Impact of Global Climate Change on
Floriculture in India
By: S.C. Sharma* & R.K.
Climate change is one of the most
important global environmental challenges in the history of mankind. It is
mainly caused by increasing concentration of Green House Gases (GHGs) in the
atmosphere. In 1980s, scientific evidences linking GHGs emission due to human
activities causing global climate change, started to concern everybody.
Subsequently, United Nations General Assembly in 1992 formed Intergovernmental
Negotiating Committee for Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which
finally adopted the framework for addressing climate change concerns.
The Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) has been publishing periodic assessment reports on
atmospheric carbon concentration and its likely impact on the environment. The
IPCC in its 4th Assessment Report states that emission of global GHGs
has increased since pre-industrial times, with an increase of 70% between 1970
and 2004. The big challenge before the international community is to limit the
emission of green house gases by 2050 and measurably by 2020.
Climate of the planet earth is
always in a state of change as a natural process influenced by both natural
variability and induced environmental changes due to anthropogenic reasons.
Natural causes include continental drift, volcanoes, earth’s tilt, and ocean
current while human causes are GHGs, agricultural practices, energy sources,
waste disposal, depleting forest cover, etc. However, the reason for worry is
that climate change is taking place at a much faster rate than expected by the
human interference. The consequences of such rapid change are - global warming,
change of seasonal pattern, excessive rain, melting of ice cap, flood, rising
sea level, drought, etc. leading to extremity of all kinds. The implications
will be wide spread but specially on the food production (agriculture /
horticulture), forest ecosystem, health, energy, etc. Vulnerability, rarity and
rapid extinction of plant species will be among other consequences.
Plants are key components of the
ecosystem and are greatly influenced by climatic and geographical factors.
Therefore, climate change has a direct impact on agriculture and horticulture as
the basic factors for crop production are being influenced. Overall, a low
production of horticultural crops is feared due to the climate change. Assuming
a global temperature rise of 4.4oC by 2080 over the cultivated areas,
India’s agricultural output is projected to fall by 30-40% which would be quite
alarming unless proper remedial measures are taken. Further, occurrence of new
diseases, pests together with severity of the existing ones is also foreseen.
Some of the well established commercial varieties of fruits, vegetables and
flowers will perform poorly in an unpredictable manner.
India is becoming a strong centre
of commercial floriculture in the international market. During the last 5-7
years, there was a great surge in the floricultural activity in the production
of flowers (cut and loose), ornamental plants (potted and cut-greens) and dry
flowers (value added products), besides marketing. The horticultural sector
contributed around 28% of the GDP annually from 13.08% of the area and 37% of
the total exports of agricultural commodities (2004-05).
Albeit, India’s present
contribution in the global floricultural export market is negligible (about
0.4%) as compared to Netherlands (58%), Columbia (14%), Ecuador (7%), Kenya
(5%), Israel (2%), Italy (2%), Spain (2%) and others 10%, it is not far when
India will come up as a major grower/exporter by virtue of well planned policies
formulated by the Government of India backed with foreign technologies for green
Impact of Climate
Change on Floriculture
The impact of climate change on
flowering plants and crops will be more pronounced. Melting of ice cap in the
Himalayan regions will reduce chilling required for the flowering of many of the
ornamental plants like Rhododendron, Orchid, Tulipa, Alstromerea, Magnolia,
Saussurea, Impatiens, Narcissus etc. Some of them will fail to bloom or flower
with less abundance while others will be threatened. Indigenous species in the
natural habitat will be under threat for not getting favourable agro-climatic
conditions for their proliferation. Western Ghats and surrounding regions may be
deprived of normal precipitation due to abnormal monsoon. Plant species
requiring high humidity and water may find them under difficult conditions for
survival. Plains of India will also have similar kind of problems and will be
affected either by drought or excessive rains, floods and seasonal variations.
Commercial production of flowers
particularly grown under open field conditions will be severely affected leading
to poor flowering, improper floral development and colour besides reduction in
flower size and short blooming period.
In view of these problems,
horticulturists will have to play a significant role in the climate change
scenario and proper strategies have to be envisaged for saving
horticulture/floriculture from future turmoil. The most effective way to address
climate change is to adopt a sustainable development pathway, besides using
renewable energy, forest and water conservation, reforestation etc. Awareness
and educational programmes for the growers, modification of present
horticultural practices and greater use of green house technology are some of
the solutions to minimize the effect of climate change. Hi-tech horticulture is
to be adopted in an intensive way. It is necessary that selection of plant
species/cultivars is to be considered keeping in view the effects of climate
change. The performance of different seasonals may not be satisfactory due to
shorter and warmer winter. Judicious water utilization in the form of drip, mist
and sprinkler will be a key factor to deal with the drought conditions.
Development of new cultivars of floricultural crops tolerant to high
temperature, resistant to pests and diseases, short duration and producing good
yield under stress conditions, will be the main strategies to meet this
Botanic Garden & Floriculture and Emeritus Scientist (CSIR), National Botanical
Research Institute, Lucknow-226001.
(Floriculture), Botanic Garden Division, National Botanical Research Institute,