Climate Change and Food Security in India: Adaptation Strategies and Major Challenges

  • Atanu SarkarEmail author
  • Arindam Dasgupta
  • Suman Ranjan Sensarma


India has made rapid strides in improving food production and the country has become not only self-sufficient in food production, but now exports to several other countries as well. However, climate change has emerged as a major threat to India’s hard-earned success. Much of India’s population depends on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forestry, and fishing, and thus the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people are at risk. In fact, the country has already witnessed adverse impacts of climate change on food production, transportation, storage, and distribution. Rising temperatures, erratic rainfall, extreme weather conditions (such as prolonged droughts and floods), changing soil fertility, and new pest infestations are major factors contributing to stagnant agricultural growth. “Climate-smart agriculture” is considered a pragmatic approach to ensuring food security in a changing climate. Adaptation strategies based on the principles of climate-smart agriculture can counter the impacts of climate change, such as the promotion of conservation agriculture, the sustainable management of natural resources and the promotion of climate-smart crops. However, the existing problems of transboundary water conflict, universal insurance of crops, the significant reduction in food wastage needed and the improvement of food distribution are essential to achieving the goals for adaptation. It is also important to note that ready acceptance of “climate-smart agriculture” by farmers cannot be expected, even if the necessary technologies are made accessible to them. Rather, more community-based participatory research is needed to explore socioeconomic and location-specific variables that are influencing farmers’ preferences towards the approach.


Climate change Food security India Conservation agriculture Climate-smart crops Food wastage Public distribution of food Crop insurance 


  1. Ali, N. (2004). Post-harvest technology for employment generation in rural sector of India (pp. 63–105). India: Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Indian Council of Agricultural Research.Google Scholar
  2. Athar, U. (2018). As millions go hungry, India eyes ways to stop wasting $14 billion of food a year. Reuters. Retrieved May 5, 2018, from
  3. Bennett, P. G., & Howard, N. (1996). Rationality, emotion and preference change: Drama theoretic–models of choice. European Journal of Operational Research, 92(3), 603–614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Birthal, P. S., Negi, D. S., Kumar, S., Agarwal, S., Suresh, A., & Khan, M. T. (2014). How sensitive is Indian agriculture to climate change? India Journal of Agricultural Economics, 69(4), 474–487.Google Scholar
  5. Biswas, A. K. (2014). India must tackle food waste. World Economic Forum. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from
  6. Bordoloi, B. (2016). Curbing food wastage in a hungry world. Business Line. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from
  7. Brahmanand, P. S., Kumar, A., Ghosh, S., Roy Chowdhury, S., Singandhupe, R. B., Singh, R., et al. (2013). Challenges to food security in India. Current Science, 104, 841–846.Google Scholar
  8. Carleton, T. A. (2017). Crop-damaging temperatures increase suicide rates in India. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, 114(33), 8746–8751 Scholar
  9. CCA RAI. (2014). Climate proofing of public schemes in India: Selected cases of Watershed Development Programmes and Joint Forest Management Programme. Climate change adaptation in rural areas of India. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Bonn. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from
  10. Chakrabarty, M. (2016). Climate change and food security in India. Observer Research Foundation New Delhi-2. Brief Series, 157, 1–11.Google Scholar
  11. Chakrapani, V., Patra, S. K., Panda, R. P., Rasal, K. D., Jayasankar, P., & Barman, H. K. (2016). Establishing targeted carp TLR22 gene disruption via homologous recombination using CRISPR/Cas9. Developmental & Comparative Immunology, 61, 242–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chand, R. (2014). From slow down to fast track: Indian agriculture since 1995. Working Paper National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, New Delhi 1–34.Google Scholar
  13. Chand, K., Thakur, S., & Kumar, S. (2014). Climate change and food security in India: Contemporary concern and issues. International Journal of Development Research, V4(2), 359–365.Google Scholar
  14. Dasgupta, S., Roy, S., & Sarraf, M. (2012). Urban flooding in a changing climate: Case study of Kolkata, India. Asian-African Journal of Economics and Econometrics, 12, 135.Google Scholar
