BISMAH MALIK,SRINAGAR,Jan 19:Unusually rising temperatures are for everyone to see. The reasons are being pooh- poohed everywhere. But the implications are far to be realized. Food insecurity is one among many painful legacies of climate change which is going to haunt Kashmiris in the times to come.
The already high temperatures, no snowfall and fast melting of snow will have a subtle, yet far reaching consequence on the ailing food resources of the valley.
According to environmental science experts, the higher temperatures in particular may prove drastic for some of our native plants, increasing their sterility and hence lowering the overall production.
Globally, scientists have proved that after a certain point, rising temperatures certainly reduce crop yields. For each degree celsius rise in temperature above average, farmers can expect a 10 per cent decline in crops like wheat, rice and maize.
Researches conducted by various valley based environmentalists further indicate that a place like Kashmir, which is a prime importer of food, is facing a likely situation of slipping into a condition of food insecurity especially with the recent developments of food inflation.
Dr. Azra Kamili, an environmental science expert at Kashmir University says, “Over the last few years, our food imports have considerably risen. This particularly applies to vegetables, food grains and some other food commodities. “
“Food insecurity, as such has never come to spotlight in a place like Kashmir which has always been perceived to be food resources sufficient. However, this year when the food inflation in the state surpassed the national average, it became quite apparent that we need to be a little more cautious with the various misdeeds which has led to food prices escalation.”, Ishfaq Ahmad, an agriculturist.
Quite visibly, change in the growing seasons, shift in the ecological niche and unpredictability of precipitation in terms of both its volume and timing has further risked the certainty of farmers and eroded the traditional pattern of agriculture.
Dr. Azra seconds, “Instead of digging deep into the various factors which could help us prevent any kind of food adversities, we are rather thinking of adjusting ourselves with the climate change. Like, for instance a shift in the cultivation pattern, giving up agricultural practices and commercialization are some of the strongest indicators of our surrender to whimsical climate change.”
Paddy cultivation, due to its continually dismal production every year, is giving way to horticulture in many areas of the valley. The major reason accounted for low paddy production has been a consistent melting of various Himalayan glaciers and hence lesser water supply to paddy crops.
On the other hand, not ample irrigation facilities have been set up, thus forcing the farmers to shift to more viable fruit cultivation.
This has in turn signaled an irreversible danger for the valleyites considering the fact that the demand and supply gap of rice is widening every year.
Vegetables, if not any good are rather worse affected.
“Srinagar city, sometime back was a hub of vegetable cultivation , especially the vegetable gardens , but now they have disappeared. The towns outside Srinagar city are also furnishing lesser supply of vegetables every year, hence we are bearing the brunt of high food prices.” Comments Rashid Ahmad, a local.
Valley environmentalists are particularly concerned of increasing green house gas emissions in the air which lead to increasing temperatures and killing vital crops.
A study at the geology department of Kashmir University signals that 11 of the last 15 years in the valley have seen hottest temperatures and almost 15 glaciers of the valley are on the verge of extinction.