Purple, black wheat catch fancy of bakers, food processors

BusinessPosted at: Aug 22, 2018, 12:03 AM; last updated: Aug 22, 2018, 12:03 AM (IST)Health-conscious foodies to get more nutrition, farmers better price

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Illustration: Sandeep Joshi

Vijay C Roy

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21

Are you obese, diabetic or suffering from heart ailments? Soon, you will have food items prepared by black, purple and blue-coloured wheat to take care of your health. Business conglomerate ITC Ltd., Chandigarh-based Monica’s Bakery and Bansal Group of Amritsar have shown interest to commercialise food products made from indigenously-developed new-generation wheat.
Mohali-based National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI) has signed memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with several companies for cultivation, processing, distribution and sale of coloured wheat and its products such as flour (atta), bread, biscuits, cakes and roasted snacks.
The institute has inked MoUs with Ambala-based Farm Grocer Company, Borlaug Farmers Association for Asia and Golden Agrigenetic India Ltd., Lucknow to commercialise it, said Dr Monica Garg, scientist, NABI. “Several other companies like Monica’s bakery, Bansal Namkeen and ITC have shown interest in making products from coloured wheat,” she said.
The new variety is loaded with more nutrition value than traditional varieties. It is enriched with antioxidants called anthocyanins and minerals such as zinc and iron. Anthocyanins are naturally occurring chemicals that give blueberries their colour. Fruits like jamun, pomegranates, plums and vegetables like brinjal and bell peppers are rich sources of anthocyanins too. Regular inclusion of anthocyanins in diet can remove harmful free radicals from the body and help in preventing many lifestyle disorders such as obesity, heart diseases, diabetes and inflammation, she said.
Coloured wheat is commercially sold in New Zealand, Canada and some European countries. But these do not thrive well in Indian climate. NABI has been, however, successful to develop seeds suitable for the Indian climate and soil conditions, she said. About 1,870 quintals of coloured wheat has already been grown in the last rabi season. According to agriculture experts, farmers will receive a premium on the new variety over the normal wheat.
Coloured wheat contains a significant proportion of carbohydrates and dietary fibers but at the same time have lower level of sugars as compared to fruits rich in anthocyanins, making it an ideal diet to control diabetes and obesity, Dr Garg said. Out of three coloured varieties, black and purple have already been handed over to the farmers and the industry for commercial production.
Chandigarh-based bakery, Monica’s, plans to introduce muffins, breads and cookies made from coloured wheat from September. “We have distributed the products among our friends and families and received good response,” said Monica Sood, the promoter of the bakery.
The Bansal Group is planning to introduce roasted snacks and flour made from coloured wheat. “We are waiting for the monsoon to get over to launch the products,” said Anoop Aggarwal, proprietor, Bansal Group.
Coloured wheat

  • Developed by NABI, Mohali, in nearly 10 yrs 
  • Trials conducted in Punjab, Haryana, UP, MP, Gujarat and Lahaul-Spiti 
  • Yield is around 17 quintals per acre
  • Rich in zinc, iron and antioxidants

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