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Indian Institute of Horticulture Research Develops Chilli Hybrids Resistant to Leaf Curl Virus

Prity Barman
Prity Barman
Akra Chilli
Akra Chilli

Scientists at the ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR), Bengaluru, have developed chilli hybrids that are immune to leaf curl virus (LCV) disease after research for almost a decade, a major problem for growers across the country. 

In terms of occurrence and yield depletion, the Leaf curl virus disease is the most damaging disease faced by chili growers. In the infected plants, the LCV transmitted by the whiteflies causes the leaf to become twisted and rolled, resulting in stunted growth. 

LCV is a major disease faced by chili farmers, where crop loss in the infected fields can be as high as 90%. In the forthcoming Kharif cropping season of 2021, says IIHR Owner, MR Dinesh, we are launching five LCV resistant chilli hybrids for commercial cultivation. After screening the germ plasm from different places, we have produced about 55 hybrids through the traditional breeding process. 

'After screening the germ plasm from different places, we have produced about 55 hybrids through the traditional breeding process. Of these five varieties, they have shown promise and have consistently shown resistance to the LCV and are now being promoted,' said Madhavi Reddy K, Head, Vegetable Crops Division at IIHR Bengaluru, who is leading a team of scientists in the country's first production of LCV-resistant chilli hybrids. 

Interest in the IIHR hybrids has been shown by the private seed industry, including multinational corporations, said Reddy. The demand for chili seeds is valued at over 150 tons per year. Of this, Reddy said, the demand for hybrid seeds is about 100 tonnes and the free pollinated variety is around 50 tonnes 

It is projected that the size of the chilli seed industry is around ~400 crore. Reddy said that a project to transfer the technology into the famous Byadgi chilli variety, known for its color and low pungence, was suggested by the IIHR. 'To move this technology to the Byadgi chilli range, we have approached the Karnataka Horticulture Department and are awaiting their response,' Reddy said. 

Chilli is a major commercial cash crop produced by farmers, and there is a growing development of both green and red varieties. According to the second advance projections, India's green chilli production during 2019-2020 was 38.51 lakh tonnes. This is better than the production of 37,83 lakh tonnes in the previous year. 

During 2019-20, Green Chilli acreage stood at 3.64 lakh ha, down from 3.77 lakh ha in the previous year. In 2019-20, the output of red or dried chillies was projected at 17.02 lakh tonnes, slightly lower than the 17.43 lakh tonnes of the previous year. 

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