patterns.
    • It impacts weather across the world.
    • It occurs every 3-6 years and lasts for about 9-12 months.
    • It can cause droughts, flooding, and changes in temperature.
    • It can lead to below-normal rainfall, which affects India’s agricultural sector.
    • It is a phenomenon that is the colder counterpart of El Niño.
    • It occurs when ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific drop to lower-than-normal levels.
    • It can lead to above-normal rainfall in India.
    • India’s last El Niño event of 2018 coincided with below-normal rainfall.


    Government steps to mitigate the impact of El Niño:

    • Mission Amrit Sarovar: It is a scheme of developing 75 ponds in each district by the government to help reduce the dependence on rainfall.
    • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY): It is a crop insurance scheme launched by the government to protect farmers from crop loss due to various natural calamities, including drought, floods, and other weather-related events.
    • Soil Health Card scheme: This scheme aims to promote soil testing and provide farmers with the necessary information to help farmers to better manage their crops during periods of drought or other weather-related events.
    • National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA): This project aims to promote sustainable watershed management practices in rainfed areas to improve soil moisture and water availability for crops during drought periods.
    • National Food Security Mission (NFSM): It aims to increase the productivity of crops in rainfed areas through the adoption of better farming practices and the use of new technologies.
    • National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS): This scheme provides financial assistance to farmers in case of crop loss due to natural calamities, including drought and other weather-related events.
    • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY): It aims to promote efficient use of water resources in agriculture and increase water use efficiency to deal with drought and other weather-related events.
    • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY): This scheme aims to promote agriculture development through various initiatives, including the development of rainfed agriculture and the use of modern technologies to improve crop productivity during drought periods.

    Way ahead

    • Overall, the government is taking various initiatives to help farmers cope with the impact of El Niño and other weather-related events.
    • In this regard, there is a need to promote sustainable farming practices, improving water use efficiency, and providing financial assistance to farmers in case of crop loss.

    Source: MC