A Specific Plan Of Action For Increase in Production Of Rice

Richharia, Dr. R.H.

Introduction Hybrid Clones For Exploiting Hybrid Vigour
Genetic Principle Centres of Activities and Headquarters
Justification Training Camps and Duration
Criticism of the Plan Note
A Specification Plan Of Action Conclusion

Inspite of progressive increased area under irrigation and increased use of high yielding varieties of rice, coupled with increased consumption of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, productivity of rice remains stagnant and unstabilised in recent years. The reason is not far to seek. The main constraint has been the hurried introduction of the undesirable new rice material, the HYVs (dwarfs) on which we based our strategy, replacing even the reputed high yielding rices of the locality, forgetting at the same time unexpected drought situation, under whi9ch the HYVs lowered the yields. In addition, under heavy fertilization and irrigation the HYVs proved susceptible to diseases and pests which cannot be controlled easily, thus again pointing towards reduction of yield. Further, unlike wheat and sugarcane, the concept of ‘wide adaptability’ in rice has a limited scope for application (not exceeding 10 percent of the rice area). This biological force has naturally led to local preferences of different types of rices and socio-economic adjustments, developed in course of time. These considerations explain why rice productivity remains unstabilised and stagnant and calculations did not work. When the base is in itself, weak (meaning the new rice material) a mansion, built on it, must collapse. In planning too, stress was not laid on improving the inexpensive local resources which matter in agriculture. The stress has been more on making Indian Agriculture ‘factory oriented’. Fertilizers and pesticides are produced in factories which may slow down their production or may remain idle for many reasons and at times transportation may be a problem, leading to interruption in the supply of in-puts in the fields at the proper time. Citing examples of Punjab and Haryana and a few others from resourceful localities in support of the HYVs of foreign blood in rice and working out a strategy to extend them elsewhere, where environments are unfavourable to increase productivity (neglecting the superior HYVs of indigenous origin) have been our main draw-back in our approach and hence this action plan. Any action plan drawn up for rice, must take into consideration these lapses. Self-generating economy and building up of local resources alone offer a permanent solution in rice and not the outside support which would always be limited, Conditional and uncertain. Local resources would also include forestry and animal husbandry (for farm power and soil fertility) to restore imbalance, being created in the environmental ecosystem in the typical rice areas. Organic and ecological farming with which the farmers are familiar and which they prefer, finds little place in our research and planning process after 1965. Location specific approach alone can help us in increasing productivity tract-wise, village-wise and individual field-wise.

   India is gifted with rice climate where environments favour the growth of the rice paint. The crop is grown throughout the year in some parts or the other of the country with suitable rice varieties up to an altitude, 7000 feet above the sea level and 10 feet below and under rainfall varying between 20” and 200”. Such a situation offers a great scope to execute any action plan for immediate increase in the productivity of rice, provided it is based on (1) ready availability of resources locally, including the rice varieties and (2) Willingness and natural inclination of the farmers to accept it. The programme drawn up here, solves both of those controlling factors.

The following two factors also assure the success of the plan:

Genetic Principle
If we were to think of a single characteristic feature of the rice crop which yields for millions, it cannot be anything else unless it be its (1) variability in the form of thousands of its cultivars, spread in India and in other rice growing belts of the world. This is because of the rice plant’s flexible genetic make-up and mutational power to adaption. This means the concept of ‘wider adaptability’ does not work in rice and (2) The rice farmer stick to their own varieties, as they (rice farmers) posses their deep knowledge to harvest a crop even under the most stress situations and they also possess high yielding varieties of their own which are generally not included in extension programmes (a major lapse) e.g., in a survey, carried out in Madhya Pradesh between 1971-74, 8 percent of the indigenous rice types were observed to fall under the category of high yielding types, fixing the minimum limit of 3705 kg./Ha.

   A survey has also disclosed that during the past 25 years, the farmers have not left even a single of their high yielding rice varieties but because such types have no place in our extension programme, they remain confined with some growers only and naturally do not produce any marked impact on production.

