Heatwave in India threatens crucial wheat harvest and residents

heatwave in india threatens crucial wheat harvest and residents

A record-breaking heatwave and continuous dry spell in India has exposed hundreds of millions to dangerous temperatures and is damaging the country’s wheat harvest, which analysts say could hit countries looking to make up imports of the grain from conflict-hit Ukraine.

With a few states in India’s breadbasket central and northern regions seeing forecasts of 120 Fahrenheit (48.9 Celsius) this week, experts fear a range of lasting impacts, both international and local, from the sustained hot spell.

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, told U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this month that India could step in to ease the shortage of wheat created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The two nations account for nearly a third of all global wheat exports. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) has cautioned that the conflict could render about 8-13 million people undernourished by next year.

India’s wheat grain exports reached 8.7 million tons in the fiscal year ending in March, with the government forecasting record production levels—nearly 122 million tons—in 2022.

The heatwave is impacting India’s principal wheat cultivating regions particularly hard, with temperatures this week set to hit 112 F in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh: 109 F in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh; and 120 F in Chandigarh, Punjab.