Jorhat, March 4: The Assam Agricultural University will propose to the state government to set up a committee comprising rice seed producers, exporters and experts to formulate a quality standard for indigenous varieties of rice. The government has no set standard in this regard.
Sharmila Dutta Deka, principal investigator of Preserving Future Genetic Resources through Capacity Building of Women Farmers and Utilisation for Livelihood Improvement — a project sponsored by the department of biotechnology under the Union ministry of science and technology — said formulating the parameters which would define what comprised quality seeds of indigenous seed varieties would have to be the first step before commercial production of the seeds could start.
The proposal was mooted at a workshop on commercial prospects of indigenous speciality rice of Assam today at the university’s Dhansiri hostel. It was attended by 60 women farmers from Pirakotta in Golaghat district and Kamar Gaon in Jorhat.
The next step which the university proposed is registration of all local seed varieties by the farmers so that a database could be built up.
Under the project, two small-seed entrepreneur groups — Brahma and Anna — had also been set up to cater to demands of quality traditional seed varieties by farmers.
“In Bangladesh and some Southeast Asian countries, such small seed entrepreneur groups are doing very well in fulfilling the demand of farmers. Two groups have been set up here as well, but these groups can work and fulfil the demands only when a standard is put into place,” Dutta Deka said.
Bidyut Baruahregional in-charge, Agricultural Product Development Agency, Guwahati, said there was immense potential export of indigenous joha and bora rice varieties and there products like kumol saul, an indigenous variety of soft rice, but this demand is not being fulfilled by the farmers here because of low production.
Pointing out where these markets exist, Baruah said unless the farmers got quality seeds of indigenous rice varieties, they could not go in for largescale production as the export parameters had to be fulfilled.
“It is, therefore, important to first formulate standard of seed of indigenous rice variety before production,” he said.
Senior district agriculture officer, state agriculture department, Golaghat, Ranjit Sharma, stressed on farmers adopting strategies to plant indigenous rice like flood and drought-resistant varieties for these areas.
Chief scientist, Regional Agriculture Rice Station, Titabar, T. Ahmed, while speaking on the status of traditional rice varieties, said hybridisation of rice had resulted in farmers preferring these high-yielding varieties to the indigenous ones but there were innumerable indigenous seed varieties stored at the station in Titabar.