Synergies and trade-offs for sustainable agriculture: Nutritional yields and climate-resilience for cereal crops in Central India

ArticleinGlobal Food Security · July 2016with 393 Reads 
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  • ... The nutritional quality of global cereal production has declined steadily with time, as nutrient-rich cereals have been supplanted by high-yielding rice, wheat, and maize varieties (DeFries et al., 2016;Medek et al., 2017). This increase in high-yielding crop production has been in part driven by the increasing prevalence 10.1029/2017RG000591 ...
    ... of large farms, which generally produce a less nutritionally diverse set of crops (Herrero, et al., 2017), and has resulted in dwindling amounts of key nutrients, such as protein, iron, and zinc per tons of cereal crop (DeFries et al., 2016). Enhancements of atmospheric CO 2 concentrations are expected to exacerbate these declines by adversely affecting crop nutrient content in plant tissue, especially in C3 crops (e.g., rice and wheat; Myers et al., 2014). ...
    ... There is an urgent need to enhance food security without increasing the human pressure on the environment (Figure 25). A current push in the literature is to identify solutions that minimize trade-offs across multiple agricultural, environmental, and economic dimensions (see, e.g., Billen et al., 2015;DeFries et al., 2016;Erb et al., 2016;Nelson et al., 2009). Some of this work has shown the potential to maintain or reduce current levels of resource use while increasing crop production, thereby eliminating large inefficiencies in production systems. ...
    Article
    Water availability is a major factor constraining humanity's ability to meet the future food and energy needs of a growing and increasingly affluent human population. Water plays an important role in the production of energy, including renewable energy sources and the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels that are expected to become important players in future energy security. The emergent competition for water between the food and energy systems is increasingly recognized in the concept of the “food‐energy‐water nexus.” The nexus between food and water is made even more complex by the globalization of agriculture and rapid growth in food trade, which results in a massive virtual transfer of water among regions and plays an important role in the food and water security of some regions. This review explores multiple components of the food‐energy‐water nexus and highlights possible approaches that could be used to meet food and energy security with the limited renewable water resources of the planet. Despite clear tensions inherent in meeting the growing and changing demand for food and energy in the 21st century, the inherent linkages among food, water, and energy systems can offer an opportunity for synergistic strategies aimed at resilient food, water, and energy security, such as the circular economy.
  • ... Recent studies have clarified aspects of this relationship. One examined the climate sensitivity of grain yields in central India, finding that the yields of all grains were significantly sensitive to interannual rainfall variability but that only rice yields were significantly affected by temperature [24]. Another study assessed the yield sensitivity of selected rainfed crops (maize, pearl millet, and sorghum) to climate across India and showed that extreme temperatures and the number of rainy days reduced yields of all three crops across most districts [25]. ...
    ... Each model included squared terms for precipitation and temperature to account for nonlinear effects and included random effects for district and year as the relationship between yield and the fixed effects may vary across time and space. Our approach followed that of DeFries et al [24] who used the lmer() package in R [37]. Rainfed yields for crop j were modeled as: ...
    ... We also developed 8 irrigated models (4 for rice and 1 for each of the alternative grains) (table S1). Following Fishman et al [20] and DeFries et al [24], we also included other potential climate variables (i.e. number of monsoon dry days, Simple Daily Intensity Index (P/number of rainy monsoon days)) in place of P and T and found that model explanatory power declined based on AIC. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Fluctuations in temperature and precipitation influence crop productivity across the planet. With episodes of extreme climate becoming increasingly frequent, buffering crop production against these stresses is a critical aspect of climate adaptation. In India, where grain production and diets are closely linked, national food supply is sensitive to the effect of climate variability on monsoon grain production. Here we quantitatively examine the historical (1966–2011) relationship between interannual variations in temperature and rainfall and rainfed yield variability for five monsoon crops—rice and four alternative grains (finger millet, maize, pearl millet, and sorghum). Compared to rice, we find that alternative grains are significantly less sensitive to climate variation and generally experience smaller declines in yield under climate extremes. However, maximizing harvested area allocations to coarse grains (i.e. holding maize production constant) reduced grain production by 12.0 Mtonnes (−17.2%) under drought conditions and 12.8 Mtonnes (−18.0%) during non-drought years (non-drought). Increasing the harvested area allocated to all alternative grains (i.e. including maize) can enhance production by +39.6% (drought) and by +37.0% (non-drought). These alternative grains therefore offer promise for reducing variations in Indian grain production in response to climate shocks, but avoiding grain production shortfalls from increased alternative grains will require yield improvements that do not compromise their superior climate resilience.
  • ... 34 Other studies have utilized metrics to assess the nutrient content and diversity of African smallholder farms. 29,30,[35][36][37][38] For some of these studies, the nutrient data have been based on the presence or absence of on-farm food species. 29,30 Although recent research using national-level data has enabled incorporation of the presence/ absence of market food purchases 39 and quantities of foods produced and/or supplied, [35][36][37][38] these measurements of nutrient diversity are yet to integrate the important dimension of food utilization, which is best captured using household-level data. ...
    ... 29,30,[35][36][37][38] For some of these studies, the nutrient data have been based on the presence or absence of on-farm food species. 29,30 Although recent research using national-level data has enabled incorporation of the presence/ absence of market food purchases 39 and quantities of foods produced and/or supplied, [35][36][37][38] these measurements of nutrient diversity are yet to integrate the important dimension of food utilization, which is best captured using household-level data. 35 Food utilization refers to the ability to consume and benefit from food, and one of the factors determining this is the nutrient value of food. ...
    Article
    Full text accessible at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0379572117723135 Background: Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where hunger is prevalent in over one-third of the population, with smallholder farming households, producers of over 80% of Africa’s food, facing both calorie and micronutrient deficiencies. With agricultural systems serving as the main source of all nutrients, little is known about the extent to which agricultural diversity in different seasons can meet macro- and micronutrient needs in rural Africa. Objective: Linkages between nutrient diversity and food species were investigated. Methods: A case study was conducted in Western Kenya to assess the seasonal nutrient diversity, seasonal nutrient accessibility levels, and food perceptions in 30 smallholder farms, 7 markets, and among 97 focus group discussion participants, respectively. All present food plant and animal species were inventoried and assigned to 1 of the 7 major Food and Agriculture Organization–defined food groups. Based on 2 macronutrients and 5 micronutrients, dendrogram-based nutrient functional diversity metrics were calculated. Results: On-farm and market food species offered all 7 macro- and micronutrients under investigation, regardless of seasonal variation in species numbers. Although there were varying seasonal nutrient accessibility levels in markets, farms were especially effective in readily availing 4 of the 7 nutrients. However, the main food shortage months coincided only with maize shortage, but a diversity of local foods, deemed to be of low cultural and culinary preferences, were available.
  • ... All rights reserved. cultivation of rice, which is of inferior nutritional value when compared with sorghum, maize and millets 14 . ...
    ... However, there are ongoing efforts led by the team responsible for the NDSR to widen the number of secondary metabolite compounds included in FCT/FCDB 25,44,59 . In addition, reports from crop-specific trade bodies such as the US Pulse Quality Survey 42, 43 may provide nutritional composition data at cultivar level that affects market price and farmer cultivation decisions 8,14 . ...
    Article
    Background: Food security is recognised as a major global challenge, yet human food chain systems are inherently not geared towards nutrition, with decisions on crop and cultivar choice not informed by dietary composition. Currently, food compositional tables and databases (FCT/FCDB) are the primary information source for decisions relating to dietary intake. However, these only present single mean values representing major components. Establishment of a systematic controlled vocabulary to fill this gap requires representation of a more complex set of semantic relationships between terms used to describe nutritional composition and dietary function. Results: We carried out a survey of 11 FCT/FCDB and 177 peer reviewed papers describing variation in nutritional composition and dietary function for food crops in order to identify a comprehensive set of terms to construct a controlled vocabulary. We used this information to generate a Crop Dietary Nutrition Data Framework (CDN-DF), which incorporates controlled vocabularies systematically organised into major classes representing nutritional components and dietary function. We demonstrate the value of the CDN-DF for comparison of equivalent components between crop species or cultivars, for identifying data gaps, as well as potential for formal meta-analysis. The CDN-DF also enabled us to explore relationships between nutritional components and functional attributes of food. Conclusion: We have generated a structured Crop Dietary Nutrition Data Framework that is generally applicable to the collation and comparison of data relevant to crop researchers, breeders and other stakeholders, and will facilitate dialogue with nutritionists. It is currently guiding establishment of a more robust formal ontology. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
  • ... Recent work [for example, (27,28)] has demonstrated the large inefficiencies present in food systems in terms of water use, showing the possibility of planting crops with lower water requirements while also enhancing calorie and protein production. Other studies in central India have examined water stress, land use, nutrition, and climate sensitivity associated with cereal production and demonstrated that certain cereals can offer distinct benefits over rice along all of these dimensions (19,29,30). However, a national analysis of the potential nutritional and water use benefits of alternative cereals (that is, maize, millets, and sorghum) is still lacking for India. ...
    ... In addition, by improving water productivity for cereal production during the kharif (monsoon) growing season, more freshwater may be made available for rabi irrigation as well as for environmental flows and domestic, municipal, and industrial uses. Further, incorporation of alternative, less water-demanding cereals can help to increase crop diversity in Indian cereal production and reduce vulnerability to dry spells in places where freshwater resources for supplementary irrigation may be less readily accessible and can potentially enhance the resilience of the food system against future uncertainties associated with climate change [for example, (30)]. ...
