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Agricultural disasters cost farmers Rs 10.2 lakh crore every year

Agriculture, the backbone of economies worldwide, is facing a significant challenge. Disasters, both natural and human-made,

By Ground report
New Update
Agricultural disasters cost farmers Rs 10.2 lakh crore every year

Agriculture, the backbone of economies worldwide, is facing a significant challenge. Disasters, both natural and human-made, are causing farmers to incur substantial losses. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), these adversities are costing farmers globally over Rs 10.2 lakh crore ($12,300 crore) annually.

Agriculture is not only impacted by climate change but also contributes to increasing emissions. The report states that greenhouse gas emissions from agri-food systems have risen by ten percent between 2000 and 2021.

The “State of Food and Agriculture Report 2023” by FAO reveals the real health and environmental costs of food products. According to this report, the hidden cost of global food systems is about Rs 1,057.7 lakh crore, with India accounting for about 8.8 percent.

Looking at data from the past three decades (1991-2021), farmers have lost approximately Rs 316.6 lakh crore ($3.8 lakh crore) due to disasters like floods, droughts, storms, and hail, affecting crop production and livestock.

Climate disasters hit Asian farmers hard

Agriculture is highly sensitive to these disasters as it heavily relies on nature and climate. Frequent disasters, coupled with climate changes, can undermine food security and the stability of agricultural systems.

Farmers in Asia, including India, have been hit hardest by these disasters, suffering losses of about Rs 143.3 lakh crore ($1.72 lakh crore) over these three decades. Following Asia, America, Europe, and Africa have also experienced significant losses.

In terms of the agricultural sector’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), farmers in Africa have been most affected by these disasters, facing losses equivalent to 7.7 percent of GDP, while in Asia, this figure is 3.6 percent.

The FAO’s new statistical yearbook: World Food and Agriculture 2023 reveals that the number of people involved in agriculture has been declining over the last 21 years. In 2000, about 102.7 crore people, or about 40 percent of the global labor force, were involved in agriculture. This number decreased to only 27 percent in 2021, meaning that now only 87.3 crore people rely on agriculture for their livelihood.

Pesticide use has increased rapidly between 2000 and 2021, with a 62 percent increase globally. However, in 2021, half of the world’s pesticides were consumed only in the US.

Rising prices are making nutritious food inaccessible to the common man. Major crop production has also increased by 54 percent during this period, reaching 950 crore tonnes in 2021. Wheat, rice, maize, and sugarcane accounted for about half of this production.

Despite all efforts, about 73.5 crore people were suffering from food shortages in 2022. It is estimated that if this trend continues, by 2030 around 60 crore people will be dependent on food and drink.

Cost of nutritious food rises

In 2021, the cost of nutritious food worldwide was around Rs 305 per person per day, marking a 4.3 percent increase compared to 2020. The cost of a healthy diet has risen by more than five percent in all regions except North America. As a result, over 310 crore people were unable to access nutritious food in 2021, indicating that 42 percent of the population is still struggling to maintain a healthy diet.

The hidden cost of agri-food systems in India is more than Rs 91.6 lakh crore ($1.1 trillion), which is the third highest in the world after China and America. These hidden costs include environmental costs such as greenhouse gas and nitrogen emissions, land-use change, and increased pressure on water resources. It also includes health problems caused by a lack of a healthy diet and nutrition, as well as social costs associated with poverty and the loss of productivity caused by undernutrition.

In light of the increasing environmental pressure, the FAO has indicated major changes in food systems. The international climate conference COP-28 has set a specific day to focus on food systems. The conference, which will run from November 30 to December 12, 2023, will discuss climate change and related issues.

December 10, 2023, has been dedicated to agriculture and food systems during COP-28. Issues like agriculture, food, and water will be discussed on this day. The UAE has also called on world leaders to support their COP28 declaration on strong food systems, environmentally friendly agriculture, and action against climate change.

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