Agri Business

Mahyco optimistic on GM food crops

Rutam Vora Dawalwadi | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on July 17, 2015


Subsidiary Sungro conducts field trials of Bt chana in AP

Farm biotechnology company Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd (Mahyco) has expressed optimism over the easy passage for genetically modified food crops including Bt brinjal and Bt chickpea (Bt chana) with growing emphasis on agri biotechnology by the Centre.

While there has been no progress towards revoking the moratorium on Bt brinjal, the genetically modified chickpea has been allowed for field trials in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. However, Maharashtra government later put a ban on field trials after protests.

“There has been positive development since the NDA government came to power in the Centre. Field trials have been approved for food crops besides other cotton varieties. Also, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his speech at the launch of DD Kisan Channel had encouraged genetic engineering to increase pulses production,” said Usha Barwale Zehr, Chief Technology Officer, Mahyco.

Bt Chickpea trials are being conducted in Andhra Pradesh by Sungro Seeds, a sister concern of Mahyco after obtaining the Bt technology from the Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Jorhat.

“The Bt variety of chana is not only insect resistant but also improves yield by about 15-20 per cent. It will also protect the crop from Helicoverpa spp. (pod borer), which can cause yield damage up to 75-90 per cent,” said Bharat Char, Lead-Biotechnology, Mahyco. According to him, the Bt variety of chana would be more beneficial to the small dry land farmers .

Approximately about 18-19 million tonnes of pulses is produced in the country, out of which about 40 per cent is chickpea, having an area of about 9.60 million hectares. But to meet the annual pulses consumption of about 22-23 million tonnes, India is heavily dependent on imports with an import bill touching $2.3 billion (approx ₹14,700 crore).

With Central push for the agri biotechnology, Zehr expressed optimism about easy passage for Bt brinjal as well.

“Bangladesh has already experimented with Bt brinjal with two successful seasons. They had released the seeds in 2013. The sad part is that the technology is ours and they are taking the benefit,” added Zehr.

The writer was in Jalna recently at the invitation of the company

Published on July 17, 2015
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