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    Humanity faces the grand challenge of feeding a growing, more affluent population in the coming decades while reducing the environmental burden of agriculture. Approaches that integrate food security and environmental goals offer promise for achieving a more sustainable global food system, yet little work has been done to link potential solutions with agricultural policies. Taking the case of cereal production in India, we use a process-based crop water model and government data on food production and nutrient content to assess the implications of various crop-shifting scenarios on consumptive water demand and nutrient production. We find that historical growth in wheat production during the rabi (non-monsoon) season has been the main driver of the country’s increased consumptive irrigation water demand and that rice is the least water-efficient cereal for the production of key nutrients, especially for iron, zinc, and fiber. By replacing rice areas in each district with the alternative cereal (maize, finger millet, pearl millet, or sorghum) with the lowest irrigation (blue) water footprint (WFP), we show that it is possible to reduce irrigation water demand by 33% and improve the production of protein (+1%), iron (+27%), and zinc (+13%) with only a modest reduction in calories. Replacing rice areas with the lowest total (rainfall + irrigation) WFP alternative cereal or the cereal with the highest nutritional yield (metric tons of protein per hectare or kilograms of iron per hectare) yielded similar benefits. By adopting a similar multidimensional framework, India and other nations can identify food security solutions that can achieve multiple sustainability goals simultaneously.
  • ... South Asia is one of the world's most densely populated regions, with a large fraction of people dependent on monsoonrelated activities for their livelihood. The summer monsoon season is the prime agricultural season for most of South Asia and the yields of the major cereal crops are highly sensitive to seasonal temperature and precipitation variability (DeFries et al., 2016). Recent studies have also highlighted the substantial impacts that subseasonal precipitation variability has on crop yields ...
    ... South Asia is one of the world's most densely populated regions, with a large fraction of people dependent on monsoonrelated activities for their livelihood. The summer monsoon season is the prime agricultural season for most of South Asia and the yields of the major cereal crops are highly sensitive to seasonal temperature and precipitation variability (DeFries et al., 2016). Recent studies have also highlighted the substantial impacts that subseasonal precipitation variability has on crop yields (Auffhammer, Ramanathan, & Vincent, 2012;Fishman, 2016;Gadgil & Kumar, 2006;Prasanna, 2014; continue to intensify, to meet the rising food and energy demands of the growing population (Defries, Bounoua, & Collatz, 2002; R. Kumar et al., 2018;Tilman et al., 2001;van Vuuren et al., 2011). ...
  • ... Millets are rich source of micro-nutrients like minerals and B-complex vitamins ( Gavaravarapu and Nair, 2014), while pulses are a relatively cheaper source of protein ( Roy et al., 2016). From the farmer's perspective, small millets are more resilient to climate variability than most crops ( DeFries et al., 2016). Consumption of these nutrient rich items needs to be promoted given high levels of micronutrient deficiency in the country. ...
    Article
    Food Policy, in much of Asia, has been slow to transition from its historic focus on staple grain self-sufficiency to a more integrated approach to nutrition security. Research and policy discussions continue to focus on hunger and calorie deficiency rather than on the need for a balanced diets to address chronic micronutrient malnutrition and the emerging problems of over weight and obesity. Social welfare schemes aimed at improving nutrition also focus on ensuring calorie sufficiency, neglecting quality and diversity of diets and behavioral change towards better nutrition. This paper provides a detailed review of the evolution of food policy in India and a way forward in the transition towards nutrition security.
  • ... In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), however, the GR strategy of increasing productivity through technological innovations has been less effective, and an unacceptably large population continues to suffer from food insecurity. For SSA, technologies are needed that can contribute to improved food security and environmental sustainability (Barret, 2016;DeFries et al., 2016;Fan & Brzeska, 2016;Pretty & Bharucha, 2015). However, poor infrastructure and institutions together with imperfect or missing markets remain a constraint to achieving the productivity gains of the GR. ...
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    In sub-Saharan Africa, livestock is one of the key channels through which most households meet their food security needs. However, diseases such as the African Animal Trypanosomosis (AAT) constrain productivity. Using data from 445 randomly sampled small-scale cattle farmers, this paper investigates the role of integrated livestock disease control on household food security. Using a novel approach to link different food security measures to cattle productivity, the paper identifies the channels of impact at the household level. Methodologically, the paper estimated the propensity score matching algorithm to net out the effect of adoption. The results show that households who adopt RDU have record livestock productivity and higher consumption per capita expenditures. They tend to be more food secure, experience lower seasonal food supply fluctuations and experience a lower probability of falling below the food poverty line.
  • ... Long-term agricultural statistics are a valuable resource for understanding trends in food production and the factors that are associated with changes in production through time [1][2][3]. These types of analyses are critical for researchers and policy-makers to understand the factors limiting production and possible solutions to meet growing food demand over the coming decades [4]. ...
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    Fine-scale agricultural statistics are an important tool for understanding trends in food production and their associated drivers, yet these data are rarely collected in smallholder systems. These statistics are particularly important for smallholder systems given the large amount of fine-scale heterogeneity in production that occurs in these regions. To overcome the lack of ground data, satellite data are often used to map fine-scale agricultural statistics. However, doing so is challenging for smallholder systems because of (1) complex sub-pixel heterogeneity; (2) little to no available calibration data; and (3) high amounts of cloud cover as most smallholder systems occur in the tropics. We develop an automated method termed the MODIS Scaling Approach (MSA) to map smallholder cropped area across large spatial and temporal scales using MODIS Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) satellite data. We use this method to map winter cropped area, a key measure of cropping intensity, across the Indian subcontinent annually from 2000–2001 to 2015–2016. The MSA defines a pixel as cropped based on winter growing season phenology and scales the percent of cropped area within a single MODIS pixel based on observed EVI values at peak phenology. We validated the result with eleven high-resolution scenes (spatial scale of 5 × 5 m2 or finer) that we classified into cropped versus non-cropped maps using training data collected by visual inspection of the high-resolution imagery. The MSA had moderate to high accuracies when validated using these eleven scenes across India (R2 ranging between 0.19 and 0.89 with an overall R2 of 0.71 across all sites). This method requires no calibration data, making it easy to implement across large spatial and temporal scales, with 100% spatial coverage due to the compositing of EVI to generate cloud-free data sets. The accuracies found in this study are similar to those of other studies that map crop production using automated methods and use no calibration data. To aid research on agricultural production at fine spatial scales in India, we make our annual winter crop maps from 2000–2001 to 2015–2016 at 1 × 1 km2 produced in this study publically available through the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) hosted by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University. We also make our R script available since it is likely that this method can be used to map smallholder agriculture in other regions across the globe given that our method performed well in disparate agro-ecologies across India.
  • ... It is calculated separately for individual nutrients, which could be combined into an index score of selected nutrients of interest in a given context. So far, this indicator has been applied to cereal crop production in two studies, one in India (Defries et al., 2016), and one on the global scale (DeFries et al., 2015). A modified version of this indicator was also included in recent analyses Fig. 1. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Reorienting food systems towards improving nutrition outcomes is vital if the global goal of ending all forms of malnutrition is to be achieved. Crucial to transitioning to nutrition-sensitive agriculture is valuing and measuring nutritional quality of the outputs of agricultural production. We review existing indicators which capture an element of nutritional quality applicable to different stages of the food and nutrition system. Applying relevant indicators from the agricultural production stage to selected aquaculture systems, we compare and contrast their strengths and limitations. ‘Nutritional yields’, ‘potential nutrient adequacy’ and ‘Rao's quadratic entropy’ show particular promise in capturing the ability of a production system to nourish the most people and could be useful tools for prioritising investments and decision-making in the public, non-government and private sectors driving agriculture.
  • ... It is projected that cereals productivity will be reduced to 10-40% by 2100 due to raise in temperature, increasing water stress and reduction in number and distribution of rainy days. It is indicated through simulation analysis on all India bases that, the effect of weather change on yield by 2030 ranges from À2.5 to À12% for rice crop (Reddy et al., 2011;DeFries et al., 2016;Satir, 2016;Dumont et al., 2015). In this situation the prediction of future crop productivity is highly needed to suggest the farmers in time and its analysis has to be made in keeping to help the farmers for getting maximum crop production. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Crop yield forecasting based on different climatic conditions for coastal regions is a critical process. In this study, regression based adaptive boosting prediction model is presented, using the datasets of Kharif and Rabi seasons along with the climatic features of three coastal districts belonging to Odisha located in India. This study discusses and experiments on the different weak regressors, such as: linear, lasso, ridge, SVR regression, proposes strong predictors by avoiding the shortcomings of individual weak regressors and propagating the benefits of AdaBoost to improve the predictive accuracy on learning problems. AdaBoost helps to get a combined output of the weak regressors into a weighted sum that represents the final output of the boosted strong regressor and also the output of the weak regressors which is likely to be twisted in favour of wrongly predicted instances adaptively. It has been observed from the experiments that, the decision of weak regressors vary due to frequent, inherent attributes of climatic conditions for crop production. Obtained numerical simulation results in terms of errors, various performance measures and statistical analysis demonstrated have highlighted the attractiveness of the proposed strong regressors compared to weak regressors forecasting methods for crop production.
  • ... Coarse cereals have other attributes important in an overall assessment of their costs and benefits for Indian agriculture and diets. From a production standpoint, coarse cereals generally require less water, 18 are more resilient to climate variability, 49 and are less sensitive to carbon dioxide concentration in terms of nutrient content than rice and wheat. On the negative side, yields are generally lower. ...
