IRRI develops entrepreneurship in seed sector

In Assam, the soil type, land topography, rainfall and climate in general are very conducive for agricultural activities, mainly for the cultivation of paddy. In spite of the untiring efforts of all the stakeholders, the productivity of paddy in the state is still lower than national average due to some biotic and abiotic challenges.To address the abiotic challenges faced by the state farmers, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in collaboration with SAUs made the introgression of Sub1 gene in the mega varieties of the states which can tolerate complete submergence up to 2 weeks.

IRRI and Assam Agricultural University (AAU) have implanted Sub1 gene in Assam’s popular rice varieties Ranjit& Bahadur and converted them into their respective Sub1 versions, which by retaining their original characteristics, have additional benefits of submergence tolerance up to 14 days. These Sub1 varieties along with Swarna-Sub1 and BINA Dhan11 have been widely demonstrated and performed well across varied locations of Assam. For the promotion or scaling up of a variety for broader adoption, it is pre-requisite to assure timely availability of seed at affordable price. Farmers are in need of quality seed of these Sub1 varieties for better productivity and higher production. However the seed system in Assam is not on a sound footing rather reflects a dilapidated condition. Unavailability and non- accessibility to quality seed is a persisting problem in the region, as most of the public and private sector seed companies/corporations have little or no presence in the stress-prone areas of Assam. Most farmers routinely save their seed from one harvest to the next. Because of the lack of proper training on quality seed production, processing, and storage, the quality of the Farmer Saved Seed (FSS) is often sub-standard, thus affecting crop yield.

One of the targeted interventions is to strengthen the seed system through supplying breeder and foundation seed to the seed producers. With this aim,IRRI has initiated linking of national partners/allied research institutes to supply the breeder and foundation seed of STRVs, with the public and private stakeholders engaged in formal and informal seed systems of Assam, for further seed multiplication. It ensures not only local seed-supply but also creates business opportunities to the rural youth. Since these varieties have good demand in local market,there isa huge scope for development of local entrepreneurship in the seed business. IRRI has linked five Assam based companies/cooperatives with national partners/allied research institutes. A total of 1445 kg breeder seed (BS) and 3260 kg foundation seed (FS) of STRVs (Ranjit-Sub1, Bahadur-Sub1, Swarna-Sub1, BINA Dhan 11 and DRR Dhan 44), besides 1580 kg BS of PQR varieties (Keteki Joha and Bokul Joha) was supplied to through linkage with different institutions during Sali season 2020. Besides the linkage for seed, IRRI is providing time to time technical support to these organizations. The performance of these companies will be an example for the local youth to engage themselves in seed sector.

Details of institutional linkage for strengthening STRV seed supply to different seed stakeholders in Assam during Sali season is as follows:

Name of the Institution Variety name Category of seed linked (Breeder/ Foundation) Quantity of seed linked (kg)
PooharAgro Producer Company Limited, Borchala (Patuakata), Morigaon, Assam, India. PIN: 782106 Ranjit-Sub1 Breeder 15
Foundation 120
Bahadur-Sub1 Foundation 400
Sankar Azan Agro Producer Company Limited, M. Azad Road, Bara Bazar, Nagaon, Assam, India. PIN: 782001 BINA Dhan 11 Foundation 520
DRR Dhan 44 Foundation 60
Ranjit-Sub1 Foundation 500
Swarna-Sub1 Foundation 560
Allied Crop Care Pvt. Ltd., Guwahati, Assam, India Ranjit-Sub1 Breeder 300
Bahadur-Sub1 Breeder 100
Swarna-Sub1 Breeder 30
Foundation 200
Keteki Joha Breeder 920
Bokul Joha Breeder 660
Asomi Polyseed Pvt. Ltd., GS Road, Near Poddar CarWorld, SamannayPath, Khanapara, Guwahati-781022, Assam, India Ranjit-Sub1 Breeder 200
Bahadur-Sub1 Breeder 200
Swarna-Sub1 Breeder 100
Duarbagori Cooperative Society Ltd.; Village-Kuthari, District-Nagaon, Assam, India BINA Dhan 11 Foundation 260
DRR Dhan 44 Foundation 400
Ranjit-Sub1 Breeder 500
Swarna-Sub1 Foundation 180
Samba Mahsuri-Sub1 Foundation 60