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India has the largest proportion of area planted to rice in Asia and is one of the top ten rice-producing and rice-exporting countries in the world. It also has the largest rainfed rice area in Asia. More than half of Asia’s drought-prone rice areas can be found in India. Its eastern part, where rice cultivation is most intense, accounts for only 48% of the country’s total rice production. Drought, low soil fertility, flooding, and water stagnation affect about 80% of eastern India’s rainfed rice area.

In India, drought affects an estimated 3,384,430 hectares of rice. 

Drought-affected areas in India

In eastern India, in the river basins of the Ganges and Brahmaputra, deepwater rice areas can be found.

IRRI and India have been successfully collaborating for more than four decades. India began its partnership with IRRI through the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in 1967. In 1974, director generals M.S. Swaminathan and N.C. Brady of ICAR and IRRI, respectively, signed their first memorandum of understanding for cooperation in research and training.

This partnership has resulted in advances in developing disease- and insect-resistant varieties suited to various rice environments. Moreover, the partnership has resulted in the release of new improved hybrid rice varieties and postharvest technologies, and much better rice productivity. 

The total rice area affected by submergence in India is estimated at 1,906,430 hectares.

Flood-prone areas in India.

Studies in the Indian plateau uplands focused on farmer participatory evaluation of drought-tolerant germplasm and management options under suboptimal fertility and moisture levels in bunded upper fields. This is the period when farmers’ economic activities are constrained by limited time for farm operations. The direct impact of drought is a decrease in net cropped area.

Uplands of India

Partners in India had a rich harvest for salinity-tolerance research. The map shows the salt-affected areas in India.

Salt-affected areas in India

Key institutions

  • Central Rainfed Upland Rice Research Station (CRURRS)
  • Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI)
  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Research Complex for NEH Region (ICAR-NEH)
  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) - Food and Fodder Crops
  • Indira Gandhi Agricultural University (IGAU), Raipur
  • Narendra Deva University of Agriculture and Technology (NDUAT)
  • Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS), Assam Agricultural University (AAU)

Key scientists

  • Dr. Mukund Variar, CRURRS
  • Dr. Devendra Pratap Singh, CRRI
  • Dr. JN ReddyCRRI
  • Mr. RK SarkarCRRI
  • Dr. Tapan Kumar AdhyaCRRI
  • Dr. Arunava Pattanayak, ICAR-NEH
  • Dr. Shankar Nath Shukla, ICAR
  • Dr. SK Patil, IGAU Raipur
  • Dr. A.L. Rathore, IGAU Raipur
  • Dr. Akhtar H Khan, NDUAT
  • Dr. Ramen Kumar Sarma, RARS, AAU

Released rice varieties

 Name of variety Year released Ecosystem
 Sahbhagi dhan 2010 Drought
 CR dhan 405 (Luna Sankhi) 2012 Salinity
 CR dhan 406 (Luna Barial) 2012 Salinity
 CSR 43 2011 Salinity
 NDRK 5088 (Narendra Usar dhan 2008) 2010 Salinity
 CR dhan 402 2009 Salinity
 CR dhan 403 2009 Salinity
 Samba Mahsuri-sub1 2013 Submergence
 Narendra Jal Pushp 2009 Submergence
 Narendra Mayank 2009 Submergence
 Narendra Nariani 2009 Submergence
 Swarna-sub1 2009 Submergence


  • Drought
  • Submergence
  • Salinity
  • Upland

Research activities

Drought. Field trials and testing of lines,  screening of genotypes, participatory varietal selection activities, field visits.

Other activities are: 
  • Nutrient-use efficiency of drought-tolerant cultures
  • Demonstrations of rice-pigeon pea cropping systems
  • Anaerobic germination under 5-cm water depth
  • The benefits of pure and healthy rice seeds for yield under lowland conditions

Submergence.  Four submergence-tolerant varieties were released by partners in India from 2009 to 2013. These are:
  1. Samba Mahsuri-Sub1
  2. Narendra Jal Pushp
  3. Narendra Mayank
  4. Narendra Nariani
Testing in farmers’ fields. Seeds of five promising lines (NDR9730018, NDR9930111, NDR9830144, Swarna-Sub1, and Sambha-Sub1), along with Swarna and Sambha as nontolerant control checks, were evaluated in farmers’ fields in Faizabad, Ballia, Mau, and Azamgarh.

