A 79-year-old genetic scientist at Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology and Science (SHUATS) has developed two semi-dwarf high yielding wheat varieties—SHIATS-W6 and SHUATS-W10, that are sugar free, high in nutrition, use less water and are resistant to extremes of Indian weather.
The senior scientist, Mahabal Ram, a professor (emeritus) at the institute, has also written to the UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath urging him to ensure wider use of these nutritive-rich super wheat varieties that are already notified by Central Variety Release Committee of the Union Ministry of Agriculture-New Delhi and are under limited cultivation in the state.
In his recent letter to CM, the Prayagraj-based scientist has highlighted that the two wheat varieties combine high yield and higher protein, zinc, iron, fiber contents while also being free of sugar (below detection limit) that is ideal for a state like UP that suffers from malnutrition on one hand and challenges of climate change like sudden heavy rains and very dry summers with high temperatures on the other.
He has urged that these wheat varieties be distributed to the people under the public distribution system as well. The innovation comes amid growing concern over falling farm output, including that of wheat, owing to rising temperature and unpredictable rainfall.
Prof Ram, an eminent geneticist and plant breeder of international repute, said the State Variety Release Committee (UP, Lucknow) has also formally released these two varieties for cultivation.
Already thousands of farmers in 11 districts have started cultivating these new wheat varieties. These districts include Prayagraj (Allahabad), Kaushambi, Pratapgarh, Fatehpur, Mirzapur, Varanasi, Jaunpur, Azamgarh, Ghazipur and Mahoba, he said.
“These two wheat varieties can tolerate temperature as high as 40 to 42 degrees Celsius against 30 to 32 degrees of average regular varieties, sown by farmers traditionally. They can even withstand water logging for even 7-8 days and still flourish,” he claimed.
Cost of production of these two SHUATS wheat varieties is lower by 30-35% as compared to Centrally (ICAR) released wheat varieties (PBW 343, HD 2967 and DBW 187), he said.
Based on grain quality analyses done by CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute Mysuru, SHIATS-W6 has been found to possess Protein (14.31%), Zinc (3.44mg/100g), Iron (3.54mg/100g), Fibre (2.89%) and Sugar-Below Detection Limit (BDL) i.e. free from sugar.
Second variety, SHUATS-W10 has been found to possess Protein (12.56%), Zinc (3.19mg/100g), Iron (3.39mg/100g), Fiber (2.49%) and Sugar (0.2%).
In the contrast, India’s most famous wheat variety HD 2967 evolved by ICAR-Indian Agriculture Research Institute, New Delhi possesses Protein (12.86%), Iron (2.89mg/100g, Zinc 93.29mg/100g0, Sugar 90.2%0 and poorest in Fiber (0.83%) content. The grain quality data available on internet of winter wheat grown in USA and European countries possesses Protein (13.31%), Iron (3.60mg/100g); lower in Zinc (2.60mg/100g); poor in fiber (1.03%) content and high in sugar (0.41%), he pointed out.
Thus, superiority of SHIATS-W6 and SHUATS-W10 in nutritive values is well established over India’s top wheat variety HD 2967 as well as winter wheat grown in western temperate countries.
In total carbohydrates, SHIATS-W6 has the lowest value (69.98%). It is followed by SHUATS-W10 (71.44%).On the other hand HD 2967 possesses highest Carbohydrate 75.02% content. In diet, carbohydrates should be less because on digestion, it is converted into sugar. People suffering with diabetes need food lower in carbohydrate, he explained.