A new rice variety ‘Anna (R) 4' which gives high yield and is drought tolerant was introduced to farmers of Madurai district on Saturday.

The new variety was developed and released by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, over two years and successful results were already seen by the farmers in Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga districts.

To encourage farmers in Madurai district and create awareness about Anna (R) 4 rice variety, the Agricultural College and Research Institute had organised a field day calling farmers from various places to explain the special features of the rice variety.

Minister for Cooperation Sellur K.Raju released the new variety in the presence of P. Murugesa Boopathy, Vice-Chancellor, TNAU and Collector U. Sagayam besides officials from the Agriculture Department.

Addressing the farmers, the Vice-Chancellor said that paddy cultivation in Tamil Nadu could be increased by releasing high-yielding varieties which were drought resistant.

“In our State, 22 lakh hectares of land is under paddy cultivation and the total annual production is 85 lakh metric tonnes. This year's paddy production target set by the State Government is 115 lakh tonnes,” he informed.

He told the farmers to cultivate Anna (R) 4 variety so as to increase their yield and get more income. “We could see this variety giving up to 4 tonnes of paddy per hectare. Our university wants it to be cultivated on four lakh hectares in the State,” Dr. Murugesa Boopathy said and added that yield could be three times more than what farmers were getting now.

He thanked the Sir Ratan Tata Foundation for its active support in popularising the new rice variety released by TNAU. Some of the features of the new variety are that it gives higher productivity, drought tolerant, short duration yield of 100-105 days, high head rice recovery and suitable for September-October sowing in rain-fed areas of Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga districts.

Officials of Agriculture Department said that the new variety was already experimented at two places in Madurai district. In Ramanathapuram district, it is being extensively cultivated by farmers in and around Paramakudi.

Speaking at the function, the District Collector lauded the TNAU for its role in research and release of new crop varieties. K. Vairavan, Dean, Agricultural College and Research Institute, welcomed the farmers who had turned up for the field day.