Agri Business

‘Hybrid rice cultivation still negligible in India’

LN Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on January 29, 2020 Published on January 29, 2020

The area under hybrid rice cultivation has not made big headway due to lack of supportive infrastructure, huge disparity in commodity prices (offered by millers and commission agents), inadequate government procurement infrastructure and the lack of investment in R&D to improve taste and cooking quality, according to a Bayer official.

Just around 3 million hectares out of the 43 million hectares under rice cultivation is said to be hybrids.

Consumer requirements

“The area under hybrid rice, however, has grown at a CAGR of 10 per cent over the last three years,” said Ajeet Chahal, Commercial Lead (Central), Bayer CropScience Ltd. “In the early years of introduction, the focus was on yield enhancement. Eventually, it has shifted towards parameters such as grain quality to cater to a larger section of consumers.”

“Though rice is widely consumed in southern India, consumers have specific grain quality requirements. They prefer short slender fine rice, but the current hybrid offerings do not meet these requirements. We are planning new launches on these lines,” Chahal told BusinessLine.

The company introduced hybrid rice under the ‘Arize’ brand in 1995. Currently, it markets 14 rice hybrids in India with 2.6 million farmers across 17 States taking to the cultivation of Arize.

Santhi Devi, a farmer at Bhondra in Jharkand multicrops Arize with vegetables. She says she has been able to steadily grow her income, negating the need to rely on loans.

“Short duration hybrids enable multi-cropping, mostly with vegetables. This not only helps improve soil quality but requires less water, apart from providing 25 to 30 per cent higher yield,” Chahal explained.

To a query on seed availability, he said 25,000 seed producer-farmers are part of Arize supply chain.

Official commendation

Of the 14 hybrids grown in India, seven have received official commendation for consistent high performance. “In Kharif 2019, we undertook massive capacity building activities across Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, covering one lakh rice farmers in 1,765 villages,” Chahal said.

Hybrid rice has been earmarked as a key technology under the government’s BGREI (Bringing Green Revolution in Eastern India) programme. Bayer is working on several private-public partnerships and collaborative models to spread the reach, he said.

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Published on January 29, 2020
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