New Delhi: Predicted environmental changes are likely to reduce average yields of vegetables by at least 35% globally, according to new research that highlights the need for the agriculture sector to build resilience to climate change.

Environmental changes such as increasing ambient temperature, ozone concentrations, water salinity and decreasing water availability that are predicted to occur by the mid- to end-century would decrease yields of leafy vegetables and legume, said the study which has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

If no action is taken, these changes could reduce average yields of vegetables by 35% and legumes by 9%, said the study, which involved systematic review of all available published evidence from experimental studies on impact of environmental changes on yield of vegetables and legumes.

It would also cancel out the potential increase in yield due to increase in carbon-dioxide levels, according to the study that included 174 research papers, reporting 1,540 experiments conducted in 40 countries, mainly in southern Europe, North America and South Asia during 1975 to 2016.

Previous research has shown a reduction in yield of staple crops such as rice and wheat because of changes in temperature, rainfall, but impacts on vegetables was largely unknown, the study says.

“We brought together all available published evidence on the impact of environmental change on yields of vegetables for the first time and conducted meta-analyses wherever possible," said co-author, Professor Alan Dangour from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London, which led the study.

“Urgent action needs to be taken to support the agriculture sector to increase resilience to environmental changes. It must be a priority for governments across the world," said Dangour, highlighting the need for developing new crop varieties and enhancing agricultural management.

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