GUWAHATI, Aug 24: Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Director General Matthew Morell, who is on a four-day visit to the state, called on chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal at Janata Bhawan on Friday.
The Director General informed about the submerged and stress tolerant rice varieties like Swarna and Ranjit – which were developed with technologies of IRRI –that are very suitable for the natural conditions of state. The chief minister urged Morell to extend all help in popularising these varieties among the state farmers as flood prone areas would be hugely benefitted by the rice varieties which can stay under water for as long as 15 days.
The Director General also apprised the chief minister about the plans of setting up a Regional Centre of IRRI in Guwahati and the chief minister urged him to expedite the process as he assured that the state government would felicitate the move with all possible cooperation. Opening of the regional centre would inspire confidence among the state farmers as they would get exposure to latest innovations in rice cultivation and youth of the state can be motivated to take up farming in a big way, he said.
The chief minister was also apprised that a Rice Knowledge Bank would also be set up in the state which would translate all data related to rice farming in Assamese for the help of the farmers of the state.
The chief minister also directed the officials of the agricultural department present in the meeting to organise state level Farmers’ sessions spanning over a couple of days where interaction would be held with the farmers from across the state and they would be given all support in terms of knowledge and logistics to increase farm income.
Saying that unless and until the society gives respect to the farmers that they deserve Assam’s agricultural sector cannot grow, the chief minister requested the Director General of IRRI to help in increasing the production of Assam’s famous Joha rice and market it properly for popularising it in the global market.
He also sought IRRI’s support in highlighting the indigenous varieties of sticky rice like Bora chaul and other varieties in the international market so that Assam’s farmers can get good price for their produce. The Director General assured of all help in this regard.
Agriculture minister Atul Bora, additional chief secretary (agriculture) BS Bhaskar, principal secretary to the chief minister Sanjay Lohia, agriculture director MS Manivannan were also present in the meeting among others.