India is experiencing a severe drought (see Vandana Shiva). And if that is not enough, at the time of this writing India is hit by the worst flooding in many years, leaving millions of people homeless.
"Rice and other crops in an area of 260 000 hectares have been destroyed...The floods came at a critical time when many farmers had sowed their winter crops and much of this has been washed away or damaged." state Agriculture Minister N Raghuveera Rao said. It is the worst timing. The government has not announced plans to help residents deal with food shortages.
There were concerns among aid workers that the damage would likely set off a wave of migration to nearby towns and cities .....
Droughts and floods have become the demonic face of climate change for so many people, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. Though they seem contradictory phenomena, they are actually two sides of the same coin.
Indian government data show that water levels in the 80 some mayor reservoirs are holding less than 40% capacity. India has seen the scantiest monsoon season in 7 years, until now when a sudden abundance of late rainfall has resulted in flooding of large areas.
Since the monsoon rains account for more that 75% of India's annual rainfall, this is a source of serious concern. Fluctuations in the monsoon, the timing and the amount have large consequences. Farming is severely affected by this lack of rain: 60% of Indian farmers have no irrigation systems. The monsoon rains are essential to the harvest of rice, soy, sugarcane and cotton. Deepening the problem of lack of water is the use of hybrid seeds, some of which are real water guzzlers.
The official prognoses is that there will be a shortfall of about 10% of rice compared to 2008. The sudden current flooding will certainly make these numbers a lot worse. Food prices are sharply rising and the government has promised to open its storehouses in order to prevent social unrest and to compensate farmers. However for many farmers the situation is already dire. Andhra Pardesh saw a surge of farmer suicides (at least 20 at latest count), and some have tried to sell their wives and daughters in desperation.