The human population of India is estimated to increase to 1.6 billion in 2050 from the current level of 1.2 billion and the food grain production would need to be raised to 581 millon tonnes from the present level of 241 million tonnes (Ghosh, 2013). This additional food requirement will have to be produced from the projected cultivable land of 142 million hectares (Kathpalia and Kapoor, 2011). However, the fact that per capita land holding will go down to an abysmally low 0.087 ha, poses a grave concern (Sharma, 2006). Also the price of land is likely to be almost 10 times higher than the present value in the land market. In such a scenario, the resource poor farmers will no longer be interested in cultivating their lands and would much rather sell their land to corporate houses. Moreover, with the improvement in literacy, the younger generations will prefer to shift to manufacturing and service sector which provides much better employment opportunities and improved standards of living. The present water availability for the country as a whole is around 2000 BCM which will go down to 1500 BCM by 2050 thus downscaling India from a status of water sufficiency to water scarcity (Amarsinghe et al., 2007). Crop land available for production may be reduced by 20 per cent by 2050 due to land degradation, urban expansion and conversion of crop land to non-food production (Sharma, 2006). Land degradation, in particular, will negate all efforts to increase crop yields.
As much as 121 m ha land is reportedly degraded (ICAR-NAAS, 2010), and at the current rate of decline in productivity of soils due to deterioration in their quality, the scenario for 2050 appears dismal. Degradation of land leading to impaired soil quality is the greatest impediment and will prove dangerous, if neglected. It is imperative to check and reverse land degradation without any further loss of time. The improvement in productivity will have to come from sustainable intensification measures that make the most effective use of land and water resources.
Vulnerability to climate change is another serious issue. It is expected that by 2050, there will be a drop in total precipitation in Indian sub continent by 20% and an increase in mean annual temperature by 1 to 3° C (IPCC, 2007). With an economy closely tied to its natural resource base and climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, India may face a major threat because of the projected change in climate. Land resources, their distribution and quality, and land use in India will be hit hardest by climate change (NAPCC, 2009). This could bring in bigger declines in crop yields and production. These have serious consequences for both, the kharif and rabi crops. Because food (crop) production is critically dependent on local temperatures and precipitation, for crops have thresholds beyond which growth and yield are compromised (Ghosh, 2013), any change outside the range of reasonable tolerance would require farmers to adapt their practices accordingly.
Source : ASDMA