Monsanto India organised Pragathi Divas 2014 to demonstrate and showcase its Seminis hybrid vegetable portfolio. The event, organised at Monsanto’s breeding station in Gauribidanur, was attended by dealers, distributors and 100-plus farmers from adjoining villages. They were also taken on a tour of the breeding station which is spread across 117 acres at Kallinayakanahalli in Chikkaballapur district.
They witnessed vegetables grown from Monsanto’s Seminis hybrid vegetable seeds and experienced the successes from latest crop management practices. The farmers were also provided details of traditional plant breeding techniques and the modern science behind Seminis vegetable seeds and the best possible marketable yield with improved flavour, convenience and nutrition for consumers.
This breeding station is a centre of excellence for research in hybrid seeds, and has been modelled on Monsanto’s research facility in Chesterfield Village, St Louis, United States. This facility is focussed on developing and testing new hybrid seed varieties of maize, tomatoes, watermelon, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, pepper, onions and beans, with research and development (R&D) labs, trial fields and greenhouses under one roof.
“We believe technology is crucial for agricultural growth and prosperity, and we have always invested in R&D with a focus on increasing productivity efficiently,” stated Dr Gyanendra Shukla, managing director, Monsanto India Limited.
“The demand for a wider variety of high-quality vegetables would continue to increase, resulting in an immediate need to harvest better-quality, nutritious food from each unit of land, water and energy. Monsanto is working with farmers to enable them to meet these challenges by developing vegetable seeds that help growers to produce tastier, nutritious vegetables, and also help conserve natural resources,” he added.
Currently, Monsanto’s vegetable seed products include broccoli, cabbage, carrot, leek, cauliflower, cucumber, lettuce, sweet corn, tomato, pepper, onion and eggplant.
The company is also focussing on technologies like bacterial wilt-resistant tomato (BWT), which would provide yield protection in areas where BWT is endemic. Bacterial wilt occurs in warm and humid environments which results in losses of 40-90 per cent marketable fruit.
Other agro technologies are the Geminivirus Resistance, which would protect tomatoes against their most significant disease threat, and the broad application of marker-assisted breeding to improve resistance to Phytophthora. Phytophthora-resistant peppers show strong field performance in multiple countries.
“The effort is to improve both the quality and productivity of vegetables grown from our seeds. We develop hybrids that offer higher yield potential, improved quality, uniformity, flavour and nutrition, as well as better resistance to insect pests and adverse environmental conditions,” stated V K Kishore, director, R&D-vegetables, Monsanto.
“Through constant engagement with farmers across the country, we endeavour to understand their needs and requirements better, and develop superior quality seeds, suited to varied agronomic conditions which ensure the best fit for farmers and their land, equip their farm against constraints and help maximise yields,” he added.
Monsanto has seven R&D seed breeding stations (located in Abohar, Aurangabad, Bangalore, Dharwad, Ghaziabad, Kallakal and Sonepat), and a QA seed testing laboratory and seed processing plant at Shamirpet near Hyderabad.
It is engaged in the testing and introduction of wider choices of hybrid vegetable seeds suited to diverse agronomic conditions to enable farmers to produce more and improve their lives.