Climate change and crop failure

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Climate change and crop failure

  • Cardamom farm is a thriving but closer look reveals wilted shoots and damaged pods — byproducts of an erratic weather.
  • The Malayalam month of Edavam has come to an end without any steady downpour, the dry spell stretching all through the third week of June except for some mild, dwindling drizzles.
  • Idukki recorded a large rain deficit of 69% during the June 1-22 period, bracing for a possible crop failure.


  • Cardamom is among the many thermosensitive crops hit by rising mercury levels, change in weather patterns and extreme climatic conditions.
  • “There has been a steady rise in average daytime temperature.

Dip in yield

  • 250 kg per acre of dried cardamom is the average yield and is now down to 160-170 kg.
  • The overall production of the spice has increased due to area extension during the last five years.
  • While climate change is a factor impacting the crop, this indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides can give rise to a spate of adverse consequences.

Cashew nut

  • Aralam Farming Corporation Kerala Limited in Kannur: Total yield during the last season was 184 tonnes and this time it came down to 90, which means there was more than 50% dip in production.
  • While excess rainfall during the flowering season affected the fruit setting process, the wayward weather also messed up the quality of the produce.
  • The rain that continued till November caused the flowers to fall and the rise in temperature during December-January was also not favourable for the crop.

Spike in pest population

  • Variations in temperature and relative humidity often facilitate the emergence of new pests and diseases, leaving many crops susceptible to attacks and outbreaks.
  • While these changes will accelerate fungal infection in some crops, minor pests turning into major pests for some.
  • With the rise in temperature, the number of life cycles will increase and there will be a spike in pest population.
  • Extreme rainfall events have been wiping out soil nutrient reserves, generating a negative impact on the crops.
  • Excessive rainfall will lower soil fertility and turn it acidic.
  • With the topsoil washed away there will be a depletion in organic matter.
  • According to a study, thermosensitive crops like cocoa, black pepper, cardamom, coffee and tea may be under threat as the temperature range across the Cardamom Hill Reserve (CHR) of Idukki district is increasing.
  • While poor rain affects pepper pollination, leading to a dip in production, change in humidity levels will influence the size and quality of coffee beans.


  • Paddy farmers are a worried lot since incessant summer showers had wreaked havoc in Kuttanad, destroying the harvest-ready puncha crop in April 2022.
  • Moreover, heavy summer rainfall aggravated bacterial leaf blight disease in paddy and this year a lot of farmers had to suffer yield losses.

Sugar cane

  • In Marayur, sugar cane farmers lost an entire season.
  • During this time Kerala witnessed an exceptionally high rainfall of 105.5 mm against the normal of 11.0 mm.

Impact of climate change

  • Since climate-related crop failure has activated a shift in the cropping system where non-foodgrain crops are steadily replacing foodgrain crops.

Prelims Takeaway

  • Sugarcane
  • Paddy
  • Cashew nut
  • Cardamom
  • Climate change and its impact on agriculture