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Heat Tolerant Wheat Varieties

The National Conference on Agriculture for Rabi Campaign 2023-24 has become a pivotal event in the backdrop of pressing climate issues and the need to address food security. With a 5% decrease in monsoon rains this year and reservoir deficits in multiple states, the conference serves as a platform for crucial discussions on enhancing agricultural productivity, especially in the face of rising temperatures. One of the key directives from the central government is to promote heat-tolerant wheat varieties among farmers, with the ambitious goal of increasing the coverage area to 60% in the upcoming season.

This topic of “Heat Tolerant Wheat Varieties” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Climate Challenges

Monsoon Variability

This year’s 5% decrease in monsoon rains has raised concerns about water availability for agriculture, particularly in regions heavily reliant on monsoon rainfall.

Reservoir Deficits

States such as Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu are grappling with reservoir deficits, which can impact irrigation and water supply for crops.

Purpose of the Conference

The primary objectives of the National Conference on Agriculture for Rabi Campaign 2023-24 are as follows:

  1. Review Previous Crop Performance: Evaluate the performance of previous crops to identify challenges and successes.
  2. Set Crop Targets: Collaboratively set crop production targets for the upcoming rabi season in consultation with state governments.
  3. Technology Adoption Roadmap: Develop a roadmap for the supply of inputs and the adoption of technology to enhance agricultural production.

Centre’s Directives: Promoting Heat-Resilient Wheat Varieties

The Wheat Challenge: Terminal Heat Stress

Wheat, a staple crop in India, faces a unique challenge known as “terminal heat stress” during its flowering stages. High temperatures, particularly in late March, can lead to shrivelled grains and reduced yields.

Sowing Period and Implications

Wheat is typically sown between 1 and 20 November, and grain filling occurs in March. Late March high temperatures can adversely affect the crop. Early sowing, on the other hand, results in early flowering, poor biomass accumulation, and reduced yields.

Available Solutions: Heat-Tolerant Wheat Varieties

To address these challenges, India has developed approximately 800 climate-resistant wheat varieties. Notable examples include:

HD 3385

  • Developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s Indian Institute of Rice Research.
  • Features high-temperature stress tolerance, especially at the end of the crop cycle.
  • Designed for terminal heat tolerance.
  • Growth cycle of 130 to 160 days when sown in November.
  • Yield potential of 75 quintals per hectare.

HI 1636 (Pusa Bakula)

  • Released by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
  • Offers a yield potential of 72 quintals per hectare.

Facts: Growth in Food Grain Production

Despite the challenges posed by climate change, India has made significant progress in food grain production. Over the last eight years, there has been a remarkable 31% increase in food grain production, soaring from 251.54 million tonnes to 330.54 million tonnes. This growth underscores the resilience and adaptability of Indian agriculture in the face of changing climate patterns.

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