    Article
    Background: Production of rice and wheat increased dramatically in India over the past decades, with reduced proportion of coarse cereals in the food supply. Objective: We assess impacts of changes in cereal consumption in India on intake of iron and other micronutrients and whether increased consumption of coarse cereals could help alleviate anemia prevalence. Methods: With consumption data from over 800 000 households, we calculate intake of iron and other micronutrients from 84 food items from 1983 to 2011. We use mixed-effect models to relate state-level anemia prevalence in women and children to micronutrient consumption and household characteristics. Results: Coarse cereals reduced from 23% to 6% of calories from cereals in rural households (10% to 3% in urban households) between 1983 and 2011, with wide variations across states. Loss of iron from coarse cereals was only partially compensated by increased iron from other cereals and food groups, with a 21% (rural) and 11% (urban) net loss of total iron intake. Models indicate negative association between iron from cereals and anemia prevalence in women. The benefit from increased iron from coarse cereals is partially offset by the adverse effects from antinutrients. For children, anemia was negatively associated with heme-iron consumption but not with iron from cereals. Conclusions: Loss of coarse cereals in the Indian diet has substantially reduced iron intake without compensation from other food groups, particularly in states where rice rather than wheat replaced coarse cereals. Increased consumption of coarse cereals could reduce anemia prevalence in Indian women along with other interventions.
  • ... To grow more food, forests and grasslands are inevitably destroyed (David et al. 2016). In addition, poor farming practices will also worsen soil erosion upstream of the dam and will thus affect gas regulation, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services (DeFries et al. 2016). Changes to upstream ecosystem services such as gas regulation also have a negative impact on biodiversity and climate regulation below the dam, thereby worsening the ecological environment throughout the basin. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Studying the trade-offs and synergies between ecosystem services upstream and downstream of dams is of great importance because such studies can help guide the coordinated development of ecosystems. Taking the Danjiangkou dam as an example, we studied the trade-offs and synergies of ecosystem services in the river basin upstream and downstream of the dam. First, based on Costanza’s research method, we used the equivalent factor method to revise the equivalent factor of the Hanjiang River Basin. This basin includes the Danjiangkou dam, which provides services for agriculture. On that basis, the spatio-temporal dynamics of ecosystem service values during the period of 1990–2015 for the whole basin were estimated. The relationships among ecosystem services upstream and downstream of the Danjiangkou dam and throughout the basin were then analyzed using correlation analysis. The results demonstrate that the value of ecosystem services for the entire basin steadily increased during the period of 1990–2015. Among all ecosystem services, climate regulation and hydrologic regulation presented the highest ecosystem service values. Clear differences in spatial patterns existed in the two analysis areas. The ecosystem service values upstream of the dam were higher than those downstream of the dam. Approximately 60% of the relationships among the ecosystem services in the whole basin were synergistic, which was the dominant relationship. Synergies were more common upstream of the dam than downstream, and these synergies existed primarily between regulation services and composite services and between regulation services and cultural services. Trade-offs were more common downstream of the dam and existed mainly between supply and regulation services. Upstream food production was involved in significant trade-offs with biodiversity below the dam. Raw material production, gas regulation, climate regulation, soil conservation, and biodiversity above the dam showed significant synergies with gas regulation and climate regulation downstream.
  • ... It is well-known that Indian monsoon variability significantly impacts food production and, therefore, affects the socioeconomic well-being of more than a billion people 1 . Several studies have documented the relationship between agriculture and excesses and deficits in monsoon rains across various regions of India [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] . Despite overall increasing rates of food production since the mid-20th century, mainly tied to technological advances and increased inputs during the Green Revolution, fluctuations in summer monsoon rainfall yet cause sharp anomalies in the yields of many staple crops. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Summer monsoon (June-September) precipitation is crucial for agricultural activities in India. Extremes during the monsoon season can have deleterious effects on water availability and agriculture in the region. Here, we show that hot and dry extremes during the summer monsoon season significantly impact food production in India and find that they tend to occur during El Niño years during the observed record of 1951–2018. We then use an ensemble of climate simulations for the historic (1971–2000) and future (2006–2100) that capture this coupling between El Niño and the Indian monsoon to show that the frequency of concurrent hot and dry extremes increases by a factor of 1.5 under continued greenhouse warming during the 21st century. Despite projections of summer monsoon intensification on the order of ~10%, the rise in surface air temperatures as well as increase in rainfall variability contributes to more severe hot and dry monsoon extremes over India, thereby posing a substantial challenge to future food security in India.
  • ... A study by Duncan et al. (2017) shows that farmers in Indian states have suffered due to poorly resilient rice crops. Further, in a recent study, nutritional yield and climate-resilience of cereal crop in Central India was also discussed (DeFries et al., 2016). This study utilizes the changes in NDVI in a resilience framework for studying the impact of drought over all types of vegetation covers on a pan-India scale. ...
    Article
    Vegetation distribution and growth are significantly affected by changing climate conditions. Understanding the response of vegetation to hydroclimatic disturbances such as droughts is crucial in context of climate change. The sensitivity of terrestrial ecosystem to drought is difficult to measure because of problems related to drought quantification, variable response of vegetation types and changing climate-vegetation dynamics. Since, India is hugely dependent on its vegetation and cropland, identifying the impact of droughts on vegetation is essential. In this study, we estimate the likelihood of vegetation droughts across India in changing scenarios of temperature, precipitation and soil moisture content. We also study the resilience of vegetation cover to disturbances induced by a dry condition. From the investigation, it is observed that at least half the area of 16 out of 24 major river basins is facing high chances of vegetation droughts due to lowered soil moisture levels. The croplands are most likely to be affected by drought, which is of paramount concern for country's food security. Further investigation suggests that at least one-third area of 18 river basins is non-resilient to vegetation droughts. Moreover, >50% of each vegetation type is non-resilient, which points out the fragility of country's terrestrial ecosystems. This study facilitates the understanding of vegetation drought hotspot regions, factors risking the terrestrial ecosystem and their ability to withstand such conditions. These findings provide useful insights for policy makers to develop effective strategies for vegetation drought mitigation and sustainable ecosystem management.
  • ... In particular for these vulnerable and vast agricultural areas, it is clear that current trends and practices in food production and consumption are unsustainable, with wide agreement that humanity's rate of resource use exceeds the rate at which those resources (e.g., soils, soil nutrients, water stocks) can be generated by the Earth system (Hoekstra and Wiedmann 2014;Jaramillo and Destouni 2015;Steffen et al. 2015). Dryland nations must therefore develop solutions that consider the potential co-benefits and tradeoffs across multiple food security, environmental, and economic dimensions (e.g., Davis et al. 2017b;DeFries et al. 2016;Davis and Olayide 2018). ...
    Chapter
    As a source of food, feed, biomass, and income, agriculture is central for human welfare, locally and globally. At the same time, agriculture exerts often unsustainable demand on natural resources, with potential negative cascading environmental effects. Population growth, richer diets, rising international trade, and climate change are expected to increase and redistribute resource demand in unprecedented ways. The inherent coupling of local and global aspects of agricultural production is particularly strong in drylands, as the result of multiple and often competing demands on water resources. In this chapter, we explore these interactions and how global influences may be manifested in local cropping decisions and how local conditions can influence large-scale food supply and food security. Global drivers of food demand and international food trade act as telecoupling mechanisms, linking individual consumer choices with (sometimes geographically distant) environmental impacts of food production within dryland regions. Local production decisions can lead to consumptive water use exceeding renewable water availability: these human-made “anthropogenic drylands” occur disproportionately in dryland regions. As farmers must contend with local conditions, strategies to ensure high and stable yields under highly variable precipitation typical of drylands often come at the cost of further pressure on local water resources. In light of the particularly strong coupling between agriculture and water resources in dryland regions, and the bidirectional local–global influences, policies aimed at food system sustainability in these regions should thus consider both local and global processes, while also aiming at enhancing resilience and redundancy within agroecosystems.
  • Article
    Background: Diets in rural India are cereal based with low intakes of micronutrient-rich foods. The value chains for nutrition approach aims to study supply and demand of such foods. This may aid in development of interventions to improve diets and livelihoods. Objectives: (1) To identify how fruit and vegetables are accessed, (2) to describe and map the structure of value chains for exemplar foods, (3) to understand how foods are priced, and (4) to explore factors that affect decisions about which crops are grown, marketed, and sold. Methods: After stakeholder consultation, we identified 2 fruits (mango and guava) and 2 vegetables (shepu and spinach) as exemplar foods. Criteria for these exemplar foods were that they should be known to participants and there should be variability in intakes. We held 24 interviews with value chain actors including farmers, wholesalers, and vendors of the exemplar foods. Data collection was stopped when no new information emerged. We used inductive thematic coding for our analysis. Results: The value chains for each of the exemplar foods were relatively simple and involved farmers, middlemen, and vendors at either city or village level. The main themes identified as being factors considered when making decisions about which foods to grow and sell were (1) farming resources and assets, (2) quality of produce, (3) environmental conditions, (4) financial factors, (5) transport availability, and (6) consumer demand. Conclusions: There are opportunities to intervene within fruit and vegetable value chains to increase availability, affordability, and access to produce in rural India. Future research is required to determine which interventions will be feasible, effective, and acceptable to the community and other stakeholders.
