Inventor Turns Rice and Wheat into Unlikely Sources for Vitamin D
Jun 3, 2021
By IP Progress
WHO: Chintala Venkat Reddy, a farmer from Hyderabad, Telangana.
THE CHALLENGE: Vitamin D—also known as the “sunshine vitamin”—plays a vital role in keeping our bodies healthy by promoting bone strength and supporting cardiovascular health. Adequate vitamin D levels are also crucial for a strong immune system. Although our bodies can produce vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, we often require outside sources, such as food or supplements, to maintain suitable levels. Nevertheless, vitamin D deficiency is still prevalent in developing and developed nations alike; In India, vitamin D deficiency affects 80-90% of the population.
THE OPPORTUNITY: Venkat Reddy was speaking with a group of doctors when he heard of the many benefits of vitamin D, but was disappointed to learn that many people were resorting to supplements to take in their daily dose – or going without enough vitamin D intake. As a farmer, Venkat Reddy knew that food had the potential to deliver the many nutrients that people need to stay healthy. With a variety of successful agricultural innovations already under his belt, Venkat Reddy used his decades of experience to increase vitamin D in the food supply.
HOW IT WORKS: Venkat Reddy set his sights on rice and wheat, which naturally have almost zero vitamin D. To increase their nutrient levels, he modified his existing method to enrich rice with vitamin A and C. The process uses drip irrigation, a method for watering plants that is praised for its efficiency, particularly in areas with low water supply. By applying the water directly to the soil at a precise rate, Venkat Reddy’s method is estimated to be up to 15% more efficient than the common sprinkler system. He then used this irrigation system to deliver water that contained vitamin D, directly enriching the rice and wheat. The results were groundbreaking, as 100g of his rice amounted to as much as 20% of the daily recommended value for an adult.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) awarded Venkat Reddy a patent for his enriched rice and wheat technology, which he hopes will allow farmers to bring these nutrients to people all across the world. Venkat Reddy has demonstrated enthusiasm for using the power of intellectual property to advance the agricultural space before. Thanks to an innovative soil management technique he invented, a large network of farmers now have a natural way to minimize pests and optimize crop yields.
As the first independent farmer in India to receive an international patent, Venkat Reddy hopes to continue to use the incentives and protections that intellectual property provides to share his technology and change lives. “If the Government of India wants it to be simplified and given to farmers, I’m ready to help,” he says, adding that he would also be willing to collaborate with multinational companies to mass produce vitamin D-enriched rice and wheat, which would help to boost immunity and overall health.