Marking the World Food Day, Dr. Arabinda Kumar Padhee, Principal Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of the Government of Odisha, visited IRRI’s program sites in Puri, Odisha, reaffirming support towards food sustainability. The State Policymaker and Administrator was accompanied by several key agriculture officials including the Chief District Agriculture Officer (CDAO) of Puri.
During the visit, a varietal cafeteria also known as nutritional cafe was presented to the delegation. The crop cafeteria has 12 newly released rice varieties that are rich in protein and micronutrients such as zinc. IRRI, with the support of the Government of Odisha and its associated agencies, has been developing and evaluating several high yielding varieties (HYV), stress tolerant rice varieties (STRV), and biofortified varieties under the Institution’s umbrella strategy called One Rice Breeding. This strategy includes comprehensive seed system initiatives and breeding research programmes to evaluate and position new varieties in farmers’ fields.
Dr. Padhee also observed a unique comparative trial of direct seeded rice (DSR) and puddled transplanted rice (PTR) as facilitated by the IRRI Agronomy and Seed System team. For the past few years, IRRI has been actively scaling up the promotion of DSR in the state. “Such comparative experiments of technologies and processes will help farmers to choose what is best for them”, Dr. Padhee shared. He further expressed his appreciation of the benefits of early maturity under DSR and good crop stands of different varieties that participated in the experiment such as the Binadhan 11, Binadhan 17, MTU 1156, BRRI dhan 75 as well as other popular Bayer hybrids such as the Arize 6411 and Arize Tej Gold. The research and delivery efforts around DSR as a comprehensive technology in the state is further strengthened through IRRI, in collaboration with Bayer, convergence of the new United States Agency for International Development (USAID) initiative dedicated towards smallholder farmers and continued efforts of the Direct Seeded Rice Consortium (DSRC).
The team also observed varieties that were a part of the research collaboration between IRRI and Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT). Specifically, the hybrid variety Arize 6444 was discussed to have the potential to replace older varieties. Towards the end of the visit, the delegation surveyed a large-scale cluster demonstration of different agronomic practices where sprawling patches of DSR varieties that exhibit early maturity and excellent crop growth are planted. “I want our farmers to see these benefits for themselves and we need to arrange a learning visit for our farmers at IRRI demonstration locations.”, Dr. Padhee stated.
Moving forward, IRRI plans to adapt the suggestions of the Secretary to coordinate with the district machinery to organize more visits for farmers. IRRI will also implement rapid scaling of best-fit technologies as part of the long-time ongoing support to the Government of Odisha to improve the productivity of rice-based cropping systems in the state. The ongoing research activities of IRRI aims to contribute to the state’s larger developmental agenda of food and nutrition security and farmers' welfare.