Wheat yield on decline due to temperature rise

July 6th, 2008 - 2:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) Global warming coupled with climate change will adversely affect wheat production in India, according to an industry study. The minimum rise of 0.5 degrees Celsius in winter temperatures will cause a 0.45 tonne fall in India’s wheat production per hectare, said the study. The average per hectare wheat production in India is 2.6-2.7 tonnes at current estimates.

The study was carried out jointly by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), and AgriWatch, a company that tracks India’s agriculture sector. The report, “Wheat Report-2008″, said wheat demand in the country was expected to cross 110 million tonnes by 2010, currently estimated at 73-75 million tonnes.

While the current level of production at 76 million tonnes is sufficient to meet current demand, there is a pressing need to maintain a compound average growth rate in production at 3.09 percent to meet the growing demand in the next 10 years.

Though demand is rising, the scope for a significant production increase is grim because of acreage constraints and global warming.

The report warns that if greenhouse gases are allowed to be accumulated in the atmosphere, the temperature is bound to soar, adversely impacting availability of water, cropping pattern, sowing and harvesting cycles, yield and productivity of field crops.

India needs to develop in advance crop varieties tolerant to high temperature and water stress, particularly for sustaining high grain production levels, it said.

“Given the constraints on expanding acreage under wheat, the prime need of the hour is to increase yields. All research efforts should be focused on achieving higher yields coupled with adaptability to changing weather. Breakthrough in high yielding seeds, new irrigation techniques to conserve water resources and depleted soil management is the need of the hour,” the report said.

The report added that the diversion of food grains and oilseeds for ethanol and bio-diesel production is bound to support rising prices. Thus, even if the production increased, prices may not decline significantly in the long term.

“With the cost of production rising with steep increase in inputs cost, the government is under pressure to increase the minimum support price, which in the last two years has increased by 43 percent,” it said.

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