by Alaric Santiaguel
LOS BANOS, Philippines—The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment (DAFE) in Odisha approved the implementation of new 5-year scheme that aims to improve the productivity of rice-based cropping systems and the incomes of farmers in the state.
“This is a milestone for the India and IRRI cooperation,” said Corinta Guerta (second from right above photo), director for External Relations. “India is a very important partner of IRRI for the past 4 decades.”
The collaborative project between DAFE and the International Rice research Institute (IRRI) was signed in September. In connection with the new project, Manoj Ahuja (center in photo), principal secretary of DAFE, Vice Chancellor Surendranath Pasupalak of Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, and Commissioner and Director Pramod Kumar Meherda of the Directorate of Agriculture and Food Production visited IRRI on 27-28 October. The party met with IRRI scientists and toured institute’s various facilities to observe some of the ongoing research activities and technologies
“We are interested in everything you have to offer,” said Secretary Ahuja.
During a briefing, they received an overview of some of IRRI’s projects in India. Among the projects discussed were the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) which focuses on accelerating the dissemination of improved rice varieties in the region. The Secretary and his associates were also updated on IRRI’s collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in developing new rice varieties for the region using the latest breeding technologies. Of the 200 IRRI projects in India, 30 are being conducted in Odisha.
“STRASA uses innovative approaches and regional cooperation for promoting stress-tolerant rice varieties not only in India but in South Asia,” said Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail (extreme right in photo), project leader of STRASA. “We have shortened the time for these varieties to reach farmers by almost half.” Prior to the new strategy, the process took 10 to 15 years.
Dr. Kshirod Jena, a principal scientist at IRRI, also presented some of the results of the collaborative breeding activities between ICAR and the institute to upgrade popular Indian rice varieties by incorporating rice genes responsible for high-yield and stronger resistance to pests and diseases.
“Early reports showed dramatic increases in the yield of the MUTU 1010, Samba Mahsuri, and Swarna with the new genes,” said Jena. “They also show better resistance to pests and diseases affecting rice production in Odisha.”
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