Genetic erosion of crop landraces: trends in the conservation of locally adapted ‘Newar ’ radish in Jaunpur district, Uttar Pradesh, India

A study was conducted to understand trends in the conservation of the locally adapted critically endangered radish landrace ‘Newar ’ (Raphanus jaunpurensis sp. nova.), conventionally grown in certain saline areas of Jaunpur city, Uttar Pradesh for use in salads, and for other traditional household uses, as well as the sale of fresh roots and seeds. An exploratory research design was adopted to collect data from 40 respondents, including 5 key informants. Specific agronomic characteristics of ‘Newar’ such as long roots that maintained organoleptic properties for an extended time, salt tolerance, compatibility for mixed cropping with hookah tobacco, varied traditional usage and generation of extra income from the seed crop played a critical role in sustaining ‘Newar ’ radish cultivation in the past. Nonetheless, conservation and trade of this variety have collapsed over the past two decades due to a range of factors, including rapid urbanization, changing consumer preferences, gradually vanishing hookah tobacco cultivation and disappearance of the seed network. Concerted policy and scientific efforts are urgently needed to revive the cultivation of this unique horticultural resource.

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