Bangalore March 17 2003. With summer bringing thirsty days, watermelons have become a seasonal delicacy. At selected grocers in the City, you may find the ideal melon to keep in the refrigerator.
The `ice-box size' watermelon, weighing 2 to 3 kg., satisfies most small families. The seeds for growing this and other watermelon varieties with different `rind patterns' would have come from Namdhari Seeds Pvt. Ltd., based in the industrial suburb of Bidadi. Chances are the same variety of watermelons is being sold in markets overseas.
Bacteria-resistant tomatoes, sweeter muskmelons, hybrid chillies, okras, cauliflowers, and varieties of gourds, cucumber, brinjal, capsicum, cabbage, and carrots are other hybrid varieties developed by Namdhari Seeds. The tomatoes, for example, command premium prices in the market because of their size, firmness, and colour. Wholesalers have another advantage; they stand transporation better.
The company was established in 1985 by Uday Singh for contract production of seeds for export to the U.S. and Europe. The attention given to quality resulted in more overseas customers. In the mid-1980s, R&D activities were initiated in major crops such as tomato and watermelon. By the 1990s, the first commercial sales in India began. With intensified research and the setting up of production centres at the right locations, Namdhari's activities saw rapid growth. Currently, the company sells seeds of 20 different crops, 120 hybrids, and 20 `open pollinated' crop varieties.
The R and D wing of the company is where new hybrids come from. They are developed keeping in mind market needs and changes, and most important, resistance to the major crop diseases encountered by growers. For this, Namdhari has set up an advanced molecular biology lab. The technique of tissue culture aids in rapid multiplication of several hundred plants from a small tissue of the mother plant with all characteristics intact. The tissue culture lab is dovetailed with breeding projects to provide support for sub-variations besides multiplication of stock of parental varieties for seeds of flower crops.
Namdhari Seeds gives considerable emphasis to developing eco-friendly hybrids. Here, breeding is directed towards combing the genes for quality, high yield, and resistance to target diseases. The phyto-pathology lab is equipped to identify viruses in plants with compartmentalised green house facility for screening several lines in each of the crops against major fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
Namdharis have always been known for their patriotism, and the company participated in a major way in rehabilitation after the Gujarat earthquake.