From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : PR23
Mains level : Rice for global food security
Farmers in China are now growing a perennial variety of rice called PR 22 which does not need to be planted every year.
What is PR23?
- Researchers at the Yunnan University have developed a variety of perennial rice named PR23 by cross-breeding regular annual rice Oryza sativa with a wild perennial variety from Africa.
- Unlike regular rice which is planted every season, PR23 can yield eight consecutive harvests across four years (as these plants with stronger roots grow back vigorously after each harvest).
- PR23 yields, reported at 8 tons per hectare, are comparable to regular irrigated rice.
- But growing it is much cheaper since it requires less labour, seeds and chemical inputs.
Benefits of the variety
- It can result in remarkable environmental benefits such as soils accumulating close to a ton of organic carbon (per hectare per year) along with increases in water available to plants.
- It is were preferred by farmers since it saved 58% in labour and 49% in other input costs, over each regrowth cycle.
- The researchers claim it can transform farming by improving livelihoods, enhancing soil quality and by inspiring research on other grains.
- The invention could transform rice farming by making it climate-friendly, besides using less of labour and other inputs.
Why is the discovery of the new variety significant?
- Rice feeds about half of the world, and its farming and consumption are primarily in Asia.
- Most crops grown today were once perennial, but bred to be annual, short-duration, to make them more productive.
- Perennial rice could be a transformational innovation if it proves to be economically sustainable.
Significance for India
- India is the world’s second largest rice producer, after China, and the largest exporter with a 40% share in global trade.
- It is grown during both summer and winter crop seasons.
- Perennial rice can reduce the drudgery of annual trans-plantation, a back-breaking task, and generate savings on seeds and other inputs.
- China’s early success has another lesson for India: to raise investments in public research and agricultural sciences.
- This can help counter the impact of climate change on food security and rural incomes.
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