A state-level workshop on ‘Conservation of Rice Diversity’ and ‘Marketing of Organic Rice for Livelihood Improvement of Small holder Farmers’ was organized by NIRMAN, a grassroots organization working towards sustainable agriculture and conservation of agro-biodiversity at IMAGE, Bhubaneswar.
Dr. R.S. Gopalan, IAS, Director, Agriculture and Food Production, Dr. J. K. Roy, Retd. Joint Director, CRRI & renowned rice scientist, Natabar Sarangi, rice conservationist and organic farmer jointly inaugurated the workshop.
Prasant Mohanty, Executive Director of NIRMAN delved upon the history and highlighted that rice diversity existed in Odisha, which happens to be one of the birth places of rice. India is a global center of origin and diversity of rice. Over 60,000 distinct rice seed varieties have been collected by Indian agricultural research centres. Many more grew in farmers’ fields, adapted to diverse conditions.
About 19,000 rice varieties were collected by Dr Richharia from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, of which 1600 varieties were found to be high-yielding. He also raised concern for the promotion of hybrid rice variety when traditional variety has the high yielding potentials.
Mr. Sadangi shared his experience of cultivation of rice in organic way and conservation of rice diversity by his farm field. He emphasized that organic farming and cultivation of indigenous rice is the only solution to save farmer, consumer, water and environment.
Syed Ghani Khan from Karnataka shared his experience of conservation of 250 varieties of rice in his own farm and was awarded a farmer breeder for developing new variety. Dr. Jafrana Keshari Roy, renowned Rice Scientist said it the wisdom of our farmers due to which traditional rice diversity exists even today. He emphasized the contribution of farmers in conservation of rice diversity.
Genetic diversity is the basic raw-material for crop Improvement. Odisha is bestowed with many natural resources including genetic diversity of rice (Secondary centre of origin of rice). The state’s traditional varieties have many unique characters like tolerance to flood, water logging, salinity, drought, pest & disease tolerance, scented rices, fast-flood preparations and contain high grain number.
As of date, Odisha has total 6700 varieties of rice. Dr Roy also cited the effects of Green Revolution which has caused irreversible damage of bi-diversity degradation. He emphasized that govt. should extend support to farmers for adoption of in situ conservation of traditional variety of rice.
Mr. Debalu from Sanjeevani, Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh participated and shared his experience in the workshop. Mr. R. S. Gopalan, Director, Dept. of Agriculture and Food Production shared the state’s experience on conservation of traditional rice variety in Odisha. He has made efforts to getting registration of traditional variety of Rice by Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers’ Right Authority (PPV & FRA), New Delhi. He said they have indigenous varieties with a high yielding potential. “Our scientists should research on Desi varieties and should have open mind,” he said.
Mr. Krishna Prasad, Director of Sahaj Samruddh, an organization in Bangalore promoting organic farming and conservation of local variety participated in the workshop and shared how they have successfully created models for marketing of organic rice variety and he wished that it should be replicated in Odisha for the benefit of farmers conserving local variety.
He also said that we can boost conservation through linking farmers with market for better prices of their produce. The workshop came up with a follow up plan of organising an Organic Mela in Bhubaneswar to provide platform for organic farmers to sale their produce in next 2 to 3 months.
Organic farmers, NGO representative, Govt. Officials and academicians actively participated in the workshop. There was a rice seed exhibition outside of the IMAGE Conference hall. NGOs like NIRMAN, Sahaj Samrudh, Bangalore, Sanjeevani, Andhra Paradesh, Agriculture dept. of Govt. of Orissa, Amhinsa Club participated in the workshop.