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Conservation of genetic resources
Rapid erosion of genetic variability, which forms the bedrock of progressive crop improvement, is of great concern today. Among the research priorities in rice, collection conservation and evaluation of genetic diversity have been receiving due attention ever since the founding of the Central Rice Research Institute at Cuttack (Orissa) in 1946. It started with the exploratory survey of genetic diversity in the Jeypore-Koraput region of Orissa, which is considered to be one of the major centres of rice diversity, under the scheme ‘Jeypore Botanical Survey’. The initial collection of 1750 accessions made from this region was successively enriched by subsequent collection surveys. One of the highest and valuable diversity added to the nucleus collection was from North East Indian hill states, which lie on the periphery of the Centre of origin and domestication of Asian rice. The collection of 7800 accessions was probably the first to be systematically evaluated for traits of breeding value. Popularly known by Assam Rice Collection (ARC), the diversity endowed with many diverse gene sources for various traits of economic value, especially for disease – insect pest resistance, adaptation to all major abiotic stresses and plant type and yield components, has been extensively used world over in rice improvement research. Closely following, the third major collection drive was undertaken in the Chattisgarh region by Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, Raipur under the guidance of Dr. Richharia. It is equally important and large secondary centre of rice genetic diversity. As large as 20,000 land races collected from the region were characterized and partly evaluated for traits of breeding value. In all 30,000 rice accessions now in the National Gene Bank, NBPGR, Delhi, are being systematically evaluated through the All India Coordinated Rice Improvement Project, taking advantage of its large number of cooperative test centres and hot spots.