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Assam names biodiversity heritage site to conserve flood-resistant wild paddy variety

Research on wild rice could help agriculture scientists come up with more varieties of flood-resistant paddy to help farmers in Assam
Last Updated : 06 September 2022, 15:33 IST
Last Updated : 06 September 2022, 15:33 IST
Last Updated : 06 September 2022, 15:33 IST
Last Updated : 06 September 2022, 15:33 IST

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Portion of land belonging to a private tea estate in Assam's Sonitpur district, where a wild, flood-resistant paddy variety was identified by agriculture scientists has been declared as a biodiversity heritage site for conservation of its germplasm.

Assam State Biodiversity Board (ASBB), which recently declared the 0.40 hectare land inside the Borjuli tea estate as 'Borjuli Wild Rice Biodiversity Heritage Site', said that the step has been taken as per the recommendation of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi, for conservation of the wild paddy variety, Oryza rufipogon.

"The wild species, especially the wild relatives of crop plants, are an invaluable source of resistance to several biotic and abiotic stresses, yield, nutritional quality, adaptation and genetic diversity. Keeping this in mind, we have declared the areas a biodiversity heritage site for conservation and for breeding and improvement of rice varieties for posterity," said K.S.P.V. Pavan Kumar, the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Biodiversity & Climate Change) and Member Secretary of ASBB.

"This wild rice possesses genes for disease and pest resistance, tolerance to submergence and salinity. So we hope that the site will serve as a model for community participatory conservation of wild rice species germplasm for replicating the same elsewhere. An action plan will soon be worked out after consultation with stakeholders," he said.

Another official said research on wild rice could help agriculture scientists come up with more varieties of flood-resistant paddy to help farmers in Assam, where floods wreak havoc almost every year, destroying lakh of hectares of paddy fields.

"Besides, the farmers and local communities would benefit from the plant genetic resources conservation awareness programs and allied activities on sustainable use of on-farm crop diversity in the area," Kumar said.

The land where the wild paddy variety was found is not part of any protected area (wildlife parks or sanctuaries) and so a no-objection certificate for allotment of the area for conservation was obtained from Borjuli Tea Estate in July 2021, ASBB said.

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Published 06 September 2022, 13:14 IST

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