The Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) said that till date it has developed 41 varieties of crops under its Nuclear Agriculture programme. These include 15 varieties of groundnut, 3 of mustard, 2 of soybean, 1 of sunflower, 8 of mung bean (greengram), 4 of tur (pigenopea), 5 of urad bean (blackgram), 1 of chavali (cowpea), 1 of rice and 1 of jute. Speaking at a Press Club knowledge series event in Mumbai recently Dr Suresh G Bhagwat, Head, Nuclear Agriculture & Biotechnology Division – BARC, said: “If the country has to be food self-reliant then it is imperative to embrace Nuclear Agriculture technology especially when agriculture land is getting scarcer and demand for food is growing exponentially. India needs to boost its food production as well as ensure its safety and fair distribution to its increasing population. Not many will be aware that nuclear radiation based technologies can contribute to this effort very significantly.”
He added that one of the major benefits of radiation effects on plants is enhancement of genetic variability which can be harnessed for developing new varieties of crops like cereals, pulses and oilseeds with desirable characters such as increased yield, disease resistance, early maturity, salinity or water stress tolerance etc. To date 41 such varieties of different crops developed by Nuclear Agriculture and Biotechnology Division, BARC at Trombay, in collaboration with some of the Agriculture Universities in different states, have been gazette notified by the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, for commercial cultivation by farmers in different states.