Biotech rice to be commercially available in India by 2012

February 24th, 2009 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) The much awaited biotech rice, the insect-resistant variety with high nutritional value, will be commercially available in India only by 2011-12, scientists said here Tuesday.
“The polished rice we generally consume does not have iron content as its pulp is removed. But in biotech rice you would get good nutrition and the yield would also be more. This would help us meet our growing demand for rice,” G.J.N. Rao, head of plant improvement at Cuttack-based Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), told reporters.

He added that India has to increase its crop productivity “through innovation in agricultural biotechnology” to meet the rising demand.

At present rice is cultivated on 43 million hectares in the country. Last fiscal, India’s rice production stood at 96.43 million tonnes. The government estimates a shortfall of grain by at least 14 million tonnes this fiscal.

Swapan Dutta, a renowned rice expert at the Calcutta University, said the C4 variety of biotech rice would be available only by 2011-12.

“It will yield more than other varieties of rice. It will need less water and will be adaptable to climatic changes. It could be cultivated in dry conditions,” said Dutta.

He said the price of biotech rice seeds would be comparatively higher, but farmers would prefer it due to its advantages.

India became the fourth largest adopter of biotech crop in the world replacing Canada in 2008. As of now, about 32 crops, including cereals, vegetables and fruits, are undergoing research for their biotech varieties.

India is now producing biotech cotton and the biotech variety of brinjal is expected soon.

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