Presently, Dr. K.V. Prabhu is Joint Director (Research) of IARI. He is instrumental in taking the issue of redefining basmati rice in India. He has made valuable contribution in the development of high yielding basmati rice hybrids/varieties so that farmers of India can compete effectively in the international market under value added basmati rice segment.OurSenior Executive Editor Mr R.K Teotia conducted his exclusive interview at IARI and discussed about the current issues of basmati rice and other crops in India.
Q.1 What are the main objectives of IARI for village adoption and how many villages have you adopted ?
Ans. We have adopted 4 villages nearby Delhi/NCR within 50 km range. Sudana village, Hapur is one of the IARI adopted village and nowadays, it is known as carrot village with high adoption of Pusa Rudhir variety of carrot. IARI is giving agriculture extension services through Kisan Goshties , farmer's field visits etc. to the farmers of these villages.
Q.2 What is the basic problem with Basmati Rice 1509 ? Farmers of Western UP had faced heavy loss by growing this variety. What is new in Basmati segment ?
Ans. The major problem is blast disease in this variety which ultimately reduces yield of crop. Currently there is no blast resistant basmati variety, but within next 2 years, we will release blast resistant basmati rice by incorporating gene in the varieties Pusa 1509, Pusa 1121 and Pusa 1401 . Farmers who adopted plant protection measures from the time of sowing , are successful to control this disease. This year high yielding extra-long slender grain aromatic rice variety Pusa 1612, a near isogenic line of Pusa Sugandh-5 pyramided with blast resistant genes through molecular breeding, was released for cultivation in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir. It is expected to revolutionize in rice-potato cropping system in future. Nowadays, Basmati variety Pusa 1401 is very popular among traders and has good demand in the market. This variety has extraordinary grain quality and fragrance.
Q.3 What is the reason behind farmers getting low prices in mandi this year ?
Ans. In 2013, farmers received good income from rice. Due to this reason they grew plenty of rice which was 40 % more than 2012 and this created glut in the market, eventually pressuring on the price levels.
Q.4 Sample quality of rice is below international standard, Is it right or wrong ? what is the real picture ?
Ans. This is not new thing. India's basmati rice is dominating all over the world. Demand of basmati rice will always remain high, especially in Gulf and Arab countries. It is important that the, Government should fix MSP for Basmati rice. It is very necessary from farmers point of view, because MSP could motivate them to grow more Basmati. Now we are planning to give proposal to the Government to fix MSP of Basmati. If we talk about below International standard of rice, it is all rumurs. This is because after harvesting of paddy when the crop arrived in Mandis ,rumurs were created by traders in order to push prices lower ,However, next year when farmers not willing to grow they again create nuisance. If we see the wheat market, it is a very stable market, because farmers know that they can get price at least the MSP level. There should be a plan to solve this problem, and involvement of PPP model could be an alternative in this regard. Government should plan to develop a Basmati Development Fund, and better storage system.
Q.5 Currently, which is the most high yielding variety of wheat ?
Ans. IARI released three bread wheat varieties HD 3086 (Pusa Gautami),HD 3090 (Pusa Amulya) and HS 542 (Pusa Kiran) and a durum wheat variety HI 8713 (Pusa Mangal) during this year for cultivation in different agro-climatic conditions of wheat growing zones. Presently, HD 2967 is the most popular variety, released only three years ago for North-Western Plains Zone to replace the dominant PBW 343, occupied about 6mha of area during this year. HD 2967 has an average yield of 5.5 -6.0 t/ha with excellent chapati making quality, in addition to high iron and zinc content. Farmers are all satisfied with the yield of HD 2967 and also claim that it is free from most of the diseases.
Q.6 Is there any plan for organic seed production ?
Ans. I would state that the concept of organic is foreign. In India 60 % of total produce is organic. If we compare global consumption trend of agrochemicals, India uses lesser quantity comparatively . The main reason for degradation of soil is lack of an integrated approach in agrochemical use. Therefore, it is important to incorporate green manure, compost etc in soil for maintaining texture of soil. Plant always take nutrients from soil in inorganic form and nutrients like Phosphorus, Potash and Zinc always remain in soil. It will be difficult to achieve the target of food grain production from 250 million ton to 350 million ton in country, only by organic and we have to adopt the integrated approach.
Q.7.Why has Madhya Pradesh filed against Apeda's Geographical Indication application? What is the role of GI protection for basmati rice ?
Ans. As many as, 215 products were registered as geographical indication (GI) till December 15,2014. Geographical indication identifies a product whose quality, reputation and other characteristics are attributed to its geographical origin. In 1997, US company RiceTec was granted a patent on 'basmati rice grains and lines.' India opposed it, and RiceTec had to eventually surrender four claims and withdraw 11 out of a total of 20 claims. Therefore, GOI introduced GI protection in 2004 to control this illegal patent.
Apeda's Geographical Indication application for Indian basmati rice, filed six years back,with an objective to cover just Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. However, this state filed an opposition and directed Apeda's application to include MP because MP located in the Indo-Gangetic plains, and parts of the state are suitable for cultivation of Basmati. GI is needed for better quality of grains and to retain fragrance in Basmati as temperature plays an important role for fragrance retention.