IARI Research on Resilient Crops

Scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), in collaboration with several other research institutions, have identified about 15,000 selected germplasms of rice and wheat for developing varieties that are tolerant to floods, droughts, heatwaves, and diseases to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change on food production.

Overview:

  • Agricultural scientists have sourced rice and wheat genetic resources from a gene bank run by the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) in Delhi as part of a Department of Biotechnology (DBT) project to develop improved crop varieties to combat climate change.
  • The gene bank has around 4 lakh accessions (a unique identifier given to a protein sequence) in its collection. These accessions represent a wide range of natural genetic variations across the country’s 15 agro-climatic regions.

Which technology is being used by scientists?

After identifying the genes, a breeding technology known as marker-assisted backcross breeding technology is being used by scientists to develop wheat and rice varieties that can withstand floods, drought, and heatwaves, as well as diseases such as blight and bacterial blast. With the use of this technology, it takes three-five years to develop a new variety while previous methods used to take at least 10 years.

Varieties of Crops Developed

There are three different types of disease resistance basmati rice which has been developed by IARI and they are PB 1847, PB 1886, and PB 1885. These have been developed through projects funded by DBT and will be distributed to private sector seed companies for multiplication. An MoU with a private company will also be signed.

In the case of wheat, NBPGR is working with different organizations to develop varieties that will be able to cope with new problems posed by climate change scenarios.

How many such crop varieties have reached farmers?

According to DBT, 17 crop plant varieties with increased nutritional content, disease resistance, and abiotic stress tolerance is being developed. The varieties are divided into rice: 8, wheat: 4, and maize: 2. Out of these, 6 varieties have already reached farmers after being multiplicated by private companies.

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