50 Years of IR8 :: The rice variety which saved the world

Rice is the staple food of millions in South East Asia. People in South India and North East grow rice as the main crop. It is eaten with fish. It is the rice, that ushered green revolution in India and brought India back from the jaws of starvation. Punjab became the leader in growing the rice, a crop which was alien to North india as most people liked wheat. It is another matter that Punjab has to pay a untold price for feeding the Indian population.

Story of IR8 Rice

A few days back, it was 50 years ago, the rice variety nicknamed IR8 was launched and it saved millions in Asia and particularly in India from starvation and acted as a launchpad for Green Revolution in India.

It was almost a famine like situation in this area. The available production of edibles was insufficient to cope with the requirement. Traditional varieties of rice took 160 to 180 days for the crop cycle and yields were low.

The rice variety was developed by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) which is based in Manila and works under FAO. The strain matures in 130 days and has higher yields for the same nitrogen consumption.

In the year 1962, the Institute made a cross variety using Peta, a Indonesian tall, pest resistant and vigorous variety with a dwarf Chinese variety called dee-geo-woo-gen (DGWG) in the laboratory.

During field tests in Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan using the variety named IR8-288-3 showed great promise and yields it gave were almost 9 times the existing from 1 ton per hectare to 9 ton per hectare.

In Andhra Pradesh, a farmer called Nekkanti Subba Rao, experimented and sowed this rice in 2000 acres in Atchanta in West godavari. He earned the nickname of “Mr.IR8”.

The variety was commercially introduced in 1967 in the Vietnam during the American war.

The variety became popular worldwide and earned local nicknames worldwide. For example in Burma it is called Magyaw, Padi Ria in Malaysia ,Peta Baru 8 in Indonesia, Milagaru Philipino in Mexico . It was grown in Pakistan, India, Taiwan, China, and even in US.

In an interesting tale, a farmer K.N.Ganesan of Tamil Nadu named one of his sons “Irretu” meaning IR8 in Tamil.

Similarly in Vietnam the rice came to known as Honda rice as its bumper harvest enabled one farmer to purchase an Honda motorcycle.

 

 

Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)

I first spotted this bird perched on a electric transmission wire. The area underneath was all shrubs. It was in the hot monsoon season. The bird has a very strange plumage pattern of brown and cream stripes.

It’s name is Eurasian Wryneck and here it comes on migration. It belongs to the woodpecker family although it’s beak is not as large and dagger like as the other woodpeckers. It subsists on ants and insects which are found in the dead wood.

It can rotate it’s neck by almost 180 degrees. When it senses danger, it makes a hissing sound. The word Jinx has its origins in the bird.

After that, I spotted it few times. The latest encounter being in the month of December although it has become very cold here. I took some beautiful pictures of this bird.

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Some pictures of Scaly breasted Munia 

Scaly breasted Munia is a very small but attractive bird. They are very agile and combined with their small size , it becomes very difficult to take good pictures. Nevertheless, with patience and luck which are two most important qualities to capture a bird in nice photograph, I have taken a few pictures.

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Brown headed Barbet

It is also a very beautiful bird with dark green feathers. Barbets are native to Indian subcontinent widely spread across India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The name barbet alludes to the bristles on the sides of eyes. It’s green color makes it difficult sometimes to locate it in the green foliage. It eats fruits and insects. It is a plump bird. I chanced upon this bird some few months back and since then it has been seen and photographed by me quite a number of times. All the photos were shot using Canon powershot sx60 hs camera. Hope you will like them.

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Rediscovering the house sparrows 

The very name of sparrows, harks the mind back to my childhood days when we lived in a village. Most of the houses were made of mud and roofs supported by wooden logs. These left so many awnings which acted as the niches where these creatures made their nests for raising their chicks.

Whole day, they will dart inside and out bringing semi dry grass stubble for construction of the nest. There was chirping all day. There was a mulberry tree in our courtyard where in the evening these birds rested in its cool and secure boughs. The cacophony in the evening would be ear deafening.

They were so common that we hardly noticed them. They were the part of Punjabi folklore. For example, the unmarried girls were compared with them, saying that these girls are like sparrows chirping all day in the verandahs of their parents and will also fly away when married.

As the time passed, moving towards modernisation, the cities began expanding and eating away the agricultural land in the neighbouring villages. The houses in the villages also gave way to pucallpa houses which left no scope for these birds to make their nests. In other words their habitat was destroyed and factors like mobile towers radiations from which are supposed to be interfering with their lives, added the more trouble.

But still there are places in rural areas which have awnings and bushes for them to survive. I discovered them at many places in my neighbourhood.

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Below is the slideshow…..

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More Pictures of Purple Sunbird 

These days, the calls of this bird are so common that they will compel you to take notice. Owing to the purple colour of the bird, despite its minuscule size, you can locate it hovering and sucking nectar from flowers. Female are very difficult to locate as they are not purple at all but olive colored.

So here are few more pictures.

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