Has India discovered the answer to 2 of its maximum urgent life-style issues?
How approximately having a breakfast of blue bread, followed with the aid of a lunch of pink chappatis? You may say good-bye to the one’s brown cookies in the nighttime and alternatively deliberate on what could cross higher with your tea: blue, black, or pink biscuits?
Wheat is not undeniable antique brown in India, way to an 8-yr-lengthy research undertaking with the aid of a collection of scientists at Mohali’s National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI). Three colored styles of wheat — pink, black and blue — are equipped for human intake after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) gave its nod in June’s ultimate year.
Now, experiments are not restricted to NABI’s laboratory and the wheat fields on the institute’s 35-acre sprawling campus. Recently, agreement farming of colored wheat, precisely the crimson and black sorts, was harvested in over seven hundred acres across India — from Patiala and Jalandhar in Punjab to Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh. A year in the past, colored wheat became cultivated only in 80 acres, extra as a test than as a business proposition.
The scientists at NABI consider that colored wheat is the subsequent massive aspect in India’s agricultural landscape. The wheat gets its coloration from anthocyanin. A pigment that offers shade to culmination, which includes blueberries and Jamun, anthocyanin is an antioxidant. While having blueberries in huge portions can cause excessive sugar intake, colored wheat can give you the requisite amounts of anthocyanin without worrying about excessive blood sugar, say NABI scientists.
Among the brand new wheat varieties, the black one possesses the best anthocyanin, followed by blue and red wheat.
“We started out working on it because 2011 upon getting the know-how from Japan. We experimented with it for several seasons earlier than being satisfied that, sure, it’s adaptable to Indian environmental situations,” says Monika Garg, lead scientist on the colored wheat venture at NABI. (See interview, “Singapore has a Successful Purple Wheat Noodle Brand”) The antioxidant-wealthy wheat, NABI scientists declare, can lessen the chances of cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, and obesity.
They also say that colored wheat, which is biofortified with zinc, can fight malnutrition among children, one of India’s enormous health challenges.
“Anthocyanin is a good antioxidant that makes us more healthy.
It helps in the prevention of lifestyle problems, inclusive of weight problems and cardiovascular diseases. We have already experimented in mice and determined that the ones having colored wheat had a less tendency of gaining weight,” says Garg.
Ten agri-based groups have so far come forward to do commercial enterprise in colored wheat even as the market is ambiguous for colored wheat merchandise (See field, “Companies Venturing into Contract Farming of Coloured Wheat”). Colored grain has a decrease yield than standard wheat, and therefore will be offered at a total rate fee. At best, one acre offers about 20 quintals of colored wheat — 4 quintals less than the standard variety. Among colored wheat, the black provides a minuscule yield — about 17-18 quintals in step with acre.
“The yield of colored wheat is rather less than regular wheat, but it has greater anthocyanin and zinc, therefore making it a dose in opposition to malnutrition. The authorities ought to procure it by using paying a better MSP (minimal guide rate) after which introduce the products in midday food,” says NABI’s government director, TR Sharma, including that he has already written to the departments involved for its mass use.
All three varieties of wheat at the moment are being tested via the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) to set up their adaptability and sickness resistance competencies under various climatic conditions.
Once the ICAR offers its inexperienced signal, colored wheat might be rolled out on a pan-India level as a supplement to, if not a replacement for, the regular wheat that has much fewer vitamins.
NABI, a bio-technology institute installation in 2010 on the outskirts of Chandigarh, comes under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology. It has already been applied for patenting colored wheat.
In the lab
ET Magazine spent 1/2 an afternoon at NABI’s laboratory, interviewing four biotechnologists and researchers, Garg. A doctorate from Tottori University, Japan, Garg, forty-five, began operating on the challenge in 2011 after NABI procured extraordinary genome plasma from Japan and America before getting the ones tailored to India’s environmental situations via plant breeding, a technique of changing the genetic pattern of plant life, including via crossbreeding, to increase their application for people. For the record, colored wheat isn’t genetically modified (GM).