Conservation of traditional rice varieties takes a new path

Project to address drawbacks such as low yield and lodging character

Updated - September 03, 2020 06:46 pm IST

Published - September 01, 2020 07:20 pm IST - KALPETTA

Farmhands engaged in paddy transplantation on a trial plot at Kallanchira, near Karani, in Wayanad district.

Farmhands engaged in paddy transplantation on a trial plot at Kallanchira, near Karani, in Wayanad district.

Though the traditional rice varieties in Wayanad district have advantages such as its ability to withstand harsh climatic conditions, drawbacks like low yield and lodging character have forced farmers to go for high-yielding new varieties.

(Lodging is the bending over of the stem of grain crops, which makes them difficult to harvest.)

Now, the Community Agrobiodiversity Centre (CABC) of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) here has started a farmer participatory project to address the issues concerning traditional varieties.

The MSSRF and the farming community have been working together to find a solution for the low yield in 10 traditional varieties such as Adukkan, Veliyan, Chenellu, Chomala, Chenthadi, Thondi, Gandhakasala, Jeerakasala, Mullankaima and Kalladiaryan varieties under the project, says Shely Mary Koshy, agriculture scientist, MSSRF.

Organic inputs such as farmyard manure, vermicompost, azospirillum, phospho solubilizing bacteria, potassium mobilising bacteria, and groundnut cake have been used for yield enhancement at a trial plot, Dr. Shely said.

A randomised block design is used for the experiment in 60 cents at Kallanchira in the district. System of rice intensification (SRI) method of planting is adopted for the trial (seedlings that are 10 to 12 days’ old are transplanted with just one seedling instead of a clump at a distance of 25 cm between each plant and row), she said.

“The trial is planned for three years and the second year trial is under progress now,” P. Vipindas, Development Associate, MSRF, said.

Throughout the different stages of the trial, active participation of farmers was ensured to make the programme a success, Mr. Vipindas said.

“Based on the results of the trial and the cost of cultivation, the most suitable practices for the traditional variety cultivation will be popularised among farmers,” he said.

“We are curious about the results of the project and many traditional farmers have been visiting the plot for knowledge exchange and to learn more about traditional rice cultivation,” K.R. Anilkumar, a farmer at Kallanchira, said.

The MSSRF, with financial support of the Department of Science and Technology, Seed Division, has been involved in the conservation of traditional rice varieties under the Medicinal and Aromatic Rice Initiative (MAARI) project in the district for the past eight years.

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