Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bangalore, is working on development of better varieties/ hybrids and technologies like nutrient formulations for crops in various horticultural crops like fruits, vegetables, flowers, medicinal crops and mushroom.
These varieties (in pic) are resistant to multiple diseases and pests, give higher yield and better quality produce suitable for long distance markets and for export.
Dr B Balkrishna, Senior Scientist at IIHR, said, “The quality attributes are also fetching more revenue. Farmers are getting higher productivity and huge profits ranging from `2.5 to 4 lakh per acre due to the longer shelf lives of Arka Rakshak, a tomato variety and Arka Sahan, a custard apple variety.”
“In case of protected cultivation of vegetable crops, under shadenet and Polyhouse with IIHR technology the net-profit per acre ranges from Rs.4.5 to 6.5 lakh per acre. A large number of farmers have extensively made use of IIHR technologies and varieties,” he added.
The cost of these seeds and technological products is nominal and affordable by the farmers. Some are 40 per cent of the cost of actual market price which varies.
Vegetable special, a foliar nutrition micro-nutrient formulation costs Rs 125 per kg with all 5 micro-nutrients compared to Rs 450 to 600/- per kg of a product from a private company, he said.
Seeds of vegetable crops like Tomato, Chilli, Onion, French Beans, Field Beans, Cowpea, Green peas, Brinjal, Coriander and other leafy vegetables, Ridge gourd, Pumpkin, etc and ornamental crops like China Aster, Marigold are sold through the institute and through NSC and KSSC. New varieties in fruit crops like Arka Prabhath in papaya, Arka Sahan in custard apples, Arka Kiran and Arka Mridula in Guava, Deanna in Fig etc and ornamental crops like Arka Ambara and Arka Kanak in Crossandra, Arka Kesar in Gladiolus, Arka Flame in Carnation, Arka Parimala in Rose, Shringar, Suvasini, Prajwal and vaibhav in Tuberose etc are sold as planting materials such as grafts, bulbs and seedlings.
Most of these hybrid varieties are developed by IIHR scientists by conventional breeding methods. Some of the latest and disease resistant hybrids in Tomato (Arka Rakshak, Arka Samrat- resistant to rust, TLCV and early blight), French Beans (Arka Anoop - resistant to rust and bacterial blight), Chilli (Arka Meghana, MSH-206, Resistant to Powdery mildew) etc are developed using Marker Assisted Breeding methods. Recently, more than 20 hybrids and varieties are being developed using Marker Assisted Breeding techniques in different horticultural crops.
Generally, farmers get their seeds and planting materials of horticultural crops from commercial nurseries and sometimes from their neighbouring farmers (traditional varieties) or from universities/ private companies from different states. For the past one decade, seedlings of all vegetable crops are being produced and supplied by many nurseries managed by farmers themselves.
Chandrappa from Devasthana Hosahalli, Chikkaballapur taluk, who has grown Arka Rakshak, a tomato hybrid from IIHR, for the last three years said, “These tomatoes are resistant to insect blight and have a firm texture. I can store them for 4-5 days and they do not go bad. I get a good yield.”
Dr Balkrishna confirmed, “More than 50,000 farmers are adopting our new varieties, production technologies and technological products for quality production, bio-pesticides for pests and disease management, fruit fly traps for Integrated Pest Management etc along with integrated market driven production package.”