Agri Business

Climate change may not always harm crops, says horticulture expert

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on November 10, 2017

Climate change per se will have implications for horticultural crops but it is far from being an ‘open-and-shut case', according to a leading scientist and researcher.

Climate-induced changes need not always be harmful for these crops, says Dr H.P. Singh, Deputy Director-General (Horticulture), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

His comments came during his key-note address at a national seminar on ‘Climate change and food security: Challenges and opportunities for tuber crops' that began here on Thursday at the Central Tuber Crop Research Institute (CTCRI). The three-day event is organised jointly by the Indian Society for Root Crops and CTCRI.

Horticulture has emerged as the best option for crop diversification not just for meeting needs of food, nutrition and healthcare but also providing better returns from land and opportunities for employment, Dr Singh said.

These crops would expectedly suffer from the erratic rainfall, water shortage and enhanced biotic and abiotic stresses induced by climate change.

However, revealing the ‘sunny side' of climate change, he said incremental carbon dioxide concentration may aid faster photosynthesis and the increased temperature may hasten maturity. “We must evolve measures to adapt to these changes, which are critical for sustainable production,” Dr Singh pointed out.

On a different plane, increased temperature could hit the reproductive biology and the reduced water availability affect productivity. But adaptive mechanism such as time adjustment and productive use of water can reduce this negative impact.

Farm strategies should identify the gene tolerant to high temperature, flooding and drought; nutrient-efficient cultivars; and a production system for efficient use of nutrient water.

Strategies must also address water-use efficiency, and cultural practices that conserve water and promote crop. Dr Singh also called for the use of genomics and biotechnology to develop climate-resilient horticultural crops tolerant to high temperature, moisture stress and salinity. All these would need highly-prioritised research, he added. Enhancing the tropical production system's ability to adapt to changing climatic conditions is a great challenge and would require integrated efforts and an efficient strategy to deliver the required technologies.

We have to deepen our knowledge of carbon sequestration through perennial horticulture, which could in turn help increase through carbon trading, Dr Singh said.

Published on January 25, 2011

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