Success stories

Drought-tolerant rice varieties are new frontiers to produce good yield with less water in Nepal

posted Oct 14, 2014, 1:02 AM by   [ updated Oct 19, 2014, 10:35 PM ]

Ram Baran Yadaw
Senior Scientist (Rice Breeder)
National Rice Research program, Hardinath

Rice is the main staple food in Nepal. Rainfed lowland rice is grown in nearly 49% of the total rice growing areas in the country. It is directly grown in bounded soil of Tars and the terrace lands of river basin areas within an altitude of 300-750 masl. Most rainfed lowland farmers are resource-poor and socially marginalized.

Rainfed rice depends on rainfall for its irrigation. Unfortunately, the area experiences irregular downpour. Rice is subjected to drought, which causes the decline in yield.  The productivity of rainfed rice is less than 2.5 ton /ha which makes it very difficult to meet the consumers' demands.  To address these challenges, IRRI/NARC-STRASA project, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), has been developing drought- and submergence-tolerant varieties for household food security and environmental security.  

In 2009, Participatory Variety Selection (PVS) for the suitable genotypes in drought- and submergence-tolerant varieties began at Baluwa village of Sirha district and Sahorwa village of Mahottari district through the STRASA project. Drought-tolerant rice varieties Sukha dhan 1, 2, 3 ,4 5, and 6 varieties were developed by IRRI and introduced through STRASA. These varieties have been tested in coordinated varietal trails as well as in farmers’ field trails over years at multi-locations. The mean yield obtained as 3500-4200 kg/ha under drought conditions.  Drought-tolerant varieties have been released for general cultivation. The improved rice genotypes of these varieties were distributed to the farmers through PVS. The painstaking work took eight years for selecting suitable rice varieties as Sukha dhan 1, 2, 3 ,4 5, and 6 for rainfed lowland. These are resistant to blast and bacterial leaf blight. They are also tolerant to termite and stem borer.  The success of Sukha dhan 1, 2, 3 ,4 5, and 6 rice varieties in rainfed lowland became popular in Nepal. Now, rainfed lowland farmers no longer experience low yield during drought. Drought-tolerant varieties are high yielding crop and could change the livelihood rainfed lowland farmers. 

Scientists visited field of Sukha dhan as released in Nepal and adjoining field suffered with severe drought

posted Oct 14, 2014, 12:16 AM by   [ updated Oct 19, 2014, 10:34 PM ]

The success story of Mrs Thapa of Bhapasi village in Nepal

Mrs. Bishnu Thapa is a 42-year old rainfed lowland rice farmer with 0.8 ha land. She lives in Bhapasi Village of Mahottari District, Nepal. Mrs. Thapa is very innovative and always wants to try new innovations in agricultural system. Because of uneven rainfall, Mrs. Thapa finds it difficult to cultivate rice with. She struggled to get good yield in her fields. She also did not know the scope for other crops in rainfed lowland during the dry season that can meet her family demands. 

Shift cultivation practices in fragile rainfed areas were implemented by STRASA project. Because of this, Mrs. Thapa has started to grow drought-tolerant rice with improved technologies per scientists' advice from the National Rice Research program (NRRP) Hardianth. In rainfed lowland minority ethnic group of farmers residing and have grown with traditional varieties with poor yield. There are problems of weeds, drought with erratic rain fall in rainfed lowland since last few decades.

Efforts were made by International Rice Research institute (IRRI) and National Rice Research Program (NRRP) Hardinath to manage rainfed lowland rice cultivation with drought-tolerant varieties in Nepal. Newly developed drought-tolerant rice varieties viz; Sukha dhan 1, 2, 3 ,4 5, and 6 have shown new hope for farmers in drought-prone areas which is nearly 30 % of the total rice cultivated areas in the country. Farmers were impressed with these rice varieties and were asked to provide seeds for further cultivation. She says farmers of other villages also wanted to grow Sukha dhan because it produces high yield even with less rainfall. 

In 2013, NRRP distributed Sukha dhan to increase farmers' production and create rice diversity in such environment. The results were encouraging. According to Mrs. Thapa, the varieties could be an option to produce good yield with less water. She even approached the farmers of her village to establish community-based seed production for easy access to seeds and to also help the farmers increase their income.

