Buoyed by the rising demand from private sector companies, farmers in Madhya Pradesh are increasingly taking to cultivation of durum wheat, also known as Malwi wheat.
Durum wheat, which is hard and rich in protein, is used for making different types of pasta for which other wheat varieties are not suitable.
According to scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s regional station, the area under cultivation of durum wheat in MP has increased nearly seven-fold to 13% of the total wheat area from 2% five years ago.
“The cultivation area of durum wheat in MP has been going up steadily, as the variety is much in demand from private firms including the MNCs,” Dr Sai Prasad, principal scientist at the IARI regional station in Indore, told HT.
The yield of durum wheat at 55-65 quintals per hectare is also higher than sharbati wheat, he said.
The term durum, meaning ‘hard’ in Latin, appropriately describes durum wheat, which is the hardest of more than 30,000 varieties of wheat. The milling of other varieties of wheat breaks down the endosperm, resulting in fine, powdery flour that is suitable for baking products such as breads, cakes and cookies. However, the endosperm in durum wheat resists breaking during milling and results in granular, coarse flour.
The hardness of durum wheat, combined with its high protein content, yellow colour and nutty taste, makes it suitable for making pasta. The high gluten content also results in dough that is stiff and extrudes easily through metal discs to make more than 300 shapes of pasta, including macaroni and spaghetti.
The Indore regional station has also developed two different varieties of durum wheat that are more sturdy and resistant to vagaries of weather.