Wednesday, October 16, 2013

India: National Advisory Council Chair Gandhi notes IRRI’s work in stress-prone areas

Sonia Gandhi, chair of the National Advisory Council of India, expressed a keen interest in IRRI-developed salt-tolerant rice varieties after distributing salt-tolerant wheat varieties to farmers for planting in the rabi season. Mrs. Gandhi is a member of parliament representing Raebareli District and is current president of the Indian National Congress Party.

Mrs. Gandhi, who was accompanied by her daughter Priyanka, commended the work of IRRI and the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) project team and cited the assistance extended to flood-affected farmers in Assam in 2012. She said that the Indian parliament greatly appreciated IRRI’s distribution of flood-tolerant rice varieties in the area.The distribution was held alongside a training course on salt-tolerant rice varieties for farmers in Raebareli on 8 October 2013.

IRRI is also doing characterization work for stress-prone areas in eastern India, which includes the Raebareli and Amethi districts.

Sudhanshu Singh, IRRI agronomist for South Asia, and  V.K. Mishra, head of the CSSRI-Regional Research Station in Lucknow, gave the updates on the work of STRASA and the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) in the district and the impact of salt-tolerant rice and wheat varieties in enhancing the productivity and income of farmers.

IRRI, through the STRASA project, and India’s Ministry of Agriculture, through the NFSM and the BGREI (Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India), are working together 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 an awareness campaign and large-scale cluster demonstrations at farmers. These stress-tolerant rice varieties have the potential to usher in a Green Revolution in eastern India, an area that is primarily rainfed and prone to flooding, drought, and saline or sodic soil. One such large-scale demonstration, of CSR 36 that involves more than 270 farmers in the current rice season, is being conducted in Jagatpur and Rohaniya blocks, covering nearly 125 hectares in eight villages that have the big chunk of sodic lands in the Raebareli District.

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