Nepal Krishi, Bayer BioScience to pilot hybrid paddy seeds projectThe use of hybrid seeds by farmers to grow paddy is insignificant compared to 90 percent for vegetable cultivation
Nepal Krishi Company and Bayer BioScience of India signed a memorandum of understanding to begin a pilot project to use two hybrid paddy seeds this summer which have the potential to double productivity.
The use of hybrid seeds by farmers to grow paddy is insignificant compared to 90 percent for vegetable cultivation. Morang-based Nepal Krishi Company, which is working with farmers’ groups for commercial production of cereal crops, will be using Arize 6444 Gold and Arize Idea hybrids as per the agreement.
Birendra Bahadur Basnet, managing director of Buddha Air who is also a board member of Nepal Krishi Company, said he was amazed by the productivity when Arize 6444 Gold was tested in the field last year.
“We will see the result—the actual cost of production and productivity—of the hybrid varieties after four months,” he said. The paddy planting season in Nepal normally begins in June. “It’s not only using hybrid seeds but also bringing advanced paddy cultivation technology to Nepal.”
Nepal Krishi Company will be piloting these hybrid varieties on 70 bighas of land by distributing 100 kg of seeds to farmers. There will be a demonstration plot of 20 bighas—known as centre for excellence—where paddy will be cultivated with the latest technology and tools, the company said.
According to Surendra Prajapati, business unit head of Bayer BioScience, these hybrid seeds are free from ‘bacterial leaf blight’ disease that causes yield losses in the range of 20-60 percent annually.
The disease can afflict rice plants in any of the growing stages and cause visible wilting of the seedlings and yellowing and drying of the leaves. Nearly 33 rice seedlings of these varieties should be transplanted in a one square metre area. They are stress tolerant as well, he said.
Prajapati said that Arize 6444 Gold is India’s highest selling hybrid rice seed and 20,000 tonnes of this variety are sowed across Asia. The ideal harvest time is between 135 and 140 days after planting. “In Uttar Pradesh, the maximum productivity of this variety was recorded at 13.7 tonnes per hectare,” he said. A multi-location testing of these two varieties was conducted before being registered by the Nepal Agricultural Research Council. According to Prajapati, the productivity of Arize 6444 Gold was recorded at 8 tonnes per hectare in Kapilvastu. Arize Idea is a short slender grain or fine rice having ‘excellent’ cooking quality, the company said. The ideal harvest time is between 125 and 130 days after planting, and it yields 20-25 percent more grain that other varieties.
Krishna Dev Joshi, senior scientist and Nepal representative of the International Rice Research Institute, said that Nepal would benefit greatly if hybrid paddy seeds are produced in Nepal. “There are only a few hybrid seeds of paddy registered in Nepal, as a result, farmers are bringing them through the porous border with India,” he said.
“As productivity is double, more and more farmers are being attracted towards hybrid varieties,” he said, adding that the government should promote the production of hybrids in Nepal to increase production in
order to feed the growing population.
Hybrids have a higher yielding ability of 15-25 percent compared to open pollinated varieties, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development said. For this reason, there is an increasing trend of using hybrids among farmers. The first hybrid variety officially released in Nepal was maize (Gaurav) in 2004. However, it was not successful due to the non-synchronisation nature of inbred lines.
A hybrid variety of tomato (Srijana) was registered in 2010. Recently, hybrid maize and paddy seeds are also increasingly becoming popular among farmers in the Tarai and lower hills. Many of them are imported, the ministry said.
The government’s National Seed Vision 2013-25 has envisaged developing and promoting 40 hybrids—20 vegetable hybrid seeds, 12 maize hybrids and eight paddy hybrids—by 2025 to meet the growing domestic demand and also as an import substitution measure. The private sector too is expected to develop and promote 20 hybrids—10 vegetable, five maize and five paddy hybrids.