  • Book
    In twenty-first century India, characterised by increased consumption and global demand for natural resources, biodiversity and wilderness have come under unprecedented stress. In this context, Nature Conservation in the New Economy presents studies of conservation efforts in the era of rapid economic change, and the institutional, legal, scientific, political and social constraints in meeting conservation goals in India. Building on sustained case research across India, the authors in this book examine conservation policies and laws in diverse contexts including mountains, forests, wetlands, coastal area and cities across India. Ambika Aiyadurai explores the challenges of implementation of the Wildlife Protection Act in northeastern India, while M. Vikas looks at conservation in urban spaces, specifically people-wildlife interactions in Delhi. Ghazala Shahabuddin examines the politics and science of reintroducing the locally extinct cheetah from Africa to India. Meghna Agarwala, Ruth DeFries, YV Jhala and Q Qureshi study the threats to coexistence of people and forests in the Kanha-Pench landscape. The use and abuse of wetlands in India is examined by Neha Sinha in ‘Water under the Bridge’. Kanchi Kohli and Manju Menon ask if the conservation is impossible – in the context of coastal regulation in India. Rinki Sarkar explores the threats to chilgoza pine forests in Western Himalayas in an era of weakening forest institutions. The long-term changes in forests in Jaintia hills are examined by Rajkamal Goswami and T Ganesh. In ‘Hunting stories and Shady tales,’ Archana Bali and Kartik Shanker look at the impact of wildlife conservation and tree preservation in the Western Ghats. Nature Conservation in the New Economy is a far-reaching exposition of the ways in which the protection of nature, a state-led project in the first few decades after Indian independence, has become a realm of private enterprise, civic action, and competing regulations where science, social concerns and government, more often than not, collide. The book is edited by Ghazala Shahabuddin and K. Sivaramakrishnan and will be of interest to scholars, practitioners, and policy think tanks working on environmental regulation and governance and wildlife policy issues.
  • Article
    Ecological trait diversity metrics have been used to highlight the impacts of agriculture. Such metrics can also be used to include human nutrition—an important dimension of human well-being—into assessments of agroecosystem function and services. Although crop yield is a common agroecosystem metric, it does not capture the multiple ways in which agriculture impacts people and the environment. Given that nutrient composition of crops is a set of functional traits, I apply a suite of functional diversity metrics—functional divergence, richness, evenness and dispersion—to crop production data from south-eastern Senegal. I also propose a new nutritional diversity metric—potential nutrient adequacy—to assess nutritional outcomes of different agricultural systems. I demonstrate high variability in nutritional diversity and potential adequacy among households and administrative departments in south-eastern Senegal. I show that most households produce nutritionally similar crops, rather than crops with high nutritional diversity. As a result, most households currently do not produce enough nutrients to meet minimal nutritional requirements. Using a scenario approach, I show that intensifying yields of staple crops and diversifying production to include non-staples can increase nutritional production and the potential to meet nutritional needs. I further show that a combination of intensification and diversification is needed to meet the need for a diverse group of nutrients. Policy implications. I develop a new metric that indicates the potential for a food system to meet the nutritional requirements of a population. This tool will allow practitioners to assess the nutritional adequacy of a food system and to design food systems that optimize nutritional outcomes. Application of this metric to different production scenarios showed that combining yield intensification with crop diversification is important to meeting full nutritional targets for smallholder agriculture. There is a broader need for incorporating other social and socio-ecological traits into trait-based assessments of agroecosystems. © 2017 The Author. Journal of Applied Ecology
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Farm structure is a multi-dimensional concept that can be measured through different criteria. Meanwhile, farm structure has been identified to discern small farms or well-endowed farms from the other farms. Distinguishing and identifying these two groups have practical implications for understanding the dynamics in rural areas and the effectiveness of target measures in these categories. The existing literature lacks a better definition of small farms based on the different criteria used. In this paper, we have developed composite indicators to apply to the concept of farm structure to re-define small farms and discover their role in achieving food security in Europe. By clustering countries using the composite indicator of farm structure, we estimate that more than 80 percent of food across Europe is produced by multi-criteria small and medium farms, but the partial productivities of agricultural land and labor in these countries that have the majority of multi-criteria small and medium farms are much lower than the large ones. Then, an estimate of a spatial econometric regression model was done to recognize how farm structure, a representative of farm size, can affect food availability, which is representative of food security. The results show that improving the structure of farms in a country not only improves its food security but also improves its neighbors’ food security. Hence, improving the structure of multi-criteria small farms is a major part of the solution to improve and achieve food security. Recognizing and understanding the diversity of multi-criteria small farms by considering the specific products and countries is necessary for designing appropriate innovations and policies for supporting more productive multi-criteria small farms.
  • Article
    Despite the important role of Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS) in diversifying agriculture, supporting traditional farming systems and improving food and nutritional security particularly in marginal lands, very little attention is being paid to their mainstreaming in national policies and institutions. Based on a detailed review of the regulatory frameworks governing the conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of plant genetic resources and the circulation and registration of seeds and improved varieties, this paper discusses the extent to which the measures in place in India may favour or affect the conservation and use of NUS. In addition to these frameworks, in view of the major change realized by the 2013 National Food Security Act which has included coarse cereals in the country’s Public Distribution System (PDS), the paper also incorporates this latest policy in its analyses. A special focus is given to small millets, a group of species with unexploited economic and nutritional potential but extremely important for marginal communities’ food security and livelihoods. A set of policy recommendations and opportunities to explore are proposed to address the identified constraints with the purpose of creating a more supportive policy environment and enhancing the national capacity to promote NUS.
  • Article
    Climate change impacts are a serious threat to food provisioning, security and the economy. Thus, assessing agricultural suitability and yield reduction under climate change is crucial for sustainable agricultural production. In this study, we used two sub-models of the agro-ecological decision support system MicroLEIS (Terraza and Cervatana) to evaluate the impacts of climate change on land capability and yield reduction or wheat and sunflower as major rainfed crops in different Mediterranean soil types (in Andalucia, Southern Spain). The Terraza sub-model provides an experimental prediction for the bioclimate deficiency and yield reduction, while the Cervatana sub-model predicts the general land use suitability for specific agricultural uses. Sixty-two districts in Southern Spain were modeled and mapped using soil data and the A1B climate scenario (balanced scenario) for three 30-year periods ending in 2040, 2070 and 2100, respectively. Our results showed that the majority of agricultural soils were suitable for wheat production, and less for sunflowers, especially under projected climate change scenarios. Extreme impacts of climate change were observed in the soil types Typic Xerofluvents and Calcic Haploxerepts, where the land capability was reduced from Good and Moderate classes to the Marginal class. This was especially observed in sunflower crops by 2100. Yield reduction of sunflower was much higher than the reduction for wheat, especially under the projected climate periods, where the results for 2100 showed the severest effect on crop yields with about 95% of the sunflower area showing yield reductions. This high variability of the evaluation results demonstrates the importance of using soil factors, climate and crop information in conjunction in decision-making regarding the formulation of site-specific soil use and management strategies.
  • Chapter
    The effects of climate change on crop and terrestrial food production are evident in several regions of the world (high confidence). Negative impacts of climate trends have been more common than positive ones. {Figures 7-2, 7-7} Positive trends are evident in some highlatitude regions (high confidence). Since AR4, there have been several periods of rapid food and cereal price increases following climate extremes in key producing regions, indicating a sensitivity of current markets to climate extremes, among other factors. {Figure 7-3, Table 18-3} Several of these climate extremes were made more likely as the result of anthropogenic emissions (medium confidence). {Table 18-3}.
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    Full-text available
    Considering the importance of filamentous fungi for bioremediation of wastewater and contaminated soils, this study was planned to investigate the metal tolerance potential of indigenous filamentous fungi. Nineteen fungal strains were isolated from soils irrigated with untreated municipal/industrial effluent using dilution technique and 10 prominent isolates were used for metal tolerance. The isolated fungal isolates were screened for metal tolerance index (MTI) at I mM cadmium (Cd), nickel (Ni) and copper (Cu) concentrations and for minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and metal tolerance by growing on potato dextrose agar plates amended with varying amounts of Cd, Cu and Ni. Seven out of 10 isolated fungi belonged to the genera Aspergillus and three belonged to Curvularia, Acrimonium and Pithyum. The results revealed that the order of tolerance of isolates for metals was Cd > Cu > Ni and Aspergillus sp. were more tolerant than other fungi. Tolerance ranged from 900 - 9218 mg L-1 for Cd, followed by 381 - 1780 mg L-1 for Cu and 293-1580 mg L-1for Ni. The isolated fungi exhibiting great tolerance to metals (Cd, Cu and Ni) can be used successfully for bioremediation of metals from contaminated soil and wastewaters.
