Blog post by Dr Radhakrishnan, Director, ICAR-Directorate of Groundnut Research, Junagadh, Gujarat, India.
Globally, India is the second largest importer of vegetable oils after China. Further, vegetable oil imports are on rise, to meet the growing domestic consumption in the country. The cost of vegetable oil imports is about USD 7.37 billion during 2013-14. There is an urgent need to boost the domestic production of oil seeds to reduce imports and save national exchequer.
Groundnut is the third largest contributor to vegetable oil basket in the country, contributing to about 15 per cent of the total vegetable oil basket. To meet the vegetable oil demand in 2020, it is projected that groundnut production has to reach to 14.8 m tons, which is an increase by 5.3 m tons from the current production of 9.47 m tons. Groundnut varieties with high-pod yield and high-oil yield per unit area are the need of the hour to boost vegetable oil production in the country.
In recent years, use of groundnut for food and confectionery is increasing in India. High-oleate groundnut has numerous health benefits to consumers, providing additional advantage over other oil seed crops. Besides, oil and food products made from high-oleate groundnuts have enhanced shelf life thus benefiting oil and food processing value chains in the country.
Groundnut varieties with high oil yield per unit area were identified during Phase I (2011-15) of the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC), Government of India funded project entitled “Enhancing production and quality of groundnut oil through deployment of varietal technology to boost the income of small and marginal groundnut farmers in India” in partnership with ICRISAT, ICAR-DGR, Junagadh Agricultural University, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) and Acharya N. G. Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRU). Further, these varieties were recommended for testing under All India Coordinated Research Project on Groundnut (AICRP-G). Following which, four lines, ICGV 03042, ICGV 03043, ICGV 05155 and ICGV 06420 were promoted to Advance Varietal Trials. The mean performance of these lines over 10 locations showed 10-17 % higher oil yield per unit area and 16-20% higher pod yield over best check. Another entry, ICGV 06146 recorded 39% higher pod yield over VRI Gn 6 and was promoted in Tamil Nadu. It is expected that release proposals of these ‘high oil’ groundnut lines will be ready by 2016-17.
The first-ever evaluation trial in India with high-oleate groundnut lines developed under the ‘High Oil project’ is underway during 2014-15. A total of 27 introgression lines with oil content varying from 53-58%, and oleic acid content varying from 67-83% were identified. For the first time in the country, multi-location trails with ‘high oleate + high oil’ lines will be conducted to identify superior lines and recommend them for AICRP-G testing.
To realize the benefits of the new ‘high-oil’ and ‘high-oleate’ yielding groundnut varieties, there is need of fast-track adoption of these varieties under various agro-eco systems through conducting large scale pilot demonstrations. Besides, Farmers’ Fair and Farmers’ Visits to these demonstration sites and interactions with scientists will also enable awareness among farmers and traders. Pilot demonstrations are expected to act as a catalyst to ensure seed supply to achieve adoption. To bridge yield gaps, superior groundnut lines suitable to short growing seasons in kharif and rice fallows in rabi-summer season should be identified through multi-location testing. These varieties should combine the market demand of ‘high–oil, -high-oleate’ trait as well as farmer preferred traits such as, early maturity, tolerance various abiotic stresses, resistance to major diseases, and enhanced quality parameters.
In the present scenario, it is possible to increase groundnut production in the country using new high oil yielding varieties and good management practices. It is hoped that India will soon become the second country after USA, to develop and release high-oleate groundnut varieties for cultivation.
About the author:
Dr. Radhakrishnan is the Director, ICAR-Directorate of Groundnut Research, Junagadh, Gujarat, India. His team has been working in the genetic improvement of groundnut through conventional and non-conventional approaches. They have developed several transgenic events tolerant to viruses and biotic stress. A good number of materials have been developed through marker assisted breeding as well.