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Published in Issue No. 146, page 43 to 48 - (8538) characters

Rice genetic resources of Mayurbhanj District, Orissa

B.C. Patra  B.C. Marndi  


Mayurbhanj District of Orissa State, India, lies between 21° 17’ and 22° 34’ N latitude and 85° 40’ and 87° 0’ E longitude.To the north, it is bounded by Singhbhum District of Jharkhand State; Midnapore district of West Bengal in the east; Keonjhar and Balasore districts of Orissa in west and south respectively.This is the only District in OrissaState that was not divided during re-organization in 1991, reflecting its sparse population density. The District covers 10 418 km2, and more than 60% of population belong to various scheduled tribes.The dominant tribes are Santhal, Kolha, Bhumij, Bathudi, Bhuyan and Ho (Senapati and Sahu 1967). The District consists of 26 blocks, with Simlipal, a national biosphere reserve, in the centre, covering more than half of the total area. The aboriginal tribals cultivate primitive cultivars. There has been little spread of high yielding varieties because of physiographic limitations and limited water availability due to low rainfall and non-availability of irrigation water sources. Agriculture relies completely on monsoon rains.Resource-poor tribal farmers earn their livelihood mostly from forest products. Sabai grass (Pollinidium angustifolium) is extensively cultivated as a perennial in upland dry barren fields in Betnoti, Chitrada (Muruda) and Suliapada blocks, and used to produce the famous Bugei rope.

Material and methods

The Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), Cuttack, has been prospecting for and collecting rice germplasm in different parts of the country on a single-District basis (Singh et al. 2001). OrissaState has received attention since it harbours a rich genetic diversity, blended with aboriginal tribal culture. The erstwhile undivided Districts of the state have already been explored, including Keonjhar (Patra 2000), Kalahandi, Dhenkanal and Balasore (Patra and Dhua 1998) and Koraput (Patra and Dhua 2003), and the rice germplasm documented, characterized, evaluated and conserved. Mayurbhanj District represented another step towards exploration for compilation of the rice genetic resources of the state as a whole.

Most of the rice crop in Mayurbhanj matures by November, so collecting was carried out from 16 to 29 November 1998. The survey route is shown in Figure 1. The traditional varieties and landraces collected are listed in Table 1. About 250–300 g of seed of each accession was deposited as a voucher specimen in the medium-term storage facility at CRRI for future reference. All the collections were identified by a unique collector’s number and a CRRI accession number. They were then multiplied and deposited in long-term storage at -20° C in the National Gene Bank (National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources [NBPGR], New Delhi), where they have received or will eventually receive a national identity (IC series) number. A set of the collected accessions was grown during the following Kharif season in the experimental fields of CRRI, Cuttack, to provide agro-morphological characterization and biotic and abiotic evaluation data.


The samples were grown in an augmented block design with 3 checks. Single seedlings were transplanted at a spacing of 20 × 20 cm. A basal dose of fertilizer was applied at 30:15:15 N:P:K at the time of field preparation. The morpho-agronomic characters for both vegetative and reproductive stages were recorded using the IRRI-IPGRI descriptors (IRRI, 1980). Observations were recorded on leaf, culm height and panicle length over five randomly selected plants for statistical analysis.

Seedling height recorded at 21 days showed a great deal of variability. Other important vegetative characteristics showed less variation, but statistical parameters displayed high variability, as shown in Table 2 and Figure 2.


Since Mayurbhanj District is dominated by tribal populations and the central portion of the district is mixed hill and forest (the terminal point of the Eastern Ghats), the spread of high yielding varieties has been slow and hence it was possible to obtain a significant collection of traditional and primitive cultivars of rice, with 176 accessions of rice germplasm collected. Earlier exploration trips in the region in the 1980s were unsystematic, with limited results (Dikshit and Malik 2000).

As the exploration targeted only landraces, primitive cultivars and traditional varieties, the team moved from field to field and village to village, avoiding modern cultivars. There were clear indications of reduced areas under traditional varieties and landraces as increasingly popular high yielding varieties spread — varieties such as Lalat, Moti, CR 1009 (Savitri), CR 1030 (Utkal Prava) and Swarna(MTU 7029) — although most tribal farmers still grew the traditional varieties.In the collection year there had been early drought conditions during flowering, followed by cyclonic rain during maturation, and the resource-rich farmers suffered considerable yield loss, especially those who had grown high yielding varieties like Swarna. Interviews with the farmers and other agencies indicated that the primitive cultivars sustained their yield potential and withstood the adverse conditions. The tribal farmers prefer the tall straw from the traditional varieties for house thatching and as livestock fodder.

Among the traditional varieties, ‘Sundar bhojana’ is predominant in the district. During the survey, some accessions were obtained with special quality traits, such as those varieties preferred for preparation of mudhi (puffed rice), khai (puffed paddy), chuda (flake or beaten rice) and beverage rice (watered rice), together with a few scented varieties used for preparation of festival delicacies. A few of these specialized varieties are shown in Table 3.

Of the 176 germplasm samples, 111 are of early-duration varieties and mostly grown in both bunded and unbunded uplands, while 61 accessions are of medium- to late-duration, grown in rain-fed lowlands, and 4 are deepwater varieties. The important and popular traditional varieties for differentecosystems are shown in Table 4.

The grain shapes of traditional varieties are mostly long and medium slender and long bold types (Table 5).


During recent years, several exploration trips have been made to different Districts of Orissa State, but Mayurbhanj District was unique in its richness of rice germplasm of traditional cultivars in many areas. The survey resulted in a collection of 176 accessions of rice germplasm, which have been documented and evaluated for further use in various breeding programmes. Varieties typical of the various ecosystems were obtained through this prospect survey, and some value-adding germplasm types collected. Samples are available on request through CRRI (CR- accession number) and NBPGR (IC- numbers). Conserving the accessions in both medium- and long-term storage increases and reinforces the gene pool of the country.


Dikshit N, Malik SS. 2000. Similipal Biosphere Reserve: Home of cultivated and wild Oryza species. Indian Journal of Plant Genetic Resources 13(3):302–304.

IRRI [International Rice Research Institute]. 1980. Descriptors for Rice (Oryza sativa L.). IRRI/IPGRI, Manila, The Philippines.

PatraBC, Dhua SR. 1998. Collecting and evaluating rice germplasm from Orissa, India. Plant Genetic Resources Newsletter 113:53–55.

PatraBC. 2000. Collection and characterization of rice genetic resources from Keonjhar District of Orissa. Oryza 37(4):324–326.

PatraBC, Dhua SR. 2003. Agro-morphological diversity scenario in upland rice germplasm of Jeypore tract. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 50(8):825-828.

Senapati N, Sahu NK. 1967. Orissa District Gazetteers – Mayurbhanj. Orissa Government Press, Cuttack, India.

Singh BN, Dhua SR, Sahu RK, PatraBC, MarndiBC. 2001. Status of rice germplasm – its collection and conservation in India. Indian Journal of Plant Genetic Resources 14(2):105–106.



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