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    Full-text available
    Rising propensity of precipitation extremes and concomitant decline of summer-monsoon rains are amongst the most distinctive hydroclimatic signals that have emerged over South Asia since 1950s. A clear understanding of the underlying causes driving these monsoon hydroclimatic signals has remained elusive. Using a state-of-the-art global climate model with high-resolution zooming over South Asia, we demonstrate that a juxtaposition of regional land-use changes, anthropogenic-aerosol forcing and the rapid warming signal of the equatorial Indian Ocean is crucial to produce the observed monsoon weakening in recent decades. Our findings also show that this monsoonal weakening significantly enhances occurrence of localized intense precipitation events, as compared to the global-warming response. A 21st century climate projection using the same high-resolution model indicates persistent decrease of monsoonal rains and prolongation of soil drying. Critical value-additions from this study include (1) realistic simulation of the mean and long-term historical trends in the Indian monsoon rainfall (2) robust attributions of changes in moderate and heavy precipitation events over Central India (3) a 21st century projection of drying trend of the South Asian monsoon. The present findings have profound bearing on the regional water-security, which is already under severe hydrological-stress.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    In light of human population growth, global food security is an escalating concern. To meet increasing demand for food, leading scientists have called for "sustainable intensification", defined as the process of enhancing agricultural yields with minimal environmental impact and without expanding the existing agricultural land base. We argue that this definition is inadequate to merit the term "sustainable", because it lacks engagement with established principles that are central to sustainability. Sustainable intensification is likely to fail in improving food security if it continues to focus narrowly on food production ahead of other equally or more important variables that influence food security. Sustainable solutions for food security must be holistic and must address issues such as food accessibility. Wider consideration of issues related to equitable distribution of food and individual empowerment in the intensification decision process (distributive and procedural justice) is needed to put meaning back into the term "sustainable intensification".
  • Article
    Full-text available
    India being a developing economy dependent on climate-sensitive sector like agriculture is highly vulnerable to impacts of global climate change. Vulnerability to climate change, however, differs spatially within the country owing to regional differences in exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. The study uses the Hadley Centre Global Environment Model version 2-Earth System (HadGEM-ES) climate projections to assess the dynamics in vulnerability across four climate change exposure scenarios developed using Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). The analysis was carried out at subnational (district) level; the results were interpreted and reported for their corresponding agro-ecological zones. Vulnerability of each district was quantified using indicators capturing climatic variability, ecological and demographic sensitivity, and socio-economic capacity. Our analysis further assigns probabilities to vulnerability classes of all the 579 districts falling under different agro-ecological zones. The results of the vulnerability profile show that Western plains, Northern plains, and central highlands of the arid and semi-arid agro-ecological zones are the most vulnerable regions in the current scenario (1950–2000). In the future scenario (2050), it extends along districts falling within Deccan plateau and Central (Malwa) highlands, lying in the arid and semi-arid zones, along with regions vulnerable in the current scenario, recording the highest vulnerability score across all exposure scenarios. These regions exhibit highest degree of variation in climatic parameters, ecological fragility, socio-economic marginality, and limited accessibility to resources, generating conditions of high vulnerability. The study emphasizes on the priority to take up adaptive management actions in the identified vulnerable districts to not only reduce risks of climate change, but also enhance their inherent capacity to withstand any future changes in climate. It provides a systematic approach to explicitly identify vulnerable regions, where regional planners and policy makers can build on existing adaptation decision-making by utilizing an interdisciplinary approach in the context of global change scenario.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Over the past half-century, the paradigm for agricultural development has been to maximize yields through intensifying production, particularly for cereal crops ( 1 ). Increasing production of high-yielding cereals—wheat, rice, and maize—has replaced more nutrient-rich cereals, which has eroded the content of essential dietary nutrients in the world's cereal supply. New approaches are needed to produce healthy foods, rich in essential nutrients, with efficient use of land. Standard yield metrics that measure the quantity of production are inadequate to assess progress toward this goal; thus, we propose alternative metrics of nutritional yields.
  • Article
    The South Asian summer monsoon directly affects the lives of more than 1/6th of the world's population. There is substantial variability within the monsoon season, including fluctuations between periods of heavy rainfall (wet spells) and low rainfall (dry spells)(1). These fluctuations can cause extreme wet and dry regional conditions that adversely impact agricultural yields, water resources, infrastructure and human systems(2,3). Through a comprehensive statistical analysis of precipitation observations (1951-2011), we show that statistically significant decreases in peak-season precipitation over the core-monsoon region have co-occurred with statistically significant increases in daily-scale precipitation variability. Further, we find statistically significant increases in the frequency of dry spells and intensity of wet spells, and statistically significant decreases in the intensity of dry spells. These changes in extreme wet and dry spell characteristics are supported by increases in convective available potential energy and low-level moisture convergence, along with changes to the large-scale circulation aloft in the atmosphere. The observed changes in wet and dry extremes during the monsoon season are relevant for managing climate-related risks, with particular relevance for water resources, agriculture, disaster preparedness and infrastructure planning.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    lobally, more than 800 million people are undernourished while >2 billion people have one or more chronic micronutrient deficiencies (MNDs). More than 6% of global mortality and morbidity burdens are associated with undernourishment and MNDs. Here we show that, in 2011, 3.5 and 1.1 billion people were at risk of calcium (Ca) and zinc (Zn) deficiency respectively due to inadequate dietary supply. The global mean dietary supply of Ca and Zn in 2011 was 684 ± 211 and 16 ± 3 mg capita−1 d−1 (±SD) respectively. Between 1992 and 2011, global risk of deficiency of Ca and Zn decreased from 76 to 51%, and 22 to 16%, respectively. Approximately 90% of those at risk of Ca and Zn deficiency in 2011 were in Africa and Asia. To our knowledge, these are the first global estimates of dietary Ca deficiency risks based on food supply. We conclude that continuing to reduce Ca and Zn deficiency risks through dietary diversification and food and agricultural interventions including fortification, crop breeding and use of micronutrient fertilisers will remain a significant challenge.
  • Article
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    The idea of a sustainable agriculture has gained prominence since the publication of the Brundtland Report in 1987. Yet, the concept of sustainable agriculture is very vague and ambiguous in its meaning, which renders its use and implementation extremely difficult. In this systematic review paper, we aim to advance understandings of sustainable agriculture from a social science and governance perspective by identifying areas of complementarity and concern between emerging definitions of sustainable agriculture. For this purpose, we conducted a structured literature review in combination with a cluster analysis in order to (1) identify the overall ideas and aspects associated with sustainable agriculture; (2) detect patterns and differences in how these ideas and aspects are adopted or applied; (3) evaluate how the different ideas and aspects of sustainable agriculture are combined in the scientific debate, and assess whether these different conceptions match with those that have been claimed to exist in the debate. There are two valuable outcomes from this research. The first is a framework for understanding the components of sustainable agriculture. The second outcome is in highlighting ways for actors involved with sustainable agriculture to deal with the complexity and multiplicity of this concept in a constructive manner.
  • Article
    An analytical framework is described for assessing the nutritional adequacy of national food supplies and the potential for addressing micronutrient gaps by increased crop production and crop diversity. The micronutrient contents of national food supplies of three countries (Bangladesh, Senegal, and Cameroon) were estimated using data from national food balance sheets. Population-adjusted nutrient requirements and identified nutrient short-falls, defined as not meeting the requirements of at least 80 % of the population, were also estimated. Linear programming models were used to determine a mix of crops that could meet the gaps the deficits of several nutrients while minimizing the use of additional agricultural land. Out of eight micronutrients included in the present analysis, six were identified as inadequate in Bangladesh and Senegal (vitamins A and C, riboflavin, folate, calcium, and zinc) and three were inadequate in Cameroon (vitamin A, calcium, and zinc). Adequacy of vitamins A and C could be met by increasing production of a few crops that are particularly dense in these nutrients (e.g., carrots or guava), which would necessitate only a small addition of agricultural land. Folate adequacy could be improved with increased production of legumes and green leafy vegetables, but with a greater requirement for agricultural land. Some micronutrient gaps, however, would probably have to be met by other means, such as enhanced livestock production, food fortification, biofortification, or imports. Despite the limitations of agriculture to meet the entire nutrient needs of a population, agricultural policy should consider the potential to improve nutrient adequacy with the crops currently available and by crop diversification.
  • Article
    Understanding regional impacts of recent climate trends can help anticipate how further climate change will affect agricultural productivity. We here used panel models to estimate the contribution of growing season precipitation (P), average temperature (T) and diurnal temperature range (DTR) on wheat, maize and soy yield and yield trends between 1971 and 2012 from 33 counties of the Argentine Pampas. A parallel analysis was conducted on a per county basis by adjusting a linear model to the first difference (i.e., subtracting from each value the previous year value) in yield and first difference in weather variables to estimate crop sensitivity to interannual changes in P, T, and DTR. Our results show a relatively small but significant negative impact of climate trends on yield which is consistent with the estimated crop and county specific sensitivity of yield to interannual changes in P, T and DTR and their temporal trends. Median yield loss from climate trends for the 1971−2012 period amounted to 5.4 % of average yields for maize, 5.1 % for wheat, and 2.6 % for soy. Crop yield gains for this time period could have been 15-20 % higher if climate remained without directional changes in the Pampas. On average, crop yield responded more to trends in T and DTR than in P. Translated into economic terms the observed reductions in maize, wheat, and soy yields due to climate trends in the Pampas would equal $1.1 B using 2013 producer prices. These results add to the increasing evidence that climate trends are slowing yield increase.
