Bayer CropScience awaits nod to launch flood-resistant rice in India

In 1995, Bayer had introduced hybrid rice under the Arize brand in India. Representative Image
German chemical and seed company Bayer plans to launch a flood-resistant rice variety in India before the onset of the monsoon season next year.

While the new variety has already been launched in neighbouring Bangladesh, the company has applied for the necessary regulatory approval in India.

“The process of getting the required approval is on and we are working closely with the concerned departments under the union agriculture ministry for the same,” Bayer CropScience Limited, Commercial Lead (Central), Ajeet Chahal told Business Standard.

He said three-year field trials for the rice variety had been conducted in West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha. The trials have to be completed before the company can apply for the final regulatory nod.

“Our flood-resistant rice has shown goods results in the field trials and together with the successful commercial launch in Bangladesh, we are confident of its success in India as well,” Chahal added.

He said the new variety could withstand complete inundation of fields due to floods for two weeks at a stretch, whereas normal paddy suffers almost 50 per cent crop loss under such adverse circumstances.

He noted though food grain production in India was now robust, yet the country needed to prepare for the future challenges of shrinking farm land, impact of global warming on agriculture, flooding etc.

“The need of the hour is to focus more on quality of agricultural produce with higher nutritional value than purely quantity,” he underscored.

In 1995, Bayer had introduced hybrid rice under the Arize brand in India. Today, Arize has more than 2.5 million acres under cultivation across states, including Uttar Pradesh, Chahal said.

To mark the completion of 25 years of Arize in India, Bayer CropScience recently released an impact-assessment report in Lucknow in the presence of the company’s managing director D Narain, who said the firm aimed at enhancing the productivity and income of farmers, apart from promoting sustainable agriculture.

According to the report, Arize farmers had reaped a yield advantage of 20-25 per cent of rice, while the short duration of some Arize varieties allowed farmers to ‘multi-crop’ with vegetables and other crops, which added to their overall income and helped them with soil quality.

Besides, in Kharif 2019, Bayer conducted capacity building activities in the hybrid rice-producing states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. The firm tied up with 16 NGOs to for distribution of 305 tonnes of hybrid rice seeds to over 100,000 smallholder farmers in 1,765 villages across the three states.

Earlier this year, Bayer AG had completed the integration of biotech major Monsanto's India business with itself. In June 2019, Bayer AG had announced completion of the $63 billion mega deal to acquire US-based biotech major Monsanto to create the world’s largest agro-chemical and seed company.

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