Hyderabad gets research centre for climate change

The research on the impact of climate change on crop diseases and insect pests will be the focus of an exclusive collaborative institution launched at the International Crop Research Institute for Semi–Arid Tropics (Icrisat).

How does climate change impact the onset and severity of diseases and insect pests? What is the potential damage it can do to the crops?

These issues will be addressed by the Centre of Excellence on Climate Change Research for Plant Protection, a joint research venture by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Icrisat.

Funded by the DST, the Climate Change Programme is for a three–year period. The overall goal is to establish facilities and provide opportunities for Icrisat and partner institutes to conduct research–for–development initiatives on climate change and its impact on diseases and insect–pests of legumes in the semi–arid tropics.

Diseases and insect pests cause huge crop losses, estimated to be over $8.48 billion annually, and these losses are likely to increase at least four–fold under the climate change scenario, according to a media release from Icrisat.

Icrisat Director-General Wil­liam Dar said the partn­ership will have a major bearing on envi­ron­m­e­nt–friendly pest mitigation strategies for the sustaina­ble production of grain le­gu­mes and in increasing food security in the dry land areas.

   Dr Akhilesh Gupta, Adviser, DST Climate Change Programme, said it was the only project among the 147 qualified under the programme that received full support after a long and stringent process of approval.

“The project is a long–term commitment of DST and we are confident that the knowledge and basic data to be generated from this initiative will be very useful for policy formulation on climate change at both the country and regional levels,” he said.

Climate change will lead to the emergence of more aggressive pest and pathogen populations, resulting in heavy losses by pest and disease epidemics particularly in grain legumes such as chickpea and pigeonpea.  The efforts at the new centre could serve as a platform to conduct targeted research to understand and mitigate the effects of climate change on plant and pest diseases.

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