News Excerpt
Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune have developed a biofortified durum wheat variety MACS 4028, which shows high protein content.

Pre-Connect
•    Malnutrition poses serious socio-economic implications worldwide, more specifically in the underdeveloped and developing countries.
•    As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 (2015-16), 35.7 per cent children below five years are underweight, 38.4 per cent are stunted and 21 per cent are wasted in India.
•    India in terms of hunger rankings has slipped from 95th rank in 2010 to 102nd in 2019.
•    The global community set ‘Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’ which aim to end malnutrition in all its form. SDG2 (Zero Hunger) aims to end hunger through improved food and nutritional security. SDG3 (Good Health and Well-being) aims to ensure healthy lives and promotes well-being of people at all ages.
•    Since ‘dietary-diversification’ may not be feasible in many developing and underdeveloped countries, addition of nutrients artificially is a solution of malnutrition.
•    Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has improved the nutritional quality of more than 5600 high yielding varieties of crops of which number of biofortified varieties is negligible. The biofortified varieties assume great significance to achieve nutritional security of the country.

Highlights
    Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, have developed a biofortified durum wheat variety MACS 4028, which shows high protein content.
    The wheat variety shown high protein content of about 14.7%, better nutritional quality having zinc 40.3 ppm, and iron content of 40.3ppm and 46.1ppm respectively, good milling quality and overall acceptability.
    MACS 4028 is a semi-dwarf variety, which matures in 102 days and has shown the superior and stable yielding ability of 19.3 quintals per hectare. It is resistant to stem rust, leaf rust, foliar aphids, root aphids, and brown wheat mite.
    The MACS 4028 variety is also included by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) programme for United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to alleviate malnutrition in a sustainable way and can boost the Vision 2022 “KuposhanMukt Bharat”, the National Nutrition Strategy.

Conclusion
Wheat crop in India is grown under six diverse agroclimatic zones. In the peninsular zone of India, the crop experiences moisture stress due to dependency om rain and limited irrigation facility. Hence, there is a high demand for drought-tolerant varieties. The MACS 4028 will help farmers in such situation. The variety will also help improve nutritional security of country.

Bio-fortification
    Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals in a food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.
    Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology.
    Biofortification differs from conventional fortification in that biofortification aims to increase nutrient levels in crops during plant growth rather than through manual means during processing of the crops.
    Biofortification may therefore present a way to reach populations where supplementation and conventional fortification activities may be difficult to implement and/or limited.
    Examples of biofortification include: iron-biofortification of rice, beans, sweet potato, cassava and legumes; zinc-biofortification of wheat, rice, beans, sweet potato and maize etc.