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Raebareli District Rep, Sonia Gandhi notes IRRI efforts on stress-prone areas of eastern India

posted Oct 25, 2013, 1:38 AM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎
by Sudhanshu Singh

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, member of Parliament, Raebareli district and chairperson of National Advisory Council, and of the ruling United Progressive Alliance, India, noted IRRI’s great contribution to increase rice productivity in eastern India’s stress-prone areas. This took place during a training program organized by IRRI for rice farmers on salt-tolerant rice varieties in KVK, Raebareli on 8 October, 2013, where Mrs. Gandhi also distributed the salt-tolerant varieties of wheat viz KRL-19 and KRL-213 among the farmers for cultivation during the Rabi reason. She was accompanied by her daughter, Mrs. Priyanka Gandhi, where they showed a keen interest in getting information about stress-tolerant rice varieties developed by IRRI and urged rainfed farmers to adopt new technologies quickly to improve their livelihood conditions. 

Sudhanshu Singh, IRRI agronomist, South Asia and V.K. Mishra, head, CSSRI-Regional Research Station in Lucknow, briefly discussed about the on-going  STRASA and NFSM (National Food Security Mission) programmes in the district, as well as, the impact of salt-tolerant rice and wheat varieties in enhancing productivity and income of the farmers. After the seed distribution of wheat varieties, Mrs. Gandhi congratulated IRRI/ STRASA team for organizing these
demonstrations in eastern India and remembered the timely help rendered by IRRI to flood-affected farmers of Assam last year by distributing seeds of the flood-tolerant Sub1 rice varieties. She mentioned that this gesture of IRRI was appreciated in Indian Parliament. She also praised the stress-prone area characterization work IRRI has undertaken for eastern India including Raebareli and Amethi districts for the targeting of stress-tolerant rice varieties.

IRRI, through its STRASA project and Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, through their NFSM and BGREI (Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India) programmes have joined hands to rapidly promote flood tolerant (Swarna-Sub1 and other Sub1 varieties), drought tolerant (Sahbhagi dhan) and salt tolerant (CSR 36, CSR 43 and Narendra Usar dhan 3) rice varieties in eastern India through large scale cluster demsontrations at farmers fields and awareness creation. These stress tolerant rice varieties have potential to usher green revoultion in eastern India, which is primarily rainfed and prone to abiotic stresses like flood, drought or sodic/saline soils. One such large scale demonstration of CSR 36, involving more than 270 farmers during current rice season, is being conducted in Jagatpur and Rohaniya blocks covering almost an area of 125 hectares in 8 villages that have a big chunk of sodic lands in Raebareli district. 

Out of 50,000 hectares, sodicity affected fields in Raebareli district, almost half of the areas has been reclaimed in the district by different government agencies using gypsum based technology. This has increased the productivity of these lands to about 6 tons /hectare /year. However, further increase in productivity of about 1-1.5 t/ha and 2 t/ha can be achieved by using salt-tolerant varieties of rice and wheat, respectively, without any additional inputs in the partially reclaimed sodic soil. With these significant benefits from salt-tolerant varieties, the program was organized in KVK, Raebareli district by IRRI.