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Climate change could affect wheat production, says government report

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NEW DELHI: A one degree celsius rise in temperature associated with increase in carbondioxide in atmosphere could hit wheat production in India unless “adaptation” strategies are adopted, according to a government report on climate change.

In the absence of adaptation and CO2 fertilisation benefits, a one degree Celsius rise in temperature alone could lead to a decrease of six million tonnes of wheat production, the report submitted to the UN said.

India had a record wheat production at 85.93 million tonnes in 2010-11 crop year.

“Magnitude of the impact of climate change on wheat production in India assessed through simulation studies indicated that an increase in 1 degree Celsius mean temperature, associated with CO2 increase, would not cause any significant loss to wheat production in India, if simple adaptation strategies such as change in planting date and varieties are used,” said India’s second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, released by Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan here today.

Such strategies can reduce the extent of loss caused by high temperature, it said.

It also said that the benefits of such simple adaptation strategies gradually decrease as temperature increases to 5 degree Celsius. According to it, “the annual mean surface air temperature rise by the end of the century ranges from 3.5 degree Celsius to 4.3 degree Celsius.

The study, however, found that “a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide to 550 ppm under controlled environment condition, enhanced the yields of wheat, chikpea, green gram, pigeon pea, soybean,tomato and potato between 14 per cent and 27 per cent”.

“These enhancements were largely due to the increase in number of storage organs. In most of the crops, this was accompanied by a small reduction (2 to 10 per cent) in the protein content. In plantation crops like coconut, areca nut and cocoa, increased CO2 led to higher biomass,” the report said.

CO2 fertilisation refers to a scenario where it is expected that higher ambient carbondioxide concentrations will lead to greater photosynthesis by plants and thus offset the impact on climate.

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