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BARC Technologies to Boost Farm Income

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) located in Mumbai is a premier research centre under the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India, engaged in multidisciplinary research activities in nuclear and allied sciences. In more than 65 years of its existence, BARC has contributed immensely not only in basic research in nuclear sciences, physics, chemistry and biology, it has also spearheaded significant research in the field of agricultural sciences too, making some pioneering and quality contributions in farm research.

One of the oldest and major programmes is the use of nuclear tools to improve crop varieties, via mutation breeding. So far, BARC has developed 47 improved varieties of cereals, pulses, oilseeds and fibre crops, some of which are immensely popular among farmers even after several years of release. Groundnut, mustard, rice, wheat, urdbean, moongbean, soybean, linseed, cowpea, pigeonpea, chickpea and sorghum have been the major target crops for mutation breeding for better yield, quality, oil content, seed dormancy, drought tolerance, early maturity and disease and insect-pest tolerance. So far 15 groundnut, 8 mungbean, 5 each of urdbean and pigeonpea, 4 mustard, 3 rice, 2 each of soybean and cowpea, and one each of sunflower, linseed and jute varieties have been developed at BARC and notified by the Govt. of India(Table 1). As many as five groundnut varieties (TAG-24, TG-37A, TG-51, TG-38 and TPG-41) are used as National Checks in All-India Coordinated (ICAR) trials. Recently released linseed variety TL-99 deserves special mention as this is the first linseed variety released for edible oil purpose in India. Photographs of some representative varieties are presented in Fig. 1. Using a combination of tissue-culture-based technologies and radiation-induced mutagenesis, several promising lines of sugarcane and banana (vegetatively propagated crops) have been developed and these are being evaluated under field conditions. In addition to direct release as varieties, several BARC-developed lines are also used in the breeding programmes of ICAR and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs), thus indirectly contributing to the national and state varietal development programmes. Moreover, BARC has developed several mutant lines that have been deposited with NBPGR, New Delhi, as novel genetic stocks. BARC has also developed technologies for micropropagation of planting materials for banana, pineapple and turmeric.

crops
Trombay (BARC) crop varieties released for commercial cultivation (Figures in parentheses indicate number of varieties released for these crops)

Apart from crop varieties, BARC has developed several agro-technologies related to crop production and crop protection, that can contribute to boosting productivity. Among these are technologies for biological pest and disease management, soil organic-carbon estimation and a rapid composting technology of crop and food residues (http://www.barc.gov.in/technologies/technology_detail.html?tab=0#TabbedPanels1). A novel strain of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kenyae has been isolated and formulated. Extensive field evaluation revealed that this formulation is effective against 12 different insect pests. A neem-based botanical pesticide has been developed and transferred to many companies and 3 commercial products have been launched. This formulation provides sustained protection against agricultural pests.  A microbial seed treatment formulation based on a novel Trichoderma mutant (radiation-induced) and a new mass-multiplication and formulation strategy has been developed. The formulation, named TrichoBARC, has been extensively evaluated under field conditions in chickpea, lentil and soybean, over 5 years at multiple locations, both in on-farm trials and in KVKs and farmers' fields. This simple and inexpensive seed treatment improved seed germination, plant vigour and biomass, grain yield and also induced early flowering (Fig. 2); the yield enhancement in demonstration trials and farmers' fields ranged from 20% to 50%. A simple and easy-to-use soil organic carbon estimation (colorimetric) kit has been developed that has been transferred to 40 parties and 10 kits are commercially available. Management of kitchen waste and garden wastes in urban areas, and crop residues in rural areas is a major issue these days. Many municipal corporations have stopped picking-up wastes from large housing societies and this has posed challenges in managing these wastes at source. Similarly, a ban on burning of crop residues and dry leaves necessitated the development of a strategy to convert  such wastes into composts and giving back the carbon to the nature. A universal technology has been developed using a single microbe, to degrade various kinds of plant wastes (Fig. 3). The technology has become very popular with urban housing societies (mainly for managing kitchen wastes, temple wastes, and garden wastes, including coconut leaves), institutes and also private companies and NGOs. Till date, the technology has been transferred to 24 companies/NGOs/Institutes and six products are available in the market, including on e-portals. Some housing societies in Mumbai have achieved "zero garbage" status using BARC's technology. The composts generated are of good quality and are being used  as a soil conditioner and as a manure for gardening. 

field
Demonstration of TrichoBARC seed treatment formulation in KVK (soybean) and farmer’s field (chickpea) in Chhattisgarh state (Photo courtesy: Prof. Anil Kotasthane, IGKV, raipur)