  • Article
    Using the results from three global climate models (GCMs) and seven regional climate models (RCMs), summer monsoon climate changes during 2041-2060 over Indian Peninsula are projected based on the IPCC A1B emission scenario. For the control climate of 1981-2000, most nested RCMs can improve the temporal-spatial distributions of temperature and precipitation over Indian Peninsula compared to the driving GCM of ECHAM5. Most nested RCMs produce advanced monsoon onset for control climate, which is similar to the result of driving GCM of ECHAM5. For future climate widespread summer warming is projected over Indian Peninsula by all climate models, with the multi-RCMs averaged (MME) temperature increasing of 1°C to 2.5°C and the maximum warming center located in northern Indian Peninsula. The disagreement in precipitation changes projected by RCMs indicates that the surface climate change on regional scale is not only dominated by the large scale forcing which is provided by driving GCM, but also sensitive to RCM' internal physics. Overall wetter condition is shown in MME with significant increase of monsoon rainfall over southern India, with inter-model spread ranging from -8.9% to 14.8%. Driven by same GCM, most RCMs project advanced monsoon onset while delayed onset is found in two RegCM3 projections, indicating uncertainty can be expected in the ISM monsoon onset. All climate models except CCAMP and two RegCM3 models project stronger summer monsoon during 2041-2060.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    In this study, the impact of enhanced anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions on the possible future changes in different aspects of daily-to-interannual variability of Indian summer monsoon (ISM) is systematically assessed using 20 coupled models participated in the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project Phase 5. The historical (1951-1999) and future (2051-2099) simulations under the strongest Representative Concentration Pathway have been analyzed for this purpose. A few reliable models are selected based on their competence in simulating the basic features of present-climate ISM variability. The robust and consistent projections across the selected models suggest substantial changes in the ISM variability by the end of 21st century indicating strong sensitivity of ISM to global warming. On the seasonal scale, the all-India summer monsoon mean rainfall is likely to increase moderately in future, primarily governed by enhanced thermodynamic conditions due to atmospheric warming, but slightly offset by weakened large scale monsoon circulation. It is projected that the rainfall magnitude will increase over core monsoon zone in future climate, along with lengthening of the season due to late withdrawal. On interannual timescales, it is speculated that severity and frequency of both strong monsoon (SM) and weak monsoon (WM) might increase noticeably in future climate. Substantial changes in the daily variability of ISM are also projected, which are largely associated with the increase in heavy rainfall events and decrease in both low rain-rate and number of wet days during future monsoon. On the subseasonal scale, the model projections depict considerable amplification of higher frequency (below 30day mode) components; although the dominant northward propagating 30-70 day mode of monsoon intraseasonal oscillations may not change appreciably in a warmer climate. It is speculated that the enhanced high frequency mode of monsoon ISOs due to increased GHG induced warming may notably modulate the ISM rainfall in future climate. Both extreme wet and dry episodes are likely to intensify and regionally extend in future climate with enhanced propensity of short active and long break spells. The SM (WM) could also be more wet (dry) in future due to the increment in longer active (break) spells. However, future changes in the spatial pattern during active/break phase of SM and WM are geographically inconsistent among the models. The results point out the growing climate-related vulnerability over Indian subcontinent, and further suggest the requisite of profound adaptation measures and better policy making in future.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    India is predicted to be one of the most vulnerable agricultural regions to future climate changes. Here, we examined the sensitivity of winter cropping systems to inter-annual climate variability in a local market and subsistence-based agricultural system in central India, a data-rich validation site, in order to identify the climate parameters to which winter crops – mainly wheat and pulses in this region – might be sensitive in the future. We used satellite time-series data to quantify inter-annual variability in multiple climate parameters and in winter crop cover, agricultural census data to quantify irrigation, and field observations to identify locations for specific crop types. We developed three mixed-effect models (250 m to 1 km scale) to identify correlations between crop cover (wheat and pulses) and twenty-two climate and environmental parameters for 2001-2013. We find that winter daytime mean temperature (November–January) is the most significant factor affecting winter crops, irrespective of crop type, and is negatively associated with winter crop cover. With pronounced winter warming projected in the coming decades, effective adaptation by smallholder farmers in similar landscapes would require additional strategies, such as access to fine-scale temperature forecasts and heat-tolerant winter crop varieties.
  • Article
    In light of human population growth, global food security is an escalating concern. To meet increasing demand for food, leading scientists have called for “sustainable intensification”, defined as the process of enhancing agricultural yields with minimal environmental impact and without expanding the existing agricultural land base. We argue that this definition is inadequate to merit the term “sustainable”, because it lacks engagement with established principles that are central to sustainability. Sustainable intensification is likely to fail in improving food security if it continues to focus narrowly on food production ahead of other equally or more important variables that influence food security. Sustainable solutions for food security must be holistic and must address issues such as food accessibility. Wider consideration of issues related to equitable distribution of food and individual empowerment in the intensification decision process (distributive and procedural justice) is needed to put meaning back into the term “sustainable intensification”.
  • Article
    Dietary deficiencies of zinc and iron are a substantial global public health problem. An estimated two billion people suffer these deficiencies, causing a loss of 63 million life-years annually. Most of these people depend on C3 grains and legumes as their primary dietary source of zinc and iron. Here we report that C3 grains and legumes have lower concentrations of zinc and iron when grown under field conditions at the elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration predicted for the middle of this century. C3 crops other than legumes also have lower concentrations of protein, whereas C4 crops seem to be less affected. Differences between cultivars of a single crop suggest that breeding for decreased sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 concentration could partly address these new challenges to global health.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    A key question for climate change adaptation is whether existing cropping systems can become less sensitive to climate variations. We use a field-level data set on maize and soybean yields in the central United States for 1995 through 2012 to examine changes in drought sensitivity. Although yields have increased in absolute value under all levels of stress for both crops, the sensitivity of maize yields to drought stress associated with high vapor pressure deficits has increased. The greater sensitivity has occurred despite cultivar improvements and increased carbon dioxide and reflects the agronomic trend toward higher sowing densities. The results suggest that agronomic changes tend to translate improved drought tolerance of plants to higher average yields but not to decreasing drought sensitivity of yields at the field scale.
  • Article
    This paper describes the construction of an updated gridded climate dataset (referred to as CRU TS3.10) from monthly observations at meteorological stations across the world's land areas. Station anomalies (from 1961 to 1990 means) were interpolated into 0.5° latitude/longitude grid cells covering the global land surface (excluding Antarctica), and combined with an existing climatology to obtain absolute monthly values. The dataset includes six mostly independent climate variables (mean temperature, diurnal temperature range, precipitation, wet-day frequency, vapour pressure and cloud cover). Maximum and minimum temperatures have been arithmetically derived from these. Secondary variables (frost day frequency and potential evapotranspiration) have been estimated from the six primary variables using well-known formulae. Time series for hemispheric averages and 20 large sub-continental scale regions were calculated (for mean, maximum and minimum temperature and precipitation totals) and compared to a number of similar gridded products. The new dataset compares very favourably, with the major deviations mostly in regions and/or time periods with sparser observational data. CRU TS3.10 includes diagnostics associated with each interpolated value that indicates the number of stations used in the interpolation, allowing determination of the reliability of values in an objective way. This gridded product will be publicly available, including the input station series (http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/ and http://badc.nerc.ac.uk/data/cru/). © 2013 Royal Meteorological Society
  • Article
    This review assesses the nutritional attributes of coarse cereals and also their utilization as food and as formulated foods. These cereals are laden with phytochemicals including phenolic acids, tannins, anthocyanins, phytosterols, avenenathramides and policosanols. They possess high antioxidant properties in vitro than staple cereals and fruits by different purported pathways. There are also some anti-nutritional factors that may be reduced by certain processing treatments. Several epidemiological studies show that these cereals are helpful in reducing several kinds of chronic diseases like cancers, cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes and various gastrointestinal disorders. Being coarse in nature, they cannot replace our staple cereals, but can be used in different proportions with rice and wheat to formulate various nutritional products. They can be used to make porridges, biscuits, cakes, cookies, tortillas, bread, probiotic drinks, ladoo, ghatta, flakes and several fermented foods. The coarse cereals also have good potential in manufacturing bioethanol, paper, oil and biofilms.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    In the 21st century, climate changes, water scarcity, increasing world population, rising food prices, and other socioeconomic impacts are expected to generate a great threat to agriculture and food security worldwide, especially for the poorest people who live in arid and subarid regions. These impacts present a challenge to scientists and nutritionists to investigate the possibilities of producing, processing, and utilizing other potential food sources to end hunger and poverty. Cereal grains are the most important source of the world's food and have a significant role in the human diet throughout the world. As one of the most important drought-resistant crops, millet is widely grown in the semiarid tropics of Africa and Asia and constitutes a major source of carbohydrates and proteins for people living in these areas. In addition, because of their important contribution to national food security and potential health benefits, millet grain is now receiving increasing interest from food scientists, technologists, and nutritionists. The aim of this work was to review the recent advances in research carried out to date for purposes of evaluation of nutritional quality and potential health benefits of millet grains. Processing technologies used for improving the edible and nutritional characteristics of millet as well as challenges, limitations, and future perspectives to promote millet utilization as food for a large and growing population are also discussed.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    This paper estimates the impact of climate change on foodgrain yields in India, namely rice and millets. We estimate a crop-specific agricultural production function with exogenous climate variables, namely, precipitation and temperature and control for key inputs such as irrigation, fertilizer and labour. Our analysis is at the district level using a panel dataset for physical yield (output per hectare – gross cropped area) for the period 1966-99. Thus, we eschew crop simulation approaches that rely on experimental data. We do not also estimate reduced form relationships between economic variables such as profits or the monetary value of yield and weather measures. Consistent with other studies at the district and state level we find significant impacts of climate change (temperature and precipitation) on Indian agriculture. The implication of our results for inter-state disparities and corrective measures is elaborated.
