(UTTAR PRADESH, India, 8 August) - Uttar Pradesh Beej Nigam and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) formed a partnership to expedite the production and distribution of high-yielding, climate-smart, and specialty rice varieties to bolster rice farming and productivity in the state.
The challenges faced by rice cultivation in Uttar Pradesh are complex and multi-faceted, leading to low crop productivity and reduced remunerative opportunities. Slow-paced varietal turnover and a poor delivery system for quality seeds, particularly due to the diverse nature of rice-growing environments in the state, are factor ,hindering the adoption of improved varieties.
A recent study revealed that older rice varieties, such as Swarna, BPT 5204, and Sarju 52, continue to dominate agricultural farms. Swarna, a 38-year-old variety, alone occupies over 31% of the cultivation area indicating the pressing need for varietal replacement to enhance productivity and profitability.
In a concerted effort to address these challenges, empower millions of farmers and transform the agricultural landscape in the region. IRRI's Seed System and Product Management (SSPM) team collaborated with seed corporation of UP Beej Nigam to identify and advance rice varieties tailored to suit various rice ecologies. These include varieties with submergence tolerance, high yield capacity, aroma , suitability for direct-seeded rice system, and aerobic conditions. Among the selected varieties for further advancement with UP Beej Nigam are Swarna Samriddhi, HUR 917, CG Devbhog, Swarna Shreya, BINA-11, and Rajendra Kasturi.
Prior to the partnership for increasing the availability of the seeds of the said varieties, IRRI carried extensive on farm evaluation and demand creation for these in partnership with state-based extension systems. Only varieties with robust evidence on performance were chosen for seed amplification.
A workshop was organized on 30 May 2023, attended by approximately 40 farmers and seed producers, including local women farmers to lay the foundation for this transformative collaboration. Efforts made by SSPM, IRRI South Asia Research Centre in Varanasi, and UP Beej Nigam for seed production and promotion of recently released high-yielding varieties in Uttar Pradesh received recognition from Mr. Vikas Singh, president of Jaypur Seeds, a farmers' producer association associated with UP Beej Nigam.
Additionally, SSPM collaborated with Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi to identify best-fit and market-demanded rice varieties through varietal intelligence generated from on-farm trails and stakeholders engagements. Rice varieties such as BRRI-99,17,84,100, 69; DRR-48,58,56; and PR-126 have been mapped out and approximately 32 kg of breeder seeds have been distributed.
IRRI is leading activities with partners in the region to accelerate seed multiplication, adoption, and dissemination of newly developed high-yielding, stress-tolerant varieties to ensure wider better reach to farmer's fields. As part of the Seed System initiative, awareness is being created actively among farming communities in different districts of Uttar Pradesh, particularly the marginal farmers lacking access to quality seeds of new varieties.
To reinforce the sustainability of the seed system, IRRI implemented key interventions, including agronomic assessments and market intelligence, to identify the best-fit varieties for seed chain advancement. Additionally, access to early-generation seeds for rapid multiplication has been facilitated.
A total of 1222 kg breeder/foundation seeds of Swarna Samriddhi, HUR 917, CG Devbhog, Swarna Shreya, BINA-11, and Rajendra Kasturi were distributed through different institutes, organizations, and seed companies in Uttar Pradesh for seed production for the 2023 kharif season.
The estimated total seed production after harvesting of all varieties will be about 97, 760 kgs (977 quintals). A total of 1,222 kg seeds were distributed to farmers and seed growers through the following: 32 kg (BHU), 300 kg (UP Beej Nigam) 80 kg (RS Seeds Pvt Ltd), 245 kg (Aparajita Samajik Samiti), 265 kg (Sustainable Human Development Association SHDA, 40 kg (New Hygenic Seeds Pvt Ltd.), 130 kg seed (KVK Kaushambi) and 130 kg seed by Maniratnam Farmers Producer Company Ltd (FPO) in different districts of Uttar Pradesh.
Through joint interventions, collaborative field validation of new germplasm developed by NARES and IRRI, the partnership with various collaborators is poised to strengthen further in the coming seasons. Additionally, the selection and area targeting for best-evaluated varieties, greater institutional linkages for easy germplasm access, and the facilitation of community-owned seed networks for production and marketing by Beej Nigam are integral to the future success of this initiative.
This strategic partnership between Uttar Pradesh Beej Nigam, BHU, KVK, and IRRI is a pioneering endeavor with the potential to revolutionize rice farming, elevate farmers' livelihoods, and ensure the availability, production, and marketing of high-quality seeds to farmers across the state.
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