Sci­en­tist de­vel­ops new wheat va­ri­eties that can with­stand heat

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Nation - K San­deep Ku­mar ksandeep.ku­[email protected]­hin­dus­tan.com ▪

I have been us­ing many of these new va­ri­eties of wheat for the past three years and have even shared it with fel­low farm­ers. The re­sults have been great. The yield is 1015% more.

RAM VILAS PA­TEL, farmer

PRAYAGRAJ : A 78-year-old Prayagraj-based ge­netic sci­en­tist has de­vel­oped nine spe­cial heat and wa­ter­log­ging-tol­er­ant wheat va­ri­eties which are help­ing farm­ers in pock­ets of Ut­tar Pradesh face the chal­lenges of cli­mate change.

The in­no­va­tion comes amid grow­ing con­cern over fall­ing farm out­put, in­clud­ing that of wheat, ow­ing to ris­ing tem­per­a­ture and un­pre­dictable rain­fall.

The se­nior sci­en­tist, Ma­ha­bal Ram, is pro­fes­sor (emer­i­tus) at Sam Hig­gin­bot­tom Univer­sity of Agri­cul­ture, Tech­nol­ogy and Sci­ence (SHUATS) here.

Ma­ha­bal Ram said, “These new wheat va­ri­eties can tol­er­ate tem­per­a­ture as high as 40 to 42 de­grees Cel­sius against 30 to 32 de­grees of av­er­age reg­u­lar va­ri­eties, sown by farm­ers tra­di­tion­ally. Many of the va­ri­eties can even with­stand wa­ter log­ging for even 7-8 days and still flour­ish.”

Around 2,000 farm­ers in 11 dis­tricts have started cul­ti­vat­ing these nine new wheat va­ri­eties. These dis­tricts where the new wheat va­ri­eties are be­ing grown in­clude Prayagraj (Al­la­habad), Kaushambi, Prat­ap­garh, Fateh­pur, Mirza­pur, Varanasi, Jaunpur, Aza­m­garh, Ghazipur and Ma­hoba.

The UP State Va­ri­ety Re­lease Com­mit­tee, Lucknow, re­leased the seeds of the new va­ri­eties for use af­ter the sci­en­tist and his team held reg­u­lar demon­stra­tions for farm­ers in their vil­lages as well as on the SHUATS cam­pus.

Prof Ram, an em­i­nent ge­neti­cist and plant breeder of in­ter­na­tional re­pute, said the State Va­ri­ety Re­lease Com­mit­tee (UP, Lucknow) re­leased nine lo­ca­tion spe­cific ‘photo-thermo-in­sen­si­tive’ (heat tol­er­ant) semid­warf high yield­ing va­ri­eties of wheat af­ter thor­ough test­ing in multi-lo­ca­tion tri­als con­ducted for three years.

YP Singh, mem­ber of the UP State Va­ri­ety Re­lease Com­mit­tee, Lucknow, vouched for the qual­ity and ef­fec­tive­ness of the wheat va­ri­eties de­vel­oped by prof Ma­ha­bal Ram.

“The wheat va­ri­eties de­vel­oped by this em­i­nent sci­en­tist are a boon for the farm­ers. The va­ri­eties are very re­silient and give high yield, de­spite high tem­per­a­tures and sud­den rain­fall. They are ef­fec­tive in deal­ing with the im­pact of the cli­mate change be­ing felt by the farm­ers and, there­fore, be­ing adopted by a large num­ber of them in their fields,” said Singh, who is a prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist at the Lucknow re­gional cen­tre of the ICAR-Cen­tral Soil Salin­ity Re­search In­sti­tute, Kar­nal.

“Out of these, AAI-W4, SHIATS-W10 and AAI-W13 were re­leased for timely sow­ing in ir­ri­gated con­di­tion (Novem­ber20-30); SHIATS-W6, AAI-W7, AAI-W8 and SHIATS-W9 for ir­ri­gated late sow­ing (De­cem­ber 20-30); AAI-W8 for mid late sow- ing (De­cem­ber 10-20) and AAIW15 and AAI-W21 have been rec­om­mended for rain-fed ar­eas,” Ram said.

“The re­ac­tion of farm­ers to the SHUATS wheat va­ri­eties is very favourable and we es­ti­mate over 2,000 farm­ers to be us­ing these va­ri­eties al­ready. Till now, our SHIATS-W6 va­ri­ety has been planted in over 1 lakh hectare farm­ing area of UP. It was no­ti­fied by the gov­ern­ment of In­dia in 2014 and its seeds are now be­ing pro­duced by UP Seeds Cor­po­ra­tion, Lucknow, and be­ing dis­trib­uted by it to farm­ers.

All the wheat va­ri­eties de­vel­oped by us are be­com­ing pop­u­lar among farm­ers of UP be­cause of their ver­sa­til­ity in adapt­abil­ity and a high de­gree of tol­er­ance to heat, be­sides higher yield,” he said.

He cred­ited the suc­cess to the sup­port of SHUATS VC prof RB Lal, un­der whose lead­er­ship the wheat breed­ing re­search pro­gramme was go­ing on.

HT

▪ Prof Ma­ha­bal Ram in a field with a crop of the wheat.

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