Establishment of Rice Gardens
At the Puri temple in Orissa, the paddy crop is harvested every day and the Lord Jagannath is worshipped with that fresh rice food every day. This traditional system has been propagated based on the intimate knowledge of the rice varieties then prevalent in ancient Indai, followed by the varietal choice. (Such a concept of ancient days, may guide us to a possibility to harvest rice every day and every where). Such a system might have been a common practice in the past which was abandoned gradually with the introduction of the modern practices. This concept of ancient days may be revived and a possibility to harvest rice every day and every where may be explored. One way is to initiate the establishment of rice gardens by applying the clonal propagation technology to utilize the rice clones. This involves the development of suitable genotypic combinations, built up by hybridization, utilising suitable rice geno-types as indicated in the foregoing chapters to fit in the desired environments, and at the same time photo-insensitivity and multiple resistance to diseases and pests have to receive special attention in choosing the first planting material. After the first sowing with the seeds of suitable hybrid rice in small plots (this may begin even with the clones), the ear-heads are plucked, as they come up to maturity every day, followed simultaneously by splitting the clones from the stubbles and replanting them at nearly the same locations. The process may continue with individual plants as and when ready and as long as it can stand, perhaps a few years, (without carring out re-sowing with fresh seeds), coupled with every day collection of rice grains. With such an endeavour, an estimated rice production may even exceed a hundred tons per hectare annually. An assured water supply and management, manuring, weeding, drainage are the essential pre-requisites to establish rice gardens and it is not considered difficult to manage such small gardern plots, the sizes of which may vary with the guaranteed resource, including manual labour.
Rice breeders, agronomists, physiologists and microbiologists can come forward to apply their knowledge and experience in such restricted areas, as an intermediate step, by evolving suitable genotypes of rice, coupled with soil-water management practices (such as optimum water requirements in relation to the soil type and its fauna and flora etc.) under the desired environments. This concept of crop gardens is a most scientific approach of a permanent value and should not be confused for national demonstrations.
Such gardens may also go a long way in the conservation of habitats, rich in genetic diversity, an approach which has been practised for centuries. With locally adopted gentic diversity, such local rice gardens will become a permanent source knowledge and will serve as demonstration units for the surrounding farmers as well.
It is known that in the traditional rice regions local rice germplasm is principally characterised by possessing very rich rice genetic variability as examplified in recent years by the author and many others in India. Such attempts can also be combined for growing other agricultural crops predominating a locality.
Intensive cultivation is a key to feed the estimated 8 billion people of the world by the begining of the 21st century, instead of extensive cultivation, thus leaving a reasonably large surface of the earth for the survival and growth of the natural fauna and flora for ecologal balance to escape pollution in the future. Establishment of rice gardens, more so, when the rice-eating habit is on the increase, deserves priority to welcome the future generations for all times to come.
Where there is a will there is a way
There exists an immense possibility of establishing such crop gardens in the rural areas, associated with the primary schools as well, without any extra resources, utilising the school compounds. This will also serve the purpose of educating the young minds in intensive crop production methods, especially with food crops of their locality to meet the challenge of increased food demands of the future. To quote an example from Madhya Pradesh: There are about 45,000 primary schools, most of which being located in rural surrounding. Further Government’s proposals are to develop botanical gardens in all the 45 districts of the state as a measure to control pollution which can be linked with such crop garden projects without any extra resources.
As a long range programme to safeguard the future, protected forest areas and national parks to preserve the wild plant species, closely related to cultivated crop varieties (including wild rices) under their natural habitat may be recognised and linked with the forest National parks already established to protect the wild lives. Such approaches will not involve any extra resources except realizing the significance to preserve the fauna and flora (both micro and macro) of possible utility in the future.
Birth control, as it is, does not offer an assured solution to restrict the population at a particular level. It may or may not succeed against the Nature’s law of evolution. Ultimately the solution lies in producing food for all and it is possible only through projections based on our scientific knowledge alone. Bringing in political considerations would prove disasterous for human welfare.
THE FUTURE PROJECTIONS
From the foregoing account of the rice work, it is evident that we are on the thresh-hold of entering a possible rice revolution, if this approach is initiated simultaneously at all levels with rice clones and cloning, as a basis of taking advantage of latent energy of the rice plant, coupled with hybridization and natural out-crossing within or and between rice cultivars, including the wild forms. To investigate the behaviour and response of the rice clone is space during the Cosmic journeys, because of the perennating nature of the clone, would be a very fascinating subject aiming at providing food to the travellers in space and inhabitants of the space townships yet to be established. It is an indigenous technology with indigenous material for indigenous environments. This would enable the rice farmers to take advantage of the hybrid vigous phenomenon through hybrid rices as a direct contribution made by the rice scientists of all disciplines who would get the opportunity to apply and to project their gentic knowledge of the rice plant by intensive field experimention. These efforts, as out-lined here, also envisage cooperation of such existing national and state organisations as the Seed Corporations and agricultural societies. Even the local enlightened rice farmers can be directly involved in improving their rice culture, simultaneously giving advantages to their brethren with small holdings through the technology, described here.
In brief this work may be taken as a genetic forecast to introduce a possible silent revolution in up-grading the yeild potentail of the rice culture wherever it is practised in over 110 countries of the world in genral and India in particular.
To start with, as my personal contribution with a thrust on the collection, conservation and utilisationofthe indegeneous rice germplasm which is our heritage, I have established wih voluntary cooperation of Ahri Aurobindo Ashram, the following two centres for providing informationand intensive training to initiate a chain reaction in increasing rice productivity in relation to prevailing in relationto prevailing environments. The third centre is unde contemplation to be located somewhere in the Chhatisgarh region which is the rice bowl of Madhya Pradesh. Invitaions ar extended to all interested in this major staple food of humans to establish such voluntary rice centres with local resource and readily available inputs to ensure increased rice production and productivity, meeting the demand of the expanding human population.
To strengthen the hands of Government of the Country in such vital matters as food for millions, is the concern of all who can make substantial contributions, intellectually, financially physically and even psychologically.
It is from this point of view that I extend this invitation to establish such self-propagating rice centres of knowledge, spread all over the rice regions.
No magnitude of planning on the food front would work according to expectation, unless it is village-oriented with prevailingsocio-economic environments.
R. Plant Breeding Centre,
Raisen Road, Bhopal 462 023.(M.P.)
Sri Aurobindo Rice ResearchCentre,
Pondicherry 605 002.