The high breed varieties of paddy developed from popular local varieties that increased the grains from normal 225 to 430 grains per main panicle have helped to increase the procurement of paddy in the State by 20,000 tonnes last year.
The official figures of the Agriculture Department said that paddy procurement has increased in Kerala by 20,000 tonnes more than the previous year.
Leading agriculture scientist Dr. P. Chandrasekharan told `The Hindu’ that the paddy procurement has increased by 10,500 tonnes in Palakkad district last year mainly due to the five new varieties of paddy developed and cultivated here in the last couple of years.
He claimed that “the five varieties of paddy he developed during the last one decade by breeding the local Thavalakkannan, Chenkazahama and Chetteni varieties have increased the grains by 430 instead of the usual 225 grains per main panicle with dwarfs.’’
The tall Thavalakannan, Chenkazhama and Chetteni varieties that were getting extinct in the district was collected from Ottapalam and Thiruvilawamala and crossed it with IR varieties.
“This has increased grain yield. After identifying the superior genotype of Thavalkannan with 430 grains as against 225 that all Matta varieties carry on its main panicle and incorporated its genes in the new dwarf varieties like PC-1. Thus I have altered the genetic architecture of their hybrid derivatives with differing grain sizes.
This is a permanent change and I am happy I could do this service to Palakkad rice farmers, as my Professor wished I should,’’ he said.
“I decided to work in improving Palakkad Matta (Coarse rice - bold grain and red rice) varieties since the three varieties Thavalakannan, Chenkazhama and Chitteni are the traditional and popular varieties of
Palakkad. While Thavalakannan and Chenkazhama are grown in first crop, Chitteni is suitable for the second crop only, being a season bound variety.’’
Thavalakannan is a medium duration variety of 135 days, Chenkazhama, its look-alike is of 128 days of duration.
Chetteni has larger sized seeds and black glumes and highly palatable and therefore used in temples for the preparation of `padachor and payasam with jaggery or milk and sugar, Dr. Chandrasekharan has said.