Byadagi chilli has been a household name not only in Karnataka but popular across the country and abroad. Known for its high colour, low pungency, good flavour and taste, Byadagi chilli has been the first choice among chilli users over decades. Chilli-growing area has been falling over the years on account of low yield and is being replaced by maize, sunflower, groundnut and cotton.
It is a common feeling among the consumers that Hybrids are less tasty compared to the traditional local varieties. It may be true in a few cases but when it comes to Dharwad-based Sarpan Agri Horticulture Research Centre (SAHRC) the story is entirely different and interesting.
The research undertaken by SAHRC in improving the traditional Byadagi chilli has succeeded in developing high yielding, high value hybrid chilli. Maintaining the celebrated traditional name, the new hybrid variety has been christened Sarpan Byadgi-Hybrid Chilli.
SAHRC director (R&D) Nijagundeva Gaddagimath said commercially popular variety of chillies, paprika grown in Europe, America, Korea and China have record colour values of only 200-250 ASTA (American Spice Trading Association), whereas the new hybrid variety produced by SAHRC has a record-breaking 502 ASTA amounting to 1.6 million total colour units.
There are many other hybrid varieties with colour ASTA values in the range of 300 to 480 all above the existing International standards. SAHRC has produced a unique hybrid variety Sarpan 487 with record level of 502 ASTA value.
Local Byadagi Chilli have 150-160 ASTA colour unit. Promising selections made in Byadagi Chilli variety at Sarpan has recorded 238 ASTA colour value with medium pungency but they are low yielders and susceptible to major pest and diseases, Gaddagimath explained.
Research undertaken over the past 20 years has been able to produce many Hybrid chillies having high colour high and low capsaicin - an achievement of high order by any research centre in the country and or any overseas organisation. Other Byadagi Hybrids Sarpan 492, Sarpan-465 and Sarpan- 495 have ASTA values of 467.6, 361.7 and 347.8 respectively. These varieties have high colour but also possess high pungency and well suited for value addition industries says Gaddagimath.
Many promising Sarpan Byadagi Hybrids 92, 83, 12, 369 and 99 are already released and seeds are available in commercial market. These new varieties will be released soon and seeds are available in the market from the year 2015-16.
Colour values of all the Hybrid chilli are assessed and valued at Government of India Spice Board Quality Control Laboratory Cochin.
Helping chilli farmers
Gaddagimath has invited progressive farmers, value addition Industries, representatives of Farmers Associations to seek guidance on use of improved varieties of Byadgi Hybrid chillies. Every year more than 400-500 Hybrid chilli varieties are grown at Kundgol by Sarpan to evaluate the most promising once with high values suitable to the market. Farmers can visit and witness standing crop grown at Kundgol in November - December and give their opinion and inputs on the new promising F1 Hybrids which can further help in research in developing more promising Byadagi Hybrids Chilli.