Mother and baby trials. 
  • For PVS mother trials, two sites were used with 12 entries.
  • Mother trials. Three mother trials were conducted, one each in Faizabad (CRS in Masodha), Barabanki (KVK in Hydargarh), and Ballia (a farmer’s field) districts.
  • Preference analyses for the mother trials were conducted, one each at Masodha and Ballia on 10 and 12 November 2012, respectively, with 18 genotypes.
  • Baby trials. Baby trials were conducted in 320 farmers’ fields across 10 districts (Faizabad, Ghazipur, Mau, Ballia, Azamgarh, SahuJeeMahraj, Gorakhpur, Basti, Siddharthnagar, and Sant Kabir Nagar) of eastern Uttar Pradesh.
  • Overall, 11 PVS activities, 149 genotypes/lines, 8 varietal/field trials, and 8 management trials were implemented by the NARES partners.
Management options/ Crop management. To identify suitable N fertilization rates for upland rice production, nine improved non-glutinous cultivars were used in the NAFReC trials:
  1. IR82635-B-B-145-1
  2. IR83928-B-B-28-3
  3. IR82589-B-B-2-3
  4. IR83928-B-B-81-2
  5. IR82589-B-B-149-4
  6. IR82635-B-B-47-1
  7. IR82635-B-B-59-2
  8. IR82639-B-B-118-3
  9. IR82589-B-B-7-3
  10. B6144F-MR-6 (check)

Salinity. Varieties released. In 2012, India released two varieties: CR Dhan 405(Luna Sankhi) during the dry season and CR Dhan 406(Luna Barial) during the wet season. CR Dhan 405 yields 3.6−4.9 t/ha and CR Dhan 406 yields 3.2−4.3 t/ha.

 In background research work prior to the release of the two varieties in 2012, NARES partners in India evaluated at two sites 10  promising salt-tolerant lines from CRRI along with tolerant checks SR26B and CR Dhan 403, and a farmer’s variety (Bhaluki in Ersama; Panikoili in Astarang).

Participatory varietal selection (PVS). For a PVS dry-season mother trial, two varieties were found promising: Ersama and Astarang. 

Non-farm demonstration on Azolla biofertilizer (dry season), its application increased rice yield by 9−25% over the no-Azolla treatment. The average yield increase was 18%.

Baby trials. the performance of salt-tolerant rice varieties SR26B and CR Dhan 402 selected from the previous year’s PVS trials was evaluated under farmers’ management at 13 locations in Ersama and Astarang.

Management options. 
  • Nursery management for improving rice productivity. Fertilizer application in rainfed salt-affected coastal areas is often not feasible
  • Best-bet management. Rice yield in salt-affected coastal areas could be increased by using high-yielding salt-tolerant rice varieties.

Upland. Rice varieties for the uplands. Four upland autumn rice varieties, Tupri Thaijak, Bairing, Haccha, and IET 981014, were tested in eight farmers’ fields in the Hills Zone of Assam during autumn 2010.

Five upland autumn rice varieties, Tupri Thaijak, Bairing, Haccha, Maibasa, and IET 981014, were tested in 10 farmers’ fields in the Hills Zone of Assam during autumn 2011. 

Twelve elite IRRI lines were tested in four farmers’ fields. Farmers were impressed by the performance of the varietes IR82635-B-B-47-2, IR82635-B-B-47-1, IR82635-B-B-82-2, and IR82589-B- B-51-4.

Cropping systems. Three upland autumn rice-based croppingsequences,autumn rice–toria, autumn rice−blackgram, and autumn rice–greengram, were demonstrated in 36 farmers’ fields spread over eight villages during 2010. 
 Three rice-based cropping sequences, direct-seeded autumn rice–lentil, direct-seeded autumn rice– chilli,anddirect-seeded autumn rice–french bean,were tested in 10 farmers’ fieldsduring 2011. 

Two upland autumn rice-based cropping sequences, autumn rice–sesame and autumn rice–pea, were demonstrated in 20 farmers’ fields spread over eight villages during 2011. 

Two upland autumn rice-based cropping sequences, direct-seeded upland autumn rice–chilli and direct-seeded upland autumn rice–french bean, were demonstrated in 20 farmers’ (14 males and 6 females) fields spread over five villages during 2012.