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‘Daksha’ could be the answer for distressed paddy cultivators

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 A new variety of rice that saves water, time, and cost of labour

A new breed of rice that requires 50% less water during cultivation than conventional varieties has emerged as a glimmer of hope for paddy cultivators reeling under recurring drought and below average rain.
Christened ‘Daksha’— the KMP-175, its laboratory moniker — was released in late 2016, but is now being marketed vigorously for its benefits to paddy cultivators in the Mysuru-Mandya-Chamarajanagar belt.
“The conventional varieties are water guzzlers where as Daksha can do with 50% of the quantum and standing crop need not be drenched in standing water. But the downside is a slight reduction in yield, which is 45 quintals per acre as against nearly 60 quintals delivered by the conventional variety of rice,” said M.P. Rajanna, senior rice breeder and Head, All-India Coordinated Rice Project, Zonal Agricultural Research Station, at VC Farm in Mandya.
He told The Hindu that Daksha is the fourth such variety to be released in Karnataka, the other three being Sharada, Vanasiri and Anagha, none of which are suitable for the old Mysuru region.
“Daksha is the first variety that is suitable for the Mysuru-Mandya-Chamarajanagar belt as these crops are region-specific given the variation in temperature,” said Dr. Rajanna.
Daksha is particularly useful in the present day given that agricultural distress is high and farmers suffer the double whammy of unreliable rain and mounting input costs. The advantage of Daksha is that it is cost-saving as this variety can be directly taken up for sowing, obviating the need for puddling. “This not only saves water but also time and labour cost and hence it has triple benefits for farmers,” said the rice scientist.
Notwithstanding the relatively low yield and reduced water consumption, researches have clearly proved that there is no dilution in its nutritional value.
The authorities are now reaching out to farmers to popularise this variety of paddy given their inherent benefits. In Mysuru region, paddy cultivation took a hit this year due to failure of monsoon in June and July despite favourable conditions. Under such circumstances, Daksha would be better suited given its inherent advantages, believe scientists at the VC farm.
This apart, bulk of agriculture in the Mysuru-Chamarajanagar belt takes place under rain-fed condition and is almost 60% of the total cultivable area whereas irrigation is available only for 40% of the cultivable land. Hence, scientists at the VC farm have also developed INDAF 7 and INDAF 9 (for India Africa) variety of ragi as a short duration crop. Dr. Rajanna pointed out that these two are short-duration crops that could be cultivated during the rabi season.

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