Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Rapeseed - mustard research in India : 21st century strategies

P. R. Kumar

National Research Centre on Rapeseed - Mustard
Sewar, Bharatpur (Rajasthan), India - 321303.


India is a major rapeseed-mustard growing country of the world contributing 28.3 and 19.8 per cent in world acreage and production. In India, it is the second most important edible oilseed after groundnut sharing 27.8 per cent in the India’s oilseed economy. In the last decade, the country witnessed Yellow Revolution through a phenomenal increase in production and productivity from 2.68 million tonnes and 650 kg/ha in 1985-86 to 6.96 million tonnes and 1022 kg/ha in 1996-97. This is to be attributed to the development of high yielding varieties coupled with improved production technologies, their widespread adoption and good support price. Inspite of these achievements, there exists a gap between production potential and actual realization. The gap is to be bridged or narrowed down to feed the ever growing human and livestock population with minimal nutritional requirements, to meet the requirements of industries and to earn valuable foreign exchange through export of seed meal, oil and value added products.

This can be made possible by exploiting the impressive number of germplasm available with the existing technologies; raising the yield ceiling through generation of vast variability by synthesis of artificial alloploids in juncea, napus and carinata; cytoplasmic hybridisation; reshuffling of chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes, exploitation of hybrid vigour; development of suitable ideotypes for different agro-ecologies and transfer of novel genes for evolving nutritionally superior genotypes with in-built resistance to major biotic and abiotic stresses. Effective management of natural resources, integrated approach to plant-water, nutrient and pest management and extension of rapeseed-mustard cultivation to newer areas under different cropping systems will play a key role in further increasing and stabilizing the productivity and production of rapeseed-mustard to realize 24 million tonnes of oilseed by 2020 AD.

Keywords : Yellow Revolution, exploitation of genetic resources, raising yield ceiling, management of natural resources and extension of cultivation to newer areas.


India is the largest rapeseed-mustard growing country in the world, occupying the first position in area and second position in production after China (Table 1). Cultivated in 6.81 million hectares in a wide range of agro-ecologies, the crop commodity produced 6.96 million tonnes of oilseed in 1996-97 and contributed 28.3 and 19.8 per cent as its share in the world in acreage and production of rapeseed-mustard. In India, it is the second most important oilseed after groundnut. In the last decade, the country witnessed a phenomenal growth in rapeseed-mustard production after the launching of the Technology Mission on Oilseeds (to reduce the huge import of oils and oilseeds in phased manner) in 1986 in the country. The production and yield increased from 2.68 mt and 650 kg/ha in 1985-86 to 6.94 mt. and 1022 kg/ha in 1996-97, thereby recording an increase of 72, 159 and 50 per cent in area, production and yield, respectively, over 1985-86 (Table 2 ).

Table 1. Area, production and yield of major rapeseed - mustard growing countries in 1997.

Table 2. Area, production and yield of rapeseed-mustard in five decades (1949-97).

Such an impressive performance in production and yield of rapeseed-mustard compares closely to the production of wheat which was witnessed in late sixties enabling the country to enter into the era of Green Revolution. The positive signs in transformation in rapeseed-mustard oilseed scenario, leading to what is commonly being called Yellow Revolution, are visible in all rapeseed-mustard growing states as well as in non-traditional areas of the country (Table 3).

Inspite of increased production and productivity of rapeseed-mustard in the country, the per capita consumption (8.2 kg/capita/year ) of fats and oils is quite low. The requirements of fats and oils will be much higher in view of increasing population and improved and increased standard of living of the people in 21st century. To meet the minimal nutritional requirements of fats and oils (12 kg/capita/year ), needs of food, feed and other industries, and to earn valuable foreign exchange through export of seed meal, oil and value added products, it is estimated that nearly 24 million tonnes of rapeseed-mustard oilseed would be required by 2020 AD. (Kumar et el 1999). In order to achieve the target, it is necessary to bring about vertical growth essentially, and the horizontal growth where there is a limited scope. Further, the wide gap in yields between improved and farmers practices need to be narrowed/bridged to get enhanced productivity and production.

Table 3. Statewise area, production and yield of rapeseed-mustard in 1985-86 and 1996-97.

