New varieties see wheat yield up by 40pc: Scientists

Tika R Pradhan

Kathmandu, July 3:

Scientists have claimed the Participatory Variety Selection (PVS) Project has significantly increased wheat production in various parts of the nation by around 40 per cent. The old varieties of wheat have been replaced with the disease-resistant ones. “Some 82 per cent of the farmers under the project areas have replaced the old varieties with the newer ones,” said MR Bhatta, coordinator at the National Wheat Research Programme, Bhairahawa. “We have increased production by as much as 43 per cent.” Dr Dhruba Thapa of Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC) said wheat productivity in some 30 places went up to four tonnes per hectare, where it was 1.9 tonnes per hectare three years ago. He estimated the increase in production to be at around 40 per cent on an average at these places. According to Dr Thapa, varieties BL 1473 and WK 1204 substituted the old varieties RR 21, Lerma 52, Nepal 297and Lerma 64.

Bhatta said that as a result of the increased yield, farmers were no longer suffering from the hand-to-mouth problem. “Those able to produce enough have now begun to earn a litlle extra by selling surplus they produce,” he said. The PVS project was launched three years ago in seven districts including Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Kaski, Chitwan, Rupandehi and Morang. Nepali scientists involved in the project also presented the success story at the recently held three-day workshop on Participatory research to increase the productivity and sustainability of wheat cropping system in the eastern sub-continent of South Asia jointly organised by NARC, CIMMYT and University of Wales Bangor, UK. According to NARC spokesperson, Bhola Man Singh Basnet, wheat cultivation area has increased by six times in the last four decades, while production by 13 per cent. In the year 2003/2004, wheat was cultivated in some 665,000 hectares of land from which 1,387,000 metric tonnes of wheat was produced, the productivity being 2.1 tonnes per hectare. “If this success could be institutionalised and extended throughout the nation, we can expect a significant rise in the overall production. The new varieties could be more effective in the hilly regions,” said senior plant pathologist at the Plant Pathology Division of NARC, Sarala Sharma.