T.V. Sivanandan

IARI is a premier institution for

farm research

Scientists develop high quality variety of basmati rice

GULBARGA: The Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI), the country’s premier institution for agricultural research, education and extension, has set itself on the path of ushering in a second green revolution in the country through a multi-pronged approach.

This includes widespread use of biotechnology and Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) to come out with new varieties of crops and improving the existing ones to withstand pest and bacterial attack and improving the yield.

Director of IARI S.A. Patil told The Hindu said that the IARI, which played a major role in the Green Revolution, had now been given the mandate of ushering in a second green revolution to meet the growing demand for foodgrains in the coming years.

Dr. Patil, who hails from the backward Biral village in Jewargi taluk of Gulbarga district, is the first Kannadiga to occupy the top post in the century-old research organisation.

It was established by the British in 1905 at Pusa in Bihar and was later shifted to New Delhi.

‘Pusa Basmati’

Dr. Patil said that scientists and research scholars at IARI had developed a high quality variety of basmati rice.

The new variety named “Pusa Basmati,” which had been released for commercial production, was resistant to rice blast disease, which would help farmers to cut down the cost of cultivation. The quality of the rice was considerably high compared to the existing varieties of basmati.

Scientists at the IARI had also come out with an improved quality “desi” variety of bengal gram whose seed size was bigger than the Kabuli variety and had been accepted both by the farmers and consumers.

To a question, Dr. Patil pointed out that IARI scientists were in the advanced stages of unveiling hybrid varieties of pigeon pea (red gram) and wheat.

The scientists had taken up an intensive breeding programme of new varieties of rice, which were resistant to both blast and blight attacks, which would not only bring down the cost of cultivation, but also considerably increase the yield.

The hybrid variety of basmati introduced by IARI was popular among farmers, and the crop period of 110 days also was less when compared to the traditional varieties of 145 days and the yield went up to 10 tonnes per hectare when compared to two tonnes of traditional varieties.