National Seed Board has approved three new paddy seeds that can tolerate extreme climatic changes like drought, flooding or submergence for up to one-and-a-half months. They have been recommended for the Tarai, inner Tarai and river basin areas also.

“The Seed Varieties Release Approval and Registration Sub-committee under National Seed Board approved the three new seed varieties – Sukhha Dhan 4, Sukhha Dhan 5 and Sukhha Dhan 6 – on August 26,” according to Agriculture Ministry. ” These are the improved breeds of Sukhha Dhan 1, Sukhha Dhan 2 and Sukhha Dhan 3 released in 2011.”

With the sub-committee’s approval, Nepal has become the first country to release these varieties in the world after conducting a successful test in multiple locations across the country for the last three years.

India and Bangladesh are also conducting tests and are in the process of releasing these varieties.

But it is in the process of getting final approval from the board, and the farmers would be able to cultivate from this July, the ministry said, adding that these varieties can survive under stress and retain desirable grain qualities. “The new varieties can have positive impacts on the lives of farmers.”

The seeds can be released for farmers by June, the ministry officials said.

“Among the three seeds, Sukhha 6 has the ability to re-grow even two week after submergence,” said senior associate scientist at Nepal office of Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Bhaba Prasad Tripathi. “It has an average yield of four to four-and-a-half tonnes per hectare, and under a good irrigation condition, the output can go up to 5.5 tonnes per hectare on an average,” he said, adding that the plant stands 125-cm tall and the maturity period is 120-125 days.

According to Tripathi, the new varieties, which possess ‘Sub1A’ gene, make the plant dormant during submergence and allows it to conserve energy until floodwaters recede. Paddy plants with ‘Sub1A’ gene can survive more than two weeks of complete submergence. “The plant recovers well from drought by growing new shoots,” he said.

The varieties are the results of breeding efforts of IRRI and Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) under the support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Tripathi said they have recommended the government to grow more seeds of these varieties during Chaite (April-May) season to produce enough seeds for the main season (May-June).

Since 1966, Nepal has released and registered 74 varieties of paddy seeds – 57 released and 17 registered – and of them 18 are of the IRRI origin.

Likewise, in 2011, six rice varieties – Sambha Masuli Sub-1, Swarna Sub-1, Barkhe-2014 and Sukhha Dhan 1, 2 and 3 – from IRRI were released, while there were 15 varieties registered in the same period.

The ministry has estimated that paddy output will grow by 12 per cent to 5.047 million tonnes this fiscal year due to adequate rainfall. Paddy is grown on 1.48 million hectares, while productivity stands at 3.3 tonnes per hectare.

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