Waiting for govt to respond, says farmer hailed by PM Modi for patent win
Elated that his innovation caught the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Hyderabad-based farmer Chintala Venkat Reddy has also expressed disappointment that there has been no response from any of the government bodies or the agriculture universities over his patented product.
During his radio show Mann Ki Baat on February 28, PM Modi urged the students and youth to know more about Indian science by following the path shown by Reddy, an ‘innovative farmer,’ who had come up with varieties of wheat and rice that were naturally enriched with Vitamin D.
“These appreciations and congratulatory messages are fine, but I expect that the government will come forward to take this innovation to the people. I am ready to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the government to take this technology into the fields all over the country, so that India can export paddy and wheat enriched with Vitamin D across the world,” Reddy said.
On February 11, the 70-year-old farmer won a patent for his innovation from the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) for his new findings. “It is a matter of pride for the Government of India that Reddy was honoured with the Padma Shri award last year,” PM Modi said.
According to the WIPO document, which was seen by HT, the invention by Reddy puts forth a new composition based on non-chemical, natural plant- based extracts to produce crop plants with high Vitamin D content, without genetic modification or application of chemicals.
“During this coronavirus pandemic, every doctor has been talking about how Vitamin D deficiency will affect the immunity of the body. But I felt this natural way of enriching the food with Vitamin D will go a long way in improving the immunity levels of the human being,” he said.
The cultivator said he would wait some more for the state and the central governments to respond. “Otherwise, I don’t mind tying up with multinational companies for the commercial exploitation of my patented product,” he said.
Already, Reddy has been in talks with an MNC based out of Mumbai for signing an agreement for mass production of these new varieties of rice and wheat. He, however, refused to divulge further details about the MNC at this stage.
Telangana agriculture commissioner and secretary B Janardhan Reddy, however, said the state government had all the appreciation for the innovation of Venkat Reddy and would definitely encourage his product.
“However, there is a procedure in the government for mass production of the new varieties of rice or paddy. It has to be studied by the scientists at Prof Jayashankar Agricultural University and then given the approval by the Indian Council of Agriculture Research. We shall definitely hold discussions with Venkat Reddy on how to take it forward,” the commissioner said.
According to Reddy, there is no Vitamin D in the normal varieties of rice or and wheat available in the market at present. “Through my experiments in my own fields in Alwal near Secunderabad, I succeeded in producing a rice variety containing Vitamin D to the extent of 102-141 international units (IU) per 100 grams and a wheat variety consisting of 1,606 IU in 100 grams,” he said.
He first applied for a national patent at Indian Patent Office in Chennai on August 2, 2019 and a year later, he applied for an international patent on August 1, 2020. “After a lot of studies and enquiries, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) published the study, granting patent to my products,” Reddy said.
Reddy used various nutrient-enhancing compositions such as carrot extract, maize flour and sweet potato extract, which increase Vitamin D content in plants when applied during irrigation of crop plants. These extracts were prepared in various methods like cooking and blending and mixing them with water in certain concentrations and supplied to the fields through various methods of irrigation. In some methods, the seed of the paddy or wheat are soaked in these extracts before sowing.
Queried how a school dropout could come up with such innovative experiments, he said: “Well, there is no need for any formal degree to experiment with agriculture. It comes naturally. As regards my research on Vitamin-D-rich crops, Sun god is my inspiration.”
Reddy also did several other experiments with soil. Last year, he also invented a technique of mud spray on crops which would act as pest repellent. “This has helped me and my fellow farmers to prevent the locust attack on our fields,” he said.