Amid deluge, Assam farmer stands out with flood-resistant paddy

The new variety sown last year has inspired a majority of cultivators in Golaghat district to shift over from traditional ones

July 12, 2020 11:52 pm | Updated 11:52 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Nitu Bora’s paddy field in Golaghat district.

Nitu Bora’s paddy field in Golaghat district.

Nitu Bora took a “risk” with an unfamiliar variety of paddy in 2019. A year later, he has inspired a majority of some 1,500 farmers who saw their hard work undone by floods in Assam’s Golaghat district.

According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority, this year’s flood since May 22 has affected crop, mainly paddy, on more than 125,097 hectares of land across 25 of the State’s 33 districts.

Nitu Bora’s 0.9-hectare paddy field in Balidua village of Golaghat district’s West Brahmaputra area was flooded too. But unlike that of most other farmers in Assam, his paddy crop of the Ranjit Sub1 variety withstood the deluge.

He had tested waters in July 2019 with the variety – the Sub in its name means submergence – on about 0.2 hectares of his plot.

“I decided to take the risk with the new variety after listening to crop experts. This paddy survived 15 days under water while the flood damaged the common varieties in the rest of my plot,” the 45-year-old farmer said.

He had virtually dragged neighbours Luhit Bora and Babu Bora to the District Agriculture Office in Golaghat town two days after crop specialists had campaigned for adopting Ranit Sub1 and two other flood-tolerant varieties named Swarna Sub1 and Bahadur Sub1.

The other two farmers too used a fraction of their respective plot to invest in seedlings of the flood-resistant paddy collected from the Agriculture Department.

Farmers in flood-prone areas of Assam have been harvesting the water-resistant Swarna Sub1, developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute, since 2009. But the switchover from traditional varieties of paddy has been slow.

Flood impact study

“We introduced the flood-resistant varieties in 2018 and the 5.6 tonnes of rice per hectare that Nitu Bora harvested was the first flood-impact study, although we cannot compare with the traditional varieties since they were damaged,” said Abhishek Singha, research technician of the Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART).

The Assam Rural Infrastructure and Agricultural Services Society headed by bureaucrat Laya Madduri is the coordinating agency for the World Bank-funded project.

“The experiment of the Boras has this year made about 60% of the farmers in the West Brahmaputra area switch to the flood-tolerant paddy. Some 1,500 farmers cultivate on about 950 hectares in this area,” Mr Singha told The Hindu on July 5.

Nitu Bora’s example has made convincing the other farmers easier for Golaghat’s District Agriculture Officer Nabin Chandra Bora and APART’s Golaghat nodal officer Syed Rajibur Rahman.

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