By Stewart Just, BSc/BA
Today we attended a seminar on “Climate Change and Food Security: The Global and Indian Contexts” at the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru. Our own Professor Bill (as he is called by almost all the academics we have met in India) laid out the broad picture of the interaction between climate change and food security. Other presentations, from scholars across India, covered the micro and macro issues related to climate change and food security. The overall message of the conference was that climate change will have several impacts on food security, primarily through ongoing urbanisation and changes in crop yields, but also on account of other changes such as the rise of supermarkets and fast food.
I was particularly interested by the presentation by Dr John Duncan from the University of Southampton. Dr Duncan spoke about his work in Odisha on natural disasters and resilience in regard to food security. According to his study the rice farmers affected by the 1999 cyclone in the region are in a state of ‘coping’ as rice farming is not remunerative and therefore does not provide a basis for the accumulation of assets. Because of this, the resilience of these rice farmers to climate stresses is in doubt. Other issues to be effected by climate change include agricultural development, policy and targeting of the ration system. What I heard made me reflect on our time in the Sacred Groves and the villages around Tuljapur. With the rise of extreme weather, I hope that these people and the governments of India will be able to uphold their situations.
The conference ended with a dinner and some dancing to the hit song ‘Jai Ho’. It was a great chance for us all to enjoy some relaxation together as our journey nears its end. We’ve had a bus breakdown, a plethora of miscommunications and several cases of ‘Delhi Belly’, but the group as a whole has done well to embrace these less planned parts of our adventure. The Indian people have been overly welcoming and accommodating and their energy has been infectious. I expect this Indian field school will thrive in the coming years as word spreads throughout the student body about the opportunity.