Climate Crisis Creating a Marriage Crisis for Farmers in India

Photo: Yogita, Wikipedia, CC BY-NC

By Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer

Climate change is having long-term effects on the marriage prospects of farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India, The Conversation reported today. As part of a larger project running from 2018 to 2021, the researchers interviewed over 1000 farmers to learn about the “increasing vulnerability of agriculture” in the region.  What they found was, in their own words, “unexpected.”

  • As agriculture becomes more precarious given the rise in temperatures, disturbances to rainfall, natural disasters, and other consequences of climate change, farmers have less economic security.
  • Given this economic precarity, the researchers found, “many parents no longer want farmers as their son-in-law” as “the eligible women instead prefer to marry employees (particularly government employees), who earn a stable monthly income.”

Why This Matters: As the researchers note in their study, “the focus on climate change hitherto has mostly focused on the impacts on the natural environment.” What this new research makes clear is how climate change impacts social lives around the world, particularly in the Global South where its impacts are greatest. The marriage crisis in India will, in turn, have numerous long-term effects on cultural practices, migration patterns, and global food systems.  And if it is happening there, chances there is a marriage crisis in farm country in other places too.

Impacts of Climate Change

The researchers– Komali Kantamaneni, Komali Yenneti, Louis Rice, and Luiza C. Campos– showed that climate change is leading to a marriage crisis in Andhra Pradesh.  The study estimates that “just over half” of the farmers in Andhra Pradesh are experiencing a barrier to marriage. Already, the state, which is the tenth-largest state in India in terms of population, is feeling the impact of both climate change and the resulting marriage crisis. As the researchers write, India in particular faces “complex challenges,” including a “shrinking amount of agricultural land, depletion of water and irrigation sources and increased labor costs.” By the end of the 21st century, crop reduction is expected to be reduced by 10-40% in India.

Andhra Pradesh is experiencing the consequences of climate change-induced agricultural instability. As the researchers write, “the majority of the farmers said they are not getting married because of their farming profession.” In the words of one farmer from Guntur district, “I am searching for a suitable bride for eight years and still not yet married.” Because of this crisis, according to the study, “a significant number of farmers are effectively forced to migrate to other regions (or states in their respected regions) in order to cope.”

Moving Forward  

The study makes a number of policy recommendations to be adopted in India that both address agricultural precarity and prepare farmers to “cope up with the risks” of climate change. They recommend the identification of sustainable and resilient farming practices, crop diversification, expanding irrigation, and more. These policies would help “support adaptation and a household level,” allowing for farmers’ livelihoods to be less vulnerable to climate change.

These measures would need to be in conjunction with other widespread changes. A report released last month by the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences highlighted the disastrous impact climate change could have on India, noting that the average temperature of the country may increase by 4.4℃ (or 39.92℉) by 2100.

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