Weather sensitivity of rice yield: evidence from India

This study estimates the weather sensitivity of rice yield in India, using disaggregated (district) level information on rice and high resolution daily weather data over the period 1969-2007. Compared to existing India specific studies on rice which consider only the effects of nighttime (minimum) temperature, the present study takes into account the effects of both nighttime and daytime (maximum) temperatures along with other weather variables on rice yield. The results suggest that both nighttime and daytime temperatures adversely affect rice during different growth phases. The effect of higher nighttime temperature on rice yield was much lower than those estimated by previous studies. Further, the negative impact of higher daytime temperature on rice yield was much larger than the impact due to higher nighttime temperature. The study further estimates that average rice yield would have been 8.4 percent higher had the pre-1960 climatic conditions prevailed during the period of study. This translates into an annual average loss of 4.4 million tons/yr or a cumulative loss of 172 million tons over the 39 year period for India. The paper argues that such significant loss in rice production under climate change conditions in future will have strong implications for the region’s food-security and poverty, given that a large number of producers and consumers depend on rice for their livelihood and sustenance.