KOTTAYAM: Soaring mercury levels have had an unanticipated fallout in state- It’s bearing down on the ailing rubber sector already beset with a string of other issues, including plunging rubber prices.
A study conducted by Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) has found out that streaks of extreme temperatures have become more frequent in recent years in the district, the major rubber growing belt in Kerala. An analysis of the data of daily maximum and minimum temperatures from 1970 to 2010, conducted by the Climate Change and Ecosystem Studies Division of RRII, shows clear indications of the warming trend, which can be ascribed to the incidence of climate change in the region. “The production of latex in rubber trees is closely related to the atmospheric temperature. The productivity of the crop falls as the atmospheric temperature moves up beyond a threshold level,” the study cites. Earlier studies have clearly indicated that an upstick in atmospheric temperature would adversely affect the rubber production in the traditional rubber growing regions in India.
Going by the results of these empirical studies, the impact of such recurring extreme weather events could have dire ramifications on rubber cultivation and the livelihood of farmers in the region.
The socio-economic sustainability of the region is largely dependent on rubber, and hence farmers will have to adopt precautionary and climate resilient measures to blunt and ward off the adverse effects of temperature stress. The study found that diurnal temperature range (difference between monthly mean maximum and minimum temperatures) increased from 7.80 degrees celsius during 1970s to 9.20 degrees celsius in recent years.
The occurrence of warm days (with temperature above 320C) also grew at a rate of 0.56% per year. The number of days with minimum temperature slipped significantly, indicating that muggy nights are becoming more in the district during recent years. The monthly highest temperature showed an increase of 0.0380 degrees celsius per year during 1970 to 2010. Persistence of high temperature consecutively for six days or more represents a warm spell.
The number of such warm spells also jumped and the gaps between warm spells became shorter in recent years.
If such events persist, it may prove detrimental to the entire agricultural ecology of the region.