Placeholder How is Indian Basmati Reaping the Benefits of Research?
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How Basmati in India is Reaping the Rewards of Research?

As per recent records, India’s exports of basmati rice have scaled beyond the figure of $5 billion. And this is just a display of sheer dedication and tireless efforts of the public sector collaboration and breeding within the industry. This success is credited to the scientists working at IARI (Indian Agricultural Research Institute) in Delhi. 

The revolution in the production and export of basmati rice in India has been a journey of several decades. Consistent research efforts on it have helped the basmati variants to diversify and provide consumers all across the world to witness the supremacy of India in producing this version of rice. 

Let’s take this article further and learn the stages of evolution that Indian basmati has been through and how it is experiencing the benefits of sheer research efforts. 

The Historical Journey of Basmati Rice Evolution and Export Surge in India

Till the late 1980s, the basmati that was produced in India was identified by its tall structure, which was prone to lodging. The yields were also lower on them. The common basmati variants that were being produced back in that era were Dehraduni and Taraori. 

Later, in the PB-1 breakthrough of 1989, Pusa Basmati-1 was introduced by the IARI scientists, which was the revolutionised version of the traditional basmati, with shorter plants and optimal lodging resistance. The yields were even higher for it. 

Considering the yield revolution, Pusa Basmati-1 resulted in doubling the Indian basmati rice exports and contributed immensely to the growth of the industry and the country’s economy. In the next stage, Pusa Basmati was upgraded, and a PB-1121 variant was introduced in 2003. 

It had a distinctive quality where the grains were longer and usually elongated upon being cooked. With the rise of PB-1121, the exports of Indian basmati rice between 2001 and 2014 went from 0.7 mt to 3.7 mt. The best part is that PB-1121 contributed 70% to this count. 

Not just that, but with recent research and efforts, the scientists at IARI have also developed multiple varieties of basmati that come with built-in resistance against fungal diseases and bacterial blight issues. Thus, it further reduces the need for basmati batches to undergo chemical treatments for repelling these diseases. 

Thus, the premium quality and value of the Indian basmati variants will stay intact across the global markets. 

Constant Research and Implementations by Scientists to Combat Diseases in Indian Basmati

In the next step of research and implementation, the scientists stepped into the disease-combatting arena to increase the export rate of Indian basmati with no questions on quality. Therefore, basmati rice exporters in India are taking adequate measures are taken in order to help minimise the rate of diseases in the rice batches, which include:

  • Yield Preservation

IARI scientists have been consistently working towards maintaining yield gains of all the basmati varieties. And they are doing it by seeking infusion of those rice variants with the disease-resistant genes. 

  • Overcoming Bacterial Blight

PB-1121, one of the popular Indian basmati rice variants, was reported as susceptible to bacterial blight disease. Scientists have responded to it immediately and are now transferring the resistant genes of the wild-paddy relatives or landrace cultivars to control the issue. 

  • Supporting Marker-Assisted Selection

With this method, the scientists make an effort to identify the disease-resistant genes, which is of utmost importance for battling the fungal or bacterial blight conditions of basmati. 

  • New Disease-Resistant Basmati Introduced

In the year 2021, PB-1885 and PB-1847 were introduced, which were the evolved versions of PB-1121 and PB-1509. These new variants had a built-in resistance to most of the common basmati diseases. Thus, no more chemical pesticides were required to keep the basmati cultivation free from diseases. 

Challenges that Indian Basmati Growers Have to Deal With

Even though scientific research is helping India reap the benefits of high exports and global dominance in the industry, there are still some challenges for Indian basmati growers which need to be addressed. Some of those challenges include:

  • There is no MSP (minimum support price) for basmati in India, which sets all the farmers up to deal with market fluctuations in their basmati production. Just like all other crops, even basmati should have a minimum support price. 
  • Most of the basmati rice in India is cultivated for export, and a very small portion of it gets directed to the domestic market for Indians to consume. This shouldn’t be the case, as even the domestic circulations will help increase the growth of the basmati industry at a rapid scale. 
  • The basmati growers often find themselves in grave challenges while adhering to the constantly changing export guidelines by the Government. For instance, the latest restriction of rejecting shipments of basmati that are priced below $1200/tonne is going to impose a big challenge for farmers. 

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, India is the largest exporter of rice on a global scale. Beyond that, India is also ranked as the second country with the highest rice consumption rate. As of 2022, the volume of Indian basmati exports crossed the mark of three billion metric tons on a global scale. As of today, there are more than 34 types of basmati being grown in India. 

Some of the major states that witness the production of basmati include Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and others. With the global dominance, it won’t be wrong to imply that Indian basmati is reaping the benefits of immense research being actively done by the scientists of the nation. 

They have tirelessly worked hard to refine the basmati variants and make them acceptable in the global markets. Thus, the economic advantage through basmati exports is what India enjoys today!

 

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