IRRI-Government of Odisha partnership to strengthen state’s specialty rice segment

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(Photo: A cafeteria featuring biofortified rice varieties in Odisha)

ODISHA, India (March 16, 2023) – The state of Odisha produced nearly 11 million tons of rice in 2021, considerably contributing to the national food reserve and meeting the staple requirement of around 45 million of its population. The focus of the government has now shifted to diversify the state’s food basket to include healthier choices for consumers by mainstreaming nutritious rice varieties with high zinc, iron, protein, and low glycemic index (GI) traits.

These high yielding nutritious rice varieties have great market potential and may be positioned as a premium product segment which could generate higher demand and economic value to producers. Varietal awareness, systematic seed access, a robust supply chain, and adoption in scale will be crucial for the sustenance and uptake of these rice varieties and create economies of scale. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Department of Agriculture & Farmers’ Empowerment, Government of Odisha, recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to accelerate the production of these varieties and explore its potential to improve consumer health outcomes, strengthen the formal and local seed systems, and create new market linkages for the wide scale production and distribution of new specialty rice varieties in Odisha.

Signed by Shri Prem Chandra Chaudhary, Director of Agriculture and Food Production and IRRI Interim Director General Dr. Ajay Kohli, the three year collaboration will focus on the introduction and scaling of bio-fortified, low glycemic index, and premium quality rice varieties. The project will be implemented under the overall supervision of IRRI Scientist and Principal Investigator, Dr. Swati Nayak, South Asia Lead for Seed Systems.

Speaking on the rising importance of specialty rice in India, Dr. Kohli remarked: “Odisha’s revised agriculture agenda calls for a…

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