ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Case of Improved Samba Mahsuri

The Samba Mahsuri rice variety, though popular among farmers, millers and consumers, faces the threat of bacterial leaf blight in certain conditions. Based on feedback from farmers and others, this article assesses the Improved Samba Mahsuri variety in comparison, focusing on its capacity to cope with BLB, adoption of the improved variety by farmers, and the value it generates. It recommends a strong institutionalised supplyof seeds, and permitting additional private players in the production and distributionof the ISM variety.

The diffusion of improved rice varieties has slowed down in the recent years, resulting in a stagnation in yields. This article looks at the development, diffusion, and impact of a specific improved rice variety, in order to understand varietal diffusion processes and recommend policies for a speedier diffusion, especially varieties developed by public sector institutions.

Samba Mahsuri is a fine-grain rice variety, with good cooking quality and taste, and is consequently highly preferred by consumers across many states in India. It is in fact widely popular among farmers, millers, and consumers given its varietal attributes. However, it is susceptible to many pests and diseases, chiefly among them bacterial leaf blight (BLB). This is a common disease, with losses in yield ranging between 10% and 30% depending on the climate and local weather conditions. The appropriate chemicals for controlling the disease are not available. Keeping this in mind, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research–Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR–CCMB), in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Rice Research (IIRR), developed the Improved Samba Mahsuri (ISM) rice variety, which is resistant to BLB, by using gene marker technology (marker assisted selection). After successful laboratory tests, field trials started in 2005–06 in multilocation settings. With the field trials also proving successful, the ISM variety was released commercially in 2008 in several states, mainly in undivided Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka under the name ISM. It was also licensed to Sri Biotech to market during the 2011–12 kharif season with the commercial name SRI BIO 226. The company discontinued marketing it after 2012, as it was not part of its core business. Since 2012, CSIR–CCMB and ICAR–IIRR have implemented a project called BLIGHT OUT under the CSIR–800 scheme for the popularisation of ISM.

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Updated On : 4th Oct, 2017
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