Recently, scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, have developed a biofortified durum wheat variety MACS 4028. ARI Pune is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.
- Biofortification is a process to increase the bioavailability and the concentration of nutrients in crops through both conventional plant breeding and genetic engineering.
- Durum is a kind of hard wheat grown in arid regions that is typically ground into semolina and used to make pasta.
- Durum wheat, or Triticum turgidum, is the second most cultivated species of wheat after bread wheat, which is also called common wheat or Triticum aestivum.
- Biofortified durum MACS 4028 wheat variety shows high protein content of about 14.7%, better nutritional quality having zinc 40.3 ppm, and iron content of 40.3 ppm and 46.1 ppm respectively, good milling quality and overall acceptability.
- ppm stands for parts per million.
- MACS 4028, is a semi-dwarf variety, which matures in 102 days and has shown the superior and stable yielding ability of 19.3 quintals per hectare.
- It is resistant to stem rust, leaf rust, foliar aphids, root aphids, and brown wheat mite.
- The MACS 4028 variety is also included by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) programme for United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to alleviate malnutrition in a sustainable way and can boost the Vision 2022 “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat”, the National Nutrition Strategy.
- The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has also tagged this variety under the Biofortified category during the year 2019.
- MACS 4028 has been notified by the Central Sub-Committee on Crop Standards, Notification and Release of Varieties for Agricultural Crops (CVRC) for timely sown, rainfed condition of Peninsular Zone, comprising Maharashtra and Karnataka.
- In the peninsular zone of India (Maharashtra and Karnataka states), wheat cultivation is majorly done under rainfed and limited irrigation conditions. Under such conditions, the crop experiences moisture stress.
- Efforts for the development of high yielding, early maturing varieties with good quality and disease resistance for rainfed conditions are carried out at Agharkar Research Institute, Pune under All India coordinated Wheat and Barley improvement programme, coordinated through Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research, Karnal governed by the ICAR.
- The MACS 4028 is an outcome of such intervention for the farmers.
- All India Coordinated Research Project on Wheat and Barley (AICRP) mandates multidisciplinary and multilocational testing of varietal, newly developed improved genotypes, crop management and crop protection technologies across the diverse ecosystems for increasing and stabilizing the wheat production.
- This is the second most important cereal crop in India after rice.
- It is the main food crop, in northand north-western part of the country.
- Wheat is a rabi crop that requires a cool growing season and a bright sunshine at the time of ripening.
- It requires 50 to 75 cm of annual rainfall evenly-distributed over the growing season.
- There are two important wheat-growing zones in the country – the Ganga-Satluj plains in the north-west and black soil region of the Deccan.
- The Major wheat-producing states are Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh etc.
Also read: Union Budget Proposal: Science & Technology