A team of scientists from Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI) in Pune and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s Sugarcane Breeding Institute will be visiting Japan next week in an attempt to bring the gene for the production of drought-resistant cane.
The gene, according to top officials of VSI, helps in production of drought-resistant cane where the crop needs to be watered only once in three to four months.
The experts will meet officials of the Japan’s food flavourings company Ajinomoto.
According to Shivajirao Deshmukh, director general, VSI, the scientists had initially visited Indonesia to study its GM cane technology and evaluate its recently approved genetically-modified drought-tolerant sugarcane for suitability to India. However, since the Indonesian company is yet to complete its tests and had obtained the gene from the Japanese company, VSI and ICAR decided to tap the Japanese company directly through the Indian ambasador in Japan.
The objective is to find out if the gene would be suitable for Indian conditions, Deshmukh said.
The gene was isolated by Ajinomoto, which is better known for monosodium glutamate or MSG by that name. Other collaborators were on the Indonesian project include Indonesia’s plantation and sugar company PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN XI), Indonesia’s Sugarcane Plantation Research Center (P3GI) and the Centre for Development of Advanced Science and Technology (CDAST), State University of Jember, East Java.
The GM cane has been approved for commercial cultivation and is being grown on 100 hectares.