   Rice is one crop which offers a tremendous scope to improve its productivity if this plan is executed with faith and confidence, as it combines both the factors viz., the areas where rice grows are naturally gifted with environments, full of resources, freely available to be developed further as demand increase and the rice farmers will willingly accept the improved versions of their own varieties (retaining their original names) about which they possess enough knowledge of their environmental and nutritional requirements, their properties and peculiarities and they know them more accurately than what we do, as we have not cared to study them and know them well (except a few). But on the other hand, we have jumped on to other material, least investigated, in the environments where it is introduced as a blanket recommendation, as HYV programme with dwarfs during the past two decades. Not surprisingly, therefore that rice productivity remained stagnant and will continue to do so, if this HYV programme is not suitably modified. This action plan visualizes this aspect of the problem. It envisages a direct approach to the rice farmers who are the real masters of the subject and to utilize their experience and practical knowledge of their own material to produce more, opinions may differ, but as other approaches have failed to increase and stabilize rice yields, this plan deserves a chance, a serious consideration and immediate implementation. There is no possibility of its failure, being exclusively associated with the adapted rice germplasm of known origin and heredity which has sustained humanity and their culture for centuries, in the South-East Asia and parts of Africa with added advantage that it responds to the application of modern production technology as well, with variation within limits. In action it will be rice farmer’s own movement on a war footing, (as when a war is wedged against an enemy there is no question of money, involved. Here the enemy is stagnant and unstabilised yields). I predict, this action plan shall succeed, provided it is viewed unbiased, not calling it antiquated or impracticable or nothing new in the plan or because it originated from a certain quarter, it must fail etc. This much modification will be justifiable that the plan may be implemented in phases, locality-wise.

Main causes of stagnation in rice yields particularly during the past two decades have to be understood and removed to increased productivity in rice, knowing fully well that many parts of rice regions of India are gifted with rice climate to giver record yields to lead in South-East Asia. The most immediate and major cause can be attributed to frequent replacements of the adopted rice varieties in a locality, partly or fully. This because the agro-ecological balance has been disturbed in the environment in respect of the existing rice germplasm which has been built up in course of time for centuries by the natural process of breeding and selection by farmers, establishing ecological balance in different environments, what in modern terms can be interpreted as ‘ecological breeding’, a term coined by Japanese workers in 1959. (It necessarily involves location specific breeding research). This balanced rice material under cultivation, not only possesses high yield potential (see Table I and II for example) with many other advantages, if handled scientifically, but is also capable of being responsive to a reasonable application of modern production technology and fluctuating environments, besides a good level of resistance to environmental stress and common diseases and pests, coupled with local preference for palatability in rice areas (also referred to later). This is being disturbed which delays progress. A gradual increase in productivity would have become a regular feature, if this balance was not disturbed and a simple programme of genetic upgrading of the indigenous cultivars were undertaken. But an approach initiated in 1964-65 to replace ‘indigenous’ type (which are also termed as ‘traditional’) calling the indigenous varieties as traditional is misleading, as tradition denotes something stationery, firm and not changing. On the other hand the indigenous varieties move with the changing environments by mutation and get adapted by nature process, based on the principle of ‘ecological breeding’. The rice varieties which existed in 400 B.C. during the Charaka and Susruta period are not the same now, although the major characteristics may not have changed by the least known exotic rice germplasm and at the same time engaging the attention and diverting the energy of our brilliant rice breeders in that direction, has created problems which are confusing us. There are also accepted by top most rice researchers of the country, referred to below.

   Thus we must learn lessons from the failure of the two major rice breeding programmes during the past three decades viz. (i) the indica x japonica hybridization programme (1950-65) and (ii) the introduction of foreign rice variety Taichung (Native) I, in 1964-65, and the release of the miracle rice IR 8 in India in 1966. The top most plant breeders of the country who assembled at the Central Rice Research Institute of Cuttack in 1979 under the ‘Task Force’, appointed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research for the discipline of ‘Rice Breeding’ concluded as follows: Most of the HYVs are the derivatives of T(N) I or IR8 and, therefore, have the dwarfing gene of Dee-geo-woo-gere (DGWG). This narrow genetic base has created alarming uniformity, causing venerability to diseases and pests. Most of the released varieties are not suitable for tropical uplands and low lands, which together constitute about 75 percent of the total rice area of the country. To meet these situations, we need to reorient our research programmes and strategies’. It is significant to record what Mr. R.B. Sen the then Director General of Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations Rome, as far back as 1966, had given a warning in this connection. It was a prediction which took about 15 years to establish it (c.f., September, 1966 special No. Indian Farming I.C.A.R).

   The programme presented here takes into account these facts to prevent further deterioration and strategies have been worked out to ensure steady progress on the rice front.

   Besides the re-orientation of the programme, already drawn up by the ‘Task Force’ in 1979, it is high time that the country’s 1964-65 breeding programme which nearly stands suspended to exploit the rich indigenous rice germplasm, is also resumed in the light of the observation, recorded above, when about 445 improved varieties, bred for specific stress situations, showing environmental resistance to diseases and pests were available and would be still available in the country. (Richharia & Govindaswami, 1966). To emphasise this point of view yield potentials of these rice varieties under normal soil fertility level are recorded in Table I (Column 2) to compare them with the average productivity in some major states as reported in 1980-81 (Table I column 3) when an exclusive all out drive for HYVs of dwarf and semi-dwarf plant type (about 140 in number) was made for large-scale cultivation for different agro-climatic conditions in recent years. It conclusively point to the adverse effects on modern HYVs in rice productivity. This stagnation in rice productivity could have been avoided with a little foresight and vigilance, the danger of which was already predicted. It is not too late and the strategy formulated in this programme mainly based on our own rice genetic resources, may be accepted which also contemplates that the indigenous germplasm in its hybridized form (hybrid rices), referred to later has also a bright future to enhance rice productivity.

