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Reducing farmers’ risk through the flood-tolerant BINA Dhan-11: a reflection on rice varietal introduction and farmer-led validation in Uttar Pradesh

Written by: Kuntal Das*, Swati Nayak**, Sarvesh Shukla***

Mohanpur, a small village in the Muratganj Block of Kaushambi District in Uttar Pradesh, is situated near the branch of the Ganga River and 30 kilometers away from the district headquarter in Manjhanpur. In this village, most of the farmers are smallholders and their main source of livelihood is rice cultivation in kharif (wet) season. In the wet season, the village is mostly affected by flood every year. The flooding of the rice fields, cause the farmers significant uncertainties in rice production. Rice, being their major source of livelihood as well as household food security, puts them at immense risk of crop, food, and income loss due to flood. 
Birendra Kumar, a farmer in Mohanpur, depends exclusively on his 2-hectare land. He worries about the unpredictability of the quantity and quality of rice production in kharif and flood damage  every year. 

Being a progressive farmer, Birendra has a strong interest in cultivating new improved varieties of paddy and vegetable crops. He saw a ray of hope when he heard about the flood-tolerant, early duration, high-yielding rice variety BINA Dhan-11 through International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Birendra was enthusiastic about assessing BINA Dhan-11 in his field anticipating that the variety could be the solution to his existing challenges.

Through Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) Kaushambi, Birendra acquired  10 kg of  BINA Dhan-11 seeds under the Accelerated Genetic Gain in Rice (AGGRi) Alliance in kharif 2021. AGGRi is  coordinated by the IRRI-South Asia Regional Centre (SARC) in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. He cultivated this variety on 0.2 ha of his land. In adjacent field the local variety Sarbati was transplanted by Hanuman Deen, neighboring farmer. Sarbati is a fine grain rice variety  that has been cultivated in the area for a long time but suffers from yield loss every year due to flood.

During the second week of August, heavy rains and the overflowing river caused  flooding significantly affecting almost the entire village. After 14 days of transplanting, the BINA Dhan-11 crop was completely submerged for 12 days while in its early vegetative stage.  After the flood water receded, Birendra applied fertilizer in his field with basic crop management practices.

BINA Dhan-11 regenerated and exhibited minimum damage after the  flood but  the Sarbati in the adjacent field were severely affected and damaged that nearly no plant  was left standing.

Image 1: Fields with BINA Dhan 11 vs. Sarbati after 21 days of flood occurance, dated on 6th Sept 2021

On 6 September 2021, Dr. Ajay Kumar, head of KVK Kaushambi, and seed system scientists from IRRI-SARC visited the rice field at Kaushambi District to monitor the post-flood situation.

In Birendra’s field, the condition of BINA Dhan-11 was very good with profuse tillers and  healthy uniform plant stand. As an experienced rice grower, Birendra expects a good yield. The neighboring farmer’s plot planted with Sarbati experienced extensive damage due to flood-related water stress.

The BINA Dhan-11, which was introduced for the first time in the village, showed significantly better performance than rest of the surrounding fields even after two weeks of submergence. Farmers in Mohanpur were surprised to see the excellent performance of BINA Dhan-11 even under high-stress conditions during the delicate early vegetative stage. The flood-tolerance capacity of BINA Dhan-11 has already enthralled and inspired other farmers to cultivate it in the coming seasons.

At present, Birendra and his plot with BINA Dhan-11 is the center of attraction in the village. It is setting an example of how a new technology,  in this case an  improved crop variety, reaches the hands of a grower and becomes a pathway to its future adoption. The neighbouring farmers are already requesting Birendra to spare some of his farm saved BINA Dhan-11 seeds for the next season for cultivation in their respective fields.

As a part of an integrated approach on varietal delivery, IRRI training Birendra in quality seed production and practices so that after harvest  the he can use and share high quality seeds in his rice farming community. This will eventually leverage and strengthen informal seed system model.

This is a great example of how an innovative and inquisitive farmer can lead to impact through demonstration, awareness generation, and strong farmer-to-farmer social network.

Before 2021, Birendra cultivated locally popular varieties like NDR 359, Sarbati, Sarju 52, and others but was mostly losing his produce every year to flood. Finally, this year, he experienced a huge difference as the high rate of post-flood plant survival of BINA Dhan-11 is set to be translated into higher rice production.

“Next year, I will grow BINA Dhan-11 in all my land,” a very happy  Birendra told  the visiting IRRI-SARC Team. “BINA Dhan-11 saved my crop from severe flood and thus I will get the required income for my family. For  many years, we never get high production from paddy cultivation due to severe flood, so my father and brother decided to leave the land  fallow in the rainy season. But the performance of BINA Dhan-11 has now changed their minds as well”.

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BINA Dhan-11 is an early maturing, high-yielding, variety with short slender grain. It is submergence tolerant due to presence of the Sub1 gene. BINA Dhan-11 was developed and released through the Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) in 2013 under BINA Director General Mirza Mofazzal Islam.

BINA Dhan-11 was later released in India through a regional seed policy agreement that speeds up the distribution of modern rice varieties across nations in South and Southeast Asia. The policy, known as Seeds without Borders: Regional cooperation for seed-sharing, was facilitated by IRRI and formalized during a meeting of agriculture ministers and representatives of nine countries in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The collaboration between IRRI and its national research and extension systems partners  has successfully introduced, tested, and scaled this climate-resilient product benefitting thousands of smallholder farmers in Eastern India and Bangladesh.

About the authors

Dr. Das is a senior specialist and Mr. Shukla is a research officer, respectively, in Seed System and Product Management at IRRI-SARC. Dr.. Nayak is a scientist and lead of the South Asia Team in Seed System and Product Management at IRRI.