Even though the country has witnessed floods and droughts in some areas almost every year, rice production has steadily increased – reaching a record 120.32 million tonnes in the 2020-21 crop year ( July-June) – thanks to the constant of agricultural scientists. strive to develop new varieties with higher yield. Two of these varieties – CR Dhan 801 and CR Dhan 802, developed by the National Rice Research Institute (NRRI) with unique characteristics of drought and flood resistance – are likely to be a boon to farmers in the eastern region prone to calamities due to its acceptance by farmers.
As the Indian Meteorological Department predicted below normal monsoon rainfall during the following season in the eastern region of India, these two varieties of rice can help farmers weather any drought situation. Seasonal precipitation this year could account for 98% of the LPA with a model error of +/- 5%, Mr. Rajeevan, secretary of the Earth Sciences Ministry, said on April 16, adding that precipitation could be normal in the region. the whole country except Odisha, Jharkhand. , Bihar, Assam and eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Up to 10,000 hectares have been covered by these two varieties, mainly under CR Dhan 801 last kharif season, from around 5,000 hectares in 2019, for seed multiplication. In eastern Uttar Pradesh alone, the CR Dhan 801 variety has been planted on around 700 hectares, said Ram Kathin Singh, executive director of the Lucknow-based Nand Educational Foundation for Rural Development (NEFORD). Singh, a retired professor of genetics and involved in the distribution of these seeds, also said the average yield was around 6-7 tonnes per hectare where his agency was closely monitored cultivation.
“If the prediction of IMD comes true, farmers will see the effectiveness of CR Dhan 801 and it will help grow the variety,” Singh said. At least 20,000 quintals of seed (enough for 60,000 hectares) of this variety could be available during the 2021 kharif season in eastern UP, he added.
Launched for cash cultivation last year, CR Dhan 801 is intended for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, which have 33-98% of the land area. irrigated rice. This strain is actually an improvement over the popular Swarna Sub1 (which is flood tolerant), according to SK Pradhan, senior scientist at NRRI. Three genes for drought tolerant traits from other varieties are added in CR Dhan 801 and two of these genes in CR Dhan 802, which is destined for Bihar and Madhya Pradesh (34-65% irrigated rice fields).
Pradhan also said that the current average yield of these two new varieties is 6 tonnes / hectare, which can be improved up to 8 tonnes depending on good practice. During flooding, even if the crop is submerged for 14 days, the yield will drop by a maximum of 30%, depending on the torbidity of the water. In the event of drought, the yield will drop to a maximum of half. “We are working on varieties that can withstand flooding for up to 3 weeks,” he said.
CR Dhan 801 and CR Dhan 802, weakly photosensitive with an average maturity of 140 to 145 days, are resistant to the stem borer (both dead heart and white ear head), leaf folding and case worm, while being moderately resistant to fire blight and tungro virus. But the CR Dhan 802 is also hopper resistant.
“These varieties, if jointly promoted by the Center and the States, the eastern region can provide additional sustainable rice production in case the government decides to relocate the non-Basmati cultivation from Punjab, Haryana and Thailand. Uttar Pradesh, ”said one expert. More than 60% of the water available for agriculture in the country is diverted to the irrigation of two water-intensive crops, rice and sugar cane, with a share of only 24% in the gross cultivated area.
Government efforts to get farmers in Punjab and Haryana to switch from water-hungry non-basmati rice to other crops like corn and cotton have not been very successful so far in the absence a solid, remunerative and guaranteed supply system for these crops.
According to Ashok Gulati, former chairman of the Agricultural Costs and Prices Commission (CACP), farmers in these two states use a staggering 5,000 liters of water to produce a single kilogram of rice.
India’s total rice yield increased from 2.18 tonnes / hectare in 2008-09 to 2.58 tonnes / hectare in 2017-18. However, in major producing states like Punjab, the yield reaches 4.37 tonnes. Even within the state, there is a great disparity in rice yield due to various factors. For example, the average state yield is 1.8 tons (in 2017-2018) in Odisha, while in some of the irrigated districts in the west it can reach 6-7 tons.