Trilochan Mohapatra, Director-General of ICAR, has asked the rice scientists to work on varieties with multiple resistances to a range of pests and diseases.

Addressing the inaugural function of the 57th Annual Rice Research Group meeting virtually on Monday, he said that it was time the country focussed on precision farming.

‘Excellent performance’

Mohpatra, who is also the Secretary of Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), said that agriculture in general and rice sector in particular had performed exceedingly well despite the Covid-19 pandemic in the last two years.

He felt that there was a need to evaluate technologies to reduce the cost of cultivation and ensure environmental sustainability. “Potential microbial cultures can be validated through multi-location trials to reduce the fertiliser use and, in turn, cost of cultivation in rice. Rice scientists should know how to think and go beyond the current research aspects,” he pointed out.

R Meenakshi Sundaram, Director of Indian Institute of Rice Research Institute (IIRR), said that as many as 27 high-yielding varieties and three hybrids were released through central varietal release committee last year.

T R Sharma, Deputy Director-General (Crop Sciences) of ICAR, has recalled how the mapping of rice genome helped in developing high-yielding varieties and hybrids in rice sector. “Genes are incorporated to enhance yield and manage biotic and abiotic stresses,” he said.

He also emphasised the need for national and international partnership to address the problems faced by the farmers due to climate change and other natural calamities.

About 400 delegates from India and abroad are taking part in the three-day event.

Besides evaluating the work done last year, the meeting would lay a roadmap for the 2022-23 rice seasons.