Climate change and land-use in Indian agriculture

Peer Reviewed
30 September 2021

Pratap S. Birthal, Jaweriah Hazrana, Digvijay S. Negi, Subhash C. Bhan


Using spatially disaggregated district-level data from India, this study has investigated the impact of climate change, especially rising temperature, on land use in agriculture or cropping patterns, presupposing that climate change influences farmers’ acreage allocation decisions via its effects on crops’ comparative yield advantage. The findings show that excess temperature negatively impacts crop yields, and the impact is higher in the plausible future climate scenarios. Under the greenhouse gas representative concentration pathway RCP4.5, the yields of different crops are lower by 1.8 to 6.6% in the medium-term (2041–2060) and 7.2 to 23.6% in the long-term (2061–2080). The heterogeneity in the crops’ yield response to temperature, however, does not lead to any notable intra- and inter-regional shifts in the cropping patterns. The area shares of different crops decline by 0.1 to 0.4 percentage points in the medium-term and 0.4 to 1.3 percentage points in the long-term. This evidence suggests limited prospects for adaptation to climate change through adjustments in land use. The future adaptation strategies should, therefore, be built around the innovations in crop breeding for stress tolerance, higher yields and resource-use efficiency, management of land and water resources, and formal risk-mitigating mechanisms such as crop insurance and hedging.


•  Excess temperature reduces crop yields, but the yield response  differs across crops.

•  Even with the heterogeneous effect on temperature on crop yields there is no perceptible change in land use.

•  Prospects for adaptation to climate change through adjustments in land use are limited, and to manage climate risks the recourse has to be with other adaptation strategies.


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Publication reference
Birthal, P. S., Hazrana, J., Negi, D. S., & Bhan, S. C. (2021). Climate change and land-use in Indian agriculture. Land Use Policy, 109, 105652. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2021.105652

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Publication | 17 August 2021