Uttarakhand may record 7% dip in wheat yield, say agricultural scientists


Uttarakhand may record a 7% dip in wheat yield this year, according to agricultural scientists who largely blame climate change for this. As per the latest report compiled by the state agricultural department, scanty rainfall is primarily responsible for this dip in output. Although final numbers are still being tabulated, sources in the department said that the districts of Nainital, Almora, Bageshwar, Tehri and Pauri — which have been observing the adverse impact of warm climate on the crop yield for some time — will be the most affected. Uttarakhand has been recording a downfall in overall production of wheat for the past few years. Wheat production in the state fell down from 9.80 MT in 2014 to 6.54 MT in 2015 as per the annual report (2014-15) of the state agricultural department.

"In the past two months, the state has recorded less rainfall due to which the rain-fed land of the state has got impacted. Consequently, the yield of wheat is being affected as the germination of seeds has also been adversely affected," said Ajeet Singh of the agro-metereology department, GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar.

According to scientists at the Almora-based ICAR-Vivekananda Parvatiya Krishi Anusandhan Sansthan (ICAR-VPKAS), it is the rise in night temperature during flowering that impacts germination the most. "During flowering, wheat requires at least 14-15 degrees celsius in hilly areas. Different rain-fed areas of Uttarakhand might have witnessed a rise beyond this temperature at night due to which germination of seeds would have got impacted. We are hoping things might improve if it rains in the hills of the state from December 25 to 15 as predicted by the Met department," said B Pattanaik, director of ICAR-VPKAS.

Incidentally, Uttarkahand meteorological department has said that the state recorded 67% rain deficit in the post-monsoon season from October to December. What was particularly alarming for scientists and farmers was that the average winter temperatures which range from 14 to 18 degrees celsius during this time have escalated to 18 to 24 degrees celsius causing damage to the Rabi crops. This year, too, experts are worried that if it does not rain, then it might lead to a "drought-like situation as was seen the previous year."


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