Wednesday, May 4, 2016

IRRI scientist recognized for developing drought-tolerant rice for Nepalese farmers

Photo: Meira Andutan/IRRI
KATHMANDU, Nepal—As part of its Silver Jubilee, the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) acknowledged  the "tireless contribution" of Dr. Arvind Kumar (photo left) in improving drought-tolerant rice varieties (photo below) and making them available to Nepalese farmers.

Kumar, a senior scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), leads the South Asia plant breeding group for the rainfed lowlands at the institute. He has expertise in trait development for drought, aerobic rice, and dry direct seeded rice. He also improved several popular rice varieties for drought tolerance as well as developed a drought plus submergence-tolerant version of the popular Indian rice variety Swarna. NARC will recognize Kumar in person on 7 May.

Nepal has released six drought-tolerant rice varieties (Sukha Dhan 1-6) and two submergence varieties (Swarna-Sub1 and Shamba Mahasuri Sub 1). These climate change-ready varieties have gained much popularity and are spreading to large areas of the Nepal Terai and river basin.  The varieties have made a significant impact in minimizing the risk of major stresses that affect poor farmers in the country.

“Rice is a vital crop in Nepal, contributing to about 10% of the GDP,” said Dr. Y.R. Pandey, NARC executive director. “However, rice farming in the country is dependent on the monsoon and very much prone to drought and flooding risks. Since its establishment 25 years ago, NARC has had a long and admirable history of collaboration with IRRI and in developing rice varieties that have tackled various challenges, including the current climate change issues.”

Some of the successful collaborative projects between NARC and IRRI include water-saving, stress-tolerant rice for Africa and South Asia, and accelerating the adoption of stress-tolerant rice varieties.

Photo: Jericho Montellano/IRRI

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