As per sources, it has been stated that to breathe new life into the ailing paddy sector in the State, KAU has approached the State government with a request to convert the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS) at Pattambi, as a Centre of Excellence in rice research and seed generation activities. Since, RARS is one of the top rice research institutions in entire India; it has developed 13 paddy varieties during its 88 years of existence, apart from preserving and propagating 34 traditional rice varieties. According to the university sources, the government has in principle has already approved the proposal and the Cabinet may give the nod soon. Once it gets materialized, it will be the first Centre of Excellence in agricultural research in the State.
Furthermore, it was narrated that the centre will focus on efforts to increase rice production in the State by providing timely and authentic expert guidance to farmers. It has been indicated that Paddy cultivation is in a sharp decline all over the State and the traditional rice bowls of Palakkad and Kuttanad are no exception .In this regard, in initial stage, the centre would undertake projects worth Rs.9.17 crore. It is hoped that the proposed centre can influence the rice policy at the national level in a significant way. Further, it aims to develop seeds varieties that can generate 10 tonnes of rice in an acre of land. In addition, it was also emphasized that most modern cultivation equipments and seeds that can withstand challenges of climate change will get priority at the centre.
In this context, it was stated that farmers will get training in cost-effective rice cultivation by adopting eco-friendly and pesticide-free methods. As Kerala produces hardly 14 per cent of its total requirement of rice, the research centre aims at doubling the production. Focus will be given on high yielding varieties which will be propagated amongst farmers. At present, the RARS has agricultural activity only in 22 acres while, it has 49 acres more in its possession. Under the new initiative, the whole area would come under cultivation for R&D work.