As Covid-19 Crisis Casts Dark Shadow on Madhya Pradesh Farms, Black Wheat Offers Glimmer of Hope

Representative image.

Representative image.

With the lack of awareness for this variety and unavailability of government support, the farmers who have stocks of this special black wheat are finding it hard to locate buyers.

Vivek Trivedi
  • News18
  • Last Updated: June 21, 2020, 9:27 AM IST
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Bhopal: At a time when farmers in Madhya Pradesh are struggling to sell their wheat at the minimum support price (MSP), several farmers are turning to a hybrid variety of wheat which carries significant medicinal value and also promises two to four times the return compared to the normal wheat crop.

However, with the lack of awareness for this variety and unavailability of government support, the farmers who have stocks of this special black wheat are finding it hard to locate buyers.

Developed at National Agri Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI), Mohali (Punjab), this black wheat 'NABI MG’ has been patented by the government of India.

From Punjab, the variety reached Haryana from where several Madhya Pradesh farmers sourced it and are cultivating it over the past one year or so. One of the Haryana farmers, Ravindar Kajal, told News18 that his father has high blood sugar, and after he started consuming rotis made out of this wheat, he no longer needed diabetic medicines.

There are several progressive farmers in Madhya Pradesh, who sourced seeds from their counterparts in Haryana.

One such farmer, Virendra Singh Parmar, who has studied MSc in agriculture, and hails from Kannod in Dewas, has produced 28 quintals of the wheat this year. According to Parmar, researchers say the variety, also available in blue and violet colours, is beneficial for humans with its anti-cancer, anti-diabetes properties and is also good for the heart.

The young farmer said he is selling the wheat for Rs 40-50 a kg, maintaining that there are farmers who sell it for up to Rs 100 per kg. With proper marketing facilities and government support, this variety could be a good option for loss-making farmers in the state, said Parmar.

Maintaining that Dewas alone has stock of around 200-250 quintals of wheat, Parmar rued that finding buyers is still a hassle for growers of black wheat, adding that some of the farmers tried selling it in the local mandi but could not find any takers.

Several farmers in Dewas, Indore, Dhar and nearby districts have started growing this unique variety of wheat.

Another farmer, Vinod Bagri from village Kathodia in Dhar district, said that this wheat grown through organic methods is fetching as much as Rs 5,000 –Rs 6,000 per quintal. He added that still there is no mechanism to market this crop and farmers like him rely on social media to find buyers.

This year, the wheat was selling at Rs 1,925 per quintal at government procurement centres, but as private buying had dried up amid the coronavirus scare, the prices in open markets were hovering around Rs 1,700 per quintal. In retail markets, the wheat is selling at Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,700 per quintal in Madhya Pradesh.

There are also farmers in the state who are receiving returns of as much as Rs 7,000-Rs 8,000 per quintal for this wheat.

Besides its stated medicinal qualities, the black wheat puts no extra financial burden on the farmer when it comes to production, Vijendra Parmar from Gadarwara in Narsinghpur district said. "Personally I not only grow this wheat but also eat it at home and it tastes great," he said. The farmer said that this variety gives productivity of around 15-18 quintal per bigha.

“Given a proper marketing mechanism, this wheat could bail out loss-making farmers in Madhya Pradesh,” Parmar said.

According to researchers, the amount of anthocyanins is very high in NABI MG and, like blueberries, it helps in ridding the human body of free radicals, which helps in fighting cancer, diabetes, heart ailments, obesity and other diseases.

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