January 31, 2020
Arsenic-resistant Muktoshri rice bringing hope for farmers
The Muktoshri variety of rice has brought hope to many farmers in Bangla. Being arsenic-resistant, it has enabled farmers in 81 blocks of the State to cultivate rice, a staple food, using groundwater saturated with arsenic.
Over-extraction of groundwater leads to arsenic from the soil leaching into it. Drinking that water or consuming it through food cause several ailments. Therefore, the Chinsurah Rice Research Station started experimenting to create an arsenic-resistant variety.
Ultimately, in 2012, the scientists managed to create a variety, which they named IET 21845. In 2013, before being commercially released, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee named it ‘Muktoshri’.
Besides being arsenic-resistant, the scientists made it such that it would be commercially profitable too. Firstly, it can be planted during both the boro and kharif seasons (because it can withstand both scarcity of water as well as heavy rains), with yields being 5.5 metric tonnes per hectare and 5 metric tonnes per hectare, respectively. Secondly, the rice is long and thin, and aromatic.