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Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing at the dedication to the Nation 35 crop varieties with special traits, through video conference, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Image Credit: ANI

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched 35 crop varieties with special traits -- developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) -- to address the twin challenges of climate change and malnutrition.

The new crop varieties were dedicated to the nation through a video conference organised at all ICAR institutes, state and central agricultural universities and Krishi Vighyan Kendra.

During the virtual ceremony, Modi also inaugurated the newly constructed campus of the National Institute of Biotic Stress Tolerance (NIBST), Raipur.

He also distributed the ‘Green Campus Award’ to four agricultural universities and interacted with farmers who use innovative methods, before addressing a gathering.

Modi said: “More than 1,300 seed varieties have been developed. Today, 35 more crop varieties have been dedicated to farmers. These crop varieties or seeds will address the challenge of climate change and malnutrition.”

The crop varieties have been developed keeping in mind different kinds of problems faced in the farm sector. Some crop varieties are meant for areas facing less water and some for areas suffering from crop diseases, he said.

In the last six-seven years, the government has used science and technology on priority basis to solve challenges faced in the agriculture sector, he said, adding that focus is developing seeds with high nutrition content and adaptability to new conditions, especially climate change.

Talking about biotic stress caused due to climate change, the Prime Minister said Raipur-based NIBST will conduct research on ways to address biotic stress on the farm sector. The manpower will be trained to come out with solutions, thereby promoting the agriculture sector and farmers’ income.

“We are aware of crop damage caused due to pest attack. We had faced locust attacks last year in the midst of the pandemic. We took several steps to address the problem and saved farmers from incurring huge damage,” he said, adding that NIBST has a big responsibility in this regard.

About 35 crop varieties with special traits like climate resilience and higher nutrient-content were developed by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) this year.

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

These special trait crop varieties also include those that address the anti-nutritional factors found in some crops that adversely affect human and animal health.

Stating that NIBST will promote agriculture in the state, Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Bhagel said climate change is a cause of concern across the world.

He said that decrease in soil carbon leads to increase in consumption of fertilisers. The rise in fossil fuels is also causing changes in the environment.

“Climate change is a cause of concern across the world. We are seeing its impact in our area. There are two reasons -- one is natural and the other one is reduction in soil carbon,” he said, and stressed on conducting an extensive study to ascertain the impact of climate change in the country.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the Prime Minister’s focus has always been on enhancing the income of small farmers who at present comprise 86 per cent of total farmers.