By CIAT (Flickr: NP India burning 42) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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“India will need to feed approximately 394 million more people by 2050, and that’s going to be a significant challenge. Nutrient deficiencies are already widespread in India today—30 percent or more are anemic—and many regions are chronically water-stressed. Making matters worse, evidence suggests that monsoons are delivering less rainfall than they used to. But a study published today in Science Advances shares a brighter outlook: replacing some rice with less thirsty crops could dramatically reduce water demand in India, while also improving nutrition.

Starting in the 1960s, a boom in rice and wheat production helped reduce hunger throughout India. Unfortunately, this Green Revolution also took a toll on the environment, increasing demands on the water supply, , and pollution from fertilizer.

“If we continue to go the route of rice and wheat, with unsustainable resource use and increasing climate variability, it’s unclear how long we could keep that practice up,” says Kyle Davis, a fellow at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and lead author on the new study. “That’s why we’re thinking of ways to better align food security and environmental goals.” The study addresses two key objectives of the Indian government: to reduce undernourishment and improve nutrition, and to promote sustainable water use…”

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