It is a well-known fact that the ground water in large areas of the rice-producing districts of West Bengal – Nadia, North and South-24 Parganas and Burdwan – is contaminated with arsenic. But on the other hand, with rise in population, the state is trying hard to increase the production of rice.
Now comes the good news from a rice research institute of the government of West Bengal, located in Chinsurah. It has developed a new variety of rice seeds which can resist arsenic. Even in areas where the ground water has high levels of arsenic, the rice from the new variety of seeds has been found to not contain any arsenic.
The scientists of Rice Research Station said the new variety is a cross between Basmati and a high-yielding local grain. Its technical name is CN 1794-2. However, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has christened the new variety 'Muktashree'. The new variety of rice will be available for commercial use from March or April.
The research leading to the development of the new variety of rice was funded by Lucknow-based National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI). CS Nautiyal, the director of NBRI, is very happy with the positive result as this means that the new variety would now be tested in other arsenic-contaminated states like Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which are also important rice producers.
Officials of the state agriculture department said that it will be of great help to the state, and that the new variety could be exported in the future.
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