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India Triggered by Climate Change Sees New Cultivation Patterns of Pearl Millet

India’s food security is again challenged by the shifting weather patterns and evolving agricultural priorities. Triggered by climate change, the latest cultivation map of India calls for a re-appraisal of how and where bajra can be cultivated. As the world grapples with the undeniable reality of climate change, scientists and researchers are tirelessly seeking solutions to prepare for the dramatic shifts in global food production and rainfall patterns.

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research - All India Coordinated Research Project on Pearl Millet (ICAR-AICRP) collaborated in an attempt to propose new environment classifications. India is the largest producer of millet in the world. This makes it important to study the possible shift in their production pattern. Bajra or Pearl Millet grows well in a semi-arid climate with low rainfall. The crop being drought-tolerant finds its yield best in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat.

Originally established in 1979, this study urgently calls for a timely revision of the classification criteria that dictate pearl millet cultivation zones. Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General of ICRISAT, underscores the importance of this new classification system, stating, "This innovative classification system is designed to optimize pearl millet production, offering invaluable guidance to policymakers, researchers, and farmers, enabling them to make informed, evidence-based decisions."

Dr. Vincent Garin, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at ICRISAT, highlights the necessity of modifying the A zone. He explains, "The existing A zone can be further subdivided into three distinct subzones: G, AE1, and AE2, encompassing the states in North and Central India. The G zone includes Gujarat, AE1 covers East Rajasthan and Haryana, and AE2 spans Uttar Pradesh." The revised map indicates a decrease in semi-arid regions, with Gujarat now entirely falling under the G zone due to increased rainfall. This shift may encourage farmers to transition towards cultivating cash crops like rice, maize, and pulses. Conversely, the existing zoning for the A1 and B zones remains generally applicable, as there has been little change in their conditions over time. Areas still suitable for crop cultivation now predominantly fall within the AE1 and AE2 zones, with AE1 identified as the heart of India's pearl millet production and AE2 showing promise for export-oriented gains.

This year witnessed a ban on rice exports due to irregular rainfall patterns, highlighting the urgency for India to proactively identify and adapt to these changes to maintain its global leadership in agriculture. This critical research is made possible through collaborative efforts between ICAR, ICRISAT, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, and the Crops to End Hunger initiative, providing crucial insights into the nation's future agricultural production capabilities.

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Tags: #ClimateChange #WorldNews #PearlMillet #FoodSecurity


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