The Telegraph
Thursday , November 29 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pop a pea innovation in your mouth
- After 12 years, Plandu scientists ready with green breakthrough for veggie market

You’ve always shelled peas in winter for their pearly green pods. Now, prepare to munch on them or cook them whole.

Come December, Ranchi’s foodies and health buffs will have reason to cheer as snow peas, technically called edible-podded sugar peas or Pisum sativum var. saccharatum, will enter the market. Its French name mangetout, which means “eat all”, says it all.

Snow peas aren’t new — famed Austrian scientist George Mendel experimented with them back in the late 19th century, Chinese cooks love to stir-fry them and Americans love it raw in crunchy salads — but the crossbreed Swarna Tripti is an innovation in the state.

The development follows 10 years of research by ICAR Research Eastern Region, Plandu, which experimented with seeds to create the flat Swarna Tripti snow peas — less fibrous with thin skins — for full edibility and two years of niche cultivation in Tutihara, Torpa, Tatisilwai and Rukka Dam for farmer feedback.

Ravi Shankar Pan, ICAR Research Eastern Region principal scientist, said they embarked upon mass cultivation as the fruitful end to a 12-year-old journey. “After intensive research work for almost 12 years, we developed a new variety by crossbreeding imported and Indian varieties. This October, we distributed seeds at Rs 100 per kg to 200 progressive farmers of Ormanjhi, Lohardaga, Khunti and Silli for commercial cultivation. In all, 50 hectares will yield 1,000 tonne of the pea. Like normal green peas, this new variety also requires cool temperature and sandy loamy soil,” he said.

What does he expect from the harvest test?

“Yes, it is a market test for the snow peas, but we are very hopeful of passing with flying colours. The peas are green, fresh, high in nutrients, sweet and crunchy. They can be had raw or cooked. They will be sold around Rs 20 per kg that is lesser than normal peas costing Rs 35 for the same amount. Tell me, which vegetable offers so much value at one go?” Pan asked.

Farmer feedback during the two years of niche cultivation was positive, if not gushing. “Farmers said they and their children loved the peas. They even distributed it to nearby schools for midday meals,” he said. Even NGOs Krishi Gram Vikas Kendra, more popularly known as KGVK, and Basix, have taken seeds of this do-gooder pea.

Poised for a Ranchi debut in December, the pea is also set to go places. “After harvest, KGVK officials will send snow peas to hotels in Delhi,” Pan said. “Farmers of Jhalda (Bengal), Nagaland and Muzaffarpur (Bihar) have also taken seeds from our institute.”

Any last word? “Take the taste test,” invites Pan. “It will be a healthy addiction,” he smiles.

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