Glowing test results raise output hopesThe regional seed testing laboratory in Kanchanpur has grown dozens of new improved varieties of paddy seeds that are tolerant to extreme climatic changes stress like drought, flooding or submergence.
The regional seed testing laboratory in Kanchanpur has grown dozens of new improved varieties of paddy seeds that are tolerant to extreme climatic changes stress like drought, flooding or submergence.
These varieties have been tested in coordinated varietal trails in drought-like and submergence-like condition as part of the process before releasing them to the farmers.
The laboratory has grown climate-smart paddy seeds like Sukhha Dhan 1, 2, 3, 4 5, and 6 and Sawa Mansuli Sub-1 and Swarna Sub-1 for rain-fed lowland. These varieties developed by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have already been approved by the National Seed Board.
Among them Sukhha Dhan 1, 2 and 3 were released in 2011, while Sukhha Dhan 4, 5 and 6 were released in 2014. The seeds are resistant to blast and bacterial leaf blight. They are also tolerant to termite and stem borer.
Sukhha 6 has an average yield of 4-4.5 tonnes per hectare, and under a good irrigation condition, the output can go up to 5.5 tonnes per hectare on an average. The plant grows up to 125cm tall and has a maturity period of 120-125 days. It has the ability to re-grow even two weeks after submergence.
The Sukhha varieties are the results of efforts of the IRRI and the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (Narc). The project was undertaken under the support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Likewise, the laboratory in Kanchanpur has also been growing flood-tolerant Serang Sub 1 and drought-tolerant DRR 44 paddy seeds, which are in the process of being approved by the seed board.
“The improved variety of seeds that has already been released is expected to attract farmers,” said Ravi Bhandari, agriculture research officer at the IRRI-Nepal. “Drought and flood tolerant varieties are high yielding crop and could change the livelihood rain-fed lowland farmers.”
The Serang can re-grow even four months after submergence. Serang has a maturity period of 125 days and can yield 4-5 tonnes of grains per hectare, said Bhandari.
“This high-yield and flood-resistant variety has become popular among farmers of Kanchanpur, Kailali, Bardia and Banke,” he said, adding that the seed variety was approved in India last year.
The DRR 44 can tolerate drought for a week, said Bhaba Prasad Tripathi, senior associate scientist at the IRRI-Nepal. “It’s also good in taste.” It can ripe within 125 days and yield 4-5 tonnes grains per hectare. Agro technicians said that this variety are appropriate for places without irrigation facility and slope land.
Bimal Thapa, senior plant development officer at the seed testing laboratory, said they were also testing a dozen improved seed varieties, including Ram Dhan, Radha 4, Sarju 52 and DRR 42.
Nepal’s paddy output fell sharply by 10.22 percent to 4.29 million tonnes in the last fiscal year, largely due to poor monsoon rainfall. According to the Ministry of Agricultural Development, 62,438 out of the 1.42 million hectares paddy fields were left uncultivated due to poor monsoon and drought last fiscal year.
As paddy is sensitive to drought due to its high water requirement, government officials said the
new varieties would bring a big relief for farmers given the country’s unpredictable weather patterns.