A high-protein variety of rice is on its way to ensure that even hardcore rice-eaters get more nutrition and less drowsiness.
Researchers from the department of genetics and plant breeding at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) are developing a variety which will be put through farm trials within the next six months. It could be a part of your daily menu within two years.
"The digestibility of this rice is low. It would be good for children, seniors and those suffering from diabetes," said Shailaja Hittalmani, Professor at the department of genetics and plant breeding, UAS.
Conventional rice has barely seven to eight per cent protein, while the high-protein rice (HPR) contains as much as 14-15 per cent protein. This would also mean that the carbohydrate content would be low.
She, however, clarified that HPR is not genetically modified, but a hybrid.
Apart from the high-protein benefit, this rice – also known as MAS-26 or aerobic rice as it requires lesser water and more air – would help save 60 per cent of water as it does not require water-intensive cultivation, and can go without water for as many as 15 days.
It takes up to 5,000 litres of water for just one kilo of conventional variety of rice to be harvested. But the aerobic rice can be merely watered once a week even in arid conditions.
Moreover, it can be harvested faster and the yield is on par with that of the conventional variety, Hittalmani said.
It also survives drought and emits much lesser methane, which helps combat global warming, she said.
This variety will have pride of place in the varieties that will be showcased during the Rashtriya Krishimela that will be held from November 16-20 in Bangalore.
"We have been trying to popularise the aerobic rice in water-scarce areas," Hittalmani said. Presently, only five per cent of paddy fields are being subjected to this new approach of rice cultivation.
"Transfer of technology could take time. There aren't enough officials to do this work. At the hobli level it is difficult even to get two officials. The university cannot take the responsibility as we are already training, researching and doing technology transfer to a small extent," said UAS Vice Chancellor, K Narayana Gowda.