  15. DEFRA. 2005. Climate change impacts on sea level in India. Key Sheet 4. National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India. In Investigating the impacts of climate change in India. Report by Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), UK and Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India (GoI), 2005. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from
  16. Dev, M. S. (2012). Impact of ten years of MGNREGA: An overview. Mumbai: Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research.Google Scholar
  17. Dev, M. S., & Sharma, A. N. (2010). Food security in India: Performances. Challenges and Policies, Oxfam India Working Paper Series, 7, 1–46.Google Scholar
  18. Dhawan, V. (2017). Water and agriculture in India—Background paper for the South Asia expert panel during the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA). German Asia-Pacific Business Association, German Agri-Business alliance, TERI. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from
  19. Emanuel, K. (2005). Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years. Nature, 436, 686–688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. FAO. (2013). Climate-smart agricultural sourcebook. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from Scholar
  21. FAO. (2015). Climate-smart agriculture: A call for action. Synthesis of the Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop, Bangkok, Thailand, 18–20 June 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from
  22. FAO. (2016). Chapter 2: Climate change, agriculture and food security—A closer look at the connections. In The state of food and agriculture. FAO, Rome: 22–25.Google Scholar
  23. GoI. (2002). High Powered Committee (HPC) on disaster management report. HPC Report. New Delhi: National Center for Disaster Management, Ministry of Agriculture, Govt of India.Google Scholar
  24. GoI. (2006). Crisis management: From despair to hope. Second Administrative Reforms Commission Third Report. New Delhi: Govt of India.Google Scholar
  25. GoI. (2013). Annual report 2013–14. New Delhi: Central Water Commission, Ministry of water resources, Government of India.Google Scholar
  26. GoI. (2018). National action plan on climate change. New Delhi: Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Government of India. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from Scholar
  27. Gosain, A. K., Rao, S., & Basuray, D. (2006). Climate change impact assessment on hydrology of Indian river basins. Current Science, 90(3), 346–353.Google Scholar
  28. Guha-Sapir, D., Hoyois, P., Wallemacq, P., & Below, R. (2016). Annual disaster statistical review 2016—Number and trends. Brussels, Belgium: Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), Institute of Health and Society (IRSS) and Université Catholique de Louvain.Google Scholar
  29. Hefny, M. A. (2012). Changing behavior as a policy tool for enhancing food security. Water Policy, 14, 106–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Howard, N. (1994). Drama theory and its relation to game theory. Group Decision and Negotiation, 3(187–206), 207–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Howard, N. (1999). Confrontation analysis: How to win operations rather than war. Washington, DC: CCRP, Department of defense.Google Scholar
  32. Howard, N. (2007). Oedipus decision maker: Theory of drama and conflict resolution. Retrieved from
  33. Howard, N., Bennett, P. G., Bryant, J. W., & Bradley, M. (1993). Manifesto for a theory of drama and irrational choice. The Journal of the Operational Research Society, 44(1), 99–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. ICAR. (2018). National innovations in climate resilient agriculture. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from
  35. IPCC. (2007). Summary for policy makers. In S. D. Solomon, M. Qin, Z. Manning, M. Chen, K. B. Marquis, A. M. Tignor, & H. L. Miller (Eds.), Climate change 2007: The physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 1–18). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Jat, M. L., Singh, B., & Gerard, B. (2014). Chapter Five—Nutrient management and use efficiency in wheat systems of South Asia. Advances in Agronomy, 125, 171–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Karuppaiah, V., & Sujayanad, G. K. (2012). Impact of climate change on population dynamics of insect pests world. Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 8(3), 240–246. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from Scholar
  38. Kaur, R., Srinivasan, R., Mishra, K., Dutta, D., Prasad, D., & Bansal, G. (2003). Assessment of a SWAT model for soil and water management in India. Land Use Water Resource Research, 3, 1–7.Google Scholar
