An experiment to provide protein and zinc content through rice, Odisha’s staple food, to tribal communities appears to be succeeding, as farmers in tribal-dominated Koraput and Nabarangpur district are excited about the yield from paddy varieties.
As part of a project to increase farmers’ income and reduce malnutrition through biofortified crops, the Institute of Life Science (ILS), Bhubaneswar, an institute under the Department of Biotechnology, had promoted cultivation of protein rich rice (CR-Dhan-311 and CR-Dhar-411) in Nabarangpur and Koraput district this kharif season.
The CR-Dhan-311 (named Mokul) and CR-Dhan-411 paddy varieties were developed by the National Rice Research Institute, Cuttack.
“We were apprehensive that the new varieties of paddy would not give the amount of produce that high yielding paddy varieties generally provides. As per our estimate, we will get about 25 quintals of paddy per acre from two varieties,” said Ganeshwar Gouda, a farmer of Mandiabandh under Boriguma block of Koraput district.
“Rice is a staple food in Odisha that is a major source of carbohydrates. The sources of protein like lentils, milk, egg, meat and fish are expensive. Hence, ILS is popularising the cultivation of protein rich rice — CR-Dhan-311 and CR-Dhar-411 — in Nabarangpur and Koraput districts,” said Mamoni Dash, senior scientist of the ILS.
As part of experiment, 37 farmers in Boriguma and Kotpad blocks of Koraput district and Kosagumuda block of Nabarangpur were roped in for farming of paddy.
According to Krishnnedu Chattopadhyay, senior scientist in National Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, and one of developers of the varieties, “rice is the main source of calories for billions of people in Asia-Pacific region. It contributes 29% dietary protein for population in the region. But in general, rice is deficient in protein. Therefore, a large section of the world population suffers from protein malnutrition.”
The new varieties have medium duration (120-125 days) and semi-dwarf plant type (110 cm) with long bold grain and is suitable for irrigated and favourable shallow rainfed areas. While the national average of grain yield is 4,331 kg per hectare and it is 5,542 kg/ha in Odisha.
Dr. Chattopadhyay said it had high protein (10.1%) and moderately high level of zinc (20 ppm) content in polished rice.
“Mukul has been found at par with the checks with regards to its response to important biotic stresses. It showed tolerance to leaf blast, glume discoloration, brown spot, and bacterial leaf blight and moderate tolerance against brown plant hopper, gall midge and stem borer,” said the scientist.
Rajiv Kumar Swain of the ILS said, “we are planning to do processing of paddy varieties into rice and introduce in the market as a separate rice. We will discourage farmers to mix CR-Dhan-311 and CR-Dhar-411 varieties with general varieties and sell them to millers.”