Rice varieties in Chhattisgarh—the Raipur collection
Chhattisgarh, boasts of an impressive range of rice varieties, and is one of the places where the indica variety of rice originated. The rice varieties vary in type (flavour, size of grain and fragrance) and days of maturity (60 – 150 days). Many rare varieties of rice, which have curative properties, are also grown in the State.
The local varieties of rice have been developed and nurtured by farmers in the State over generations. In 1971, an effort was made to evaluate and document these varieties by Dr. Richcharia, former Director of the Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack. The aim was to study the local varieties, using the method of ‘adaptive rice research’ and determine which varieties could be strengthened and developed for specific, local situations. The implicit agreement was that the farmers would make available these local varieties for the purpose of study and once the process was over, the varieties would be handed back to the farmers for cultivation.
Over a period of five years (1971-1976) Dr. Richcharia accessed over 19,000 varieties of rice. This repository of these 19,116 varieties came to be known as the ‘Raipur Collection’. Today, it is stored with the rice germ plasm bank at the Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyala, in Raipur and is the second largest collection of its kind in the world.
However, Dr. Richcharia’s vision of replicating ‘adaptive rice research centres’ in a decentralised manner, all across the State, is yet to be fulfilled. It is especially relevant in the present context and can be instrumental in increasing productivity as well as in providing a counter to the drought problem.
The situation today, as reflected by the District Jan Rapats, shows the increasing popularity of the high yielding varieties of rice (especially IR-36, IR-64, Mahamaya and Swarna amongst others) along with a continued dependence on the local varieties (especially Dubraaj, Saphri, Javaphul and Vishnubhog amongst others), in the face of drought and other calamities. Some of the local varieties documented in the Jan Rapats include Sultu, Paltu, Hanslo, Luchai, Kankadiya, Murmuriya, Churi, Badshah bhog, Kutki, Dokra megha, Marhaan dhaan. Other varieties include Jag Phool (smallest grain), Dokra dokri (longest grain), Hathi Panjara (two grains in one floret), Naargoidi (which can grow in up to 10 feet of water) and Gurmutiya (which has a purple stem).