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Friday, December 9, 2022

Bacterial Blight-resistant Varieties of Basmati Rice Developed

Indian Agricultural Research Institute develops 3 varieties of basmati with inbuilt bacterial resistance

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Aditya Saikrishna
Aditya Saikrishna
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INDIA: The India Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), the public sector farm research body which falls under the umbrella of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), recently developed three varieties of improved basmati rice that are resistant to bacterial blight and blast diseases.

According to the farmers who cultivated them for the first time in this agricultural season, the new varieties would revolutionise basmati cultivation in terms of reduced cost of input and increased global sales as the produce is pesticide residue-free.

The varieties are called Pusa Basmati 1847, Pusa Basmati 1885, and Pusa Basmati 2021. These are expected to play a role in sustaining Indian leadership in the export of Basmati rice as ICAR-IARI conducted tests on the crop and the results showed that the varieties address various concerns raised by the importing countries about the use of chemicals in basmati rice.

These nations had previously rejected some basmati rice consignments, stating the excessive levels of chemicals in them.

In recent years, the European Union (EU) has reduced the maximum residue limit of tricyclazole, one of the most commonly used fungicides, to 0.01 ppm.

India had an urgent need to address these restrictions in order to maintain its leading position. In 2021-22, India earned  25,053 Crore through basmati exports alone in 2021-22.

A.K. Singh, the lead breeder of the new varieties and director of IARI said, “These varieties armed with resistance to bacterial leaf blight and blast diseases will reduce expenditure on pesticides and thus the cost of cultivation by 2000 per acre, helping produce pesticide residue-free rice, leading to better price realisation and regaining our export market, particularly in the EU.”

Since bacterial blight and blast diseases are the major and destructive diseases in basmati rice, which can potentially cause huge yield losses as well as affect the grain and cooking quality, the new varieties will be a game changer in the basmati rice production industry.

Usually, the diseases in existing varieties are managed by the use of chemicals like streptocyclin and tricyclazole.

The current season has witnessed the adoption of the new varieties by more and more farmers in basmati paddy-grown areas in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.

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