Table 1. Yield Potentials of Indigenous Rice Varieties of India

Sr. No


Productivity Potential (Kg/Ha ) prior to 1964-65 or 1960

Actual Productivity (Kg/Ha) in 1980-81






Andhra Pradesh












Madhya Pradesh




Madras (Tamil Nadu)








Travancore Cochin




Uttar Pradesh




West Bengal




Gujarat (Bombay)








Haryana (Old Punjab)







   Selection work (genetic up-grading) with indigenous rice types was resumed by the author in Madhya Pradesh in 1971 in order to re-establish the superiority of the existing rice material as a reminder that the materials not traditional, but dynamic and about 1500 improved **** (improved versions) and eleven composites were developed and made available by 1978 selected from about 780 Principal indigenous rice cultivars. An approach was to release this hidden production force which remains unnoticed, unrecognized and confined to certain localities with individual growers. A strategy was worked out in 1974 in the rice production front in Madhya Pradesh as explained in an Adaptive Rice Research Note No. 5 and the conclusion drawn was as follows: “There are many most-adapted, high yielding indigenous rice varieties existing in Mdhya Pradesh which resist the attack of diseases and pests in the main season. Many of them are also capable of producing still higher yields, when grown during the summer months. This discovery awaits exploitation intensively when the agricultural in-puts (mainly the chemicals) are in short supply. The available fertilizers can be very economically utilized with the selected and genetically up-graded rice types, producing more rice per Kg. of nutrient, applied comparatively at low levels of fertilization (Richharia, 1974).

   But the work had to be closed down, as the M.P. Rice Research Institute of Raipur (a registered body) where this work was being continued was abolished and the specific items of work, aiming the increasing the productivity of rice were stopped. With the knowledge of world collection of rice germplasm which the author possessed as Director of the Central Rice Research Institute (Cuttack), he had made an attempt with the help of this rice germplasm to lead India in rice productivity in the South-East Asia, as he found many peculiarities in this material in high frequency, not ordinarily observed in the available world collection. It was rightly observed once by some on that ‘He who controls the supply of rice will control the destiny of the entire Asiatic ORBIT. The most important thing to the majority of the people of Asia is not capitalism or socialism or any other political ideology but food which means life itself, and in most of Asia food is rice’. Prof. Calder Smith of Edinburgh who travelled to S.E. Asia on an FAO assignment observed in his article, ‘The starving millions’ which appeared in ‘New Scientist’ somewhere in 1964, that where he went in the region, he found people hungry and the reason (he attributed) was human fertility. Obviously he was hinting at population explosion. This observation further emphasizes the necessity that India, a premier rice growing country in S.E. Asia with ample nature resources, has to move fast to meet the situation.

   As already recorded elsewhere, India is gifted with rice climate and is capable of feeding millions in Asia, yet unborn, provided we apply our originality to take advantage of Nature’s gift and of gifted rice researches of the country, allowing them absolute freedom of work, uninterrupted and uninterfered. This aspect may also be taken as a part of this programme.

Criticism of the Plan
It may be argued that there is nothing new in the plan. It only visualizes the exploitation of the existing types only. But from my point of view, there is every thing new, as these indigenous types have not been properly studies and exploited in the light of modern genetic approach studied and exploited in the light of modern genetic approach and there is no risk involved in this material which stands stabilized in the environment. Progress is to be judged in increase of rice productivity and not in the introduction of new high yielding varieties for the sake of introduction only. New ideas or criticism is not the monopoly of a selected few. It may come from any quarters. A silent opposition of the new HYVs is from the man behind the plough.

   I am not the only man who has discovered the importance of the indigenous rive forms and the role played by the rice farmers. In appreciation of the Indian cultivators and their intimate knowledge of the rice varieties, Sir George Watt in 1891 observed as recorded below:

   ‘It must in fact, be admitted that we have to fall back on Dr. Buchnan Hamilton’s idea that the chief differences between the thousands of farms of cultivated rices, hinge on their properties and peculiarities under cultivation. These peculiarities the Indian Cultivator, through the time honoured practices of his ancestors, is able to recognize far more accurately than botanical science has as yet been able to explain. He determines the suitability or otherwise of this forms and that to its contemplated environment with a degree of confidence quite inexplicable (Oryza-1979, Vol.16(1)/

   This further strengthens our approach, why in this specific plan of action rice farmers are associated directly who possess intimate knowledge of their rice varieties on which they may prove good associates, even to guide us with their inherent gift.

