Hyderabad: Pidigam Saidaiah (41), Associate Professor in Genetics and Plant Breeding of the College of Horticulture, Mojerla of Wanaparthy district, has developed promising seed varieties of pink tomato, yellow tomato, red amaranth and yardlong beans using a pedigree method. Developed by crossing two extreme varieties, these hybrids have several advantages over the common ones. The seeds have been sent to the Horticulture Centre of Excellence in Jeedimetla for testing and are expected to be released on the market soon.
The pink tomato, which is commonly used in Thailand, Malaysia and European countries, has been developed for Indian conditions and is found to be rich in water-soluble Anthocyanin pigment. It is rich in antioxidants and has anti-cancer properties. It also has a little composition of lycopene pigment found abundantly in red tomatoes.
Scientists say that variety is cultivated in a duration of 150-180 days and it starts fruiting from 55 days, which extends the harvesting period. Its price is also around Rs 25-30 per kg, which is better than the price of red tomatoes presently.
It is more acidic in taste and gives a pinkish colour to the dishes prepared. However, the drawback of this variety, according to P Yadagiri, AD Horticulture (Urban Farms), is that the skin of the fruit is very thin and while transportation it gets damaged easily. Its shelf-life is just seven days. Yadagiri however says that the variety is perfect for purees, sambar, chutneys and it gets cooked faster than the common varieties.
The yellow tomato variety developed by Saidaiah is rich in Beta Carotene, which is pro-Vitamin A and is good for eyesight. It imparts a golden colour to the food. Unlike the regular tomatoes, this variety tastes more like spinach when cooked, because it lacks ascorbic acid found abundantly in red tomatoes.
The professor has also developed a variety of red amaranth (thotakura), which is a high-yielding variety and contains anthocyanin pigment.
He has also used a variant from cowpea germplasm and developed yard long beans, which can grow up to 30-35 cm long. The advantage for farmers with this variety is that while french beans are grown under low temperature only during the winters, the yard-long beans can be grown throughout the year and contain high protein.
Red okra in the offing
Saidaiah is also working on developing red okra variety and finding ways to increase the keeping quality of pink tomatoes. Based on the results of the Centre of Excellence, the varieties would be sent to the Director of Research, Sri Konda Laxman Telangana State Horticultural University, from where they would be sent to the Principal Secretary of Agriculture, who is also the Chairman of the State Varietal Release Committee (SVRC) for approval. Saidaiah has received the ‘State Best Teacher’ and ‘Young Scientist’ awards in the past.