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Exploitation of boro and shallow lowland ecologies
Boro is the most productive season for rice in the eastern states. Boro rice yields about two times than that of kharif. Over 2.5 million hectares spread over 25 districts in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Orissa, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Northeastern states are suitable for boro rice. Such a large and productive season did not, however, receive due attention for long because of apprehensions on finding adequate irrigation source, boro rice being an entirely irrigated crop. It was the Bangladesh’s success in reducing its rice deficiency level by converting very large and very low productive deepwater rice area into highly productive boro and boraus area that motivated farmers and state governments in the region to replicate this strategy gradually by exploiting ground water through shallow borewells. The impact of it could be seen in a decade by West Bengal raising its rice yields above the national average. If the entire boro area could be planted to ideally suited high yielding rice varieties and hybrids, as much as 10 million tonnes more can be added annually. In doing so caution is necessary not to overmine the ground water, as excessive use has been found to be at the cost of water quality because of high contents of arsenics and iron. When the problem of finding ideal varieties is no more and judicious water management devices are in place, exploitation of boro rice should find its place of priority. Rainfed shallow lowland accounting for 23% of the rice area is the largest under exploited ecology. Bypassed by the Green Revolution, it is yet to receive due research and development attention for realizing as high yield as irrigated ecosystem it is potential enough and capable of. Tailoring of high yielding varieties and hybrids ideally suited to this environment is underway and as it might take still more time, such deficiency be met through introduction of medium and medium late semi tall spillovers from the irrigated ecology. If serious attention is given to extensive planting of submergence and limited moisture stress tolerant medium late varieties like Swarna (Swarna Subl A etc.) and hybrids like CR 403, the productivity level could be raised further by 0.75 to 1.0 t/ha, which would easily help add 8 to 12% million tonnes annually in the coming years.