Vertical Growth

Exploitation of available genetic resources with existing technologies, raising the yield ceiling through generation of vast variability by synthesis of artificial alloploids, cytoplasmic hybridization, transfer of novel genes for improved nutritional quality and resistance, and development of new genotypes for further enhancing the yield are being pursued to achieve the objectives envisaged. A total number of 17714 germplasm accessions (which includes duplicates and triplicates) were maintained, evaluated and catalogued during 1981-98. Since the inception of the All India Coordinated Research Project on Oilseed in 1967 till date, eighty four improved varieties have been recommended for different cropping systems and situations. Hyola 401 of B.napus is the first ‘00’ hybrid recommended for cultivation. Pusa Jaikisan of B. juncea is the first variety though tissue culture. TL-15, a toria variety has been recommended as summer crop for high altitude of Himachal Pradesh. In an attempt to incorporate resistance / tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses in high yielding varieties, aphid tolerant strains like RH-7846, RH-7847, RH-9020 and RWAR-842, alternaria blight moderately resistant variety Saurabh; white rust resistant variety, Jawahar Mustard-1; salt tolerant varieties Narendra rai and CS-52 and frost tolerant RH-781 and RH-7361 varieties have been identified. RH-781 is also drought tolerant and suitable for intercropping. For non-traditional areas, Indian mustard varieties Rajat, Pusa Jaikisan and Seeta have been recommended. Efforts towards development of ‘0’ (low glucosinolate / low erucic acid ) and ‘00’ (low glucosinolate and low erucic acid) genotypes have led to the identification of Heera Shiva, EC 287711 (NRCRM-1), and TERI(OE) M21 of B. juncea and Hyola 401 and TERI (OE) R03 of B. napus. Development of hybrids in mustard which so far has not been able to make a headway, has reached a takeoff stage. The earlier constraint of multilocus incompatibility now stands corrected through mitochondrial recombination achieved following somatic hybridization. With the development of three new CMS fertility restorer systems based on trachy, mori and lyratus cytoplasmic sources, the prospects of developing commercial hybrid in Indian Mustard have brightened. Improved production technology, both for rainfed as well as irrigated areas have been developed which emphasizes the need of timely sowing, line sowing with recommended spacing and seed rate, fertilizer, thinning at appropriate time, etc. Adoption of full technology package increased the seed yield ranging from 67 to 190 per cent over local practices in mustard and 118 to 197 per cent in toria. Amongst the factors of production, application of fertilizer has been found to be the most critical input. Extensive front line demonstrations conducted at farmers field have established beyond doubt the potential of improved technologies in realising the increased yields of rapeseed-mustard.


The achievements made are not enough. Low yield levels, instability in productivity and production, low oil recovery, pesticide residues, likely introduction of new pests and diseases alongwith the seed imported under the new seed policy, international competition, etc., are the challenges ahead to be looked into.

Major dimensions of future rapeseed-mustard improvement based cropping systems and characteristics of cultivars for those systems.

Features of System

(i) Conservation of biodiversity

(ii) Consensus on the stage of selection criteria in cultivars development under low input conditions.

Breeding and related Solutions

(i) Exploration in newer areas and re-exploration of areas to collect valuable genetic resources.

(ii) Breeding for a wide range of cultivars for a particular environment.

(iii) The improved cultivars are having more or less the same level of resistance /tolerance against biotic and abiotic stresses.

(iii) Breeding cultivars having increased level of resistance/tolerance with high yield potential across gene pools to optimize the utilization of genes controlling yield. Attempting growth habit modifications to produce productive plant types for specific situation/ cropping system. Determining the yield-maximizing physiological traits like partitioning, maturity and nutrients to identify factors optimizing higher yield potential. This would reduce pesticide hazards.

(iv) Increasing concerns about nutritional value and value added products.

(iv) Breeding nutritionally superior oil and seed meal quality.

(v) Reduced tillage and greater amount of crops residues, regulations on tillage.

(v) Increased seedling vigor / zero-tillage planting.

(vi) Increased use of crop rotations.

(vi) Cultivars adapted to different rotation niches, more flexibility in maturity of available genetic material, new crops available.

Horizontal Growth

Horizontal growth in rapeseed-mustard can be brought in those rapeseed-mustard growing areas/ districts of the country, wherever, the yield is lower than the national average. Production technologies for different agro-ecological cropping systems, crop growing situations like inter- cropping, salinity, rainfall, etc., under unutilized farm situations like rice - fallows, mustard to be followed after cotton, sugarcane, soyabean, etc., and mustard as a paira crop in rice with lathyrus, lentil or any other competing rabi crop in traditional and non traditional areas, need to be worked out. It is estimated that at least 1 million hectares can be brought under cultivation about through adoption of such cropping systems.

Narrowing Yield Gaps

Large number of on-farm demonstrations on rapeseed-mustard have been conducted at farmers’ field with improved technologies against traditional farmers practice in different agro- ecologies under cropping systems to demonstrate the potential of new / improved technologies. Studies on impact of on-farm demonstrations have revealed an average realizable yield of 1593 kg/ha at farmers fields. Further, the expected realizable yield ranging from 1149 kg/ha to 4596 kg/ha with adoption of improved technology ranging from 25 to 100 per cent, respectively (Table 4). Such studies call for identifications of socio-economic, operational and institutional constraints in effective adoption of improved technology by the farmers across the farming community. In order to enhance the speed of adoption of the improved technology, the extensive programme of on-farm demonstrations and training with participatory mode is envisaged. It is also envisaged that there must be an involvement of clients particularly women. in the refinement of improved technology to suit their local conditions.

Table 4 . Impact of on-farm demonstrations on rapeseed-mustard production (Kumar et. al. 1997).


1. Kumar, P.R., et al, 1997. Vision 2020. NRCRM Perspective Plan. Published by

2. National Research Centre on Rapeseed - Mustard, Bharatpur, Pp 1 - 50.

3. Kumar, P.R., et al., 1999. Package of practices and contingency plan for enhancing production of rapeseed-mustard in India. A publication of the National Research Centre on Rapeseed-Mustard, Sewar, Bharatpur, Pp 1-39.

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page