The Impact of Disasters on Agriculture and Food Security

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • Recently, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has released “The Impact of Disasters on Agriculture and Food Security” report highlighting the extensive economic losses in agriculture over the past three decades.
  • This report emphasizes the need for proactive measures to enhance agriculture’s resilience and mitigate the impact of future natural disasters on global food production.

Key Highlights of the Report

Economic Impact of Natural Disasters on Agriculture:

AspectKey Information
Total Economic Loss$3.8 trillion in the last 30 years ($123 billion per year), accounting for 5% of the annual global agricultural GDP.
CerealsAverage annual loss of 69 million tonnes, equivalent to France’s entire cereal production in 2021.
Fruits, Vegetables, and Sugar CropsAverage annual losses of 40 million tonnes, equivalent to the entire production of these items in countries like Japan and Vietnam in 2021.
Meats, Dairy Products, and EggsAnnual loss of 16 million tonnes, equivalent to the entire production of these items in significant countries like Mexico and India in 2021.


Regional Disparities in Agricultural Losses:

RegionEconomic Loss as Percentage of Agricultural ValueKey Observations
Asia4%Despite significant losses, Asia’s robust agricultural output and diverse economy contribute to resilience.
Africa8%High losses underscore Africa’s vulnerability and the need for focused interventions to enhance resilience.
AmericasModerateThe Americas manage losses efficiently due to economic stability.
EuropeModerateEurope, like the Americas, handles losses well due to economic resilience.

 Factors Contributing to Vulnerability:

Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events

  • Increasing number of global disaster events, with a quadrupling since the 1970s.
  • Climate change leads to more frequent and severe extreme weather events, harming crops and livestock.

Dependency on Natural Resources

  • Agriculture relies on resources like water, soil, and suitable weather, which are negatively affected by disasters.

Limited Access to Technology and Resources

  • Small farmers in poorer countries lack access to modern farming tools and financial resources, making them vulnerable.

Building Resilience in Agriculture

Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA):

·       CSA is a comprehensive approach designed to help agricultural system managers effectively respond to the challenges posed by climate change.

·       It encourages the adoption of practices and technologies that enhance agricultural resilience to climate-related risks, reduce environmental impact, and improve overall agricultural sustainability.

·       CSA integrates sustainable farming practices, climate adaptation measures, and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thus promoting a more resilient and environmentally conscious agricultural sector in India.

  • The FAO report emphasizes the need for improved data collection and multisectoral disaster risk reduction strategies to enhance agriculture’s resilience.
  • These priorities provide a strategic framework for policymakers, practitioners, and communities to mitigate the impact of climate-related disasters on agriculture.

Improving Data and Information

  • Precise data collection and analysis help identify vulnerabilities and inform policymaking.

Multisectoral and Multi-Hazard Disaster Risk Reduction

  • A holistic approach integrating disaster risk reduction across sectors builds resilience.

Investments in Resilience

  • Developing resilient crops, creating infrastructure, and setting up early warning systems are essential investments in reducing disaster risks.


  • The FAO report underscores the urgent need to address the economic losses in agriculture due to natural disasters.
  • Proactive measures, multisectoral approaches, and investments in resilience are crucial to safeguard global food production in the face of climate-related challenges.
Indian government initiatives to promote sustainable agriculture and environmental protection:

·       National Mission of Sustainable Agriculture (2010): This mission aims to promote the efficient and sustainable management of resources for agricultural development. It encourages the adoption of sustainable farming practices.

·       Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY – 2015): PMKSY encourages the adoption of micro-irrigation and drip irrigation systems, aiming to conserve water in agriculture, particularly in water-stressed regions.

·       Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana: This program promotes climate-smart agricultural practices and the adoption of appropriate technologies to enhance sustainability.

·       Green India Mission (2014): The mission focuses on enhancing and protecting forest covers, thus contributing to climate change mitigation and ecological balance.

·       Soil Health Card Scheme: This initiative facilitates soil testing and provides guidance to farmers regarding the appropriate use of fertilizers, aiming to maintain soil fertility and reduce chemical inputs.

·       Neem-Coated Urea: Introduced to curtail the excessive usage of urea fertilizers; this initiative safeguards soil health and promotes sustainable agricultural practices.

·       Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF): ZBNF is an innovative agricultural practice that promotes natural farming without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, emphasizing sustainability.

·       National Project on Organic Farming: This project encourages the adoption of organic farming techniques, which are more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

·       National Agroforestry Policy: Promotes agroforestry as a means to enhance both financial benefits and ecosystem conservation.

·       Organic Farming Initiatives in States: States like Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Sikkim have actively promoted and adopted organic farming practices to ensure sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural production.

·       ICAR Climate-Resilient Villages: The establishment of climate-resilient villages in 151 districts focuses on building villages with a positive carbon footprint, contributing to climate change mitigation.

·       Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA – 2005): MGNREGA provides employment opportunities, economic stability, and environmental conservation in rural areas, contributing to sustainable development.

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