Research on Germplasm
Plant germplasm research is critical for crop improvement. Higher productivity at lower inputs is the general focus of plant germplasm research globally. However, hemp has special needs, and we at Hemp Foundation are taking care of that.
About Germplasm Research & Its Importance
The initiation and application of dwarfing germplasm resources for rice and wheat caused the success of the Green Revolution. Since then, the world has realized the criticality of plant germplasm research for introducing agricultural improvements in crop production.
Genetically heterogeneous germplasms are rich resources for agricultural research. They provide the building blocks for producing newer, more improved varieties of any crop. Hemp Foundation aims at making Uttarakhand the hotbed for germplasm research, in collaboration with the scientific, research, and agricultural communities of the state.
Hemp and Germplasm Research In The Indian Himalayan Region
Hemp grows naturally in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR), just as marijuana does. The use of both hemp and marijuana had been intricately woven in traditional lifestyle and Hindu religious regions of this area before the government clamped down on it.
Growing recognition of the versatility of hemp and its many environmental benefits has acted as a catalyst for the decriminalization of hemp in many countries of the globe. The Indian government also legalized supervised cultivation of hemp in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.
Germplasm Research for Crop Improvement & THC Control
The questionable legal status of hemp worldwide has resulted in the relative absence of germplasm research for hemp. India is no exception. There is a need, therefore, to conduct germplasm research with the wild varieties growing across the IHR, as also domesticated varieties.
Such research is vital for crop improvement. Especially since legal prohibition has deprived hemp of the benefits of germplasm-based agricultural research with other crops. Germplasm research of hemp is also important from the perspective of THC control.
It is important to ensure that the hemp grown in the region does not cross the legal limit of 0.3% THC control. Also, in the EU countries, for instance, the THC limit for legal hemp is 0.2%.
For the products of Uttarakhand farmers to be accepted in the EU countries, the THC content of the hemp they grow needs reduction from the 0.3% level it currently has. That constitutes another significant aspect of germplasm research.
Why Germplasm Research Is Important for Hemp Foundation
Hemp Foundation’s mission is to eradicate hunger and poverty from the farming families of rural Uttarakhand. Crop improvement programs are a natural focus.
We are planning, coordinating, and implementing germplasm research with the domesticated and wild variations of hemp in the IHR to feed into our crop improvement program. This is critical for pre-breeding characterization and the evolution of new cultivars.
Importance of Dwarfing Germplasm Research for Hemp
The key factor behind the success of the Green Revolution was the dwarfing of plants like rice and wheat to significantly increase their yields. This same technique of developing hemp cultivars with short stature and high yield is a recommended focus area for germplasm research.
The reason is that taller plants are favored for fiber use, while shorter versions are preferable for the use of seeds and flowers. The current technique is to plant the seeds differently. Densely sown seeds result in taller plants with virtually no branching This is for fiber use.
Seeds sown away from each other allow the plants to remain shorter and have branches. This is the farming technique for plants meant for the use of seeds and flower use. Appropriate dwarfing germplasm research can create improved new mixed-use cultivars.
This is an emerging research area in the global North. Hemp Foundation is committed to being a part of that process.