   It is evident from the multitude of names of varieties, gradually originating from their wild ancestors, coupled simultaneously by selection for local adaptions made by the growers, who have played the role of plant breeders ever since its cultivation first began in India over 7,000 years ago.


Potentials of some high yielding varieties of India rices with special reference to M.P.


Original Rice variety

Improved version No.

Paddy Kg/Ha

Rice Grade






Medium fine






Medium fine















Cross 116









Medium fine



Beni Kath



Short fine



Tedhi Banko



Long fine



Kala Mali















Medium fine



Tedhi Banko



Long fine



Kariya Chini



Medium fine


   Such types can be listed for other rice growing states.

   A special advantage associated with this indigenous high yielding rice germplasm identified for different tracts and situations, is that it possesses a good level of resistance to environmental stress and common diseases and pests, coupled with local preference for palatability.

A Specification Plan Of Action

An Approach

   From the foregoing write-up, it is evident that we must re-orient our strategies particularly in the light of the observation made by the Prime Minister and I am putting forth a specific plan of action for increase in production of rice, based on my work and long experience, keeping in view the recommendations of the rice scientists. The salient points in the plan of action to ensure speedy increase in production of rice are:

   For high yield potential, genetic upgrading of the adapted rice varieties (indigenous rice germplasm), with certain manipulations, the evolution of hybrid rices and exploiting hybrid vigours and utilizing pure material of local types, are the only course left for speedy recovery of loss, to stabilize rice production at a higher level, instead of waiting to replace our rice by other rice material of doubtful nature which may or may not get adapted to stabilize yields in the environments under which rice grows in variable situations in India. In fact in every rice growing locality, the growers themselves tell us which of their own varieties are high yielding to which they stick. In a survey in M.P. (1971-74) it was disclosed that the farmers have not left a single of their high yielding varieties during the past 25 years, referred to earlier. But under the extension services, the definition of high yielding rice variety is different which necessarily involves a dwarfing gene and, therefore, growers’ own high yielding varieties are not recognized which are estimated to be 8-9 percent in M.P. The result is that ultimately the rice productivity suffers. The specific plan of action naturally has to be drawn up to create an appealing movement in the rural area giving the growers a free hand in the choice of their own high yielding varieties with which they are well versed and they know all about them and their performance, even under the environmental stress. They would naturally demand improved seeds of their own varieties which can be supplied from the adaptive centres, mentioned below.

Establishment of Rice Farmer’s Adaptive Rice Centres

It is a suggested that rural adaptive rice centres (to be known as farmers rice centres (Kisani Dhan Kendra) may be established, as many as possible, all over the country, with 2-3 acres (about one hectare) of land for each centre, made available by the growers themselves, so that they consider that it is their own work. Once they realize the usefulness of such centres, they will themselves come forward and the movement will become an All-India movement. To start with, a limited number of such centres may be established in selected localities in every rice growing state with the co-operation of the local rice growers. They will spread by virtue of their utility, as the growers themselves would demand their establishment. The possibility of linking those centres with the nearby rice breeding centres and research stations for mutual advantages may be considered.

Invariably I found in rice areas some rice growers taking keen interest in their local rice varieties and as they are very much absorbed in them they have all praise for them, so much so that they trace back the history of individual rice varieties to their ancestry with their utility. Such selected and devoted rice farmers will be put in charge of the centres. I also observed that some of them would identify their rice varieties in their own way (not in terms of the modern knowledge of Botany) which amount to thousands. This inherent and institutional faculty of farmers in selection and maintenance of thousands of rice cultivars, gradually being accumulated and depended down for unknown centuries, ever since the rice first originated, must be preserved and exploited for the advantage of the present generation and to ensure the safety of those still unborn.

Each rice centre will, therefore, be in charge of an enlightened and willing rice grower who will have under him a willing (paid) intelligent field worker, selected from the same locality and fully trained in modern production technology ( a combination of indigenous and modern approach) and two roomed accommodation on a payment basis. The rice grower may also be offered some honorarium for incentive, if he desires to accept it.

