Center of Excellence on Climate Change Research for Plant Protection (CoE-CCRPP), set up by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) at ICRISAT, is gearing up to support farmers for better climate resilience and early pest/disease warning.
Climate change, plant diseases and insect pests cause an estimated annual loss of US$ 8.6 billion, posing a huge challenge for smallholder farmers.
"Modern crop protection tools can make agriculture more sustainable and climate-resilient," said Dr Akhilesh Gupta, Adviser & Head, Climate Change Programme & SPLICE, Department of Science & Technology (DST), launching new activities of the CoE-CCRPP at ICRISAT.
Impact Of Climate Change
Dr Mangala Rai, former Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in his inaugural address, emphasized the need to critically assess potential impacts of climate change on insects and pathogens and their interactions with host plants.
Development of a forewarning model to alert policymakers and farmers, real-time structured surveillance for insect pests and diseases using GPS-tagging, besides predictions on future climate scenarios for 2030 and 2050, are some new activities on which the Center will focus. Hot spots identified in the process and GIS-based risk maps (spatial and temporal) will be developed for targeted diseases and insect/pests.
"Providing advanced information and tools is important to strengthen resilience of smallholder farmers. DST has taken several important measures in this regard and we are very happy to partner in this initiative," said Dr. Peter Carberry, Director General (Acting), ICRISAT.
The Center's results will be shared with policy-makers for efforts towards climate resilient agriculture. The Center consortium includes scientists of the Indian Institute of Rice Research; University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur; ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute; Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana; Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore; and CGIAR Centers.
Current estimates of climate change indicate possible increases in global mean annual temperatures in the order of 1°C by 2025 and 3°C by 2100. Coupled with variability in rainfall pattern and increase in global precipitation levels, this could result in new diseases/insect pests, increased risk of invasion by migrant diseases and insect pests and accelerated insect pest/pathogens development.
"Research on these changing patterns in plant diseases and insect pests will induce shifts in the regional priority, strengthen location-specific crop breeding programs under climate stress conditions and help us identify climate-smart and pest-resistant crop cultivars," says Dr P M Gaur, Research Program-Director-Asia, ICRISAT.
According to Dr Mamta Sharma, Project Coordinator of this initiative, "The CoE-CCRPP will identify potential distribution of target diseases and insect pests under future climate scenarios at zonal, regional and state levels". The CoE-CCRPP outcomes will be available for scientists and Integrated pest management (IPM) practitioners to develop country-specific strategies to ultimately support the greater resilience of smallholder farmers.
About DST's Climate Change Programme
As one of the eight National Missions which form the core of the National Action Plan, the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC) seeks to build a vibrant and dynamic knowledge system that would inform and support national action for responding effectively to the objective of ecologically sustainable development. The mission addresses climate science with region-specific modelling; an assessment of various technology scenarios and alternatives for complying with national objectives; leveraging international cooperation and strengthening our initiatives for selection and development of new technologies for adaptation and mitigation; and ensuring that knowledge gaps are bridged.
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT) is an international non-profit, non-political organization that conducts agricultural research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with a wide array of partners throughout the world. Covering 6.5 million square kilometers of land in 55 countries, the semi-arid tropics have over 2 billion people, and 644 million of these are the poorest of the poor.