Adapting on Several Fronts: After Blackouts, India Must Face Food Challenges

India - Jamnapur village, Bihar

Farmers in the Indian state of Bihar. (Photo courtesy CGIAR Climate, Creative Commons)

As GAIN highlighted earlier this month, the sensitivity of India’s energy sector to changes in climatic patterns and industry inefficiency contributed to record blackouts across the country. In the wake of this catastrophe, Indians must now confront the reality of their country’s high agriculture and food vulnerability.

The Indian government announced on August 13 that ongoing drought across much of the nation will lead to price increases and shortages in food supplies. This is due to weak Monsoon rains, which have been 17 percent below normal in 2012.

Most at risk? India’s rural populations, many of which are in the process of migrating to urban areas as their agricultural livelihoods fail. Possibly more daunting than India’s energy challenge is addressing the impacts on a sector that employs roughly half of India’s population, agriculture.

This urgent challenge is reflected in the GAIN Index (index.gain.org). India’s food sector is denoted as the most vulnerable sector. This vulnerability is driven by a large rural population, high malnutrition rates and agricultural sensitivity to climatic factors.

Complications managing the inevitable shift of rural populations to already overcrowded Indian cities will likely be exacerbated by continued climatic variations in the coming decades. GAIN is in the process of improving its measurement of agricultural vulnerability as well as determining the best indicators that reflect the interrelated challenges to India’s urban infrastructure through its Open Consultation Process for the 2012 GAIN Index.

Please visit gain.org for the latest information on adaptation issues in India and other countries as well as how GAIN is helping the world better understand and measure global challenges through the GAIN Index.