Pusa-2090 to replace Pusa-44

News Excerpt:

A short-duration rice variety called Pusa-2090 can replace Pusa-44.

More details on news:

  • The Supreme Court has directed the Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan governments to stop crop stubble burning immediately to address pollution issues in the National Capital Region. 
  • Pusa-44 variety of paddy and “the time period in which it is grown”, i.e. its extended maturation period, contribute to the problem of stubble burning.
  • Punjab's Chief Minister announced the intention to ban Pusa-44 from next year.
  • The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has developed an improved rice variety called Pusa-2090 as an alternative to Pusa-44.
  • Pusa-2090 offers similar high yields to Pusa-44 but matures in a shorter period, potentially reducing the need for stubble burning.

What is Pusa-44?

  • Pusa-44 is a long-duration rice variety developed in 1993 by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) that takes 155-160 days to mature. 
  • The crop is transplanted in mid-June after nursery sowing a month earlier and is ready for harvesting only towards late October. Since that leaves little time for field preparation to plant the following wheat crop, ideally before mid-November, farmers resort to burning the standing stubble and loose straw that remains after harvesting using combined machines.
  • Subsequently, Punjab’s farmers started sowing it in a few areas initially.
    • After getting a high crop yield, they started multiplying the seeds.
  • Around 2010, it covered approximately 70 to 80% of Punjab’s total area under paddy cultivation.
  • But now, the Agriculture Department and Punjab Agricultural University have begun discouraging farmers due to declining groundwater levels.
  • By 2018, the Punjab government reduced the area under Pusa-44 to 18% of the total area under Paddy, but it rebounded to 22% in 2022. Now, it has been decided to replace it with Pusa-2090.
  • With Punjab facing severe groundwater depletion and the availability of short-duration paddy varieties, the government aims to conserve one month of irrigation water by banning the variety.
  • Also, Pusa varieties generate around 2% more stubble than short varieties, which becomes a significant concern when cultivated on a large scale. 

What is Pusa-2090?

  • It is an improved version of Pusa-44 that yields just as much – and matures in only 120-125 days. 
  • It is a cross between Pusa-44 and CB-501, an early-maturing Japonica rice line. 
  • It is not only early-maturing but also contributed to stronger culm (rice stem) and produced more grains per panicle (grain-bearing ear-heads). 
  • Thus, it combined both the higher yields and grain attributes of Pusa-44 with a lower duration of CB-501.

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