Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Indian state extends use of drought-tolerant rice

An awareness and review workshop on cluster demonstrations of drought tolerant rice in India’s eastern state of Jharkhand was held by IRRI and the State Agricultural Management and Extension Training Institute (SAMETI) on 30 August 2013 in Ranchi, Jharkhand, India.

More than 70 people, including 11 women, agricultural officers from all the districts, training coordinators, and extension officers from KVKs, NGOs, and seed producers, participated in the workshop. Mr. Kamal Kishore Soan, Director of Agriculture (Jharkhand) was chief guest of the event and other officials included Mr. Jata Shankar Chaudhary (Director, State Agricultural Management & Extension Training Institute, or SAMETI), Dr. Mukund Variar (Director, Central Rainfed and Upland Rice research Station or CRURRS, Hazaribagh), Dr. D N Singh (Rice Breeder, Birsa Agricultural University, or BAU), and Dr. Ratan P. Singh (Director Extension, BAU, Ranchi).

Dr. Manzoor Hussain Dar (IRRI, STRASA) welcomed the participants. He presented an overview of the cluster demonstrations of stress-tolerant rice varieties  and objectives of the workshop. He emphasized the need for partnership development between different stakeholders across the state to ensure the speedy dissemination of information, seed up-scaling, and faster diffusion of drought-tolerant rice varieties. He acknowledged the initiatives of the Department of Agriculture, Jharkhand, to undertake large scale seed production of Sahbhagi Dhan – a drought-tolerant rice variety – through seed village programmes and their evaluation of the drought-tolerant rice IR64 NIL at various locations in the lead-up to its planned release. Dr. Dar also acknowledged the strong coordination between the Stress-tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia, or STRASA and SAMETI as an example for other states.

Other presentations were given by Dr. Variar, who talked about the rice situation in Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh with respect to climate change, and Mr. Jata Shankar Chaudhary, about the initiatives that the department has taken to scale up the seed production and dissemination of drought-tolerant rice varieties like Sahbhagi Dhan. Mr. Shankar provided assurance that their efforts will be intensified by linking their work with other schemes. He also offered help and cooperation to  STRASA to undertake their activities including the evaluation of new genetic material and awareness creation.

Meanwhile, Chief Guest Mr. Kamal Kishore Soan endorsed the suitability and profitability of Sahbhagi Dhan in Jharkhand, and recommended the development of an action plan to prepare the state for droughts in the future. He proposed the need ffor buffer stock of Sahbhagi dhan seed as a part of a contingency plan to help the state cope during drought years.

In the final session of the workshop, the possible strategies and action plan for the upscaling of stress-tolerant rice technology and sustainable seed production for the Jharkhand state was discussed. An action plan with the timeline including the roles of all possible stakeholders involved will be jointly structured by SAMETI and IRRI and submitted to the department for the instant implementation. Mr. T C Dhoundiyal (STRASA) formally delivered the vote of thanks to all the participants.

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