IRRI engages with UAS Raichur to explore collaborations for enhancing rice cultivation in Karnataka

A delegation of scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) were recently invited to the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) Raichur in Karnataka State, India to discuss opportunities for partnership and collaboration on areas like rice breeding, varietal improvement, agonomic systems, mechanization, and technology transfer.

Rice is a key crop in Karnataka (around 5 lakh / Ha) and provides a major source of livelihood for the majority of the rural population. Challenges like adverse climate change effects, competition and scarcity of irrigation water, and labor shortages are greatly impacting farmers’ yields and food security in the region.

The IRRI delegation consisted of Director of the IRRI Bio-Innovation Center Dr. Gururaj Kulkarni, Deputy Platform Leader for Rice Breeding Innovations Dr. Sankalp Bhosale, and Regional Breeding Lead for South Asia Dr. Vikas Kumar Singh. They were met by UAS Vice Chancellor Dr. K.N. Kattimani, Director of Research Dr. B.K. Desai, and Director of Extension Dr. D.M. Chandaragi. Several UAS board members, department heads, and key staff were also in attendance, as well as leads from the Gangavathi Rice Research Station.

During the meeting, Vice Chancellor Dr. Kattimati invited Dr. Desai, Dr. Chandaragi, and other scientists to discuss the current state of rice cultivation in the region. These included farmers’ resistance to using new rice varieties Ganavathi Sona and RNR 15048 (to replace an old popular variety BPT 5204); the gradual adoption of dry direct seeding to reduce water requirements; and finding interventions to lessen postharvest losses.

UAS also shared their current research capabilities and plans. The residue pesticide analysis lab is well established at the university and has been NABL accredited. Grain quality parameters are of prime focus and the university is considering enhancing its infrastructure and expertise with the help of IRRI. And the Engineering unit is very eager to work with the institute to develop mechanized equipment for dry direct seeding and other rice agronomic systems.

For their part, the IRRI delegation also shared pathways of collaboration to UAS. Dr. Kulkarni gave a presentation on the IRRI Bio-Innovation Center, an initiative that provides public and private partners with IRRI’s expertise and infrastructure in fast-tracking their own research. Dr. Bhosale presented on IRRI’s OneRice Strategy, a unified breeding framework for CGIAR centers and its NARES partners. Varietal improvement for stress resilience, good grain quality, and better yields can be target traits for this network, which can include ARS Gangavathi and RRS Mandya as part of the multi-location trialing evaluation locations, which was agreed to by the UAS management.

By the end of the meeting, Dr. Desai suggested to draft a broad MOU between both institutes (via the Bio-Innovation Center) and then to identify specific research areas for bilateral research partnership.