Sundar seed cooperative: A key institution for technology transformation in western mid hills of Nepal

posted Oct 14, 2014, 12:06 AM by   [ updated Oct 19, 2014, 5:22 AM ]

Bishnu Bilas Adhikari, Ph.D.

IFAD TAG 706A, a successful IRRI-guided collaborative project,  has gained success to establish seed organizations in western mid hills of Nepal from 2005 to 2008. The project helped form Sundar Seed Producer Group (SPG) and Pragati SPG which were the first established seed producer groups of Lamjung and Tanahun districts, respectively. 

The collaboration between International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS), Lamjung has conducted collaborative project work on quality seed production in the western mid hills of Nepal. The seed program helped produce quality rice seed needed by local farmers, which has received regional recognition in the country. During the IFAD TAG-706 period (2005 and 2006), farmers were demanded to have the seed of best rice varieties verified during preference ranking in PVS plots. The project team has realized the need for quality seeds to meet farmers' demands. The project initiated the community-based seed production program (CBSP) and formed “Sundar Seed Producer Group” (Sundar means modal in Nepali) at Sundarbazar, Lamjung in 2007. Sundar seed producer group is upgraded to Sundar Seed Cooperative in 2009. The coop members received trainings and physical support for quality seed production. Because of this, quality rice seed supplying is increased across of region. After completion of IFAD-TAG 706, Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) funded by Bills and Milinda Gates Fundation (BMGF) was launched from 2008 to 2010 in the same villages (Sundarbazar, Purkot, and Bhanu villages) also continued the seed programs through SPGs.

 The Consortium for Unfavourable Rice Environment (CURE) project funded by IFAD (2010-2013) also continued the seed activities. Validation, upscaling, and recommendation of new varieties have continued through different projects since 2005. While production, collection, storage and distribution of seed of recommended varieties has been continued since the establishment of Sundar SPG.

Sundar coop has to increase the productivity of rice in western mid-hill regions. At first, the local government body (Sundarbazar Village Development Committee) convinced the importance of quality seed to increase the production, productivity and livelihood of farming communities and decided to provide 0.25 ha area of land for construction of building for seed coop. Sundar coop got the land for free and constructed a seed stored with four rooms. As government support, Sundar coop received about NRS 110000 (equivalent to 11500 US$) to construct the seed building from Department of Agriculture (Crop Development Directorate) in 2008 and 2012. In addition to this fund, the Crop Development Directorate also provided seed implements like moisture meter, seed grading machine, weighing machines, sewing machines, seed dressing drums, sprayers, seed bags etc. In 2014, Sundar coop received success to get a project of about NRS. 3300000.0 (equivalent to 35000 US$) from the government initiative Project for Agriculture Commercialization and Trade (PACT) to complete the building, threshing floor, and purchasing of seed tools and equipment in the cooperative. 

This cooperative is a single-seed cooperative for conducting systematic seed production and distribution in western mid hills regions of Nepal. It is a leading organization with some feeder seed groups in three districts (Lamjung, Tanahun and Gorkha). After the establishment of the seed coop, farmers are able to get quality seed locally and cheaply. Farmers reported that from the use of quality seed and production technology, there is about 40-50 percent increase in rice yield. This coop received success and covered more than 95% rice area in Lamjung from its own varieties (up to 1000m asl). CURE and STRASA have given priority not only to produce quality seed but also to market quality seed to other districts. The seed network in the region is focused mainly on marketing. Sundar coop is also involved in the government seed program District Seed Self-Sufficiency Program (DISSPRO) and got some facilities from the program. “Within 7 years of its establishment, each and every farm family in Lamjung (up to 1000 m als) are able to get the seed from this coop while the majority of farmers of Tanahun and Gorkha district are getting seed in each year,” said Chandra Prasad Pokharel (President of Sundar coop). Also, Mr. Pokhrel said that “Farmers are very happy from the support of Sundar seed cooperative and break the tradition of keeping seed in their own home which means Seed Replacement Rate (SRR) is increasing annually."

Furthermore, Mr. Pokharel said that they still experience quality source seed shortage (foundation seed), training in quality seed production to all farmers, seed business skills, seed rules and regulation, and creation of linkages between the farmers and government agricultural research stations and extension services.

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