Heat-resistant mustard debuts in southern India
Traditionally grown in Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, the heat and drought-tolerant mustard varieties developed by public sector institutions in the last few years have made a debut in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the current rabi, or winter season.
The two heat-resistant varieties, Pusa 21 & 29, developed by Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), an institute under the ministry of agriculture, has been sown on trial basis in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka this season.
The two mustard varieties possess not only ability to withstand higher temperatures in October, when sowing usually commences, but also possess low erucic acid, which reduces pungency in the oil and is considered healthy.
“We grew these two heat resistant varieties in our research stations located in Tamil Nadu in the last few years and we hope consumers in southern parts of the country would like the less pungent mustard oil from the varieties grown,” DK Yadava, principal scientist, division of genetics, IARI told FE. IARI mustard varieties have more than 56% share in total breeder seed market.
If the new varieties are accepted by farmers in the southern India, the country’s annual mustard production is expected to rise sharply during next few years, which may reduce dependence on the edible oil import.
The country’s annual mustard production has been in the range of 6.6 million tonne to about 8 million tonne in the last five years.
The production has been sustained mainly due to early sown heat and drought tolerant varieties such as Pusa mustard 25, 27, 28, besides Vijay, Mahak and Agrani developed by IARI.
“Mustard has been largely grown in largely rainfed regions of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh because it could be grown with lesser number of irrigation,” Yadava noted.
A senior official with agriculture ministry said average temperature prevalent in the northern India in the month of October has increased by about 2 degree centigrade in the last one decade.
The early sown (September) variety of the crop, mostly developed by IARI and state government-owned institutions, have been helping farmers dealing with rise in temperature.
“Seed varieties developed for dealing with
climactic variations such as salinity, drought and heat have given wider choices to farmers in the northern parts of the country and this could be replicated in the southern India as well,” agriculture ministry official said.
The government has increased minimum support price (MSP)
for mustard to R3,000 per quintal this year from R2,500 per quintal in 2012-13.
The role of mustard in the country’s edible oil sector is vital as it contributes about 20% of total production. The country is self sufficient in mustard production and a smaller quantity is exported.
Most of the country’s mustard oil consumption is based in eastern and northern parts of the country. Besides being used for cooking, mustard oil is used for preparation of hydrogenated fats (vansapati) and the residue (oilmeal) is used for poultry feed.
Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are major mustard producing states. Rajasthan produces 44% of the country’s mustard output. Globally, India accounts for 19% and 11% of the total acreage and production.