Varanasi, 12 January 2020 - Hon’ble Shri Sunil Baburao Mendhe, Member of Parliament from Bhandara-Gondiya constituency in Maharashtra, led a delegation of state agriculture experts and rice farmers on a three-day visit to the IRRI South Asia Regional Centre (IRRI SARC) in Varanasi.
As a state-of-the-art research and development hub for Asia and Africa, IRRI SARC shares best practices and innovations in rice and rice-based agriculture to encourage similar practices and take advantage of IRRI SARC’s modern technologies.
In India, inter-state visits are of increasing significance for experiential learning and leveraging the expertise of R&D facilities catering to farmers in the country. The Indian government’s ambition of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 has made facilities like IRRI SARC crucial in achieving better farm outputs and more efficient use of resources.
Shri Mendhe’s delegation in particular will bring best practices and key innovations to Bhandara-Gondiya region in Maharashtra. Bhandara is a mixed economy composed of agriculture, industries, and forest resources as key contributors, but the district is also known for its large production of rice. Gondiya, meanwhile, is called ‘Rice City’ due to the district’s abundance of rice mills.
To provide the delegation with a better idea of how they can adapt and localize key innovations, IRRI SARC’s team of senior scientists shared ongoing R&D work through technical presentations and gave a detailed tour of the laboratories and demonstration crop fields. Key topics of discussion included R&D work being carried out for developing climate-resilient varieties of rice; training and educating key stakeholders; geospatial techniques for crop monitoring and management; efficient management practices for scarce resources; climate-resilient soil and water management in rice-based agri-food systems; and superior grain quality solutions.
Motivated by his observations during the visit, Shri Mendhe said that there is immense scope for farmers in Bhandara and Gondiya. He congratulated the IRRI SARC team on their exemplary work and said that he will encourage agro-based units and help rice cultivators get the desired market for their produce. Dr. Arvind Kumar, Director, IRRI SARC, also met Shri Mendhe’s delegation and shared the centre’s key functions as well as his experience and mission.
“The International Rice Research Institute has been working to tackle the adverse impact of climate change on soil, water, and other scarce natural resources which is affecting farm productivity and resilience of rice and rice-based agri-food systems. IRRI SARC scientists are developing rice with low glycaemic index and micronutrients like zinc and iron, with better grain quality and cooking quality, and resilient to climate change. This can maximise benefits for both farmers and consumers,” Dr. Kumar said.
After the Government of India instituted the Inter-Ministerial Committee to examine issues relating to Doubling Farmers’ Incomes (DFI) and reach this target by 2022, IRRI SARC is poised to help India achieve this goal, based on the following sources identified by the Committee: improvement in crop productivity; improvement in livestock productivity; resource use efficiency or savings in the cost of production; increase in the cropping intensity; diversification towards high-value crops; improvement in real prices received by farmers; and shift from farm to non-farm occupations.