New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched 35 crop varieties with "special traits" to address "the twin challenges of climate change and malnutrition". While launching the crop varieties, PM Modi said that climate change is a big issue for agriculture and stressed that scientific methods must be adopted to tackle it.

"Not only agriculture, climate change is a big challenge to the entire ecosystem. ...Due to climate change, new types of pests, new diseases, epidemics are coming. Due to this, there is a big threat to the health of humans and livestock and crops are also being affected," PM Modi was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

"Indian agriculture has always remained scientific. The synergy between agriculture and science should continue as it is important for India in 21st century. Our focus is very high on more nutritious seeds, adaptable to new conditions, especially in changing climate," he added.

This comes after the Union Finance Ministry announced a package for the development of higher yield crop varieties. It had said that the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has also developed bio-fortified crop varieties having high nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, vitamin-A.

"Varieties tolerant to diseases, insects pests, drought, salinity, and flooding, early maturing and amenable to mechanical harvesting also developed," it said. "21 such varieties of rice, peas, millet, maize, soya bean, quinoa, buckwheat, winged bean, pigeon pea and sorghum will be dedicated to the nation".

What are the new crop varieties released by PM Modi?

The 35 new crop varieties with "special traits" have been developed by the ICAR to address climate change and malnutrition challenges. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said that these crop varieties include can "address the anti-nutritional factors found in some crops that adversely affect human and animal health".

"These include a drought tolerant variety of chickpea, wilt and sterility mosaic resistant pigeonpea, early maturing variety of soybean, disease resistant varieties of rice and bio-fortified varieties of wheat, pearl millet, maize and chickpea, quinoa, buckwheat, winged bean and faba bean," it said.

Why India needs climate-resilient crop varieties?

As per National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA), climate change is an important issue for India "to ensure food and nutritional security for growing population" as it can severely impact the Indians who depend on agriculture. In its report, it has claimed that climate change can negatively impact Indian agriculture and reduce crop yields by 4.5 to 9 per cent, "depending on the magnitude and distribution of warming".

"Since agriculture makes up roughly 16 per cent of India’s GDP, a 4.5 to 9 per cent negative impact on production implies a cost of climate change to be roughly up to 1.5 per cent of GDP per year," it noted.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma