Government of Odisha and IRRI collaborate to speed up varietal promotion and replacement

Rapid varietal replacement is critical to delivering climate adaptation and securing food and nutrition. The joint collaborations of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment of the Government of Odisha, aim to speed up the variety replacement rate in Odisha by adopting new varieties with different useful traits.

In Bolangir, Odisha, the IRRI Seed System team worked with local partners and stakeholders to establish three rice varietal cafeterias in strategic locations. These varietal cafeterias included 30 promising varieties with various useful traits such as aromatic, climate-resilient, and high-yielding in one large plot replicated along with their local check varieties also known as crop cafeteria.

IRRI also organized a varietal exhibition and participatory evaluation event to increase awareness among farmers, local agricultural extension workers and different key players in the seed system value chain through a varietal exhibition and participatory evaluation in Aglapali, Jharmunda under the minor irrigation and government seed farm in Ladkipali. 

Sanjay Pani, Chief District Agriculture Officer and Dr R.K. Sahoo, former Principal Scientist and seed system expert from the National Rice Research Institute (NRRI) Cuttack, led the varietal selection process for suitable variety in Bolangir. Other key stakeholders, Mr. Umashankar Mishra, Block Agriculture Officer Loisingha, Mr. Prashanta Mohanty, Agriculture District Officer Bolangir, Mr. Sudhakar Nanda DPD ATMA, Dr. Satyamaya Satpathy, Senior scientist KVK, Bolangir, SHGs, progressive farmers, dealers, civil society workers participated in the evaluation process.

During the evaluation, Dillip Kumar Rout of IRRI presented the different characteristics of the varieties and gave emphasis on how the crop cafeteria could help increase awareness among the seed value chain actors. Dr. Swati Nayak, Lead for South Asia Lead Seed System and Product Management reassured the participants that this critical feedback during the selection process will be conveyed to the state-level seed chain actors, policymakers and breeders taking into consideration the farmers’ reference. “To speed up varietal promotion and replacement, efforts will be strengthened across the region to create, and provide support for more participatory platforms such as varietal cafeterias and participatory varietal selection events in the entire region.” said Dr. Nayak.

Hon’ble District Collector, Shri Chanchal Rana, shared the value of evaluating the best varieties among farmers and other stakeholders and encouraged them to try bio-fortified, zinc and protein-rich varieties for consumption to mitigate malnutrition-related risks in the district of Bolangir. “Create new business opportunities, try high quality and yielding varieties such as bio-fortified rice which can be a cost-effective and food-based means of delivering target micronutrients to people who cannot afford diverse diets." said Rana.