Prelims level : Environment – Biodiversity. Mains level : GS-III Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
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Why in News?

  • A new variety of paddy named ‘Sahyadri Megha’ has been developed by the University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences (UAHS), Shivamogga (Karnataka).

Need of a New Variety of Rice:

  • The area under paddy cultivation was declining at a faster rate in the state of Karnataka.
  • This is due to the fact that paddy has been widely becoming vulnerable to blast disease and other infestations. E.g: Jyothi Rice Variety.
  • Also, Paddy growers are switching over to commercial crops like arecanut, ginger and rubber for better returns.
  • Demand for Red Rice:Demand by customers in urban areas for red rice which is rich in fibre and protein.
  • The red variety gets its rich colour from an antioxidant called anthocyanins, which are also found in deep purple or reddish fruits and vegetables.
  • The compound is believed to have properties that can reduce inflammation, allergy, prevent risks of cancer and help in weight management.

About Sahyadri Megha:

  • It was developed under the hybridization breeding method by cross-breeding the best among the ‘Jyothi’ variety with that of ‘Akkalu’, a disease-resistant and protein-rich paddy variety.
  • Sahyadri Megha is a red variety of paddy that is resistant to blast disease and rich in nutrients.
  • The new variety will be notified under the Indian Seed Act 1966 shortly after which it will become part of the seed chain.
  • The protein content in it is 12.48%, higher than the other red rice varieties grown.

What is Blast Disease?

  • First recorded in India during 1918.
  • It is caused by fungus Pyricularia grisea (P. oryzae). Also known as rotten neck or rice fever.
  • Expected Grain Loss : 70 to 80%.
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