  • Article
    Climate change could potentially interrupt progress toward a world without hunger. A robust and coherent global pattern is discernible of the impacts of climate change on crop productivity that could have consequences for food availability. The stability of whole food systems may be at risk under climate change because of short-term variability in supply. However, the potential impact is less clear at regional scales, but it is likely that climate variability and change will exacerbate food insecurity in areas currently vulnerable to hunger and undernutrition. Likewise, it can be anticipated that food access and utilization will be affected indirectly via collateral effects on household and individual incomes, and food utilization could be impaired by loss of access to drinking water and damage to health. The evidence supports the need for considerable investment in adaptation and mitigation actions toward a “climate-smart food system” that is more resilient to climate change influences on food security.
  • Article
    The Indian summer monsoon shapes the livelihood of a large share of the world's population. About 80% of annual precipitation over India occurs during the monsoon season from June through September. Next to its seasonal mean rainfall the day-to-day variability is crucial for the risk of flooding, national water supply and agricultural productivity. Here we show that the latest ensemble of climate model simulations, prepared for the IPCC's AR-5, consistently projects significant increases in day-to-day rainfall variability under unmitigated climate change. While all models show an increase in day-to-day variability, some models are more realistic in capturing the observed seasonal mean rainfall over India than others. While no model's monsoon rainfall exceeds the observed value by more than two standard deviations, half of the models simulate a significantly weaker monsoon than observed. The relative increase in day-to-day variability by the year 2100 ranges from 15% to 48% under the strongest scenario (RCP-8.5), in the ten models which capture seasonal mean rainfall closest to observations. The variability increase per degree of global warming is independent of the scenario in most models, and is 8% +/- 4% per K on average. This consistent projection across 20 comprehensive climate models provides confidence in the results and suggests the necessity of profound adaptation measures in the case of unmitigated climate change.
  • Article
    A station observation-based global land monthly mean surface air temperature dataset at 0.5 × 0.5 latitude-longitude resolution for the period from 1948 to the present was developed recently at the Climate Prediction Center, National Centers for Environmental Prediction. This data set is different from some existing surface air temperature data sets in: (1) using a combination of two large individual data sets of station observations collected from the Global Historical Climatology Network version 2 and the Climate Anomaly Monitoring System (GHCN + CAMS), so it can be regularly updated in near real time with plenty of stations and (2) some unique interpolation methods, such as the anomaly interpolation approach with spatially-temporally varying temperature lapse rates derived from the observation-based Reanalysis for topographic adjustment. When compared with several existing observation-based land surface air temperature data sets, the preliminary results show that the quality of this new GHCN + CAMS land surface air temperature analysis is reasonably good and the new data set can capture most common temporal-spatial features in the observed climatology and anomaly fields over both regional and global domains. The study also reveals that there are clear biases between the observed surface air temperature and the existing Reanalysis data sets, and they vary in space and seasons. Therefore the Reanalysis 2 m temperature data sets may not be suitable for model forcing and validation. The GHCN + CAMS data set will be mainly used as one of land surface meteorological forcing inputs to derive other land surface variables, such as soil moisture, evaporation, surface runoff, snow accumulation and snow melt, etc. As a byproduct, this monthly mean surface air temperature data set can also be applied to monitor surface air temperature variations over global land routinely or to verify the performance of model simulation and prediction.
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    Recent diagnostics with the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Climate Model, version 2.1 (GFDL CM2.1), coupled model's twentieth-century simulations reveal that this particular model demonstrates skill in capturing the mean and variability associated with the South Asian summer monsoon precipitation. Motivated by this, the authors examine the future projections of the mean monsoon and synoptic systems in this model's simulations in which quadrupling of CO(2) concentrations are imposed. In a warmer climate, despite a weakened cross-equatorial flow, the time-mean precipitation over peninsular parts of India increases by about 10%-15%. This paradox is interpreted as follows: the increased precipitation over the equatorial western Pacific forces an anomalous descending circulation over the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean, the two regions being connected by an overturning mass circulation. The spatially well-organized anomalous precipitation over the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean forces twin anticyclones as a Rossby wave response in the lower troposphere. The southern component of the anticyclone opposes and weakens the climatological cross-equatorial monsoon flow. The patch of easterly anomalies centered in the southern Arabian Sea is expected to deepen the thermocline north of the equator. Both these factors limit the coastal upwelling along Somalia, resulting in local sea surface warming and eventually leading to a local maximum in evaporation over the southern Arabian Sea. It is shown that changes in SST are predominantly responsible for the increase in evaporation over the southern Arabian Sea. The diagnostics suggest that in addition to the increased CO(2)-induced rise in temperature, evaporation, and atmospheric moisture, local circulation changes in the monsoon region further increase SST, evaporation, and atmospheric moisture, leading to increased rainfall over peninsular parts of India. This result implies that accurate observation of SST and surface fluxes over the Indian Ocean is of urgent need to understand and monitor the response of the monsoon in a warming climate. To understand the regional features of the rainfall changes, the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) Regional Climate Model (RegCM), with three different resolution settings (0.5 degrees X 0.5 degrees, 0.7 degrees X 0.75 degrees, and 1.0 degrees X 1.0 degrees), was integrated for 20 yr, with lateral and lower boundary conditions taken from the GFDL model. The RegCM solutions confirm the major results obtained from the GFDL model but also capture the orographic nature of monsoon precipitation and regional circulation changes more realistically. The hypothesis that in a warmer climate, an increase in troposphere moisture content favors more intense monsoon depressions is tested. The GFDL model does not reveal any changes, but solutions from the RegCM suggest a statistically significant increase in the number of storms that have wind speeds of 15-20 m s(-1) or greater, depending on the resolution employed. Based on these regional model solutions a possible implication is that in a CO(2)-richer climate an increase in the number of flood days over central India can be expected. The model results obtained here, though plausible, need to be taken with caution since even in this "best'' model systematic errors still exist in simulating some aspects of the tropical and monsoon climates.
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    Using the historical surface temperature dataset compiled by Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia and the Hadley Centre of the United Kingdom, this study examines the seasonal and latitudinal profile of the surface temperature change observed during the last several decades. It reveals that the recent change in zonal-mean surface air temperature is positive at practically all latitudes. In the Northern Hemisphere, the warming increases with increasing latitude and is large in the Arctic Ocean during much of the year except in summer, when it is small. At the Antarctic coast and in the northern part of the circumpolar ocean (near 55°S), where limited data are available, the changes appear to be small during most seasons, though the warming is notable at the coast in winter. However, this warming is much less than the warming over the Arctic Ocean. The seasonal variation of the surface temperature change appears to be broadly consistent with the result from a global warming experiment that was conducted some time ago using a coupled atmosphere-ocean-land model.
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    Finger millet or ragi is one of the ancient millets in India (2300 BC), and this review focuses on its antiquity, consumption, nutrient composition, processing, and health benefits. Of all the cereals and millets, finger millet has the highest amount of calcium (344mg%) and potassium (408mg%). It has higher dietary fiber, minerals, and sulfur containing amino acids compared to white rice, the current major staple in India. Despite finger millet's rich nutrient profile, recent studies indicate lower consumption of millets in general by urban Indians. Finger millet is processed by milling, malting, fermentation, popping, and decortication. Noodles, vermicilli, pasta, Indian sweet (halwa) mixes, papads, soups, and bakery products from finger millet are also emerging. In vitro and in vivo (animal) studies indicated the blood glucose lowering, cholesterol lowering, antiulcerative, wound healing properties, etc., of finger millet. However, appropriate intervention or randomized clinical trials are lacking on these health effects. Glycemic index (GI) studies on finger millet preparations indicate low to high values, but most of the studies were conducted with outdated methodology. Hence, appropriate GI testing of finger millet preparations and short- and long-term human intervention trials may be helpful to establish evidence-based health benefits.
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    Recent studies disagree on how rainfall extremes over India have changed in space and time over the past half century, as well as on whether the changes observed are due to global warming or regional urbanization. Although a uniform and consistent decrease in moderate rainfall has been reported, a lack of agreement about trends in heavy rainfall may be due in part to differences in the characterization and spatial averaging of extremes. Here we use extreme value theory to examine trends in Indian rainfall over the past half century in the context of long-term, low-frequency variability.We show that when generalized extreme value theory is applied to annual maximum rainfall over India, no statistically significant spatially uniform trends are observed, in agreement with previous studies using different approaches. Furthermore, our space time regression analysis of the return levels points to increasing spatial variability of rainfall extremes over India. Our findings highlight the need for systematic examination of global versus regional drivers of trends in Indian rainfall extremes, and may help to inform flood hazard preparedness and water resource management in the region.
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    We used a high-resolution nested climate modeling system to investigate the response of South Asian summer monsoon dynamics to anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gas concentrations. The simulated dynamical features of the summer monsoon compared well with reanalysis data and observations. Further, we found that enhanced greenhouse forcing resulted in overall suppression of summer precipitation, a delay in monsoon onset, and an increase in the occurrence of monsoon break periods. Weakening of the large-scale monsoon flow and suppression of the dominant intraseasonal oscillatory modes were instrumental in the overall weakening of the South Asian summer monsoon. Such changes in monsoon dynamics could have substantial impacts by decreasing summer precipitation in key areas of South Asia.
