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UAS part of DBT-sponsored national project to bio-fortify aerobic rice
Friday, 15 March, 2013, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
The University of Agricultural Sciences’ (UAS) Department of Plant Biotechnology, which developed the aerobic rice that requires less water for cultivation, is now bio-fortifying the same with zinc and iron under a project sponsored by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India.

The India Rice Bio-fortification Programme is partnering with HarvestPlus, a global initiative engaged in breeding crops rich in micro-nutrients to reduce malnutrition. The two teams meet twice a year to plan, execute the programmes and also assess the progress made.

The local, national and international strategies are discussed with the active involvement of scientific administrators from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi and the CGIAR centres. A memorandum of agreement was signed between the DBT and HarvestPlus to facilitate the collaboration.

The initiative, under a national research network, consists of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), a coordinating agency led by Ajay Parida; the Directorate of Rice Research (DRR), Hyderabad; the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore; the Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (IGKV), Raipur, Chhattisgarh along with UAS, Bangalore. At the national level, the outlay of the programme is Rs 8 crore. This is the second phase of the programme on bio-fortification.

“In the first five years, we screened the national germplasm accessions from across the country. We also provided details of the growth and health of the rice grain yield. Now we are ready to undertake the fortification of the grain. In a country which is dominated by a large rice-eating population, the need of the hour is to infuse micronutrients,” H E Shashidhar, professor of genetics and plant breeding, Department of Plant Biotechnology, UAS, Bengaluru, said.

“On April 12, 2013, all the participants in the project will meet in Srinagar to discuss the progress following their last interaction at New Delhi,” he added. The UAS team, led by Shashidhar, comprises N B Prakash, associate professor, Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry, UAS, and Vijayalakshmi D, professor, Department of Food Science and Nutrition.
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