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Savannah 10th Anniversary Webinar: Genetic & Agronomic advancements in Rice for sustainable food production by attaining national productivity of 5 Mt/Ha

KJ Staff
KJ Staff
savannah seeds

Rice is staple food for nearly 50% of the world population, cultivated on an area of about 150 million ha across the world (9% of total cultivated area). India has the largest rice acreage in the world, 43.8 million ha accounting for nearly one fourth of gross cultivated area in country. During last 70 years, country has made huge stride in rice productivity and production from a productivity level of <1 MT/ha to current average of 4 MT/ha. Public sector research and extension has played an important role for rice genetic and agronomic advancements, resulting in productivity improvements.   

paddy
paddy trend

Above charts clearly shows that despite of significant increase in productivity India’s average yield is still lower as compare to other major rice producing countries.  

Objective of Webinar: 

Key objectives of the webinar were to explore, discuss and develop an action plan to enhance rice productivity while conserving natural resources.  

How can we achieve 5 MT/ha average productivity level for rice at national level? 

Agronomic interventions for producing “more with less” - sustainable rice production and enhancing farmer income.  

Rice is an important crop for country’s food security as well as economy due to its major share in agriculture export earnings. Today, India is world’s largest rice exporter with nearly 12-13 million tons annual exports. Climate change, erratic monsoon, depleting water table, scarcity of land, labor and fuel are real challenges for sustainable rice production. Environmentalists often blame rice cultivation for the exploitation of natural resources. It has been reported that puddled transplanted rice system requires up to 5000 liters water to produce 1 kg of rice. 

With further genetic and agronomic advancements, we can produce “more with less”. Many studies across the world have reported up to 30% water and cost saving in direct seeded rice system (DSR) with herbicide tolerance breeding trait (FullPage System).  On this occasion of 10th anniversary of Savannah Seeds we are planning to exchange, share and brainstorm new ideas for sustainable rice production to achieve 5 MT/ha productivity goal in next decade. Together with the rich experience, knowledge and depth of Public sector, and Private sector’s curiosity, innovation, energy, and investment, this goal can 

Over past 20 years there have been significant developments to make rice cultivation more profitable and sustainable for farmers. However, considering the gap in current yield levels in India and nearby countries, there is a huge potential in rice to make it a key contributor to Indian economy. By increasing the current yield levels by 20%, we can add approx. 24 Million MT rice or free up 20% land for other critical crops like pulses and oilseeds to make India self-sustainable in those areas as well.  

We feel privileged to have Dr E A Siddiq (father of hybrid rice in India), Dr V P Singh (key figure in developing Basmati as export commodity with high yielding varieties like PB 1121) and Dr S R Das (who has developed all major varieties grown across Eastern India) with us, who have contributed significantly to rice research. We acknowledge their contribution in rice research.     

In this webinar, various genetic and agronomic developments in rice and future directions to make rice a sustainable and profitable crop for Indian farmers were discussed by eminent researchers and policy makers.  

In-depth understanding, knowledge, and guidance to work towards further improvement in rice from eminent panellists was the key highlight of the webinar. 

The webinar was chaired by Shri Ashwani Kumar, Joint Secretary Seeds and Administration, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, Government of India and he emphasised on need of forward looking research focus for improving productivity to ensure food security and freeing up land for other crops of national importance like pulses and oilseeds.

Key participants in the webinar included 

  • Key policy makers and officials in Central Government 

  • Scientists working on rice at various research institutions like –IARI, NRRI, IIRR, PAU, RPCAU, IRRI and other central and state agriculture institutes

  • State Agriculture department Senior officials / policy makers

  • Leading progressive farmers of Haryana and Punjab

  • FSII members, stakeholders & trade partners 

Key Deliverables of the webinar achieved after deliberations were: 

Explore and recommend strategic directions for research to improve genetic potential of rice varieties and hybrids in view of changing climatic conditions stress conditions to reach target productivity of 5 Mt/Ha by year 2030

Identify and recommend new agronomic practices, including mechanization, for sustainable rice production including reduced cost and improved efficiency in farm operations 

The key focus areas identified were promotion of Direct Sown Rice with latest agronomic and mechanization interventions and making rice a sustainable crop for farmers by reducing input cost and simplifying rice farming to improve productivity. 

The presenters emphasized on weed control and nutrition management to make rice farming sustainable and shared new technological developments like Herbicide Tolerant Rice (Non GMO – like FullPage system by Savannah) and measures to counter abiotic and biotic stresses for insuring optimum yields even in changing climatic conditions. A holistic approach towards annual cropping pattern was recommended rather than single crop improvement as a solution and way forward for doubling farmer income.

The webinar was attended by more than 500 participants across institutions, industries, policy makers and farmers and all of the appreciated the significance and timeliness of this webinar.

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