The food we eat keeps us strong and healthy. Food provides us with the nutrients and energy that we need for the proper functioning and growth of the body. As human beings are incapable of synthesizing food, we depend on plants and animals for our food. The population explosion has led to a greater demand for basic requirements such as food, shelter, clothing, etc. Another impact of population on food crop production is land exploitation. Thus, cultivation has been limited to a small area.
In order to meet the demands with limited resources, we need to apply a greater effort. Crop variety improvement, crop production improvement and crop protection management are three major ways to improve food crops production.
Let us have a look at food crops and different methods of crop variety improvement.
Also Read: Crops
Food crops are crops that contribute to the world’s major food supply. They comprise grains, seeds, nuts, vegetables, fruits, legumes, spices, herbs, beverages, etc.
Grains are a major source of human food. They serve as a staple food for the majority of population. These include rice, wheat, maize, barley, etc.
Legumes and dried beans have a longer shelf-life and are economical. Thus, they can be used in seasons when food is scarce.
Seeds and nuts are the powerhouses of energy and a concentrated form of food.
Herbs have a strong flavour. These mainly comprise leaves, stems, flowers, roots and seeds.
Methods Of Crop Variety Improvement
Crop variety improvement is the primary step to improve food crop production. It helps in the development of crops with desired traits such as high yields, disease resistance, quality product and response to fertilizers. We can raise different strains of food crops with desirable traits naturally as well as scientifically. Two of them are as follows:
The crossing of genetically dissimilar plants is referred to as hybridization. Hybridization may take place between different varieties(intervarietal), between two different species of the same genus(interspecific) or between different genera (intergeneric).
Genes are responsible for the traits. Thus, we can improve crop quality and quantity by incorporating the genes with desirable traits. This method is more scientific and results in genetically modified food crops.
Crop production is more like a business in many countries. Thus, the strains we develop must be economically profitable. The new varieties should be able to produce maximum quality and quantity under different conditions and regions. Hence, we need to be very selective about seeds for its acceptance.
Also Read: Bt Crops
Why is Crop Variety Improvement Important?
We know resources are very limited, but the demand is very high. Thus, the basic reason for variety improvement is to meet the requirements. However, the quality and quantity of the crop produced shouldn’t be compromised due to the limited resource and present scenario. This is why scientist developed different varieties. The different strains should be able to show maximum productivity under any diverse condition. This leads to the idea of improvement of food crops variety.
The variety improvement is done for the following reasons.
Higher yield: Crop variety improvement’s main goal is to increase the productivity of the crop. To develop high yielding variety.
Quality product: To improve the quality of the food crops. The quality of the crop depends on the type of crop. Considering the pulses and grains, they must have better baking quality. Oil crops should give quality oil.
Resistance: To develop resistance to both living and non-living factors. Biotic factors like insects, parasites, diseases, etc. and abiotic factors like hot, cold, drought, salinity, etc. affect crop production. Resistant variety can withstand these factors and give a high yield.
Maturity period: To shorten and to develop uniform maturity period. The short maturity period of crops helps farmers in multiple rounds of cultivation in less expenditure during a short period. Also, the uniform maturity of crops helps in easy harvesting. Thus, the overall variety of improvement makes the situation more profitable.
Adaptation: To develop tolerance and make crops more adaptable to different conditions. The crops can be grown even in diverse conditions. For example, crops with tolerance to high salinity soil.
Desirable agronomic characteristics: To develop desired agronomic characters in crops. This helps in a higher yield in less expenditure. For example, dwarfness in cereals reduces the nutrient consumption without affecting the yield.
Also Read: Improvement in Crop Yields
To know more about crop variety improvement and food crops production, visit BYJU’S website.