Time lapse video showing performance of a submergence-tolerant rice (IR64 Sub1) compared to regular rice following flooding.
As fresh waves of floods hit India’s northeastern state of Assam, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has stepped up to help rice farmers by providing free seed of its popular flood-tolerant rice Swarna-Sub1.
Fondly called “scuba” rice, because of its ability to survive under water for up to two weeks, Swarna-Sub1 has been widely adopted across eastern India, but had yet to reach the state of Assam. The 2 tons of Swarna-Sub1 seed donated to Assam by IRRI will be used for seed multiplication during the upcoming boro season from around November to May – ensuring many Assam farmers will have access to flood-tolerant rice next year.
In response to the support, India’s Minister of Agriculture, the Honorable Shri Sharad Pawar, said, “I am deeply touched by the support extended by IRRI to the farmers affected by the recent floods in Assam.”
“As per preliminary estimates, more than two hundred thousand hectares of crop area has been affected by this national calamity,” he added.
Director General of IRRI Dr. Robert Zeigler initiated the donation because he wanted to extend immediate assistance to farmers coping with the current devastation, and, importantly, to help ensure farmers were better prepared to cope with any such future calamity.
“India has been a world leader in adoption of our scuba rice varieties,” said Zeigler, “implementing innovative practices like the distribution of mini-kits of seed to ensure many farmers get seed quickly to propagate it, plus supporting wide-scale demonstration plantings with farmers to show how effective flood-tolerant varieties are.”
India's state of Assam is fast tracking delivery of seeds
of Swarna Sub1 to help farmers cope with floods.
“We are excited that we can help fast-track delivery of our scuba rice into Assam now as well with this donation,” he said.
In addition to the bulk delivery of Swarna-Sub1, IRRI also supplied 100 kilograms of seed of another flood-tolerant variety, IR64-Sub1, which will be used for seed multiplication during the current kharif season. In addtion, 10 kg of seed of the medium-duration flood-tolerant variety Ciherang-Sub1 has been given to Assam Agriculture University for multi-location evaluation and seed multiplication as well as seed of two new types of rice that can cope well with flash and stagnant floods – IMPARA-3 and IRRI-119.
Five hundred IRRI Super Bags will also be given by IRRI to the Government of Assam to protect seed from pests and moisture after harvest to help reduce postharvest losses, which can be as high as 15%.
IRRI is also working with the Assam State Government to recommend flood mitigation measures. As a result, plans are now in place to fast track the release of IR64-Sub1 and Ciherang-Sub1, create a buffer stock, and significantly upscale seed production of other stress tolerant rice varieties in Assam.
“While these floods have proven devastating for Assam, they have fast tracked plans to ensure Assam farmers are protected against future calamities,” said Zeigler. “We are grateful to the Assam Government and our other valued partners in India for giving us the opportunity to work closely with them to help maintain Assam’s rice production and support its farmers.”