Indian scientists developing drought-tolerant crops | india | Hindustan Times
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Indian scientists developing drought-tolerant crops

india Updated: Oct 13, 2009 21:48 IST

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India's scientists are developing drought-tolerant crops and submergence-tolerant rice, a key agricultural research institute official said in Bangalore on Tuesday.

Deputy Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Dr Swapan Dutta said these crops, termed precision designer crops, are now under the evaluation stage.

"It (submergence-tolerant rice) can come in for commercial release within the next two to three years", he told reporters after attending a multi-stakeholder workshop on ensuring food security and agriculture sustainability through advances in agriculture.

Referring to submergence-tolerant rice, he said that during submergence (by rain or flood waters) metabolic functions and photosynthesis of these plants would be very low. "This plant will easily survive for two weeks (under water)".

During submergence, these plants would produce ethanol, giving them energy during that period. Once water recedes, these plants, which would appear pale during submergence, would rejuvenate themselves and be back to their normal functioning.

On drought-tolerant crops such as tomato, brinjal, cabbage and maize, he said "we have to design a crop in such a way that these plants would only activate these genes under drought or salinity when it's needed. When it's not needed, the plant does not have to activate these genes".

"So, now we are working on some kind of switch-on and switch-off machinery", he said.