BALASORE: Low yield of traditional varieties of paddy has led to a decline in its demand in the district. The farmers are opting for short duration hybrid varieties for higher yields to earn more profit.
The State, in fact, is a treasure house of paddy varieties.
During a survey in 1970’s, more than 1,700 traditional varieties of paddy were recorded. Many of these varieties have unique characteristics not found in the high yield ones. However, it is a matter of concern that hardly a few varieties are cultivated now.
Though the traditional varieties had adapted to the local ecosystem over centuries and developed resistance to common pests and diseases besides natural calamities like flood and drought, the area of cultivation has come down.
With the area of cultivable land reducing drastically due to rapid urbanisation, the farmers are forced to opt for hybrid varieties for high yield in short duration using less farm land.
Ananta Pradhan, a farmer, said while only 10 quintals per acre can be harvested from a traditional variety, the quantity is 20 quintals per acre in high yield variety. “Besides, a hybrid variety can be ready in three months while a traditional variety requires four to five months to harvest,” he pointed out but admitted that traditional varieties certainly taste better.
With each passing year, the land taken up for traditional variety paddy crop is declining. While the traditional varieties were cultivated in 42,398 hectares and high yield ones in 1,71,524 hectares in 2010, the target has been set to cultivate desi variety in 23,000 ha and hybrid variety in 1,97,830 ha this year.
Although the Government had announced to register the traditional paddy varieties and preserve them under the Plant Varieties Protection and Farmers’ Right Act 2001, the result is hardly visible. Experts pointed out that hybrid varieties have bad effects on environment and human health as those require more fertiliser and pesticides while the desi ones mostly depend on organic compost.
Deputy Director, Agriculture, Gangadhar Pal said farmers are focusing on high returns in short duration. “We are unable to supply paddy seeds of traditional varieties due to lack of Government support. The Government now mostly supplies high yield seeds,” he added.