General Studies Paper 1 (Geography of India & World)
Question:- 199. Briefly explain the concept of El Nino. What are the relevant government initiatives to protect Indian farmers and Indian agriculture from the harmful effects of El Nino? Answer in 250 words.
Feb 24, 2023


El Nino refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific. El Niño has an inverse relationship with monsoons, which means rainfall is usually subdued during such a year. This results in lower sowing and thus lower crop yields, thereby impacting farm incomes. India last witnessed the El Niño effect in 2018.




In a normal monsoon year (without El Nino), the coast of Peru in South America has a higher pressure than the region near northern Australia and South East Asia. The Indian Ocean is warmer than the adjoining oceans and so, has relatively lower pressure. Hence, moisture-laden winds move from near the western Pacific to the Indian Ocean. The pressure on the landmass of India is lower than on the Indian Ocean, and so, the moisture-laden winds move further from the ocean to the lands. This normal pressure distribution is affected in case of El Nino and hence, the monsoons are affected.

In El Nino years, the cool surface water off the Peruvian coast goes warm. When the water is warm, the normal trade winds get lost or reverse their direction. Hence, the flow of moisture-laden winds is directed towards the coast of Peru from the western Pacific (the region near northern Australia and South East Asia). This causes heavy rains in Peru during the El Nino years robbing the Indian subcontinent of its normal monsoon rains. The larger the temperature and pressure difference, the larger the rainfall shortage in India.




  1. 1. Mission Amrit Sarovar: It is a scheme of developing 75 ponds in each district to help reduce the dependence on rainfall.
  2. 2. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY): It is a crop insurance scheme launched by the government to protect farmers from crop loss due to various natural calamities, including drought, floods, and other weather-related events.
  3. 3. Soil Health Card scheme: This scheme aims to promote soil testing and provide farmers with the necessary information to help farmers to better manage their crops during periods of drought or other weather-related events.
  4. 4. National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA): This project aims to promote sustainable watershed management practices in rainfed areas to improve soil moisture and water availability for crops during drought periods.
  5. 5. National Food Security Mission (NFSM): It aims to increase the productivity of crops in rainfed areas through the adoption of better farming practices and the use of new technologies.
  6. 6. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY): It aims to promote efficient use of water resources in agriculture and increase water use efficiency to deal with drought and other weather-related events.
  7. 7. Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY): This scheme aims to promote agriculture development through various initiatives, including the development of rainfed agriculture and the use of modern technologies to improve crop productivity during drought periods.




Analysts say that rainfall deficit is a major factor that catalyses rural slowdown. Hence, there is a need to stress on three dimensions of rainfall – timing, total quantity, and distribution. Contingency plan at the district level should be in place; Seeds of late sowing variety should be available if the arrival of rainfall gets delayed; government should initiate water conservation and management, and closely watch the monsoon while maintaining water bodies; policymakers should have safeguards against too much dependence on rainfall to minimize the El Niño impact.