There is a threat to the tapioca crop in the State from the African cassava mosaic virus, plant pathologists who spoke at a two-day symposium on ‘Changing plant disease scenario in relation to climate change' that drew to a close at the Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR) here on Saturday said.
The plant pathologists reported that the African cassava mosaic virus was the latest disease-causing agent that could affect tapioca crops. The Indian cassava mosaic virus and the Sri Lankan cassava mosaic virus were already known to affect tapioca owing to rise in temperature and carbon dioxide levels.
Proper surveillance and monitoring were the only possible ways to check new emerging diseases, the participating agricultural scientists said. The symposium recommended that a holistic approach be formulated for tackling diseases resulting from climate change.
The participants suggested that policymakers take into consideration the views of farmers, researchers and people from the agriculture and related fields while planning and executing programmes related to climate change.
Rise in temperature
Experts said the increase in temperature by 0.5 degree Celsius had lead to a decrease in production of wheat by 0.45 tonnes a hectare and a 25 to 30 per cent fall in sugarcane yield from a hectare in the country.
There was a paradigm shift in the nature, time and type of occurrence of viral and other diseases of various crops owing to climate change, the experts said.
The symposium called for setting up a forewarning system to manage crop diseases and expressed concern over the impact of climate change on food production in the country.
The experts hoped that powerful and cost-effective diagnostic methods would help in easy detection of the pathogens. They called for development and popularisation of economical, ready-to-use virus detection kits among the farming community.
The changing climatic conditions also necessitated more appropriate cold storage facilities to avoid losses during storage of grains.