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ISARC annual rice varietal cafeteria features 36 promising new varieties for Uttar Pradesh farmers

VARANASI, INDIA, November 23 - The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) hosted the Annual Rice Varietal Cafeteria Evaluation to provide farmers and other stakeholders a platform to observe, assess, and select the best varieties that fit their needs.

The crop cafeteria featured 36 new stress-tolerant varieties for the different rice-growing environments in Uttar Pradesh. It is organized under the guidance of ISARC Director, Sudhanshu Singh and IRRI Seed System and Product Management South Asia Lead and 2023 Norman Borlaug Field Scientist Award recipient, Swati Nayak.

The rice varietal cafeteria showcased the flood-tolerant Swarna-Sub1, Samba Mahsuri-Sub1, and BINA 11; drought-tolerant BINA dhan-17, CG Barani-2, Tripura hakachuk 2, and BRRI 75; varieties tolerant to multiple stresses such DRR dhan-50 and CR dhan-801. The high-yielding Sabour Sampanna, Sabour Heera, MTU 1156, and NLR 4001, and popular local varieties such as Sarju 52 and Chintu were also displayed. To address hidden hunger, the event introduced biofortified high-zinc varieties, namely DRR 48, BRRI 84, and BRRI 100.

The event also included discussions on seed entrepreneurship, early-generation seed production, and community seed production with farmer-producer organizations and companies.

“Such events are sure to play a crucial role in advancing sustainable agriculture for farmers in Uttar Pradesh,” Dr. Nayak said. “The varietal cafeteria model serves as a platform for participatory selection that incorporates inputs from stakeholders in the rice production chain. This event at ISARC is part of broader efforts across South Asia to raise awareness among value chain actors, ensuring the integration of new rice varieties into the production chain.”

In recent years, the Seed System Unit of ISARC has acted as the focal point for disseminating multiple rice varieties across various districts in Uttar Pradesh through extensive on-farm trials, cluster demonstrations, minikit distributions, and community-based seed production system.

Varieties such as MTU1156, Swarna Sammriddhi, CG Devbhog, Telangana Sona, and many others are being made available to farmers through the unit’s varietal dissemination models comprising of early-generation seed production, quality seed production training, and collaborations with public and private stakeholders.

“Collaborative approaches between farmer clusters, IRRI, and our organization are required for establishing seed entrepreneurship,” said Dr. Jitendra Tomar, managing director of Uttar Pradesh Beej Vikas Nigam. “This will not only ensure better income but will ensure quick dissemination of improved varieties of rice across the state.”

IRRI has organized similar varietal cafeteria events in Telangana, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha, and Jharkhand in India and Bangladesh and Nepal. These activities help farmers identify improved rice varieties suitable for different agro-climatic conditions. The activities also promote knowledge and awareness of modern agricultural practices and the importance of quality seeds among farmers, strengthen collaboration among stakeholders for improved coordination in the seed value chain, and create scope for scaling of varieties.