Assessing the costs of ozone pollution in India for wheat producers, consumers, and government food welfare policies

Divya Pandey*, Katrina Sharps, David Simpson, Bharat Ramaswami, Roger Cremades, Nathan Booth, Chubamenla Jamir, Patrick Büker, Vinayak Sinha, Baerbel Sinha, Lisa D. Emberson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We assess wheat yield losses occurring due to ozone pollution in India and its economic burden on producers, consumers, and the government. Applying an ozone flux–based risk assessment, we show that ambient ozone levels caused a mean 14.18% reduction in wheat yields during 2008 to 2012. Furthermore, irrigated wheat was particularly sensitive to ozone-induced yield losses, indicating that ozone pollution could undermine climate-change adaptation efforts through irrigation expansion. Applying an economic model, we examine the effects of a counterfactual, “pollution-free” scenario on yield losses, wheat prices, consumer and producer welfare, and government costs. We explore three policy scenarios in which the government support farmers at observed levels of either procurement prices (fixed-price), procurement quantities (fixed-procurement), or procurement expenditure (fixed-expenditure). In pollution-free conditions, the fixed-price scenario absorbs the fall in prices, thus increasing producer welfare by USD 2.7 billion, but total welfare decreases by USD 0.24 billion as government costs increase (USD 2.9 billion). In the fixed-procurement and fixed-expenditure scenarios, ozone mitigation allows wheat prices to fall by 38.19 to 42.96%. The producers lose by USD 5.10 to 6.01 billion, but the gains to consumers and governments (USD 8.7 to 10.2 billion) outweigh these losses. These findings show that the government and consumers primarily bear the costs of ozone pollution. For pollution mitigation to optimally benefit wheat production and maximize social welfare, new approaches to support producers other than fixed-price grain procurement may be required. We also emphasize the need to consider air pollution in programs to improve agricultural resilience to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2207081120
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. D.P., L.D.E., and P.B. acknowledge the Norwegian Research Council–funded CiXPAG project (grant no. 244551) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) for financial support to this study under its Gender and Social Equity program. D.P. also acknowledges the Alexander von Humboldt foundation for the postdoctoral fellowship that supported her continuing working on the manuscript at ZALF after she moved from SEI. D.S. was supported by EMEP under UNECE. Computer time for EMEP model runs was provided by the Research Council of Norway through the NOTUR project NN2890K. Additional funding for work done by K.S. was from the UK Natural Environment Research Council, as part of the SUNRISE program, a National Capability Long-Term Science–Official Development Assistance project, NEC06476. V.S. and B.S. thank the IISER Mohali Atmospheric Chemistry Facility for data and the Ministry of Education, India, and IISER Mohali for funding the facility. The funders did not interfere with the study design, analysis, and preparation of manuscript or decision to publish.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 the Author(s).


  • air pollution
  • food security
  • ozone-flux
  • wheat prices
  • wheat production

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