Wednesday, April 3, 2013



"The paddy variety "PR118," developed by the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), has carved a special niche for itself in the areas of the Punjab state, having poor quality ground water. The variety has proved to be a boon for the districts of Sangrur, Mansa and Bathinda- the poor quality water areas," highlighted the experts of the Plant Breeding and Genetics Department of PAU. The area under the variety "PR 118" almost doubled during the last one year. In Bathinda and Mansa districts, this variety occupied around 60 per cent of the area, they informed.

Highlighting the characteristics of the variety "PR 118," Dr R.K. Ghumber, Head, Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, said that it is resistant to most of the pathotypes of bacterial blight disease. There has been a brisk sale of this variety during different Kisan Melas, organized by the PAU in various parts of the state, he added.

Elaborating, Dr G.S. Mangat, Senior Rice Breeder, PAU, said that in PAU, the research efforts were initiated to improve the Pusa 44 rice variety (sensitive to salinity and bacterial blight) in the year 1993. In the short span of five years, several improved rice genoptpes were developed and were tested in multilocation yield trials at PAU, Ludhiana and its different Research Stations including Kapurthala, Patiala and Gurdaspur. As a result of these trials, the variety "PR118" was identified as promising and was approved for release by the State Varietal Approval Committee in the year 2003. He highlighted that in the research and adaptive trials conducted at the farmers' fields, PR118 gave 3.0 per cent higher yield than Pusa 44.

The PAU experts disclosed that the rice crop is grown over 28 lakh hectare area in the Punjab state with a production of nearly 10 lakh tonnes. Although the rice-wheat system has been a boon from the food security point of view, yet it being an intensive cropping system is heavily taxing the two most vital natural resources namely soil and water, which are essential for the survival of human life. They revealed, "The groundwater quality map shows that salt concentration in the groundwater of Punjab increases from the north-eastern to the south-western end." About 40 per cent area of the state in the south-west part has saline water, they informed, while suggesting that the improved crop varieties with tolerance to stresses can help in obtaining the desired level of productivity. The PAU is always endeavouring to develop stress tolerant varieties, they added.

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