Agricultural biotechnologists’ team led by Monika Garg at the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute or NABI located in Mohali have not just developed these coloured wheat varieties, but they have also transferred the technology to different companies. Few firms with whom this Department of Biotechnology lab has signed accords are already cultivating them.
Garg who has been working on these varieties since a decade said, “We have not released them for individual growers as they may find it hard to sell them, at least for the time being”.
Garg said the coloured varieties offer many health benefits. Black wheat, for example helps in preventing fat deposition, improves insulin tolerance, controls glucose levels and lower blood cholesterol, as said by mouse studies at NABI. In addition to anthocyanins, the varieties have relatively high levels of proteins & vital micronutrients like zinc. The antioxidants may also help protect against ageing, obesity & diabetes. The varieties have been developed with the use of classic biotechnology tools that are usually used by plant breeders.
When the scientists found that it has adjusted well with the local climatic conditions and has produced adequate yield levels, they transferred the technology to few companies. Garg told that the institute has inked MoUs with 10 companies from various States like Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra etc.
She added that “We want to make bakery products as well as atta from these unconventional varieties of wheat popular among customers, so that the benefits of antioxidants could reach the population through their favourite cereal”.