Blame it on climate change as Uttar Pradesh is witnessing a shift from the traditional variety of foodgrains to hybrid ones as there is a sharp decline in production of conventional varieties of wheat and rice.

Officials in Agriculture Department vouch that lesser winter rains and reduced fog have affected the production of nutritious varieties of wheat and rice known as Ram Kali and Nargis respectively.

Agriculture Minister Anand Singh said that change in winter crop is perceptible. “There is definite change in cropping pattern because of reduction in production of wheat (rabi crop) and kharif. Farmers are able to maintain production of their crop  because of the use of hybrid varieties. Par wo maza nahi hai (There is no charm),” the Minister told The Pioneer.

In 2012, Uttar Pradesh has set a target to produce 145 lakh metric tonne of paddy but because of lesser monsoon rains the Agriculture Department had revised the target to 139 lakh metric tonne. “Just 20 per cent of this target is from traditional varieties,” the Minister said.

The traditional varieties need set climate to grow and attain maturity which is not the case with hybrid ones.

The Minister is not off the mark. A study carried out under Centre for Science and Environment Media Fellowship in Gorakhpur region of the eastern Uttar Pradesh shows people’s perception about the climate change affecting agriculture production. Ram Awadh, Gram Pradhan of Mjhaula village said that due to reduction in fog over the years and lesser cold, the growth of wheat has slowed down and the plants have not been able to attain good height.

“This has led to reduction in production, but the use of hybrid varieties has prevented this for the time being,” he said.

Local farmers were worried that they could lose their traditional varieties of wheat and rice. The people mentioned that production of rice was totally dependent on rainfall.

Vinod, another farmer of village Naraini said there is reduction in production of barley too in last five years. “Declining trend is also visible in the production of oil crops, e.g. linseed and mustard,” he said.

The elderly farmers said they had noticed a significant shift in the sowing season of wheat. They said till 1995 the sowing was done in the first days of the September-October and it was harvested in March. Because of climate change now wheat is sown in some parts as late as in December and sometimes even in February, the gram pradhan of village, Mjhaula, said.

These talks of climate change and decline in production has a silver lining too. Though production of gram has declined, the production of pea and lentil have shown an increase.

The climate change is marked by shift in the onset of winters from last week of October to December. People have not seen dense fog for the last six to eight years though this year is an exception. Average maximum and average minimum temperatures of winter season also show increasing trends. There is also a change in duration of rainfall. The data also shows variable, but declining trend in rainfall since 1999 till 2011.

Courtesy: the pioneer