Deteriorating food security in India
California State University Monterey Bay/NASA Ames Research Center
One of the major challenges we face on our planet is increasing agricultural production to meet the dietary requirements of an additional 2.5 billion people by the middle of the century while limiting cropland expansion and other damages to natural resources. This problem is even more challenging given that nearly all the population growth will take place where the majority of the hungry live today and where ongoing and future climate changes are projected to most negatively impact agricultural production, the semiarid tropics (SAT). The SAT contain 40 percent of the global irrigated and rain-fed croplands in over 50 developing countries and a growing population of over a billion and half people, many of which live in absolute poverty and strongly depend on agriculture that is constrained by chronic water shortages. Rates of food grain production in many of the countries of the SAT have progressively increased since the mid-1960s aided by the Green Revolution and relatively favorable climatic conditions. However, aggregated agricultural production statistics indicate that the rate of food grain production has recently stalled or declined in several of the countries in this region, escalating the concerns over matters of food security, that is availability of food and one?s access to it, in a region where many people live in extreme poverty, depend on an agrarian economy and are expected to fare increasingly worse climatic conditions in the near future. In this presentation we will analyze the agricultural deceleration and some of its drivers over the country of India, which faces the daunting challenge of needing a 50-100 percent increase in yields of major crops by the middle of the 21st century to feed its growing population. We analyze the long term (1982-2006) record of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration?s Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (NOAA/AVHRR) together with climate, land use, and crop production statistics. We shows that while there are no significant changes in long-term precipitation, there are geographically matching patterns of enhanced crop production and irrigation expansion with groundwater, initially, but both of which have leveled off in the past decade. In addition to increasing pressure on water resources, a decline in expansion of cropland area, a warming climate and increasing air pollution compound to challenging long-term food security in India.