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IARI develops new varieties of Basmati rice with inherent resistance to blight

With the first breakthrough in developing higher-yielding Basmati rice in 1989 by releasing Pusa Basmati, Indian Agricultural Research Institute under Indian Council of Agricultural, has developed a number of its varieties which helped in increasing foreign exchange earnings through export and brought prosperity to millions of farmers.
ARI has recently released improved varieties PB1847, PB1885 and PB1886; these are improved varieties with blast disease and inherent resistance to bacterial blight. According to Ranjith Kumar Ellur, scientist, rice section, division of genetics, IARI, “These varieties would reduce the use of pesticides significantly in basmati cultivation.”
Basmati is a unique variety of rice, which has been cultivated for centuries at the foot of Himalayan mountain ranges. Basmati rice has a harmonious combination of defined kernel dimensions, appealing aroma, fluffy texture of cooked rice, high volume expansion during cooking, linear kernel elongation with minimum breadth-wise swelling, palatability, easy digestibility and longer shelf-life, an Agricultural Scientist said.
Basmati rice is mainly grown in the Indo-Gangetic region of north-western region comprising the seven states Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kathua districts of Jammu and Kashmir, and 27 districts of western Uttar Pradesh.
Pusa Basmati 1121, a landmark Basmati rice, was released for commercial cultivation in 2003. And it is now grown in nearly 70 percent of the total area under Basmati rice cultivation in India.
A farmer from Haryana, who cultivates on 110 acres, including some land taken on lease, has just sold his harvest of Basmati rice varieties i.e. PB 1121 and PB 1509. According to him, “The cultivation of high-yielingvarities of Basmati rice has proved beneficial to him compared to common Parimal rice.”
IARI developed these varieties of Basmati rice bring financial benefits to the farmers taking into account the cost of cultivation and lease rent of land up to around Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per acre approximatly.
Since the introduction of high-yielding varieties like 1121 and 1509, the production as well as quality in terms of size of the Basmati rice grain increased thus bringing economic benefits to us, the farmer said.
The 1121 and 1509 varieties have an average yield of 24 quintal and 26 quintal per acre, respectively, while prior to the introduction of these two varieties, the yield of traditional varieties was in the range of 12 –13 quintal per acre, he added.
The high-yielding and larger-grained 1121 variety was certified as Basmati rice in 2008, the 1509, which takes fewer weeks for maturity, was released in 2013. IARI developed the two basmati rice varieties, contributing to total exports of long grain aromatic rice from India worth Rs 2.38 lakh crore between 2010 and 2019, benefiting farmers. On an average 3.74 million tonne (mt) of Basmati rice exported annually during the stated period, of total production of around 5 million tonne.
The economic value accrued because of Basmati rice, Rs 1.66 lakh crore worth of export earnings between 2010 and 2019 was from the shipment of 1121 and 1509 rice varieties, while domestic sales were to the tune of Rs 51,501 crore in the same period, according to an analysis by IARI. The IARI assessment has stated after deducting the cost of production, that Rs 1.34 lakh crore has been accrued as earnings to estimated 10 lakh farmers in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, parts of Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, who grow two varieties of aromatic and long grained rice.
Ashok Kumar Singh, director, IARI, said that improved Basmati varieties have brought prosperity to millions of Basmati farmers by improving their standards of living, better education for children and better health care for family members. Basmati rice was grown in 18.34 lakh hectares on an average during 2010-2019, annually, of which 1121 and 1509 were grown in 67 per cent and 10 per cent of the area, respectively.
IARI developed some varieties which include PB1, PB6 and PB1718 and the same has been grown by the farmers. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and the UAE, besides some European countries, are the major export destinations of India’s Basmati rice. The monetary value of Basmati rice exported in 2020-21 was approximately Rs 29,848 crore ($4018 million), as per the data available with APEDA.