How approximately having a breakfast of blue bread, followed with the aid of a lunch of pink chappatis? In the nighttime, you may say good-bye to the one’s brown cookies 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 ultimate year.
Now, experiments are now not restricted to NABI’s laboratory and the wheat fields on the institute’s 35-acre sprawling campus. Recently, agreement farming of coloured wheat, specifically 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, coloured wheat became cultivated only in 80 acres, extra as an test than as a business proposition.
The scientists at NABI consider that coloured 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 blue berries in huge portions can cause excessive sugar intake, coloured wheat can give you the requisite portions of anthocyanin with out the worry of excessive blood sugar, say NABI scientists.
Among the brand new wheat varieties, the black one possesses the best amount of anthocyanin, followed by using blue and red wheat.
“We started out working on it because 2011 upon getting the know-how from Japan. We experimented 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 chances of cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes and obesity.
They additionally say that colored wheat, which is biofortified with zinc, can fight malnutrition among children, one of the huge health challenges that India faces.
“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 coloured wheat even as there’s ambiguity on the market for coloured wheat merchandise (See field, “Companies Venturing into Contract Farming of Coloured Wheat”). Coloured wheat has a decrease yield than normal wheat, and therefore will ought to be offered at a top rate fee. One acre offers about 20 quintals of colored wheat at best — 4 quintals less than the normal variety. Among coloured wheat, the black offers the least yield — about 17-18 quintals in step with acre.
“The yield of colored wheat is rather less than everyday 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 3 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, coloured wheat might be rolled out on a pan-India level as a supplement to, if not a replacement for, the everyday wheat that has much less 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 filed an application for patenting coloured wheat.
In the lab
ET Magazine spent 1/2 an afternoon at NABI’s laboratory, interviewing 4 biotechnologists and researchers, consisting of 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).