ICAR Director-General says India needs to produce up to 2 million tonnes of rice to feed the teeming millions
India, a country that comes second after China in rice cultivation with 44 million hectares under rice, plans to increase the acreage under hybrid rice to 5 million hectares from the current 2 million hectares.
Speakers at the 6 International Hybrid Rice Symposium here on Monday said the country needed to produce 1.5 million to 2 million tonnes of rice more every year to feed the teeming millions in the next 15 to 20 years. Enhanced yields, input use efficiency and profitability were the immediate research goals, they said.
Director-General, Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), S. Ayyappan said steps were being taken to popularise hybrid technology in the future years. Focus was needed on developing long-duration hybrid rice for coastal areas and quality hybrid variety for southern India, he added.
Director-General of the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Robert S. Zeigler said there was a need to develop hybrid technology that was based on local varieties than by mere adoption of Chinese hybrids, considering the geographical factors. “Hybrids for the environment and quality demands of South and South East Asia countries must be developed by building on local varieties,” he stressed.
Union Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna said that with the gradual but harsh effects of climate change taking its toll on food security, hybrid technology was a sure option to overcome the impact of climate change on agriculture in the country.
Earlier, Agriculture Minister Kanna Lakshminarayana, who inaugurated the symposium said 59 hybrid rice varieties were released in India, of which 31 were from the public and 28 were from the private sector.
He recalled that several private companies were now working with ICAR on hybrid rice research. Pointing out that A.P. was the first to release APP RH 1 and 2, two hybrid rice varieties for commercial cultivation, he said good hybrid varieties were in the pipeline.
ICAR’s Deputy Director-General (Crop Science) Swapan K Datta also emphasised the need for developing locally-adoptable and popular varieties while developing hybrids. “Every Indian State had its own variety that came with distinctly different taste and flavour,” he stated.