Programme of Work

  1.     The adaptive rice centres will be the custodian of all local rice cultivars in respective localities, assembled immediately, supplemented, if necessary, by the already available materials of the locality at different research centres. They will be maintained under their natu al habitat to safeguard the future, an international approach. They will be known as local treasuries of rice germplasm, a term suggested by Dr. Frankel of Australia. In course of time those farmers’ centres may be further expanded to embrance varieties of other crops of the surrounding locality with a similar programme, (also to serve as a local gene bank).
        It may be interest to record that during our survey in the Chhatisgarh area we came across rice growers in the remote area, maintaining a large collection of rice varieties, year after year, associated with local customs. This also explains how thousands of varieties are being decended down for centuries. Naturally such collections served as ‘Local treasuries’, but in the absence of an organization to encourage such private endeavors, the valuable rices are fast disappearing, due to deliberate attempts. That this valuable rice germplasm is vanishing rapidly is known e.g., in a locality in Raigarh district, situated in Chhatisgarh, the rice bowl of M.P, there existed about 50 years ago many rice varieties, as the records indicates, but we could collect only 57 types so far. Thus the fact remains that very valuable national wealth in the form of hundreds of valuable rice types has been lost. Thus the functions of the Centres will be:
        (a). To maintain the evolved rice genetic material for future studies and use, as it is practically impossible to retain it in its original form at a central place in India or abroad. It can be maintained in its original condition at its natural habitat only, seeking help of the rice growers themselves.
        (b). To educate the young farmers to appreciate the value and importance of their own material, adding new ones as their hobby. There already exists a practice in some tribal areas that once in a year at the beginning of the rice crop season samples of rice varieties are brought before a religious Head-man in a village who counts them and by some procedure predicts that particular rice varieties would perform well during the ensuing season. Farmers then give preference to those types only according to the situations to their fields for large-scale production. Such bases would be further strengthened and centres established.

  2.     The rice growers in general stick to cultivate their own indigenous rice varieties. If the improved seeds of their own varieties by simple selection method (to be done by the trained worker and the nearby local research centres may also do) are offered to them, under their original names, they will gladly accept them (large number of such improved selections are already available for Madhya Pradesh, about 1500). They will be distributed from the centres in small quantities farmers will be explained how to multiply them rapidly by clonal propagation method which will be demonstrated to them at the centre. This programme is based on a demonstration once held on a state-wide scale somewhere in 1964 in Orissa by the State Agriculture Department to spread a fine grained non-lodging rice variety CR 1014 for low lands which is still popular in the state and elsewhere.

  3.     It will also be demonstrated that the healthy seeds, obtained by clonal propagation for a full crop of rice to follow give nearly 20 percent higher production of any rice variety.

Hybrid Clones For Exploiting Hybrid Vigour
    Hybrid clones of F1, plants between the cultivars or ecotypes of a major/popular rice variety will be distributed among the growers for raising sees for F2 generation by clonal propagation technique to raise a full crop of rice by their usual methods in the following season for taking advantage of hybrid vigour. Enough information on the subject is available (Clonal propagation technology has been described in detail in a recent publication, entitled ‘Rice in abundance for all times through rice clones’ by the author- All India Press, Pondicherry, 1987). F2 population, under field condition gives, on the average, 50 to 60 percent higher production, as compared with the parents, depending on the varieties employed. As regards adaptability of the recombinants in local environment, they will behave in the same manner as their parts. The rice growers are intelligent enough to practice any method, once they are convinced that by a certain practice, they can get higher productivity, as they are not afraid of manual labour. Hybridization work will be carried out by the trained field workers of the respective centres (Actually at the Rice Research Stations, who does this work?: the trained field men of the trained and experienced farm workers. Rarely, however, the plant breeders themselves also do it. The same situation applies to the farmers adaptive rice centres, proposed here).

    Broadly putting it, from the point of view of a farmer, the following characters are important for maintaining a rice variety: (1) uniform maturity (2) uniform hull-colour (3) uniform crop height (4) uniform length and breadth of the grain by the naked eye and (5) rice colour: red or white. On cooking he is also particular about palatability and aroma. He has other inherent faculties to distinguish one variety from the other one (with similar field characteristics), difficult to understand.

    Since the work will revolve round the local indigenous rice types, the rice growers will naturally take keen interest in this development.

    The agronomic practices such as biasi, rotation of crops, mixed cropping, will remain common and will not be disturbed, emphasis being on the use of organic manures, such as compost, green manure, neem cakes and oil cakes etc. The use nitrogenous fertilizers at lower doses of 20 kg/ha has been found to give higher yields in indigenous types with higher return of grain per kg. of nitrogen, applied in general. Economic use of fertilizers is thus also assured, if desired wherever the growers are responsive, this will be practiced. The latest designs of bullock-drawn and hand-drawn machines will be used which will serve as a demonstration, including hand transplanters. The use of power-driven tractors in preparing rice fields for transplanting paddy seeding, wherever possible will be practised.

