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Adoption of potato varieties and their role for climate change adaptation in India.

Adoption of improved varieties is an important strategy to adapt to the negative implication associated with climate change and variability. However, incomplete data on varietal release and adoption is often the reality in many countries hindering informed decision-making on breeding and varietal dissemination strategies to effectively adapt to climate change. In taking the example of potatoes in India, we analyze the extent to which the potato sector is resilient to climate change. We do so by comparing state-level climate change projections with adoption of high resistant and tolerant potato varieties to major abiotic and biotic stresses. Release and adoption data was collected in 2016 in six expert elicitation workshops conducted with 130 experts from the potato value chain in Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. We found that from the total of 81 releases, 45 improved varieties are adopted in India and that in each state high resistant and tolerant varieties are cultivated providing some degree of varietal resilience. Early maturity has been the most important and heat tolerance is the least important trait. Comparing climate projections with adoption rates of high resistant and tolerant varieties, we found that Gujarat is relatively most resilient. In other states we found some mismatches between climate projections and adopted specific varietal traits. Our results allow policy-makers and breeders to better prioritize investments into breeding for specific traits and dissemination strategies.