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Bio fortified crops

Topics Covered: Biotechnology related issues.

Bio fortified crops

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Madhuban Gajar- features and significance.

 Context: Biofortified carrot variety developed by farmer scientist benefits local farmers.

Details:

  1. The bio fortified crop- Madhuban Gajar was developed by Shri Vallabhhai Vasrambhai Marvaniya, a farmer scientist from Junagadh district, Gujarat.
  2. It contains high β-carotene and iron content.
  3. It is being planted in an area of over 200 hectares in Junagadh, and the average yield, which is 40-50 t/ha, has become the main source of income to the local farmers.
  4. The variety is being cultivated in more than 1000 hectares of land in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh during the last three years.
  5. Madhuban Gajar carrot variety possesses a significantly higher root yield (74.2 t/ha) and plant biomass (275 gm per plant) as compared to check variety.

What is biofortification?

Biofortification is the process of increasing nutritional value of food crops by increasing the density of vitamins and minerals in a crop through either conventional plant breeding; agronomic practices or biotechnology. Examples of these vitamins and minerals that can be increased through biofortification include provitamin A Carotenoids, zinc and iron.

How are crops fortified?

Conventional crop breeding techniques are used to identify varieties with particularly high concentration of desired nutrients. These are cross-bred with varieties with other desirable traits from the target areas (such a virus resistance, drought tolerance, high yielding, taste) to develop biofortified varieties that have high levels of micronutrients (for example, vitamin A, iron or zinc), in addition to other traits desired by farmers and consumers.

Agronomic biofortification entails application of minerals such as zinc or iron as foliar or soil applications, drawing on plant management, soil factors, and plant characteristics to get enhanced content of key micronutrients into the edible portion of the plant.

Why biofortification?

Biofortification is one solution among many interventions that are needed to solve the complex problem of micronutrient malnutrition. It is considered one of the most cost-effective interventions for countries to employ in combating micronutrient malnutrition.

  • Biofortification reaches rural consumers who have limited access to industrially fortified foods, supplementation interventions, and diverse diets.
  • Biofortification combines increased micronutrient content with preferred agronomic, quality, and market traits and therefore biofortified varieties will typically match or outperform the usual varieties that farmers grow and consume.

How does Biofortification differ from food fortification? 

Biofortification has the increased nutritional micronutrient content imbedded in the crop being grown. Food fortification increases the nutritional value of foods by adding trace amounts of micronutrients to foods during processing.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Bio fortification vs Genetic modifications.
  2. Micro vs Macronutrients.
  3. Approval for Biofortified and GM crops in India.
  4. GM crops allowed in India.

Mains Link:

What do you understand by fortification of foods? Discuss its advantages.

Sources: pib.