University of Calcutta has developed the nation's first genetically engineered(GE) drought resistant rice variety, a top Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) official said here today.
"Genetically engineered drought tolerant rice variety has been developed by Calcutta University. The varsity this month has published a paper on drought resistant rice," Deputy Director General (Crop Sciences) of ICAR Prof Swapan Kumar Datta told PTI on the sidelines of a conference here.
"The production capacity of this variety will remain the same as in other crops, but it can survive without water," he said.
"It will take -say- another two or three years to conduct the field trials of this variety," Datta said adding some state governments were not ready to give permission for its field trials.
According to ICAR, India can now develop variety of drought tolerant wheat, rice and maize.
Drought tolerant maize variety is available with a company and its field trials are being conducted outside India, Datta said.
The states like Rajasthan and Gujarat need more drought resistant varieties, he said adding "In future we would like to have those kind of materials (crops) which are drought tolerant, nitrogen sufficient and efficient in water use, so that it could increase the yield,".
China has already field-tested indigenously developed transgenic wheat variety which is drought tolerant, he informed.
Meanwhile, ICAR, has begun exploring the possibility of developing a high oil yielding and thorn free variety of Safflower, a prominent Indian crop giving edible oil.
"We are screening and getting a material for Safflower which could be thorn-free and at the same time has higher oil content, since farmers, mostly women, do not like to harvest its seed because it is difficult," Datta said.
Currently the oil yield from Safflower is less than one tonne per hectare and our target is to increase it upto four tonnes a hectare, he said.
The production of this oil bearing crop has come down drastically over the years in India. The Centre has offered incentives to farmers by giving subsidy to grow this crop.
Datta also said that extended field trials of herbicide tolerant BT cotton variety are being conducted in the country.