“Adopting high yielding hybrid variety of paddy crops and thereby reducing the area of rice cultivation without affecting the overall production can save water to a huge extent and pose a solution to the interstate water dispute,” said M Mahadevappa, agricultural scientist, and former chairman of Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB) .
Mahadevappa, who has done extensive research on rice cultivation, opined that productivity had stagnated for the last two decades and the available technologies failed to break the yield barrier in rice.
He noted that in China, super hybrid varieties of paddy have a potential yield of 69 quintuples per acre, as against the 48 quintuples per acre from the conventional high-yielding varieties.
“In India, the productivity is below 20 quintals per acre. The hybrid variety in India yields 32.4 quintals to 36.4 quintals per acre as per the All India Coordinated Rice Improvement Programme. So, we need to adopt some of their technologies,” Mahadevappa said.
Around 1,643 litres of water is used to produce one kilogram of paddy here. With this water at least four acres of semi-dry crops like ragi, groundnut, sunflower can be cultivated, he added.
An area of 27.2 lakh acre is dedicated to paddy production in the state and this area produces around 35 lake tonnes. “Even if 25 per cent is planted under hybrid, 7.4 lakh acres can be released for other crops,” he said.
He added that China reduced the area of paddy cultivation from 99 million acres during 1970’s to 79 million acres in late 1980’s, without affecting total paddy production.
“China is now planning to bring it down to 62 million acres. The area and water thus saved are diverted to less water consuming and high-value crops,” he said.
According to his research, varieties like pusa, basaltic-1 mature early, saving a field-stand of about 15 to 25 days which saves water up to 25 per cent.
“Scientists are not respected in this regard. I was part of the Cauvery Technical Cell during 91-93. Our efforts were never considered despite presenting proposals to the government several times. The government has failed to implement the suggestions. We cannot blame farmers as they are unable to conceive the concept,” he said.