Agriculture is an important subsector of the primary sector of Kerala’s economy. Still majority of the population in the state are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Extreme weather conditions like drought and other climate variability’s have had a major impact on the agricultural sector. Climate change is probably the most complex and challenging environmental problem faced by the world today and is increasingly recognized as a potent threat to agriculture in general and to food security in particular.
Cropping pattern in Kerala is dominated by Cash crops. Food crops comprising of rice, tapioca and pulses accounted for just 10.21% of the total cultivated area in 2015-16 while cash crops (cashew, rubber, pepper, coconut cardamom, tea and coffee) constituted 62.8% of the total cultivated area. Plantation crops like rubber, coffee, tea and cardamom accounted for 26.8 percent of the total cultivated area.
- Temperature regimes greatly influence the growth duration, growth pattern, development of the plant at different growth phases and finally productivity of the rice crop.
- Studies on rice productivity under global warming suggest that the productivity of rice and other tropical crops will decrease as global temperature increases. The simulated yield reduction from a 1°C rise in mean daily temperature was about 5-7% for major crops, including rice.
- Change in the amount and distribution of rainfall is the most important factor limiting yield of rain fed rice. Variability in the onset of the rainy season leads to variation in the start of the planting season in rain fed rice
- The difference in maximum and minimum temperatures (temperature range) was widening where thermo-sensitive crops like cardamom, tea, black pepper and cocoa are grown along the high ranges.
- The impact of climate change in the form of climate variability like floods and droughts adversely affected food and plantation crops to a large extent.