    It may be questioned. Will the rice cultivators absorb and follow up these methods which apparently seem complex particularly item (4) of the programme of work? The answer is that during our extensive survey of the rice regions of India, we observed that the rice farmers have been following more complicated systems to keep their rice culture vigorous and maintaining their thousands of rice varieties from time immemorial.

    A portion of the land will be utilized to demonstrate the utility of ecological, organic and agro-forestry-farming with local resources, keeping in view the socio-economic conditions of the farmers.

    Farmers in informal discussions express original ideas, which, if seriously considered, prove very useful, practical and inexpensive in relation to their environments. The centre will thus function as a forum to expose the genius of the rural masses. Original thinking is not necessarily the monopoly of university degree holders. At some places I have also observed some agricultural scientists who have settled down on land after retirement do location specific work and have made valuable contribution to help the surrounding farmers.

Centres of Activities and Headquarters
    I will devote all my time and energy and apply my knowledge and experience with my headquarters at Bhopal, Rice grows in the surroundings of Bhopal. There is also a Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering with a big farm, attached to it (the Nabibag farm) where rice can grow, as I worked on this farm. One adaptive rice centre can also be initiated here where it can also be demonstrated that rice can be taken as a catch crop in wheat fields which remain fallow during the monsoon season in Malwa region. Enough knowledge and material already exist on this subject, as two rice research sub-stations of Madhya Pradesh Rice Research Institute worked for three years in Malwa region viz., (1) at the Agricultural Farm, Fanda and (2) at the Agricultural Farm, Sconi Malwa, till recently.

    As an alternative, some farmers will come forward willingly to extend facilities to implement this programme of action in the Malwa tract of M.P. There may be similar situations in other states as well. Establishment to other centres will be a follow-up action.

Training Camps and Duration
    One training camp will be organized immediately and workers will be trained partly at Bhopal and partly at the adaptive Rice Research Centre at Baronda (Raipur) where the rice germplasm, covering 19 thousands rice cultivars are grown under the farm University. Since it is proposed to establish ten farmers adaptive centres in M.P. and one such centre in every rice growing state, the total numbers of trainees will be 22 From eleven rice growing states (two from each state) 20 From ten centres in M.P. (Two from each centre) 42 Total.

    These trainees will form the nucleus for further development to multiply farmers’ rice centres when a natural demand increases.

    I may add that I am continuing my work on this new technology privately at my farm near Bhopal and three places in other States in India and also in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines (latest position). I will place all my private resources at the disposal of this action plan if required.

    Duration of Training: This will be for a period of four weeks (two weeks in July and two weeks in September).

    The national and State Seed Corporations may, in due course, come forward to take up the hybrid seed production work within some popular high yielding indigenous cultivars, when the demand of such seeds increases. The agriculture departments may also utilize their demonstration farms for this purpose.


A Change in the Attitude of Extension Services Required

    A change in the attitude of extension workers of the Department of Agriculture in the rice growing state is to be brought about, in respect of recognizing a high yielding rice variety for a particular tract, as the concept of ‘wider adaptability’ in rice has a very limited scope in India, (except the special situations, such as the flooded and deep water areas where a limited number of special types would serve the purpose) unlike-in terms of, say wheat and sugar-cane. At a national symposium on increasing rice yields in Kharif (Monsoon season) (Held at the Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack (Odisha) in February 8-11, 1978 the Rice workers of India agreed that the time is now ripe to redefine the term ‘High yielding varieties’ (HYV), as a high yielding variety for a particular environment, possessing suitable plant type characters for that condition may not be suitable for other environments ‘A (rice) variety, irrespective of its plant type and stature, giving significantly higher yield over the local or regional average yield under farmer’s conditions may be defined as high yielding variety (HYV).

    To emphasise the point further, the Directorate of Rice Development, Government of India, had issued a paper entitled ‘Need for a National Policy of Rice (1972) and concluded that ‘The new varieties of rice should be as good as the (current varieties) older one in local adaptability and some characteristics but not inferior in any character. It is our experience that when we try to recommend a variety which is a compromise between high yield and some other character in which the local (older) varieties are superior that we run into trouble. We should not over emphasise yield but should insist upon a minimum level of excellence in respect of all other characters, including aroma and cooking quality as rice is the only cereal which is directly consumed without much change in the form of its grain’.

    To emphasise this point, a strategy was also worked out for M.P. in 1974, based on our work with indigenous rice varieties, already catalogued (c.f). Our strategy on the Rice Production front in Madhya Pradesh – IADP Press- Raipur (1974).

