1. Agriculture World

PAU’s Plant Breeding Dept develops Wonder Millet Variety; Touted as Perfect Food for Diabetes

Dr. Ruchika Bhardwaj from the department of plant breeding and genetics at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) developed pearl millets that have a higher level of zinc and iron.

Binita Kumari
Pearl Millet
Pearl Millet

Dr. Ruchika Bhardwaj from the department of plant breeding and genetics at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), who is working as the millets breeder was recognized and appreciated by the Government of India when she developed pearl millets that have a higher level of zinc and iron and lower level of glycaemic index, which makes it the perfect food for diabetics.

Furthermore, the crops can resist temperatures of up to 42 degrees Celsius in extreme weather. "This crop has the potential to break the monocropping cycle and get farmers out of the wheat and paddy cycle, which is causing the state's water table to fall," Bharadwaj said.

However, it wasn't an immediate success. For the past ten years, Bhardwaj has been heavily interested in pearl millet breeding and research. She's created several trait-specific cultivars of both fodder and grain pearl millet.

Dr. Bhardwaj’s work in developing trait-specific varieties of high zinc and iron content pearl millets was appreciated by the PAMC committee of ICAR-AICRP.

Bhardwaj was also involved in the development of PCB 165, a high fodder and grain yielding bajra variety with high iron and zinc content and excellent popping potential.

This cultivar has the potential to be used in the manufacture of high-value items. In addition, she is working on popularising this miracle millet and has published multiple research and extension articles in prestigious international and national journals.

She has worked on the development of 12 new fodder crop varieties that have been released on a state and national level.

On March 3, 2022, Chief Guest Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) DARE and Director General Secretary Trilochan Mohapatra presented Bhardwaj with a certificate of gratitude for her exceptional work in the field of plant breeding.

Young Scientist Award goes to a PAU student

Meanwhile, Ekta, who is a Ph.D. scholar in the department of chemistry at PAU, received the Young Scientist Award at the 25th Punjab Science Congress 2022 on Future Endeavors of Sciences and Technology for Sustainable Growth held recently. 

Her work on sulfonamide functionalized silica nanocomposites: characterization and fluorescence 'turn-on' detection of fe3+ ions in aqueous samples earned her the award. The award consisted of a certificate, a medal, and a cash prize of Rs. 7,500. Ekta carried out her research under the supervision of assistant professor Dr. Divya Utreja.

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