The central government unveiled a new, early maturing variety of arhar (red gram). It apparently gives a yield of 20 quintals, the same as many existing varieties but maturing in 120 days, instead of the usual 170-180 days.
Called PUSA Arhar-16, it might even be issued for commercial use in January itself, so that farmers could plant by the next kharif season.
The new variety gives an average yield of 20 quintals, which though is same as many existing varieties, but more crucially take lesser time to mature making it suitable for northern plains.
It would give farmers ample time to grow potato, mustard or wheat in the rabi season thereby making this arhar variety suitable for northern plains.
|About the new arhar variety|
|Name: Pusa Arhar-16|
|Yield per hectare: 20 quintals|
|Maturity: 120 days|
|Plant size: Semi-dwarf (95-120 cm)|
|Suitable regions: Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh|
|Other specialities: High density, synchronised maturity, facilitates use of combined harvesters, allows effective spraying of pesticide, requires less manpower, allows cultivation of other crops such as wheat etc because of short-duration|
An early release by next January bypassing he mandatory three years multi-field testing parameters would enable the country achieve self-sufficiency in pulses by in the next 3-4 years.
"We will put this new arhar variety (Pusa 16) for commercial use soon. Once we put for commercial use, certainly it will have great impact," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after visiting the experimental plot of new arhar variety in the IARI complex here.
Jaitley was accompanied by agriculture ministry Radha Mohan Singh, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, secretary in the department of agriculture S Pattanayak and other top officials from Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) and others.
Pulses production in India is lower than the demand of 23-24 million tonne (MT).
The output had fallen in the last two years due to the drought which sent the prices through the roof, forcing the government to take several measures to check inflation in pulses.
Arhar prices in some retail markets had touched to Rs 200 per quintal last year due to supply shortage.
India usually produces around 2-3 tonnes of arhar annually, which this year is expected to reach an all-time high 4.29 million tonnes due to record rise in area.
The country's pulses output is estimated to increase to 20 MT in 2016-17 crop year (July-June) on account of good monsoon after two drought years.
But the production is still lower than domestic demand of 23-24 MT.
Pulse production fell to 16.47 MT in 2015-16 crop year from 17.15 MT in the previous year.
The new pulses variety not only matures earlier than others but also does not grow as tall as current arhar types.
Its height is less than 2 meters making it suitable for mechanized harvesting by mechanized combine harvesters.
The size is around 90 centimeters to 120 centimeters, that is semi-dwarf.
The present arhar varieties available in the market are all grown in plants which are more than 2 meters tall which has to manually thrashed thereby need labour at multiple stages.
However, the new variety 'PUSA Arhar-16' does not grow tall hence can be harvested in bunch.
"The new variety is short duration, synchronized maturity and amiable to combine harvesters," Dr A. K. Singh from the Division of Genetics in IARI said and one the main drivers behind the project said.
He said at present multi-location tests are being conducted at 10 states including Kolkata, Hisar, Delhi, Pant Nagar etc, but it can be sacrificed to enable early commercial release of the variety.
"In wheat and rice we have done away with mandatory multi-centre testing for early release," Singh said.
The new variety meant to replace the water-guzzling paddy in northern plains of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh could be a real game-changer if pursued effectively.