    It is thus evident that the specific plan of action, drawn up here, is based on facts, acknowledged by rice workers of India and accepted by the Directorate of Rice Development Govt. of India and I.C.A.R. through C.R.R.I. Cuttack. Success of the plan, if implemented, is assured to increase productivity of rice, before long, as it is backed by scientific facts and experience.

Immediate Steps for Action

    If the I.C.A.R. or the Directorate of Rice Development, Government of India or both and the IGKVV, Raipur (M.P.), decide to implement the programme, described here, they may depute an experienced rice breeder especially to deal with this plan of action who may contact me at Bhopal to work out further details, or a meeting may be arranged at New Delhi for further details and clarification between the D.G. (ICAR), the Director of Directorate of Rice Development and myself.

    A beginning can be made in M.P. where upgraded material already exists in the form of about 1500 improved types, made from grower’s own rice cultivars which can be distributed in different centres for work to be started immediately, to obtain advantage as early as possible and to prepare the hybrid material for the next season. In this case, the entire rice germplasm with staff (germplasm associates and field workers trained by me) and records will have to be transferred under this plan of action with my technical control only. This germplasm collection embraces very valuable rice varieties which, if properly studied, would prove very useful to increase productivity and which are to be spread at breeding centres all over the country under this action plan. To quote some examples, the clustered and poly- embryonic rice varieties, early maturing and scented types with high yield potentials and rices showing high protein contents etc. Some of them show excellent combining ability for exhibiting high hybrid vigor, a phenomenon demonstrated long back in rice. A special significance is attached to this material, yielding better under stress situations and showing environmental resistance to disease and pets. Further, immediate arrangements may be made to hold training camps.

Financial Requirement and Arrangements

    If this action plan is accepted in principle, the financial aspect may be worked out in consultation with the undersigned for which an officer may be deputed. On a broad basis the following facilities will be required:

    The rice germplasm in the form of 19 thousand rice cultivars with records and the services of the members of the staff especially trained for the purpose (the germplasm Associates) may be made available to me with immediate effect to take advantage of the ensuing season for technical work only.

    Services of one rice breeder in every rice growing state may be obtained on deputation. He has to be a local person who is well versed with the rice areas and the local rice varieties of the state, so that he is able to prepare the material during the ensuing rice season and at the same time i.e. establishes a few adaptive rice centres on the growers’ holdings which may be multiplied, as the demand increases. He will require some contingent grant for field work and T.A. Grants.

    Adequate arrangements for my rapid mobility with my headquarters at Bhopal will have to be made, services will be honorary. I will not get myself involved in any type of administrative work except the technical control and guidance.

    An ad-hot grant may be earmarked and placed at the disposal of a competent authority with wide powers at Bhopal who will draw and disburse funds on my recommendations.

    The Director of the I.A.C.R.’s Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, located at Bhopal may discharge this function through his accounts section. The cooperation of this Institute in implementing this action plan in this part of the country, if extended, can prove useful, so also similar ICAR Centres, located in different parts of the rice regions.

    For each Farmer’s adaptive rice centre the following expenditure will be needed for the first year:

During the first year, ten centres will be established in Madhya Pradesh and one in each of the rice growing states (eleven). Thus in all there will be 21 adaptive rice centres.

A Great Discovery Remains Unexploited and Unheeded

Whereas, clonal propagation in rice as means of raising pure seeds to offer 20 percent higher production and the extension of this technology to exploit hybrid vigour to obtain 50 percent increased yields, remain unexploited, a great discovery of immense value is left unheeded, in the form of 19 thousand rice cultivars, coupled with their 1500 improved versions, representing intense variability, assembled from the least understood rice area of M.P. (Chhatisgarh, Bastar, Abhujhmad tracts etc.), inhabited mostly by tribals. It hardly needs any emphasis to record that the basis and success of all crop improvement work is the crop variability, natural or induced, the former being least time consuming and in all such biological fields, India is the richest and the country offers a great scope towards progress. From this point of view the assembled rice germplasm which combines world genetic variability is naturally the richest wealth for the entire South-East Asia. In support of these facts a list of records of the rices (only a fraction), indicating richness of variability is attached. Whereas this has not received due attention even in its home state (M.P), its significance has been recognized outside at the International Rice Research Institute of the Philippines where it is being transferred, after the initiative taken by the World Bank who offered 4.5 crores of rupees with a major condition to close down the M.P. Rice Research Institute where this work was originally conducted and the material be passed on to IRRI as a later development. The latest position is that attempts are being made that this indigenous germplasm must vanish with the least possible delay and the step taken is to collect the seeds of indigenous rice varieties from the growers in exchange of seeds of dwarf and semi-dwarf HYVs (to replace them) which is against the recommendation of the top Indian rice scientists. This is a serious lapse. The specific plan of action aims at preventing further deterioration in productivity and production of rice in India, taking into consideration all facts. It is also my intention and recommendation to leave behind a complete record of this valuable rice germplasm for the use and information of posterity on the lines done in ‘Rices of India’ (Richharia and Govinda Swami, 1966) with their conservation by the growers themselves, as suggested elsewhere.

