Over 500 farm families of Kumta, in Dharward district, Karnataka, came together in March, 2017, to save a unique rice variety known as ‘Kagga’ that can tolerate both salinity and submerged conditions. It is a variety usually cultivated along with shrimp or crab culture in the brackish water lands called ‘Ghazani’ of south Karnataka. This system of rice –shrimp cultivation is of great importance of improved income in the context of climate change.
MSSRF initiated a project to revive the “Kagga” cultivation in partnership with Department of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka and University of Agriculture Sciences, Dharwad and University of Agriculture and Horticulture Sciences, Shivamogga. This project will help farmers to establish and mange village level Seed Banks for saline tolerant traditional rice varieties of Karanaka. Also to help register Kagga rice and other valuable traditional varieties under the PPV&FRA provisions. Participatory on-farm trials will also be held along with prawn or crab cultivation in the brackish water lands (‘Ghazani’) to improve farmers’ incomes.
The problem of salinity affects the entire coastal agriculture of India. In Karnataka alone, it is estimated that about 29,000 hectares of land may be affected due to sea level rise over the next few decades. In this context, conservation of salt tolerant landraces like Kagga becomes important. Such landraces have been nurtured over generations by farming communities for specific qualities to suit local requirements. Many are sources of genes for high nutritional values, resistance to insects, diseases, salinity and drought tolerance. However, systematic plant breeding efforts are still required with many landraces since they have relatively poor yields. You can read more about MSSRF's work in Biotechnology.