The El Niño phenomenon is likely to impact India’s weather in 2023,
affecting the country’s agriculture sector.
The annual monsoon rains are usually the worst-hit by this phenomenon.
Considering how important these rains are for its agricultural sector and the
overall economy, El Niño is a major cause
for worry for India, which is already battling inflation.
believe El Niño, which generally occurs every 3-5 years, could cause earth’s
temperature to cross the 1.5°C threshold briefly, The Business Standard reported
today (Jan. 23). The phenomenon arises
when sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean rise.
“Just how severe El
Niño will be and whether it will happen will get clearer by March,” Mrutyunjay
Mohapatra, director-general of India meteorological department (IMD), told
If El Niño does
take effect, then parts of Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh may
experience drought-like conditions while central and northwestern India could
experience severe heatwaves, the report said.
“Data shows that El
Niño has had an overbearing impact on Indian rainfall and 80 per cent of the El
Niño years have seen below-normal rains in the country, while others have also
been outright drought years,” the newspaper said.
El Nino, therefore, often causes a shortage of agricultural commodities
in India, causing food prices to surge in the country.
El Niño’s impact on India’s GDP and inflation
The monsoon months June-September are crucial for Indian farmers. Nearly
70% of the subcontinent receives rain during this period.
Agriculture, which largely depends on the monsoon, accounts for 20%
of India’s GDP. It has a major bearing on inflation in the country.
Food price inflation accounts for nearly 40% of India’s consumer price
index (CPI) basket. In December, India’s CPI fell to a one-year
low of 5.72%, well within the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) comfort range of 2-6%. However, an
RBI paper (pdf) released
last week noted that inflation may breach the central bank’s upper limit of 6%
in the coming months. Any challenges on the supply front could increase volatility
in food prices, and in turn food inflation, the paper stated.
Poor rainfall, brought about by El Nino, could bring down the output of
commodities like rice, sugar, cereals, pulses and others, creating a shortage
and increasing their prices. Besides, the farm sector employs nearly half of
India’s workforce. When production
falls, it not only fuels commodity prices, it also affects incomes badly.