A hybrid crop is a result of two different varieties of plant are cross-pollinated to create an off-spring or hybrid that contains the best traits of each of the parents. In hybridization, pollination is carefully controlled to ensure that the right plants are crossed to achieve the desired combination of characteristics, such as bigger size or better disease resistance. The process of developing a hybrid typically requires many years. In general, hybrids offer some combination of these favourable traits: dependability, less required care, early maturity, higher yield, improved flavour, specific plant size, and/or better disease resistance.
Importance of Landraces
- Landraces refer to naturally occurring variants of commonly cultivated crops. These are as opposed to commercially grown crops, which are developed by selective breeding (hybrids) or through genetic engineering to express a certain trait over others. With hybrid rice and wheat, for example, selective breeding over a period of time has allowed scientists to develop varieties that have higher yield or other desirable traits.
- Amid the threat of climate change, a challenge before scientists and policymakers is to develop varieties that can withstand both abiotic and biotic stresses. Landraces can stand drought, rain and other biotic and abiotic stresses
- Crop improvement through selection and breeding over several decades has narrowed the genetic base of most crops. given the large-scale human interference in crop selection, that ability is now lost in most commercially crops,
- Naturally occurring landraces have a large pool of still untapped genetic material, which can provide solutions.
- With proper agricultural practices, landraces can give better yield with lower input costs
- Many landraces are richer in nutrients than commercially grown variants. Example: Kalbhat is a unique landrace of scented rice.
- Much remains to be understood about the germplasms of the landraces.
- Landraces are currently only found in a few rural and tribal enclaves, but they, too, are dwindling due to a lack of appropriate protection.
- Traditional knowledge of how these should be produced, as well as how to store seeds, is also fading. The community-led programme should be replicated in other states.
- Identify available germplasm and establish seed banks with the help of the community.
- Research is in the early stages. It is necessary to understand how these landraces can contribute to climate-resilient agriculture;
- Nutritional profiling too can hold the key to fighting deficiencies, as many landraces are richer in nutrients than commercially grown variants.
How to structure:
- Give an intro about hybrid crops
- Examine the importance of preserving landraces for hybrid crops
- Mention any related schemes and suggest way forward