A new variety of groundnut seed is likely to offer some encouragement to farmers even as acreage of the groundnut crop has witnessed a drastic decline in the country, leading to a severe scarcity of edible vegetable oils in the market.
Last year, the acreage was only 6.59 lakh hectares against the normal of 7.16 lakh hectares. The decline was attributed to extreme weather incidents and falling productivity of Kadiri-6 variety that was being supplied on subsidy by the State government.
However, in some good news for farmers, the Kadiri-Lepakshi 1812 variety of the groundnut seed developed at the Kadiri Agriculture Research Station is said to be drought-resistant and can withstand inundation of fields due to untimely excess rainfall just before harvest. These very weather conditions in the Rayalaseema districts, where 90% of the groundnut crop is grown, had led to severe loss to the farming community with 57 days of dry spell witnessed in July-August Khariff season and unnatural excess rain during October-end and November.
“The Kadiri-Lepakshi 1812, developed at Kadiri in a three-way cross and notified by the national varietal committee, is the new kid on the block and several experimental plots grown in all parts of the country have shown very good increase in the productivity with an average yield of 36 bags in rainfed conditions compared to 20 bags of K-6 variety,” Principal Scientist K.S.S. Naik, who is the coordinator of groundnut seeds in Andhra Pradesh, told The Hindu.
A major advantage of the Kadiri-Lepakshi variety is it contains 28% of proteins and 51% of oil compared to 48% in K-6 variety. While the seed was developed in Andhra Pradesh, the Gujarat farmers and traders evinced interest and in the past two years, it has spread to vast areas there. Several farmers have been buying those seeds in the open market after hearing the success stories of the KL-1812 variety, and have reaped 36 bags an acre. Mr. Naik says that under irrigated conditions, 38 to 40 bags have been obtained on average — the highest nationally.
Andhra Pradesh State Seeds Development Corporation will supply 3.82 lakh quintals of groundnut seed in the State of which 30,000 quintals will be drought-resistant, high-productivity, pest-resistant and rot-resistant even in excess rain, which scientists expect will revolutionalise the farmer interest in groundnut sowing once again. The majority of seed of up to 2.82 lakh quintals will be of the K-6 variety, while 30,000 quintals will be KL-1812 and 5,000 quintals of Narayani, it is learnt.
“The K-6 variety notified nationally in 2005, was renotified in 2015 till 2020, and its good taste and kernel look was commanding a good price, but overzealous farmers and traders had been mixing it with other varieties leading to several rejections in exports,” Mr. Naik explained. The Kadiri Lepakshi 1812 has a slightly inferior taste for table-top consumption, but has the advantage of not getting mixed with other varieties due to its distinctive colour of kernels and pods that sets it apart from other inferior ones,” the scientist explained.
At the Rekulakunta Research Station, processing of KL-1812 and K-6 varieties is in progress for supply to farmers under subsidy scheme, said Principal Scientist B. Sahadev Reddy. Another promising groundnut variety developed at Tirupati Research Station is TCGS 1694, which is pending official release from the Varietal Committee at the State-level.