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Indian Journal of Plant Genetic Resources
Year : 2009, Volume : 22, Issue : 1
First page : ( 1) Last page : ( 16)
Print ISSN : 0971-8184.

Food Security and Climate Change: Role of Plant Genetic Resources of Minor Millets

Padulosi S1, Mal Bhag2, Ravi S Bala3, Gowda J4, Gowda KTK4, Shanthakumar G5, Yenagi N5, Dutta M6

1Bioversity International, Maccarese (Rome), Italy.

2Bioversity International, New Delhi, India.

3M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, India.

4University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India.

5University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, India.

6G.B. Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Hill Campus, Ranichauri, India.

Abstract

Recent climate modeling findings regarding climate change in South Asia warn against the impact that predicted modifications in monsoon dynamics will create in the region by the end of this century, including fewer summer precipitations and longer breaks between rainy periods. Rice and wheat cultivation are expected to be affected in terms of cultivation patterns and yield reduction. Such a scenario calls for urgent and strategic interventions towards adaptive agricultural measures that while ensuring a continued food production to an ever growing population, will buffer populations against the threats of climate change. A great ally to that end is represented by the plant genetic resources of minor millets that are well suited to enhance resilience of local production systems and strengthen food and nutrition security, particularly among the rural poor. In case of India, the largest grower of minor millets in the world, the cultivation of these small-seeded millets, has declined steadily over the past few decades due to their lower economic competitiveness with major commodity cereals. Finger millet, kodo millet, foxtail millet, little millet, proso millet and barnyard millet, have a wide genetic adaptation and are able to grow successfully in diverse soils, varying rainfall regimes, diverse photoperiods and in marginal, arid and mountainous terrains where major cereals have low success. They have the potential to thrive with low inputs and can withstand severe edapho-climatic stresses, thus being the best candidates to replace commodities like wheat and rice in areas where such crops may gradually become less competitive due to climate change. These qualities are combined with excellent nutritional values and opportunities for strengthening income generation through value addition.

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Key Words

Minor millets, Genetic resources, Climate change, Nutrition, Food security.

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