Two new varieties of rice – CR Dhan 801 and CR Dhan 802 – developed by National Rice Research Institute (NRRI) have unique traits of being both drought- and flood-tolerant. Up to 10,000 hectare was covered under these two varieties, mostly under CR Dhan 801 last kharif season, from about 5,000 hectare in 2019, for multiplication of seeds.
In eastern Uttar Pradesh, CR Dhan 801 variety was planted in about 700 hectare. The average yield was around 6-7 tonne per hectare. The current average yield in these two new varieties is 6 tonne/hectare which can be improved up to 8 tonne a hectare. During flooding, even if the crop is submerged for 14 days, the yield will fall a maximum of only 30%, depending on turbidity in water.
In case of a drought, the yield will drop only by a half. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is presently working on varieties that can withstand flooding upto 3 weeks.
Released for commercial cultivation last year, the CR Dhan 801 is meant for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, which have 33-98% of paddy area under irrigation. Three genes of drought-tolerant traits from other varieties are added in CR Dhan 801 and two such genes in CR Dhan 802, which is meant for Bihar and Madhya Pradesh which has almost 34-65% irrigated paddy area.
As India Meteorological Department has predicted lower than normal monsoon rainfall during ensuing season in eastern region of India, these two rice varieties may help farmers tide over any drought-like condition. Even as the country has been witnessing flood and drought in some parts almost every year, the rice production has been continuously rising, reaching a record 120.32 million tonnes in 2020-21 crop year (July-June).
At least 20,000 quintal of seeds of this variety, adequate for over 60,000 hectare, may be available during kharif 2021 season in eastern UP.