Farmers in two villages of Punjab’s Bathinda and Faridkot districts escaped the impact of the heatwave in March this year with a 2-3 per cent drop in yield, compared with 15-20 per cent losses in other regions due to shrivelled grain. This was made possible by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), through its creation of 151 clusters across the country to fight climate change.
V K Singh, Director of the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, said March and April this year were the warmest on record, and witnessed an unusual increase in maximum and minimum temperatures over most parts of the country. During this period, extreme temperatures were found to be higher by +8 to +10.8°C, and rainfall was lower by 60-99 per cent compared with the normal in 10 out of 36 meteorological sub-divisions.
Singh, who is also incharge of National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) that set up the 151 clusters through Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), said the technologies were found to be promising in minimising the impact of heat stress. In Bathinda and Faridkot, these technologies could ensure wheat yields up to 91-97 per cent of the normal year.
Former agriculture commissioner, C D Mayee, on Wednesday said the heatwave is likely to cap wheat production at 101 million tonnes (mt) this year. The government is likely to further reduce its crop estimate to 103 mt from 106.41 mt pegged in May. The country had harvested 109.59 mt of wheat last year.
NICRA is a flagship project to demonstrate promising climate-resilient technologies, to minimise the impact of climate change on agriculture and the clusters where it is implemented are selected based on their vulnerability to flooding, heat and other related weather changes.
In Killi Nihal Singhwala village of Bathinda and Pindi Balochan of Faridkot, which are part of the 151 clusters, farmers who provided irrigation during the heat stress managed to harvest 4.6-4.7 tonnes/ hectare, which is 98 per cent of the normal yield, while conforming to other prescribed practices. Even those who missed out on irrigation but grew PBW-803, DBW-187 and DBW-222 varieties, had 97 per cent of normal yield. But farmers who had sown wheat late after November 15, could get 93 per cent of the normal yield only
“Timely sowing of wheat significantly minimised the impact of heat stress and helped to realise normal yields in Punjab. Wheat sowing with a happy seeder, super seeder with rice residue management such as baler-cum-knotter, chopper-cum-spreader, shredder, zero-till wheat sowing, rice residue incorporation followed by wheat sowing helped in quick sowing of wheat crop immediately after the harvest of paddy, which have realised wheat yields up to 97 per cent of normal,” Singh said.
June 22, 2022