Director Desk

Ensuring food security for all class of people is a matter of concern and prime importance for any country and is often defined in terms of food production followed by its availability, food access and food utilization. In the realm of foodgrains, wheat is the largest cultivated crop across countries having around 219 mha, and barley occupies around 48 mha. Globally, the nutri-rich cereals collectively cover about 267 million hectares (mha) with an annual production reaching a record output of 902 million tonnes (mt).

Wheat and barley in India covered around 30mha (Wheat: 29.72 mha and Barley: 0.68 mha) during 2017-18 crop season and accounts for about 38 percent of the country’s total foodgrains production. An estimated all-time highest 98.61 mt of wheat and 1.79 mt of barley were produced during the year 2017-18. The record wheat production during the past season can be attributed to the increased yield to the tune of 3.68 percent. Wheat output has increased substantially by around 848 per cent in the past five decades, post implementation of the AICRP. In the recent past, production has shown a significant change owing to the release of promising varieties like HD 2967 and HD 3086 in wheat and DWRUB 52 DWRB 101 in barley which helped for a major quantum jump. The contribution of wheat to the national food production and security is remarkable. The salient saga of overall agriculture production has been appreciated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India during the past Independence Day speech wherein he congratulated all the scientists for development of improved crop varieties that helped for self-sufficiency. On the visionary mode of Hon’ble Prime Minister, ICAR-IIWBR has been involved in developing technologies and genotypes that can produce more crop per drop of water by saving fertilizer, energy, other inputs thereby, reducing the cost of cultivation and fulfilling the promise to ensure livelihood security to the farming community. Several awareness programmes and capacity building have been carried out in on-campus mode as well as through Mera Gaon Mera Gaurav (MGMG) scheme, integrating social media with stakeholders’ community, especially women and rural youth for faster dissemination of production technologies and knowledge empowerment.

Green Revolution, realised in the late-1960s has made India self-sufficient in food production but highly confined to the north western region. Similar potential benefits have to be extended to the eastern India in the form of “second green revolution”. This has to be achieved through harnessing the water potential for enhancing agriculture production, yield maximization of wheat and barley per unit area by improving the agronomy, better water utilization and promotion of recommended agriculture technologies supported by region-specific package of practices. In addition to targeting higher yield levels, we have to continuously monitor the evolution of diseases and pests in the context of changing climatic scenario. Hence, identification and incorporation of rust resistance genes into cultivars has to go hand-in-hand. Frontline demonstrations on wheat and barley conducted at farmers’ field indicated that adoption of improved technologies/package of practices can increase the production to the tune of 20 percent in targeted regions like north eastern plains zone and central zone. More focused extension activities are required in these regions like seed and varietal replacement apart from adopting climate smart farming technologies to extend the gain. Prevention of post-harvest losses, identification and strengthening the value chains in wheat and barley, and integration of modern biotechnological tools with conventional breeding can bring new gains to existing yield potential. Concerted efforts by all stakeholders shall not only sustain the nation’s self–sufficiency but also helps to meet the changing requirements of ever growing population and to counter any ill-effects of climate change. Surplus production of these nutri-rich cereals ensures not only food and nutritional security, but also helps to earn additional foreign exchange by means of export.

Jai Kisan Jai Vigyan!