News Excerpt
University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences (UAHS), Shivamogga, has developed ‘Sahyadri Megha’, a new red rice variety that is resistant to blast disease and rich in nutrients.

●    There has been a decline in net cultivable area under paddy cultivation because paddy varieties become vulnerable to blast disease and other infestations.
●    Red rice is rich in fiber and protein, enriched with the goodness of antioxidants and magnesium, rice helps in controlling diabetes.
●    Red rice can also prevent asthma and improves consumption of oxygen for health-savvy individuals in urban areas.

About New Variety
    Sahyadri Meghais a blast resistant red rice variety developed to cope with diseases prevalence and need of enriched macro-nutrient in paddy.
    Sahyadri Meghais the result of the hybridization breeding method cross-breeding among the ‘Jyothi’ variety + ‘Akkalu’ variety, a native disease-resistant and protein-rich paddy variety.
    It has been approved by the State-level Seed Sub-Committee and soon the new variety will be notified under the Indian Seed Act 1966 and afterwards it will become a part of the seed chain distribution.
    Hybridization    Genetically Modified Crops
What?    ●    Hybridization is the process of interbreeding between individuals (two or many) different species or genetically different species.
●    It can occur naturally or by humans.     ●    Genetically modified crops are created by additions or deletions to DNA or in particular Gene. It involves gene splicing.
●    It can only be done in lab
Limitation    ●    Take longer to develop and are more trouble to produce.
●    Sub-optimal result if seed of hybrid are re-introduced.
    ●    GMC has a negative impact on biodiversity.
●    Replication or re-sown not possible.

Advantages    ●    Faster growth
●    More vigor and are more resistant to a variety of diseases and illness    ●    Drought, Diseases and  temperature tolerant
●    Designed to deliver specific nutrients.

Significance of New Variety
    The decreasing trend of rice cultivation is likely to stall as the new variety would encourage farmers with its features of disease resistance and better yield. For instance- the yield per hectare from ‘Sahyadri Megha’ is around 65 quintals, substantially higher than other red paddy varieties.
    Further enriched nutrients would help farmers to fetch good prices. The protein content in the new variety is 12.48% which is higher than the other red rice varieties.
    New variety is less prone to production losses due to erratic meteorological conditions as the new variety has 120 days of sowing, even it can be sown in delay in the onset of monsoon.
    The cultivation switching of Paddy growers to commercial crops like arecanut, ginger and rubber for lucrative returns can be retained to rice cultivation through new varieties to address the feed and nutrition demands of the population, and to fetch good income at low cost. Further such efficient, low cost, nutritious paddy varieties are likely to achieve the visionary goals of doubling farmer income.

Relevance of Hybrid Seed
    The Ratio of food producers to food consumers has significantly declined. This has placed pressure on food production to feed a rapidly growing population, and even gets intensified in case of significant crop losses due to severe heat and drought. Such extreme weather events raised concern for global food security. Hybrid seed offers efficient agricultural production and has a potential to meet these challenges.
    Efficiency in agriculture by reduction of its environmental footprint is the need of the hour. Enrichment of human diets with more nutritious foods can be fetched by hybrid seed without much externalities on the environment. The loss of the diversity through the genetic bottlenecks of domestication is very low in case of hybridization led seed.
    Hybrid technology can remarkably transform dry land cultivation and rain fed agriculture.
    Hybridization is convenient, suitable and well-known practices which don’t cause threat to biodiversity likewise genetically modified crops does. Further two different varieties used in hybridization belong to that region. A new variety is likely to have common adaptation. Hence their introduction is simpler.

Rice Blast Disease
    This disease is caused by a fungal pathogen.
    Also known as rotten neck or rice fever.
    Reported from 80 rice-growing countries. First recorded in India during 1918.
    Expected grain loss: 70 to 80%
    It affects almost all parts of the plant but very damaging during seedling and panicle filling stage.  
    In India, the disease appears where ever rice is grown but more prevalent in the areas where high humidity and low temperature is present during nights.
    This disease can be managed very effectively by using resistant crop varieties. Like-Sahyadri Megha

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), State Agricultural Universities and private companies are engaged in the development of hybrids and High Yielding Varieties (HYVs) seeds of different crops suitable for the varied agro climatic conditions.Government provides financial assistance to States and implementing agencies through various ongoing crop development schemes viz.-
1.    National Food Security Mission (NFSM),
2.    Bringing Green Revolution in Eastern India (BGREI),
3.    Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY)