You may soon find chapatti baked from a wheat variety bio-fortified with zinc and iron on platter.
Kanpur-based Chandra Shekhar Azad University of Agriculture and Technology (CSAUAT), a state university, has developed K-1006 wheat variety with the bio-fortification of two nutrients.
The variety is meant for the north-eastern states where winter period is less and harvesting takes place in March instead of mid-April as common in north India.
“It is a major step where we can offer nutritious option of wheat to the end users. Also, it will be beneficial for farmers as its yield is about 4 tonne per hectare, which is on par with the recommended varieties in the north-eastern region,” Indu Sharma, project director of the Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR), told Hindustan Times on Thursday.
The DWR is the nodal agency to undertake wheat research in the country and has coordinated successful identification and testing exercise of the K-1006 variety.
Now, after approval of the Central Varietal Release Committee, the variety may be notified and hit the market.
“We hope that from next year, the variety may be out for sowing. North-eastern states are prone to brown rust and the variety has tested for its resistance to the deadly plant disease,” Sharma said.
She said that encouraged with growing awareness for nutritional food among governments and consumers, Indian scientific fraternity also focused to develop such a variety that is ideal for farmers (in terms of yield and disease resistance) and consumers (with extra zinc and iron).
Sharma said that earlier there was no focus on these two mineral nutrients and clarified that the variety was not a hybrid.
According to Ravish Chatrath, principal scientist, DWR, normally wheat contains 40-45 parts per million (PPM) of zinc and 35-40 PPM of iron, whereas K-1006 has 49.2 PPM zinc and 45.4 PPM iron.
Zinc improves immunity and helps fight diarrhea and acne.
Iron is a component of haemoglobin, which is essential for oxygen transport. Its deficiency causes anaemia besides other bodily problems