by A. Kumar and S.P. Das
Thousands of farmers in drought-prone Tripura Province welcome the release of 16 new varieties of various crops, including nine rice varieties for different ecosystems. These ecosystems include drought-prone lowlands and uplands. These varieties were launched on 1 March 2015 at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) research complex for the Northeastern Region in Lembucherra. The released lines have high-yield potentials that provide a yield advantage of 1.0-1.2 tons per hectare under moderate to severe drought over presently cultivated varieties. The farmers of Tripura also showed their preference for these varieties during participatory selection trials.
Manik Sarkar, chief minister of Tripura Province, presided over the ceremonial release of the varieties. Mr. Sarkar expressed his gratitude to scientists at ICAR and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for making the new varieties available to farmers and for working together to increase rice production in the province.
S.V. Ngachan, director of the ICAR Research Complex, reiterated the commitment of ICAR to increase productivity of different crops as well as fisheries and poultry in the north eastern region of India. Arvind Kumar, leader of the rainfed lowland South Asia plant breeding group at IRRI, encouraged state agencies to undertake a systematic seed multiplication program for newly released varieties.
The new rice varieties include five drought-tolerant breeding lines developed at IRRI by the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These varieties were evaluated by the Drought Breeding Network in several locations in India including ICAR in Lembucherra and the All India Coordinated Rice Improvement Program coordinated by the Directorate of Rice Research in Hyderabad.
The new drought-tolerant varieties include Tripura Khara dhan 1 (IR87707-446-B-B-B), Tripura Khara dhan 2 ( IR87707-182-B-B-B) for lowland rainfed drought prone-regions of Tripura; Tripura Hakuchuk-1 (IR83928-B-B-56-4) and Tripura Hakuchuk 2 (IR82589-B-B-138-2) for dry direct-seeded rainfed upland areas; and Tripura Aus dhan (IR83928-B-B-42-3-4) for both transplanted and dry direct-seeded situations.
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