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Diversifying Crops will Lighten Growing Climate Impact in India: Study

To reach this conclusion, the authors combined historical data on crop yields, temperature and rainfall

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diversifying crops, climate impact
"Expanding the area planted with these four alternative grains can reduce variations in Indian grain production caused by extreme climate, especially in the many places where their yields are comparable to rice. Wikimedia Commons

Diversifying the crops in India can be an effective way to adapt its food-production systems to the growing influence of extreme climate change, said US researchers including Indian-origin.

The team studied the effects of climate change on five major crops: finger millet, maize, pearl millet, sorghum and rice which make up the vast majority of grain production during the June-to-September monsoon season in India — with rice contributing three-quarters of the grain supply for the season.

Taken together, the five grains are essential for meeting India’s nutritional needs. In a paper published in Environmental Research Letters, Kyle Davis, environmental data scientist from the Data Science Institute at Columbia University found that the yields from grains such as millet, sorghum and maize are more resilient to extreme weather.

Their yields vary significantly less due to year-to-year changes in climate and generally experience smaller declines during droughts. But yields from rice, India’s main crop, experience larger declines during extreme weather conditions.

climate impact, diversifying crops
Their yields vary significantly less due to year-to-year changes in climate and generally experience smaller declines during droughts. Wikimedia Commons

“By relying more and more on a single crop — rice — India’s food supply is potentially vulnerable to the effects of varying climate,” said Davis, the lead author on the paper.

“Expanding the area planted with these four alternative grains can reduce variations in Indian grain production caused by extreme climate, especially in the many places where their yields are comparable to rice.

“Doing so will mean that the food supply for the country’s massive and growing population is less in jeopardy during times of drought or extreme weather,” he noted.

The co-authors on the paper are Ashwini Chhatre, Associate Professor at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad; Narasimha D. Rao, Assistant Professor at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; Deepti Singh, Assistant Professor at Washington State University in Vancouver; and Ruth DeFries, University Professor of Ecology and Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

diversifying crops, climate impact
To reach this conclusion, the authors combined historical data on crop yields, temperature and rainfall. Wikimedia Commons

Temperatures and rainfall amounts in India vary from year-to-year and influence the amount of crops that farmers can produce.

With episodes of extreme climate such as droughts and storms becoming more frequent, it’s essential to find ways to protect India’s crop production from these shocks, according to Davis.

ALSO READ: Conflict and Climate Change Largely Responsible for Rising Global Hunger, Finds Study

To reach this conclusion, the authors combined historical data on crop yields, temperature and rainfall. Data on the yields of each crop came from state agricultural ministries across India and covered 46 years (1966-2011) and 593 of India’s 707 districts.

“This study adds to the evidence that increasing the production of alternative grains in India can offer benefits for improving nutrition, for saving water, and for reducing energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture,” said Davis. (IANS)

Next Story

New York Governor Signs Ambitious Climate Change Bill with Goal of Slashing Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2030

He was joined by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who has made fighting global warming his life's work

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climate change
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, right, accompanied by former Vice President Al Gore, announces that he is signing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, Thursday, July 18, 2019, at Fordham University in New York. VOA

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an ambitious climate change bill Thursday with the goal of slashing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 85% below what they were in 1990.

“Cries for a new green movement are hollow political rhetoric if not combined with aggressive goals and a realistic plan on how to achieve them,” Cuomo said before signing the bill into law. He was joined by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who has made fighting global warming his life’s work. “We still have it within our power to grab hold of this crisis,” Gore said.

The measure Cuomo signed looks to use renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, to generate 70% of the state’s electric power by 2030. It also includes construction of massive wind farms off the coast of Long Island, which Cuomo said would generate enough electricity to power 1 million homes.

It was unclear how Cuomo and future New York state governments planned to put the ambitious plan into action. The governor and other state officials will put together a 22-member panel to devise that.

climate change
As the federal government retreats from dealing with climate change, major parts of corporate America are moving forward anyway. Pixabay

Warning about costs

Business leaders and utility companies, however, warned residents to expect higher electric bills because of the initial investment needed to build up solar and wind capacity.

ALSO READ: Education Institutions from Across the World Declares Climate Emergency

Meanwhile, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last month was the hottest June for the globe since at least 1880, when record-keeping began. NOAA said the planet’s average temperature was 15.9 Celsius, or 60.6 Fahrenheit.

Climate experts say global warming caused by greenhouse gases is to blame and say more records will fall before summer ends in the Northern Hemisphere. Many large U.S. cities can expect dangerously high temperatures this weekend, including Washington, where it is expected to feel like 43 degrees Celsius Friday and Saturday. (VOA)