biofortified-carrot-variety-developed-to-benefit-local-farmers-summary

Context: Madhuban Gajar, a biofortified carrot variety with high β-carotene and iron content developed is benefitting more than 150 local farmers in the area. β-Carotene is an organic, strongly colored red-orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits.

More about the news:

  • The carrot is developed by  Shri Vallabhhai Vasrambhai Marvaniya, a farmer scientist from Junagadh district, Gujarat.
  • It is being planted with an average yield of 40-50 t/ha and has become the main source of income to the local farmers. 
  • The variety is being cultivated in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh during the last three years.
  • National Innovation Foundation (NIF) – India, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India conducted validation trials for this variety at Rajasthan Agricultural Research Institute (RARI), Jaipur. 
    • In the trials, it was found that Madhuban Gajar carrot variety possesses a significantly higher root yield and plant biomass as compared to check variety.

About Madhuban Gajar:

  • The Madhuban Gajar is a highly nutritious carrot variety developed through the selection method with higher β-carotene content and iron content dry basis and is used for various value-added products like carrot chips, juices, and pickles. 
  • Among all the varieties tested, beta-carotene and iron content were found to be superior.

Biofortification

  • It is the process of improving the nutritional quality of food crops through agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology.
  • Traditional methods: Involves crossing varieties over successive generations to eventually yield a plant with high nutrient content along with other favorable traits.
  • Biofortification can be done using non-genetically-modified methods as well. 
  • Following are the examples of biofortification projects:
    • Zinc-biofortification of wheat, rice, beans, sweet potato, and maize.
    • Amino acid and protein-biofortification of sorghum and cassava.
    • Iron-biofortification of rice, beans, sweet potato, cassava, and legumes.
    • Provitamin A carotenoid-biofortification of sweet potato, maize and cassava.
  • Importance:
    • These crops are rich in iron which helps in improving the overall health of humans.
    • These crops are also often more resilient to pests, diseases, higher temperatures, drought and provide a high yield.
    • It provides a food-based, sustainable and low-dose alternative to iron supplementation. 
    • It does not require change in food habits and can reach the poorest sections of the society, and supports local farmers.
    • Highly cost-effective and sustainable: After the initial investment to develop the biofortified seed, it can be replicated and distributed without any reduction in the micronutrient concentration
    • A good substitute for GM crops: Considering the various implementation barriers faced by genetically modified crops in India, biofortification which can be done through non-genetically-modified methods as well can be a better alternative.

The National Innovation Foundation (NIF) – India 

  • An autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, NIF is India's national initiative to strengthen the grassroots technological innovations and outstanding traditional knowledge. 
  • Its mission is to help India become a creative and knowledge-based society by expanding policy and institutional space for grassroots technological innovators. 
  • It was set up with the support of Honey Bee Network.
Source: https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=201088