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As part of its initiative to prevent decline in the area under paddy cultivation, the University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences (UAHS), Shivamogga, has developed ‘Sahyadri Megha’, a new red variety of paddy that is resistant to blast disease and rich in nutrients.
- Paddy growers are switching over to commercial crops like arecanut, ginger and rubber for lucrative returns.
- The area under paddy that was around 1.5 lakh hectares in Shivamogga district in 1990, has come down to around 1.05 lakh hectares.
- The ‘Jyothi’ variety which is widely cultivated in the command areas of the Bhadra and the Tunga reservoirs and in semi-arid areas in Sorab, Shikaripur, Hanagal and Sirsi taluks in Karnataka has become vulnerable to blast disease and other infestations. There was a demand for a new paddy variety that is resistant to the infestations.
- Demand by customers in urban areas for red rice which is rich in fibre and protein is also a reason behind developing the new variety.
- The red variety gets its rich colour from an antioxidant called anthocyanins, which are also found in deep purple or reddish fruits and vegetables.
- The compound is believed to have properties that can reduce inflammation, allergy, prevent risks of cancer and help in weight management.
- The new variety has been approved by the State-level Seed Sub-Committee and it will be available for farmers from the coming kharif season.
- ‘Sahyadri Megha’ is developed under the hybridization breeding method by cross-breeding the best among the ‘Jyothi’ variety with that of ‘Akkalu’, a native disease-resistant and protein-rich paddy variety.
- The results of the field trials conducted in Shivamogga, Chikkamagaluru, and Davangere districts have proved that the new variety has a high-level of resistance to blast disease.
- The new variety will be notified under the Indian Seed Act 1966 shortly after which it will become part of the seed chain.
- Protein content is 12.48%, which is higher than the other red rice varieties grown.
- It can be harvested after 120 days of sowing, it is a medium-term paddy that can be grown when there is a delay in the onset of monsoon.
- It has distinct aroma and taste.
- The yield per hectare from ‘Sahyadri Megha’ is around 65 quintals, substantially higher than other red paddy varieties.
- It is caused by fungus Pyricularia grisea (P. oryzae).
- Also known as rotten neck or rice fever.
- First recorded in India during 1918.
- Expected grain loss: 70 to 80%.
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