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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ponni, Samba - Indian rice - IR8 and Green Revolution

Daily in the morning most of us eat our staple food of rice; some of us eat rice for lunch and again for dinner too ……… for a typical Tamilian the food is never complete with curd rice !  The  eminent agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan remarked in a Forum that  India needs an "Evergreen Revolution" to increase productivity without harming the environment.   He said, "If cultivation of land is continued without conservation of soil fertility and replacement of large local varieties of plants with one or two varieties, then there will be a disastrous effect, so we must have a 'Evergreen Revolution' in terms of increasing productivity without perpetuating any associated ecological harm,".

Heard of : Mappillai Samba; Karunguruvai; Seeraga Samba; Kudavazhai; Varappu Kudainchan, Ponni etc., - rice varieties of Tamilnadu and here is something about IR 8 and the Father of Green revolution.

Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfer initiatives, occurring between the 1940s and the late 1970s, that increased agriculture production worldwide, particularly in the developing world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s. Dr. MS Swaminathan is known as the "Father of the Green Revolution in India".  Globally, it was  led by Norman Borlaug, who earned the sobriquet "Father of the Green Revolution" credited with saving over a billion people from starvation, involved the development of high-yielding varieties of cereal grains, expansion of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of management techniques, distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides to farmers. The term "Green Revolution" was first used in 1968 by former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) director William Gaud, who noted the spread of the new technologies.

Back home, Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, an Indian geneticist and international administrator, was renowned for his leading role in India's "Green Revolution," a program under which high-yield varieties of wheat and rice seedlings were planted in the fields of poor farmers. From 1972 to 1979 he was director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and he was minister of Agriculture from 1979 to 1980. He served as director general of the International Rice Research Institute (1982–88) and became president of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1988. In 1999, Time magazine placed him in the Time 20 list of most influential Asian people of the 20th century.

Norman Ernest Borlaug (1914 – 2009) known as the Father of Green revolution worldwide  was an American agronomist, humanitarian and Nobel laureate.   who has been called "the father of the Green Revolution".  Besides the  Nobel Peace Prize, he was awarded  the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal;  also awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honor. During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these high-yielding varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India.

In 1961 India was on the brink of mass famine. Borlaug was invited to India by the adviser to the Indian minister of agriculture M. S. Swaminathan. Despite bureaucratic hurdles imposed by India's grain monopolies, the Ford Foundation and Indian government collaborated import wheat seed from CIMMYT. Punjab was selected by the Indian government to be the first site to try the new crops because of its reliable water supply and a history of agricultural success. India began its own Green Revolution program of plant breeding, irrigation development, and financing of agrochemicals.

India also adopted IR8 – a semi-dwarf rice variety developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) that could produce more grains of rice per plant when grown with certain fertilizers and irrigation. In 1968, Indian agronomist S.K. De Datta published his findings that IR8 rice yielded about 5 tons per hectare with no fertilizer, and almost 10 tons per hectare under optimal conditions. This was 10 times the yield of traditional rice. IR8 was a success throughout Asia, and dubbed the "Miracle Rice". IR8 was also developed into Semi-dwarf IR36.

There is something more on rice – of a country’s whose politics is mired with rice now….. more of it in a later post…

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th July 2013.

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