BARC is also engaged in research on using radiation technologies for food preservation and food processing, thus helping in reducing post-harvest losses, as well as boosting export of commodities that may be infested with pests of quarantine significance. Among the technologies for reducing post-harvest losses of farm produce are inhibition of sprouting of potatoes, garlic and onions in storage and shelf-life increase of vegetables like tomato, broccoli, etc. Storage of many ready to eat/cook cut vegetables and cut fruits can be enhanced by 1-2 weeks.  Disinfestation of cereals and pulses and microbial decontamination of herbs and spices can be achieved with a shelf-life extension for 1 year or more. Currently, 18 commercial radiation processing facilities are operational at various parts of the country. Use of radiation technology to disinfest fruits has boosted mango export to the USA. Recently the harmonization of food irradiation rules with the international regulation through adaptation of class wise clearance of irradiated food items by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has taken place [Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Sixth Amendment Regulations, 2016] for large scale deployment of this technology. This has class based categorized different food items, and the purpose of radiation. BARC has also developed biodegradable films for food packaging which has potential to reduce plastic contamination of the environment.  

soil
Composting of kitchen waste (top panel) and coconut leaves using BARC formulation

List of recently released BARC varieties notified for commercial cultivation(2004-2020) 

Sr. No 

Variety 

Crop 

Year of release 

States  

Special traits 

TG 37A 

Groundnut 

2004 

Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, UP, Gujarat, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar, North Eastern states 

High yield, smooth pods, collar rot and drought tolerance, wider adaptability 

TPG 41 

Groundnut 

2004 

All India 

Large seed (75-80g/100 seeds), medium maturity (120 days), 20 days seed dormancy, High oleic acid (60%). 

TMB-37  

Mungbean 

2005  

Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, WB  

Tolerant to yellow mosaic virus  

TAMS 38 

Soybean 

2005 

Maharashtra 

Early maturing, resistant to bacterial pustule, Myrothecium leaf spot 

TG 38 

Groundnut 

2006 

Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar, North Eastern states 

High shelling % (78%), more 3-seeded pods, more round seeds 

TLG 45 

Groundnut 

2007 

Maharashtra 

Large seed (75-80g/100 seeds), medium maturity (115-120 days) 

TJM-3  

Mungbean 

2007  

Madhya Pradesh  

Resistant to powdery mildew, Yellow mosaic virus and Rhizoctonia root –rot diseases  

TM-96-2 (Trombay Pesara

Mungbean 

2007  

Andhra Pradesh  

Resistant to powdery mildew and Corynespora leaf spot  

TPM 1 

Mustard 

2007 

Maharashtra 

Yellow seed, tolerant to powdery mildew 

10 

TAMS 98-21 

Soybean 

2007 

Maharashtra 

Resistant to bacterial pustules, Myrothecium leaf spot, soybean mosaic virus diseases 

11 

TAS-82 

Sunflower 

2007 

Maharashtra 

Black seed coat, tolerance to necrosis disease 

12 

TRC-77-4  

(Khalleshwari)  

Cowpea 

2007  

Chhattisgarh  

Suitable for rice based cropping system  

13 

TT-401  

Pigeon pea 

2007  

Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh  

High yielding, tolerant to pod borer and pod fly damage  

14 

TG 51 

Groundnut 

2008 

Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, North Eastern states 

Early maturity (90 days), medium large seed (50-55g/100 seeds), high shelling% (78%), more 3-seeded pods. 

15 

TBG 39 (Trombay Bikaner) 

Groundnut 

2008 

Rajasthan 

Large seed (75-80g/100 seeds), medium maturity (115-120 days), high oleic acid (59%), more number of branches 

TDG 39 

(TGLPS 3) 

2009 

Karnataka 

16 

TJT-501  

Pigeon pea 

2009  

MP, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh  

High yielding, tolerant to Phytophthora blight, early maturing  

17 

TM-2000-2  

(Pairy mung)  

Mungbean 

2010 

Chhattisgarh  

Suitable for rice fallow and resistant to powdery mildew  

18 

TG 47 

(Bheema, (RARS-T-1) 

Groundnut 

2011 

Andhra Pradesh 

Large seed (65-70g/100 seeds), Maturity of 110-115 days, more 3 seeded pods 

19 

PKV-TARA  

 

Pigeon pea 

2013 

Maharashtra  

 

Resistant to wilt and sterility mosaic  

 

20 

TU-40  

Urdbean 

2013  

AP, Karnataka, Orissa, TN  

Suitable for rice fallows and resistant to powdery mildew  

21 

TC 901 

Cowpea 

2018 

Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh 

High yielding, Early and synchronous maturity, resistant to cowpea mosaic virus 

22 

TCDM 1 

Paddy 

2019 

Chhattisgarh 

Semi-dwarf, medium slender, aromatic, high yielding 

23 

TBM-204 

Mustard 

2019 

West Bengal 

Yellow seed, high yield 

24 

TL-99  

 

Linseed 

2019 

UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam & Nagaland 

Low linolenic acid, high yield and oil content 

25 

TKR Kolam 

Rice 

2020 

Maharashtra 

Semi-dwarf, short and fine grain (kolam type), high yield 

Author details

Dr. Prasun K. Mukherjee and Dr. Sunil K. Ghosh, Bioscience Group, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, Mumbai 400085 (prasunm@barc.gov.in; ghsunil@barc.gov.in) 

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