25% of India Turning to Desert

Desertification, degradation could threaten food security

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 20, 2014 12:35 PM CDT

(Newser) – Nearly a quarter of India's land is turning to desert thanks to over-use of land, heavy grazing, and changing rainfall patterns, says the country's environment minister. He warns "land is becoming barren," and notes that could threaten food security in a country that houses 17% of the world's population on just 2% of its land, Reuters reports. Forbes points out 25% desertification is a much higher figure than the one an Indian scientific council put forth in 2007. At the time, it said it said roughly 10% of the country's land would become unusable desert by 2050, and by its calculations, India wouldn't hit the 25% threshold for at least a century. At this point, land degradation—which indicates a loss of productivity —is believed to be affecting 32% of the country's land.

In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 photo, Indian tourists enjoy riding a horse in the Thar Desert, about 311 miles from Ahmadabad, India.
In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 photo, Indian tourists enjoy riding a horse in the Thar Desert, about 311 miles from Ahmadabad, India.   (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
An Indian participant flies a train of kites at the International Kite Festival in the Thar Desert, in Dhordo, India.
An Indian participant flies a train of kites at the International Kite Festival in the Thar Desert, in Dhordo, India.   (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
An Indian participant flies a train of kites at the International Kite Festival in the Thar Desert, in Dhordo, India.
An Indian participant flies a train of kites at the International Kite Festival in the Thar Desert, in Dhordo, India.   (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 photo, Indian tourists enjoy camel ride in Thar Desert, about 311 miles from Ahmadabad, India.
In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 photo, Indian tourists enjoy camel ride in Thar Desert, about 311 miles from Ahmadabad, India.   (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 photo, Indian tourists enjoy camel ride in Thar Desert, about 311 miles from Ahmadabad, India.
In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 photo, Indian tourists enjoy camel ride in Thar Desert, about 311 miles from Ahmadabad, India.   (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
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