IRRI is jointly researching 30 projects on rice with the state of Odisha out of the total 200 ongoing projects with India. Odisha’s Department of Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment (DAFE) recently approved the implementation of new 5- year effort that looks to improve the productivity of the state’s rice-based cropping systems and the incomes of its farmers. “This is an exciting development in the cooperative efforts between India and IRRI,” said Corinta Guerta, director for IRRI’s external relations. “India has been a very important long-time partner of IRRI since 1967.” IRRI scientists toured the institute’s various facilities on 27-28th of last month, to observe ongoing research activities and technologies.
Of the various projects discussed during the meeting, Stress-Tolerant for Africa and South Asia (STRASA), which focuses on accelerating the dissemination of improved rice varieties in the region, was the main focus. IRRI gave the overview of all the projects that would interest India and particularly Odisha and also updated DAFE on IRRI’s collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in developing new rice varieties for the region using the latest breeding technologies. “STRASA uses innovative approaches and regional cooperation for promoting stress-tolerant rice varieties not only in India but throughout South Asia,” said Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail, project leader of STRASA. “We have shortened the time for these varieties to reach farmers by almost half, a process that previously took 10-15 years.”
Dr. Kshirod Jena, IRRI principal scientist, presented results of the collaborative breeding activities between ICAR and the institute. He pointed out that they are upgrading popular Indian rice varieties by incorporating rice genes responsible for high yield and stronger resistances and tolerances to pests and diseases. “Early reports have shown dramatic increases in the yields of varieties MUTU 1010, Samba Mahsuri, and Swarna into which new genes have been incorporated,” said Jena. “They also show better resistance to pests and diseases affecting rice production in Odisha.”