A national symposium on ‘Changing Plant Disease Scenario in Relation to Climate Change' was held recently at the Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR) Kozhikode.

The two day symposium was jointly organised by the Indian Phytopathological Society, (IPS) South Zone and IISR.

Policy makers, farmers, researchers and members from all the agriculture and related fields should be taken into consideration while planning and executing programmes related to climate change, experts said.

Worst affected

India is the most affected country due to climate change. Temperature increase by 0.5 degree Celsius has lead to decrease of 0.45 tonnes of wheat per hectare and decrease of 25 to 30 per cent sugarcane yield per hectare.

There is a paradigm shift in nature, time and type of occurrence of viral and other diseases of various horticultural crops due to climate change.

There is a severe occurrence of Indian Cassava Mosaic Virus in Kerala due to shift in climate conditions and new report of African Cassava Mosaic Virus and SriLankan Cassava Mosaic Virus because of rise in temperature and carbon dioxide levels, according to plant pathologists.

Proper surveillance

Proper surveillance and monitoring is the only possible remedy to check new emerging diseases.

The symposia also called for setting up of a forewarning system for managing crop diseases under changing climate.

The seminar also expressed concern on climate change on food production especially in India.

Experts, who raised their concerns over increase in disease incidence due to change in climate hope that powerful and cost effective diagnostic methods will help in detection of the pathogens easily.

The symposia also called for development and popularisation of economical, ready to use virus detection kits among the farming community.

Post harvest losses

The speakers also pointed out that post harvest losses are more in India due to non availability of processing units and improper storage.

The changed climatic conditions also require more appropriate cold storage facilities to avoid losses during storage of grains.