Crop improvement through varietal diversification including use ofcultivarshybrids adapted to changed environment

Varietal diversification implies that farmers select and maintain a diversified set of varieties for their major crops to manage risks as follows:

• to spread the risk of loss due to period-specific stresses (e.g. brief periods of drought or insect population) as in the case of cultivating varieties with varying maturities permitting staggered planting;

• to reduce the risk of pest and disease losses since there is genetic variability in resistance or tolerance to biotic stresses;

• to cope with the changing environment stresses such as reductions in rainfall and growing periods; and

• to reduce the risk of crop losses due to the stresses associated with particular land types (as in the case of farmers matching crops to the micro-environments).

Gomez (2004) and Chalinor (2005) have emphasized the use of drought-tolerant varieties or new cultivars with improved response to altered climate conditions.

Although crop diversification is commonly practiced among the Asia-Pacific Region countries as an important strategy for economic growth, it is not however, without challenges. Foremost among these challenges are the possibilities that high crop intensity might cause degradation of ecology and natural resources; although, diversifying cropping patterns is being seen as a solution.

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