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    This article provides a comprehensive review of the extent of prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies (vitamin A & D, iron, zinc and iodine) among different population groups in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The article also covers several health implications associated with these deficiencies, their economic impact and numerous strategies to combat this issue in low income South Asian countries. An extensive computer-based bibliographic review of the literature was performed via PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar by using keywords “micronutrients”, “vitamin A and D”, “iron”, “zinc”, “iodine” and “South Asia”. Data were identified under various sections and the most relevant full-text articles and abstracts were selected and screened for inclusion in this review. The results indicate that micronutrient deficiencies are widely prevalent in these regions and are now a significant public health problem. Preschool-age and school children, pregnant women and women of childbearing age are at the risk of these deficiencies. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) was found among school-age children and adolescents in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) seemed to affect 84% of pregnant women in India, 70% of healthy volunteers in Pakistan, 26% of male children in Sri Lanka and 8% of children in Bangladesh. Data illustrate that iron deficiency anemia (IDA), zinc and iodine deficiency affect all population groups, suggesting immediate measures to be taken to address the issue. Restricted dietary intake of these nutrients associated with a number of socioeconomic constraints exacerbates the problem of micronutrient malnutrition. Dietary diversification, food fortification and supplementation are the pragmatic and recommended approaches to overcome these nutritional deficiencies. However, the goal to virtually eliminate micronutrient deficiencies in these poorer societies demands a series of well integrated actions at all levels
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    One of the greatest challenges we face in the twenty-first century is to sustainably feed nine to ten billion people by 2050 while at the same time reducing environmental impact (e.g. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, biodiversity loss, land use change and loss of ecosystem services). To this end, food security must be delivered. According to the United Nations definition, 'food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life'. At the same time as delivering food security, we must also reduce the environmental impact of food production. Future climate change will make an impact upon food production. On the other hand, agriculture contributes up to about 30% of the anthropogenic GHG emissions that drive climate change. The aim of this review is to outline some of the likely impacts of climate change on agriculture, the mitigation measures available within agriculture to reduce GHG emissions and outlines the very significant challenge of feeding nine to ten billion people sustainably under a future climate, with reduced emissions of GHG. Each challenge is in itself enormous, requiring solutions that co-deliver on all aspects. We conclude that the status quo is not an option, and tinkering with the current production systems is unlikely to deliver the food and ecosystems services we need in the future; radical changes in production and consumption are likely to be required over the coming decades.
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    Climate trends over the past few decades have been fairly rapid in many agricultural regions around the world, and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2 ) and ozone (O3) levels have also been ubiquitous. The virtual certainty that climate and CO2 will continue to trend in the future raises many questions related to food security, one of which is whether the aggregate productivity of global agriculture will be affected. We outline the mechanisms by which these changes affect crop yields and present estimates of past and future impacts of climate and CO2 trends. The review focuses on global scale grain productivity, notwithstanding the many other scales and outcomes of interest to food security. Over the next few decades, CO2 trends will likely increase global yields by roughly 1.8% per decade. At the same time, warming trends are likely to reduce global yields by roughly 1.5% per decade without effective adaptation, with a plausible range from roughly 0% to 4%. The upper end of this range is half of the expected 8% rate of gain from technological and management improvements over the next few decades. Thus, effective adaptation that avoids climate-induced yield losses could play an important role in strategies to sustain global yield growth. Many global change factors that will likely challenge yields, including higher O3 and greater rainfall intensity, are not considered in most current assessments.
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    Here, we report the development of a high resolution (1° x 1° lat./long.) gridded daily rainfall dataset for the Indian region. There are only 1803 stations with minimum 90% data availability during the analysis period (1951-2003). For the analysis, we have followed the interpolation method proposed by Shepard. Standard quality-controls were performed before carrying out the interpolation analysis. Comparison with similar global gridded rainfall datasets revealed that the present rainfall analysis is better in accurate representation of spatial rainfall variation. Using this gridded rainfall dataset, an analysis was made to identify the break and active periods during the southwest monsoon season (June-September). Break (active) periods during the monsoon season were identified as those in which the standardized daily rainfall anomaly averaged over Central India (21-27°N, 72-85°E) is less than -1.0 (more than 1.0). The break periods thus identified for the period 1951-2003 were comparable with those identified by earlier studies. Contrary to a recent study, no evidence was found for any statistically significant trends in the number of break or active days during the period 1951-2003. This gridded rainfall dataset is available for noncommercial applications.
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    Given the severe impacts of extreme heat on natural and human systems, we attempt to quantify the likelihood that rising greenhouse gas concentrations will result in a new, permanent heat regime in which the coolest warm-season of the 21st century is hotter than the hottest warm-season of the late 20th century. Our analyses of global climate model experiments and observational data reveal that many areas of the globe are likely to permanently move into such a climate space over the next four decades, should greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase. In contrast to the common perception that high-latitude areas face the most accelerated response to global warming, our results demonstrate that in fact tropical areas exhibit the most immediate and robust emergence of unprecedented heat, with many tropical areas exhibiting a 50% likelihood of permanently moving into a novel seasonal heat regime in the next two decades. We also find that global climate models are able to capture the observed intensification of seasonal hot conditions, increasing confidence in the projection of imminent, permanent emergence of unprecedented heat.
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    South Asian summer monsoon (June through September) rainfall simulation and its potential future changes are evaluated in a multi-model ensemble of global coupled climate models outputs under World Climate Research Program Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (WCRP CMIP3) dataset. The response of South Asian summer monsoon to a transient increase in future anthropogenic radiative forcing is investigated for two time slices, middle (2031–2050) and end of the twenty-first century (2081–2100), in the non-mitigated Special Report on Emission Scenarios B1, A1B and A2 .There is large inter-model variability in the simulation of spatial characteristics of seasonal monsoon precipitation. Ten out of the 25 models are able to simulate space–time characteristics of the South Asian monsoon precipitation reasonably well. The response of these selected ten models has been examined for projected changes in seasonal monsoon rainfall. The multi-model ensemble of these ten models projects a significant increase in monsoon precipitation with global warming. The substantial increase in precipitation is observed over western equatorial Indian Ocean and southern parts of India. However, the monsoon circulation weakens significantly under all the three climate change experiments. Possible mechanisms for the projected increase in precipitation and for precipitation–wind paradox have been discussed. The surface temperature over Asian landmass increases in pre-monsoon months due to global warming and heat low over northwest India intensifies. The dipole snow configuration over Eurasian continent strengthens in warmer atmosphere, which is conducive for the enhancement in precipitation over Indian landmass. No notable changes have been projected in the El Niño–Monsoon relationship, which is useful for predicting interannual variations of the monsoon.
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    Changes in temperature, CO2, and precipitation under the scenarios of climate change for the next 30 yr present a challenge to crop production. This review focuses on the impact of temperature, CO2, and ozone on agronomic crops and the implications for crop production. Understanding these implications for agricultural crops is critical for developing cropping systems resilient to stresses induced by climate change. There is variation among crops in their response to CO2, temperature, and precipitation changes and, with the regional differences in predicted climate, a situation is created in which the responses will be further complicated. For example, the temperature effects on soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] could potentially cause yield reductions of 2.4% in the South but an increase of 1.7% in the Midwest. The frequency of years when temperatures exceed thresholds for damage during critical growth stages is likely to increase for some crops and regions. The increase in CO2 contributes significantly to enhanced plant growth and improved water use efficiency (WUE); however, there may be a downscaling of these positive impacts due to higher temperatures plants will experience during their growth cycle. A challenge is to understand the interactions of the changing climatic parameters because of the interactions among temperature, CO2, and precipitation on plant growth and development and also on the biotic stresses of weeds, insects, and diseases. Agronomists will have to consider the variations in temperature and precipitation as part of the production system if they are to ensure the food security required by an ever increasing population.
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    Increasing population and consumption are placing unprecedented demands on agriculture and natural resources. Today, approximately a billion people are chronically malnourished while our agricultural systems are concurrently degrading land, water, biodiversity and climate on a global scale. To meet the world's future food security and sustainability needs, food production must grow substantially while, at the same time, agriculture's environmental footprint must shrink dramatically. Here we analyse solutions to this dilemma, showing that tremendous progress could be made by halting agricultural expansion, closing 'yield gaps' on underperforming lands, increasing cropping efficiency, shifting diets and reducing waste. Together, these strategies could double food production while greatly reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture.
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    Efforts to anticipate how climate change will affect future food availability can benefit from understanding the impacts of changes to date. We found that in the cropping regions and growing seasons of most countries, with the important exception of the United States, temperature trends from 1980 to 2008 exceeded one standard deviation of historic year-to-year variability. Models that link yields of the four largest commodity crops to weather indicate that global maize and wheat production declined by 3.8 and 5.5%, respectively, relative to a counterfactual without climate trends. For soybeans and rice, winners and losers largely balanced out. Climate trends were large enough in some countries to offset a significant portion of the increases in average yields that arose from technology, carbon dioxide fertilization, and other factors.
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    We summarize the findings of a recently completed study of the productivity impacts of international crop genetic improvement research in developing countries. Over the period 1960 to 2000, international agricultural research centers, in collaboration with national research programs, contributed to the development of “modern varieties” for many crops. These varieties have contributed to large increases in crop production. Productivity gains, however, have been uneven across crops and regions. Consumers generally benefited from declines in food prices. Farmers benefited only where cost reductions exceeded price reductions.
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    Against a backdrop of rising global surface temperature, the stability of the Indian monsoon rainfall over the past century has been a puzzle. By using a daily rainfall data set, we show (i) significant rising trends in the frequency and the magnitude of extreme rain events and (ii) a significant decreasing trend in the frequency of moderate events over central India during the monsoon seasons from 1951 to 2000. The seasonal mean rainfall does not show a significant trend, because the contribution from increasing heavy events is offset by decreasing moderate events. A substantial increase in hazards related to heavy rain is expected over central India in the future.