How India’s rice production can adapt to climate change challenges, a study

Asha Bajaj
3 min readMar 14, 2021

#India;#RiceProduction; #ClimateChange; #Adaptation; #WaterAvailability; #FAO;

New York/Canadian-Media: As the global population grows, the demand for food increases while arable land shrinks. A new University of Illinois study investigates how rice production in India can meet future needs by adapting to changing climate conditions and water availability.

Farmworkers plant rice transplants at the Borlaug Institute for South Asia’s research farm in Bihar, India. Image Credit: University of Illinois.

“Rice is the primary crop in India, China, and other countries in Southeast Asia. Rice consumption is also growing in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world,” says Prasanta Kalita, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at U of I and lead author on the study.

“If you look at where they traditionally grow rice, it is countries that have plenty of water, or at least they used to. They have tropical weather with heavy rainfall they depend on for rice production. Overall, about 4,000 liters of water go into production and processing per kilogram of rice,” he states.

Climate change is likely to affect future water availability, and rice farmers must implement new management practices to sustain production and increase yield, Kalita says.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates the world population will grow by two billion people by 2050, and food demand will increase by 60%.

“We will need multiple efforts to meet that demand,” Kalita states. “And with two billion more people, we will also need more water for crop production, drinking water, and industrial use.”

Kalita and his colleagues conducted the study at the Borlaug Institute for South Asia’s research farm in Bihar, India. Farmers in the region grow rice during the monsoon season when heavy rainfall sustains the crop.

The researchers collected data on rice yield and climate conditions, then used computer simulations to model future scenarios based on four global climate models. The purpose of the study was to estimate rice yield and water demand by 2050, and evaluate how…



Asha Bajaj

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