PM Modi releases climate resilient crop varieties: How will they help India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched 35 crop varieties which are climate resilient. He said that climate change is a big challenge for agriculture and the entire ecosystem and stressed on the need to step up efforts to fight it.
According to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the crops launched today have special traits and will lead to awareness about the adoption of climate resilient technologies.
What are these crop varieties with special traits?
The crop varieties have been developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to address the twin challenges of climate change and malnutrition. They are climate resistant and have high nutrition content, the PMO said in a release.
The 35 varieties include a drought tolerant variety of chickpea, wilt and sterility mosaic resistant pigeonpea, early maturing variety of soybean, disease resistant varieties of rice and biofortified varieties of wheat, pearl millet, maize and chickpea, quinoa, buckwheat, winged bean and faba bean.
Climate change and its impact on agriculture
A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last month said that climate change will have economy-wide repercussions in India if not mitigated, and could lead to shrinking of the agriculture cover in the country.
The IPCC report also said that the impact of climate crisis, like changing monsoon patters, rising sea levels, deadlier heat waves, intense storms and flooding will pose an acute risk to the agriculture sector.
According to ongoing studies by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), farming now consumes up to 30% more water due to “high evaporative demand and crop duration due to forced maturity” in states such as Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan.
The need for climate resilient crop
Experts have been warning about the adverse effects of climate change for years. And India turned it into an important area of concern for India to ensure food and nutritional security for growing population. Accordingly, National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) was launched under ICAR on 2011.
According to ICAR, the project aims to enhance resilience of crops to climate change through strategic research and technology demonstration. It also covers livestock, fisheries and natural resource management. The ICAR also said that climate change is predicted to reduce agricultural yields by 4.5 to 9 per cent.
According to a June presentation by the Union finance ministry, Indian scientists are focussing on developing climate resilient crops, instead of just going for higher yield varieties. "Varieties tolerant to diseases, insects pests, drought, salinity, and flooding, early maturing and amenable to mechanical harvesting also developed," the ministry said in its presentation.
The crops will also address the anti-nutritional factors
According to PMO, these special traits crop varieties also include those that address the anti-nutritional factors found in some crops that adversely affect human and animal health.
According to national library of medicine, anti-nutritional factor can be defined as those substances generated in natural food substances by the normal metabolism of species and by different mechanisms which exert effects contrary to optimum nutrition.
The PMO said that crop varieties like Pusa Double Zero Mustard 33, first Canola quality hybrid RCH 1 with <2% erucic acid and <30 ppm glucosinolates, and a soybean variety free from two anti-nutritional factors namely Kunitz trypsin inhibitor and lipoxygenase. Other varieties with special traits have been developed in soybean, sorghum, and baby corn, among others, it added.