  39. Kaur, N., Alok, A., Shivani, Kaur, N., Pandey, P., Awasthi, P., & Tiwari, S. (2018). CRISPR/Cas9-mediated efficient editing in phytoene desaturase (PDS) demonstrates precise manipulation in banana cv. Rasthali genome. Functional & Integrative Genomics, 18(1), 89–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Khan, S. A., Kumar, S., Hussain, M., & Kalra, N. (2009). Climate change, climate variability and Indian agriculture: Impacts vulnerability and adaptation strategies. In S. N. Singh (Ed.), Climate change and crops, environmental science and engineering. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  41. Khatri-Chhetri, A., Aggarwal, P. K., Joshi, P. K., & Vyas, S. (2017). Farmers’ prioritization of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) technologies. Agricultural Systems, 151, 184–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kumar, M. D. (2003). Food security and sustainable agriculture in India. The Water Management Challenge, Working Paper No. 60, International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka. Retrieved from
  43. Kumar, P., & Pal, K. S. (2014). ICT enabled public distribution system for developing countries. International Journal for e-Learning Security (IJeLS), 4, 354–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kumar, K. R., Sahai, A. K., Kumar, K. K., Patwardhan, S. K., Mishra, P. K., et al. (2006). High-resolution climate change scenarios for India for the 21st century. Current Science, 90, 334–345.Google Scholar
  45. Lal, M., & Harasawa, H. (2001). Future climate change scenarios for Asia as inferred from selected coupled atmosphere-ocean global climate models. Journal of Meteorological Society of Japan, 79, 219–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Levy, J. K., Hipel, K. W., & Howard, N. (2009). Advances in drama theory for managing global hazards and disasters, Part 1: Theoretical foundation. Group Decision and Negotiation, 18(4), 303–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Likhi, A. (2017). Climate smart agricultural practices in Haryana, India: The way forward & challenges. People. Spaces, Deliberation. The World Bank. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from
  48. Lobel, B. D., Sibley, A., & Ortiz-Monasterio, I. J. (2012). Extreme heat effects on wheat senescence in India. Nature Climate Change, 2, 186–189. Scholar
  49. Maheshwar, C., & Chanakwa, T. S. (2006). Postharvest losses due to gaps in cold chain in India: A solution. Acta Horticulturae, 712, 777–784. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from Scholar
  50. Malhotra, S. K. (2017). Horticultural crops and climate change: A review. Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 87(1), 12–22.Google Scholar
  51. Mall, R. K., Singh, R., Gupta, A., Srinivasan, G., & Rathore, L. S. (2006). Impact of climate change on Indian agriculture: A review. Climatic Change, 78, 445–478. Scholar
  52. Mani, M., Markandya, A., Sagar, A., & Strukova, E. (2012). An analysis of physical and monetary losses of environmental health and natural resources in India. Policy Research Working Paper 6219, The World Bank 9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mazumdar, S., Quick, W. P., & Bandyopadhyay, A. (2016). CRISPR-Cas9 mediated genome editing in rice, advancements and future possibilities. Indian Journal of Plant Physiology, 21(4), 437–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Medek, D. E., Schwartz, J., & Myers, S. S. (2017). Estimated effects of future atmospheric CO2 concentrations on protein intake and the risk of protein deficiency by country and region. Environmental Health Perspectives, 125(8), 087002. Scholar
  55. Metz, B., Davidson, O., Bosch, P., Dave, R., & Meyer, L. (2007). Climate change 2007: Mitigation of climate change. Working Group III Report of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Published For IPCC, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Mishra, A. (2014). An assessment of climate change-natural disaster linkage in Indian context. Journal of Geology and Geosciences, 3, 167. Scholar
  57. Naresh, K. S., Aggarwal, P. K., Saxena, R., Rani, S., Jain, S., & Chauhan, N. (2013). An assessment of regional vulnerability of rice to climate change in India. Climate Change, 118(3–4), 683–699. Scholar
  58. Naresh, K. S., Aggarwal, P. K., Swaroopa Rani, D. N., Saxena, R., Chauhan, N., & Jain, S. (2014). Vulnerability of wheat production to climate change in India. Climate Research, 59(173–187), 5–187.Google Scholar
  59. Palanisami, K., Kakumanu, K. R., Khanna, M., & Aggarwal, P. K. (2013). Climate change and food security of India: Adaptation strategies for the irrigation sector. World Agriculture, 3, 20–26.Google Scholar
  60. Pathak, H., Ladha, J. K., Aggarwal, P. K., Peng, S., Das, S., Singh, Y., et al. (2003). Trends of climatic potential and on farm yields of rice and wheat in the Indo Gangetic Plains. Field Crops Research, 80, 224–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Pradhan, A., Idol, T., Roul, P. K., Mishra, K. N., Chan, C., Halbrendt, J., et al. (2015). Effect of tillage, intercropping and residue cover on crop productivity, profitability and soil fertility under tribal farming situations of India. In C. Chan & K. Fantle-Lepczyk (Eds.), Subsistence farming: Case studies From South Asia and beyond (pp. 77–94). Wallingford, UK: CABI.Google Scholar
