Year 2015 was the third year in a row when the rabi season was thrown out of kilter in large parts of India by deviant weather. But this is just one of the weather irregularities that India has faced in the recent past.
While in 2013, five states were impacted and 0.35 million hectares (ha) of standing crops affected, 2014 brought similar damages to six states and 5.5 million ha of crops when they were just a month away from being harvested. In 2015, no less than 15 states were hit and 18.23 million ha of crops were damaged. The 15 states account for approximately 75 per cent of India’s population and about 70 per cent of its geographical area, and produce approximately 81 per cent of its foodgrains.
During this period, Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) surveyed impacts on the ground. CSE’s study area was Mathura, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar and Agra districts in Uttar Pradesh (UP)—some of the worst-affected districts in the worst-affected state. The team met farmers, local leaders and panchayat-level, block-level and district-level officials including the patwari, the kanoongo and the tehsildar, among others.
The research over this period of time has been released in the form of a report titled “Lived Anomaly”. In the report, the non-profit has suggested a few ways to bring respite to the farmers and build safety nets for Indian farmers by adopting good practices.