Climate change may prove beneficial to Kerala in select sectors notwithstanding its negative impacts, including sea-level rise.

The silver lining in the cloud is that it will increase the production of cocoa, coconut, and arecanut and positively influence the recruitment and catches of oil sardine during the post-south-west monsoon, says the second national communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The communication was prepared by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

A prediction on coconut farming made using a “validated coconut simulation model” stated that the yields were likely to be “positively influenced” by an increase in carbon dioxide (CO) and temperature of up to three degree Celsius. Researchers used the simulation model where the impact of elevated temperature and CO on coconut yields was simulated for different agro-climatic zones, it said.

Besides Kerala, coconut yields in parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra will go up with increase in temperature, provided the current level of water and management are maintained. At the same time, there will be nothing for the coconut farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Gujarat, and some parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to cheer about as a fall in production has been predicted.

Rice production

The report stated that the productivity of irrigated rice was likely to be reduced by 4 per cent in most of the areas in the Western Ghats region whereas “irrigated rice in parts of southern Karnataka and northern-most districts of Kerala was likely to gain.”

In case of rain-fed rice, there can be 10 per cent loss in yields in the region, it said.

Aracanut sector

Karanataka's loss in arecanut production owing to an increase in temperature even by 1 degree Celsius can be Kerala's gain, says the paper. In central Kerala, arecanut production is likely to be benefitted due to an increase in temperature. A 10 per cent reduction in rainfall during July and August will also improve the yields significantly, the forecast said.

In the plantation crop sector, cocoa will also be “influenced indirectly by the increase in atmospheric temperature. Analysis indicated that a rise in temperature by 1 degree Celsius should be beneficial for crop productivity.” The improvement in production, according to the report, was projected to be about 100 kg of dry beans per hectare.

The cocoa-growing foothills of the Western Ghats of Karnataka are more likely to benefit from the increased temperature than the plantations in the central Kerala. If the temperature increases beyond 3 degree Celsius, cocoa yield may come down, it said.

However, the report cautioned that the “crop management and irrigation supply should be maintained or improved” to exploit the benefits of climate change.

Fisheries

In the fisheries sector, “an increase in recruitment and catches of oil sardine during the post-south-west monsoon season along the coastal region, especially along the Kerala coast,” has been predicted.

The elevated sea surface temperature, favourable wind, and increasing coastal upwelling index can lead to the changes. It was also predicted that the “Indian mackerel will be able to take advantage of the increase in temperatures of subsurface sea water.”

Keywords: Climate change

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