  62. Pradhan, A., Chan, C., Roul, P. K., Halbrendt, J., & Sipes, B. (2018). Potential of conservation agriculture (CA) for climate change adaptation and food security under rainfed uplands of India: A transdisciplinary approach. Agricultural Systems, 163, 27–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Raju, S. S., & Chand, R. (2009). Problems and progress in Agricultural Insurance in India. NCAP Policy Brief No. 31. New Delhi: National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research.Google Scholar
  64. Ramachandran, N. (2014). Persisting under nutrition in India: Causes, consequences and possible solutions (pp. 3–27). New Delhi: Springer.Google Scholar
  65. Rani, R., Yadav, P., Barbadikar, K. M., Baliyan, N., Malhotra, E. V., Singh, B. K., et al. (2016). CRISPR/Cas9: A promising way to exploit genetic variation in plants. Biotechnolnology Letters, 38(12), 1991–2006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Rao, S. L. H. V. P., Gopakumar, C. S., & Krishnakumar, K. N. (2013). Impacts of climate change on horticulture across India. In H. Singh, N. Rao, & K. Shivashankar (Eds.), Climate-resilient horticulture: Adaptation and mitigation strategies. New Delhi, India: Springer.Google Scholar
  67. Roul, P. K., Pradhan, A., Ray, P., Mishra, K. N., Dash, S. N., & Chan, C. (2015). Influence of maize-based conservation agricultural production systems (CAPS) on crop yield, profit and soil fertility in rainfed uplands of Odisha, India in conservation agriculture. In C. Chan & K. Fantle-Lepczyk (Eds.), Subsistence farming: Case studies from South Asia and beyond (pp. 95–108). Wallingford, UK: CABI.Google Scholar
  68. SANDRP. (2016, October 6). Interstate river water disputes in India: History and status. South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from
  69. Sharma, H. S. (2016, February 4–5). Climate change vis-à-vis pest management. Conference on National Priorities in Plant Health Management, Tirupati, India. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from
  70. Shelat, K. N. (2014). Climate-smart agriculture, the way forward—The Indian perspectives. National Council for Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Public Leadership (NCCSD), Ahmedabad and Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), Hyderabad. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from
  71. Sinha, S. K., Singh, G. B., & Rai, M. (1998). Decline in crop productivity in Haryana and Punjab: Myth or reality? (p. 89). New Delhi: Indian Council of Agricultural Research.Google Scholar
  72. Solomon, S., Qin, D., Manning, M., Alley, R. B., Berntsen, T., et al. (2007). Climate change 2007: The physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, USA (pp. 19–71).Google Scholar
  73. Srinivasa, R., Gopinath, K. A., Prasad, J. V. N. S., & Prasannakumar, A. K. S. (2016). Sustainable food security in tropical India: Concept, process, technologies, institutions, and impacts. In D. L. Sparks (Ed.), Advances in agronomy (Vol. 140, pp. 201–217). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  74. Srivastava, D., Shamim, M., Kumar, M., Mishra, A., Pandey, P., Kumar, D., et al. (2017). Current status of conventional and molecular interventions for blast resistance in rice. Rice Science, 24(6), 299–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Stubbs, L., Tait, A., & Howard, N. (1999). How to model a confrontation—Computer support for drama theory. Proceedings of the Command and Control Research and Technology Symposium, Naval War College, Newport.Google Scholar
  76. Sulochana, G. (2003). The Indian monsoon and its variability. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 31, 429–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Taenzler, D., Ruettinger, L., Ziegenhagen, K., & Murthy, G. (2011). Water, crisis and climate change in India: A policy brief. The Initiative for Peacebuilding—Early Warning Analysis to Action (IfP-EW). Retrieved March 5, 2018, from
  78. Temple, J. (2017, May 4). Reinventing source: Rice for a world transformed by climate change. MIT Technology Review. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from
  79. Varadharajan, K. S., Thomas, T., & Kurpad, A. V. (2013). Poverty and the state of nutrition in India. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 22, 326–339.Google Scholar
  80. Zhang, W., Zheng, C., Song, Z., Deng, A., & He, Z. (2015). Farming systems in China: Innovations for sustainable crop production. In V. Sadras & D. Calderini (Eds.), Crop physiology. Applications for genetic improvement and agronomy (2nd ed., pp. 43–64). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Atanu Sarkar
    • 1
    Email author
  • Arindam Dasgupta
    • 2
  • Suman Ranjan Sensarma
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of MedicineMemorial UniversitySt. John’sCanada
  2. 2.Post-Graduate Department of GeographyChandernagore CollegeHugliIndia
  3. 3.Government AdvisoryInfrastructure and Government Services (IGS), KPMGNew DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations