Current Affairs


  1. In 1967, when a 29-year-old N. Subba Rao sowed a semidwarf variety of rice in over 2,000 hectares in Atchanta, West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh, he wouldn’t have thought he would be part of a revolution in rice cultivation.
  2. What Dr. Rao sowed in his farm was IR-8, a rice variety developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) that could produce as much as seven tonnes of rice per hectare, while the traditional seeds could produce only two tonnes per hectare.
  3. The rice was first introduced in 1966 in Philippines, where the agri-research firm was based.
  4. The research for developing a high-yield variety of rice began in 1960s when most Asian countries, including India, were reeling under famine.
  5. Peter Jenning, who joined as a rice breeder at the IRRI began experiments with rice crossing. The team tried as many as 38 crosses involving rice varieties from China, Taiwan and Indonesia.
  6. After years of research, Henry M. Beachell, who worked with Jenning, developed the IR8-288-3 by crossing Dee-Geo-woo-gen and Peta variety of rice and tested it in the Philippines.
  7. At around the same time, Agriculture Minister C. Subramaniam invited Nobellaureate Norman Borlaug to work on improving the agricultural sector in the country. Borlaug went on to revolutionise wheat cultivation in the country. But India was largely a rice-eating nation. Rice was cultivated in every region, from hilly terrains of north and north-east to coasts of south. And IR8 came as a boon.
  8. It marks the 50th anniversary of the IR8 variety. A study published by Field Crops Research journal in 2010 explains how the yield has dropped by 15 per cent due to climate change. Researchers have blamed hotter nights, frequent flooding and air pollution for the drop in the yield of IR8.
  9. The same was emphasised by Dr. Swaminathan. “In the future, rice will play an important role in climate change management since it can grow under a wide range of altitudes and latitudes. For example, rice has grown below sea level in Kuttanad area of Kerala. At the same time, it is grown in high Himalayas. Wheat has no such resilience and is very much depended upon favourable night temperature. Therefore, more research should be done on the role of rice in climate change management,” he said.