Historical significance, grain quality features and precision breeding for improvement of export quality basmati varieties in India
Basmati, the aromatic rice praised for its unique quality, is a connoissuer's delight, a natures gift to Indian sub-continent. The farmers of this sub-continent have been growing the scented rices for centuries. It is cultivated on the foot hills of the Himalayas in the northwestern parts of Indian sub-continent comprising the states of Haryana, Punjab, Uttaranchal, Western Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. Notable among these include Badshahbhog, Kalanamak, Ambemohar 159, Jeeraga Samba, Chttimutyalu, Badshah Pasand, Randhunipagal and Tulasimanjari. Despite having excellent grain quality grain, these traditional varieties are tall, low yielding, susceptible to majority of the pest/diseases. Research efforts made in the last two decades has resulted in the development and release of 54 semi-dwarf high yielding basmati varieties involving 41 varieties (19 states at state level, 13 at Central level) and eight recent releases include Sugadhmati, Pusa Sugandh 4, Pant Sugandh Dhan 17, Geetanjali, Rajendra Sweta, Bhogavati, Mugad Sugandha, Yamini and Vasumati. Consumers base their concept of quality on the appearance, size, shape of the grain, kernel elongation after cooking, tenderness, taste and flavours of cooked rice. Intensive gene mapping for such economically important quality traits would provide opportunities for its utilization in molecular assisted breeding. At present, Basmati rices are cultivated in about 0.7–0.8 mha resulting in production of 1.2 million tons. The adoption and spread of the preferred basmati rices ultimately resulted in the export of 11,61,443 tons valued at Rs. 3030 crores in 2005–06. In addition non-basmati rice exports also registered increase in volume 39,05,407 tons with worth of Rs 4141 crores. Further, to boost exports, development of export quality aromatic short grain rices, speciality rices merit attention.
Basmati rice, Grain quality, Precision breeding, Export.