A list of records in support of richness of the existing useful rices for rice regions of M.P. with prospects of extension to other rice regions is presented below:

    A strategy on increasing rice production was first drawn in 1974, but it received no attention. The other two programmes viz (1) indica x japonica hybridization programme and (2) the plant type concept met with little success, as they did not remove the main constraint. Thus a very valuable period of about two decades has been lost and deterioration in rice productive and production in many of the rice regions has been brought to light. A latest release of F.A.O. indicates shortfall in India’s paddy production. This organization has provisionally estimated India’s paddy production in 1982 at 68 million tones which is 12 million tones less than the output in two previous years.

The present action plan again emphasizes the importance and significance of 1974 strategic programme with some additional techniques, based on intensive field research. It is programme to lose more time, thereby creating more constraints.

Such announcement as exploiting hybrid vigour through male sterile lines and a rice variety 126-3, recently reported to have yielded 7 tons of rice per hectare maturing in 105 days etc., can be left with the Rice Research Centres and Post Graduate Departments of Agricultural Universities for further investigations, as their research pursuits.

‘Wide adaptability concept’ in rice does not work in 90 percent of the rice hectarage in India.

In brief if this specific plan of action is implemented which involves a direct approach to rice farmers to improve the productivity of their potentially high yielding rice varieties with simple technology, well within their limited resources, the entire rice germplasm of India can be gradually raised in productivity, by upgrading it genetically which will also be preserved for posterity. There is no other shortcut to stop this deterioration in the rice productivity which was 800 kg/ha in 1970, which going down to 652 kg/ha, a decade later in M.P. now.

A sort of rice revolution movement is to be launched to awaken the rice farmers, to become a permanent feature, as a chain reaction, to increase productivity in rice with the least possible delay. The Indian rice farmer (so also the farmers of other S.E. Asian countries) is not afraid of manual labour and he is most efficient in rice farming. We have little to teach him by way of agronomy. On the other hand, rice researchers may derive new ideas and get themselves benefited immensely from his practice and culture, provided they get themselves drenched with him (the farmer) in rice soils during the growth period. I have done it. Inherently and intentionally experienced rice farmers of their age acted as rice breeders, responsible for developing and maintaining thousands of rice varieties up to our times.

Significance of Rice as Food in South –East Asia and India’s Lead Essential

The story of this specific plan of action will not be complete if I do not record the following observation made by some authority for information of the Prime Minister.

‘Agriculture and rice or food and rice are synonymous in the languages of China and India.’ Rice is a key to the main problems of survival in many of the over crowded areas in the Asian World.

‘He who controls the supply of rice will control the destiny of the entire Asiatic orbit. The most important thing to the majority of the people of Asia is not capitalism, or socialism or any other political ideology but food which means life itself, and in most of Asia, food is rice.’

Planning for increase in production of rice, therefore, is a very sensitive subject which attracts the attention of the highest powers in the world, lest India controls Asia on the food front. It is rightly said, ‘Vigilance is the prize of liberty’.

India is gifted with rice climate and is capable of attaining supremacy in this biological field and in capable of feeding millions in Asia, provided we apply our originality to take advantage of Nature’s gift and allow gifted rice researchers with absolute freedom of thought and action and do not interfere with the farmers choice of their varieties which environmental stress and which may be further improved. It is also known that some rice varieties of India have been proving very useful in breeding programmes in raising the yield potential of rice temperate regions in the South-East Asia to improve the Japanica Varieties e.g. the yield potential of rice in Korea has been increased through such a programme. Such a lead can be further strengthened if the rice germplasm of India is well preserved, studied and supplied directly to countries in the temperate region from the natural habitat, an item to be included in this specific plan of action.

The process of importing rice (A latest report indicates that 70,000 tones of rice is to be imported from Thailand- The Hindustan Times, dated 24.06.83) is to be stopped and the all round deserioration in rice yields and production is to be arrested immediately. This is possible provided the attitude of the planners and of the extension services in the states gets revised and changed in the light of the proposed programme for which bold steps are called for without any type of interference, to avoid further risk on the food front.

*In 1983, Dr. Richaria, one of the most eminent rice scientists of the world, prepared this action plan at the request of the Prime Minister’s office.

The Life and Work of Dr. R.H.Richharia by Bharat Dogra, 1991