'Global warming to affect wheat prod in next 10 yrs'

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New Delhi, Jul 6: An ASSOCHAM study sounded warning bells, saying wheat production in India would be adversely affected in the next 10-year as greenhouse gases would impact availability of water, sowing and harvesting cycles and change cropping patterns.

The ultimate impact would be on yield and productivity of field crops, the study entitled ''Wheat Report 2008 : Future Tense'' said. A minimum rise of 0.5 degree Celsius in winter temperatures due to accumulation of greenhouse gases in atmosphere may lead to 0.45 tonne per hectare fall in the country's wheat production in the next ten years, the study said. As per current estimates, the average per hectare wheat production in India is 2.6-2.7 tonnes.

Keeping it in view,the study says, India needs to develop advance crop varieties tolerant to high temperature and water stress, particularly for sustaining high grain production levels.

Punjab, which contributes almost 60 per cent of wheat in government procurement, is now facing acute problems of soil salinity, excessive pesticide residues, depleted ground and canal water supply, the report showed.

''And if it is not handled on war footing, it will be disastrous for country,'' it said.

Similarly, Haryana too is facing the same problems, though in a lesser way.

Besides, rise in prices of agricultural inputs like fertilisers, escalation in crude oil prices and diversion of foodgrains for producing alternative fuel, are also supporting the hike.

Due to this, the government is under pressure to increase the minimum support price, which in the last two years has increased by 43 per cent, the report highlighted.

Since 2000, India's wheat production has been almost stagnant, except during current year when preliminary estimates point towards a record wheat crop at 76.78 million tonnes, it said.

While the current level of production is sufficient to meet the present demand, there is a pressing need to maintain compound average growth rate (CAGR) in production at over three per cent to meet the growing demand in the next 10 years.

UNI

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