Express News Service

MOHALI:  A builder-turned-farmer in Punjab is growing black wheat, a variety of the foodgrain developed by National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI) based here, for health benefits and better earnings.

Forty-five-year-old Amarpreet Singh Hira, who is a builder by profession but has a passion for agriculture, is growing the black wheat for the second consecutive year in his farm in Saifalpur village of Ropar district. Talking to this newspaper he says: “Last year for the first time I grew black wheat on just five acres. This year I will grow it on 10 acres.

More farmers are visiting Hira’s farmto know about the grain variety | expressHira says the benefits of black wheat include improvement in glycemic control and inflammatory profile in patients with type-II diabetes.  “As it is gluten-free, the grain is rich in anthocyanin. This variety of wheat is reported to have between 100 to 200 parts per million (PPM) of anthocyanin while normal wheat has a concentration of just 5 PPM. This makes black wheat a healthy option. Also, it has high iron and zinc content.”

However, the yield of black wheat is less per acre. “The yield of this variety is around 16 quintals per acre as compared to 22 to 24 quintals of normal wheat,” he says. Besides health benefits, the farmer makes more earning from the grain.   “We are selling it for Rs 4,500 per quintal in open market as compared to the normal wheat which is sold at Rs 1,980 (MSP). 

Dr Monica Garg, scientist-E at NABI who developed the variety says: “I have done my PhD from Japan and got the original gremplasam from my professor and crossed it with the Indian wheat at NABI. It took seven years to develop this variety.”