by Maria Rowena M. Baltazar
State officials from Odisha, headed by State Chief Secretary Shri Gokul Chandra Pati visited the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to review and identify areas for collaboration targeting the development of its rice sector. Odisha is seventh biggest producer of rice in India with more than seven million tons output every year.
“There is a need for a criteria that ensures the seeds developed and disseminated by IRRI effectively increase farmers’ income,” said Chief Secretary Pati.
Deputy Director General for Research Matthew Morell assured the officials that IRRI’s research will ensure income profitability for farmers by developing rice varieties that are income-centric.
The Chief Secretary also wanted to learn more about IRRI's ongoing work on stress-tolerant rice varieties and their dissemination in India, particularly Odisha. Swarna-Sub1, the flood-tolerant version of the popular mega-variety Swarna (MTU 7029) occupies more than 30% of the total rice area in Odisha. Most of the feedback from farmers on Swarna-Sub1 was quite positive and many farmers who grew Swarna-Sub1 for the first time in 2012 on parts of their land have expanded it to their entire landholding.
The Chief Secretary was also briefed on developing and disseminating good management practices, including crop manager for mobile phones, and possible areas of collaboration on rice value chain and training and extension, especially for women farmers.
The long-standing partnership between India and IRRI was highlighted by IRRI’s Deputy Director General for Communication and Partnerships Bruce Tolentino and senior scientists Uma Shankar Singh, Samarendu Mohanty, Kshirod Jena, and Jagdish Ladha.
The Chief Secretary and Shri Rajesh Verma, principal state secretary- agriculture, also toured the International Rice Genebank, the Grain Quality and Nutrition Center, the Genetic Transformation laboratory, several IRRI experiment stations, and the Riceworld Museum.
The visit on 10-11 August 2015 was an initiative of the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) Project. The event was facilitated by Uma Shankar Singh, STRASA’s South Asia Regional Coordinator and acting IRRI representative to India and Nepal; Sudhanshu Singh, IRRI rainfed lowland agronomist to South Asia;, and Abdelbagi Ismail, overall STRASA project leader and IRRI principal scientist.
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