Cabinet okays Rs 350 crore for developing climate-coping crops

Of the total the outlay for national initiative on climate-resilient agriculture, Rs 250 crore will be spent on strategic research, including vulnerability of various crops, whereas about Rs 70 crore will go to showcase new crops and livestock that can withstand the impacts of climate change.

A network of laboratories under the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) will now carry out vulnerability assessment for major rain-fed crops like maize, pigeon-pea and black gram as well as irrigated crops like rice, wheat and chickpea in 15 agro-climatic zones. Vulnerability of tomato and mango will also be assessed.

“We will also take our best available technologies to farmers in 100 districts where one stress or another is occurring frequently. We will demonstrate the best-bet management practices,” A K Singh, deputy director general in-charge of natural resource management at the ICAR told Deccan Herald.

The technologies will be transferred through Krishi Vigyan Kendras.
Equipment will be set up within the next two years to find out how much green house gas is being emitted from the farm fields. New fishing zones and strategies will also be identified.

“Whatever we will be doing in this programme will go as the input to the national action plan on sustainable agriculture—one of the eight missions under the Prime Minister’s National Action Plan on Climate Change,” Singh said.

Under the initiative for climate-resilient agriculture, scientists have to spend Rs 200 crore in 2010-11 and Rs 150 crore in 2011-12 on research infrastructure, capacity building and on-farm technology demonstration. “It can be done as we are ready,” Singh said.
The ICAR is making blueprints of a Green Research Fund, to develop improved quality climate-coping crops, livestock, poultry and fisheries.

About one lakh farmers will directly benefit through the on-farm demonstration of climate resilient technologies while the long term strategic research evolves climate-coping technologies that can be used by millions, official sources said.

Even though no nation-wide project exists at the moment, a recent biodiversity hotspot-specific assessment commissioned by the Union Environment Ministry shows productivity of rice will be on the decline in the Western Ghats, coastal areas and the North-east reportedly due to the changes in the climate.

For rain-fed crops like maize and sorghum, the impact will be varied with rise in productivity in one location and dip in another spot.

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