Chhattisgarh seeks rice research institute

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Jan 13 | Updated: Jan 14 2008, 06:19am hrs
Chhattisgarh, which is one of the major centres of rice diversity in the country, has demanded setting up of a Central Rice Research Institute in the capital township of Raipur. The chief minister, Raman Singh has drawn the attention of the central government, saying the state has a collection of nearly 19,000 varieties of rice germplasm, and this has been admitted by the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources and hence the state deserves a research centre.

Singh had said that though Chhattisgarhs staple crop was rice and it contributed about 16% to the central rice buffer stock, the per hectare yield of paddy was two-third of the national average and therefore the need for increasing yield. He said that the process of hybrid rice seed production involved great risks, as the failure rates in the initial stages were quite high, and for this reason farmers were reluctant to undertake hybrid rice seed production. The existing centrally sponsored scheme has no provision of risk coverage for failure of production, he alleged.

The state government has demanded greater investment by the central government to harness irrigation potential. He also demanded speedy clearances and completion of irrigation projects. He asked the Centre to take up with the Supreme Court the issue of relaxing the conditionality of the additional cost component of net present value being charged for irrigation projects involving forest lands.

Singh pleaded for differential rates of farm subsidy for weak and developing states like Chhattisgarh, setting up of a Credit Guarantee Fund in Nabard to reduce perceived risk of default by small and marginal farmers, who do not have any collateral to offer, and setting up another Stabilisation Fund for automatic write-off of farm debt as outlined in the approach paper to the 11th Plan, and procurement of minor forest produces at determined support prices.