Raipur: Scientists here have developed a high zinc-enriched variety of rice that is expected to play a crucial role in fighting malnutrition in tribal-dominated Chhattisgarh where nearly seven lakh children are still malnourished.
The new paddy seed, called ‘Chhattisgarh Zinc Rice-1’, the first zinc bio-fortified rice variety in India, was launched by State Variety Release Committee, the authority for official release of new varieties of seeds, in March and its production is likely to begin from the next kharif season. Similarly, researchers from Indira Gandhi Agriculture University, Raipur, led by Girish Chandel, have rolled out two varieties of high zinc rice, of which one has been released..
“We focused on increasing our crop production since the inception of the Green Revolution. In the process, we managed to yield high production, but the quality of crop did not improve,” Prof. Chandel said. In 2000, the Centre, along with, health organisations in a survey found that 60-70 per cent of population was suffering from malnutrition because of deficiency of micro-nutrients, particularly iron, zinc and Vitamin A. Following this, the government decided to come out with a research programme to improve the variety of three staple crops — rice, wheat and maize — in different states, he said. Under the programme, Chhattisgarh decided to work on the quality aspect and took up ‘Rice Bio Fortification Research Project’.
“Currently, we have 100 kg seeds of this variety and we are further planning to multiply it in 10 acres. By December, we will distribute it to 5,000 farmers across the state,” he said....