GUWAHATI, March 17 � A delegation of the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) which visited the State�s flood-prone cropland has agreed to provide technological support to the State�s farmers in popularising water-resistant varieties of paddy.
The Director General of IRRI, Rebert Zeigler who along with IRRI scientists had a discussion with Agriculture Minister Nilamani Sen Deka and other senior officials on recently observed that Assam could easily become a rice-surplus State by reducing flood-induced crop damage and also contribute significantly to the nation�s food security.
Zeigler emphasized on having agro-climatic zone-wise local trials for ensuring and introducing variety adaptability.
Sources in the Agriculture Department told The Assam Tribune that the IRRI DG stressed the need for �phase-wise strategic improvement of capacity building� so that the stakeholders � especially the farming community � could have their own decision-making power.
The IRRI-developed Swarna SUB-1 variety of paddy has already been cultivated in the State after two tonnes of seeds were procured by the State.
Submergence-tolerant paddy varieties assume importance in the State in view of the recurring damages caused to crops by floods. Of the State�s net crop area of 28.11 lakh hectares, 4.93 lakh hectares happen to be chronically flood-prone.
The State�s rice production, spread over an area of 24.88 lakh hectares during 2012-13 stood at 52.33 MT, while productivity for the corresponding period was 2,130 kg per hectare.
The meeting with the IRRI was attended among others by Agriculture Director Kabindra Barkakati, Principal Secretary, Agriculture, VK Pipersenia, and Agriculture Commissioner Hemanta Narzary besides scientists from Assam Agricultural University, Indian Council for Agricultural Research and Central Rice Research Institute.