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Advancing state goals with better rice varieties: Bihar Principal Secretary of Agriculture visits IRRI SARC

ISARC Director Dr. Arvind Kumar tours Government of Bihar’s Principal Secretary of the Department Agriculture Shri Saravana Kumar in IRRI SARC’s facilities.

14 Dec 2019 : Government of Bihar’s Principal Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Shri N. Saravana Kumar visited the IRRI South Asia Regional Centre (IRRI SARC) to better understand the research and development prowess of the state-of-the-art R&D facility and to observe the ongoing field experiments aimed to produce better rice varieties and improve rice-based agri-food systems.

The Principal Secretary visited the Centre of Excellence for Rice Value Addition (CERVA) laboratories including its world-class milling quality, nutritional quality, food safety and quality sensory laboratories. These facilities are central to IRRI SARC’s work on developing climate-resilient rice varieties and related crop management practices for improved food and nutrition security and better incomes for farmers. IRRI SARC’s Broader Program For Research and Partnership (BPRP) and IRRI Research and Education program for training and capacity building of key stakeholders were also discussed during the visit.

IRRI SARC Director Dr. Arvind Kumar led an IRRI SARC tour for Shri Saravana Kumar where the team observed ongoing laboratory experiments with traditional and modern rice varieties juxtaposed for yield outcomes, use of mechanization, and better farming practices.

After Shri Saravana Kumar’s tour at IRRI SARC laboratories and fields, he said, “I’m very impressed with the work being carried out here at the IRRI SARC. These are learnings that I am carrying back to Bihar for further ideation. Rice is the main staple in Bihar and so also India. Going forward, we hope to build robust R&D and training collaboration, working closely with IRRI and IRRI SARC. If we can modernize cultivation of rice and rice-based agri food systems, I see a bright future for our farmer brothers and sisters.”

Shri Saravana Kumar, PS Agriculture (State Govt of Bihar, India), at the Sensory laboratory in IRRI SARC, Varanasi

Agriculture is the backbone of Bihar's economy with 77% of its workforce engaged in agriculture and related activities. In 2011-2012, the sector generated nearly 25% of the State Domestic Product. Challenges such as shrinking area under cultivation, frequent adverse climatic conditions like droughts and floods, lacking mechanization, and outdated farming practices are holding back the true potential of Bihar’s agricultural sector. Opportunities are tremendous, however, for enhancing access to quality seed of improved varieties using modern agricultural practices, better post-harvest management technologies, and optimization of use and conservation of scarce resources like water and soil.

ISARC supports research collaboration on rice and rice-based agri-food systems, capacity building and training, and niche scientific services for institutions, scientists, and stakeholders working on enhancing agricultural productivity and profitability.

“Collaboration of multisectoral partners is key,” said IRRI SARC Director Dr. Arvind Kumar. “Successes in R&D facilities need higher rates of adoption in farmer fields, and this needs adequate attention and encouragement by the government machinery that supports agriculture in each state of India. We are therefore excited by the visit of Principal Secretary (Agriculture) Shri Saravana Kumar. There is a mutual need to expand understanding of the challenges that science and policy must overcome together, so that benefits can reach farmers and consumers both,” he said.

IRRI SARC aligns with India’s ambition on increasing farmers’ income and enhancing their welfare, while ensuring sustainable development. IRRI SARC was inaugurated by Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on December 29, 2018. Its research program draws from the Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (Government of India), and IRRI.