After seven years of research UKM’s scientists with the cooperation of MARDI’s research officers have successfully produced a variety of rice which not only can increase padi yield but also has properties with low glycaemic index suitable for diabetics.
Its Plant Genetics and Biotechnology expert, from the Faculty of Science and Technology, Prof Dr. Wickneswari Ratnam assisted by some 14 other scientists from UKM, Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) , Malaysia Nuclear Agency (MNA) and UM had been doing research on this since 2002 and have succeeded in producing the new paddy variant G33 named UKMRC9 which can increase local red rice production.
It can be described as superior red rice developed through conventional breeding involving controlled cross-breeding between cultivar MR219 and wild rice Oryza rufipogon. It involved the transfer of genes of the wild type to the common paddy produced by MARDI.
Though the initial research was aimed at increasing yield so that enough rice could be produced in the country for its own consumption, the red rice was found to be suitable for diabetics. The agronomic features of UKMRC9 being of intermediate plant height, intermediate growth duration of 125 days, have the desired phenotypic appearance with a high grain yield of 5.5 tonnes per ha, blast disease resistance and slender in shape.
Its biochemical properties include amylose content of 19-20 per cent, high ferric reducing ability of plasma, high total phenolic content making it a rich source of antioxidants.