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India and International Rice Research Institute in Philippines celebrate 50th Anniversary of what came to be known as Miracle Rice

IR8 was the world’s first high-yielding rice and is credited with having prevented famines and sparking the Green Revolution in rice in Asia

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Indian Farmer Nekkanti Subba Rao. VOA
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New Delhi, Dec 7, 2016: Back in 1966, Nekkanti Subha Rao, a farmer in India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh planted a semi-dwarf rice variety developed by the International Rice Research Institute on 1,000 hectares of land.

Crossbred from a tall variety in Indonesia and a dwarf variety in China, IR8 was the world’s first high-yielding rice and is credited with having prevented famines and sparking the Green Revolution in rice in Asia.

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As India and the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines celebrate the 50th anniversary of what came to be known as the Miracle Rice, farmer Rao, now 80 years old, recalls the wonder of the moment when he harvested an astonishing 7.5 tons per hectare.

“Never before,” he said. “Every farmer feeling very, very, very happy, happy. 100 percent success.”

In the 1960s and 1970s, when India and several Asian countries grappled with food shortages, IR8 and varieties that followed helped triple rice output in Asia and fended off the specter of widespread hunger.

“It transformed agriculture, which averted the perennial food crises that happened in those years, those decades. It saved millions of lives,” said Dr. Nafees Meah, IRRI’s regional representative for South Asia.

After India, IR8 went on to be planted across a host of Asian countries, such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, where rice is the staple food for most people.

In all these countries, say agriculture scientists, it did not just boost yields. The shorter length of the crop made it sturdier and less prone to collapsing before harvest time. And as it took less time to mature compared to traditional rice strains, it allowed farmers to cultivate more than one crop on the same land.

“It reduced the duration quite significantly and it continues to do so. Vietnam right now, in many parts of Mekong Delta where water is there, they grow three crops a year, primarily because of shorter duration varieties,” said Samarendu Mohanty, Head of Social Sciences at IRRI in Philippines.

Mature rice fields of Peta, IR8 and DGWG varieties. VOA
Mature rice fields of Peta, IR8 and DGWG varieties. VOA

In about two decades, the IR8 made way to a host of other high yield varieties, but it is the parental strain for many of these. Recalling its phenomenal contribution, Mohanty said that in India alone, it is estimated to have contributed $1.3 billion annually to the rice sector.

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But ensuring food security is no longer the only challenge for Asia – a continent that is far more affluent than it was 50 years ago. At the same time, malnourishment continues to haunt millions of poor in the region, especially in South Asia. And everywhere, farmers are battling climate change.

“Developing new varieties that are higher yielding and more nutritious, but ones that have less of an environmental footprint, ones that require less water, fertilizer, pesticide and ones that actually have reduced greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rod Wing, an American scientist at IRRI in Manila as he outlines the challenges of the 21st century.

In recent years, new varieties that are more resistant to droughts and floods are showing promising results in east India and Bangladesh, a delta country where flash floods used to submerge or wash away crops.

“With these new varieties, we have got a real opportunity,” Meah said. “It has been adopted by millions of farmers, so they see the benefits of it. And it’s a real improvement for their livelihoods as well.”

To improve nutritional levels, a genetically engineered strain has been developed to address Vitamin A deficiency that kills many under the age of five. On the other end of the spectrum, as Asia copes with what are sometimes called diseases of affluence and witnesses an explosion in the incidence of diabetes, scientists are developing varieties with low glycemic index, which release energy slowly.

But the core challenge of productivity that IR8 sparked has still not gone away.

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“The big question is how do we solve the 10 billion people question? That is, how are we going to feed three more billion people on the planet by 2050? It is a huge, daunting task,” said Wing at IRRI, pointing out that rice is the staple diet of more than half the world.

And while farmers are harvesting higher and higher yields, they continue to battle other problems.

“Cost of cultivation very, very high now. Labor cost is high,” rued farmer Subha Rao from his home in Andhra Pradesh. (VOA)

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Lambasingi: A Snowfall Experience Like Never Before

Lambasingi temperature can go as low as -2 degrees celsius in the month of December

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Lambasingi is slowly emerging as one of the favourite tourist places in Andhra Pradesh. Wikimedia Commons
Lambasingi is slowly emerging as one of the favourite tourist places in Andhra Pradesh. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma 

  • Lambasingi is a tourist place in Andhra Pradesh
  • The place is famous for experiencing snowfalls
  • It is a beautiful, nature-friendly place and great for a recreational break

When you think of snowfall, you think of Kashmir, Manali, and all other hill places in North India. However, what many don’t know is, that snow falls in South India too. Lambasingi in Andhra Pradesh is a small picturesque village where snowfalls are beautiful.

The previously unknown village is now being promoted by Andhra Pradesh tourism. And it is also slowly becoming one of the favourite tourist places of Andhra Pradesh.

India has some of the most beautiful hill areas in the World. Wikimedia Commons
India has some of the most beautiful hill areas in the World. Wikimedia Commons

Lambasingi is a misty hill station, which at an altitude of 1025 meters above sea level is situated in the Chintapalli region of Arakku Valley. It has experienced snowfalls many times in the past.

Lambasingi temperature can go as low as -2 degrees Celsius in the month of December, and when that happens, the place gets covered in a layer of snow. Lambasingi weather is mostly cool and can get freezing in the months of December and January. It is one place which must be on your travel list.

Lambasingi is also home to many tribes. Wikimedia Commons
Lambasingi is also home to many tribes. Wikimedia Commons

But what do you do in Lambasingi other than wait for the snow? Here are some clues:

Enjoy the Farms and Gardens

Lambasingi is famous for its coffee and pepper farming. In winter, you can take a walk in these farms r the beautiful orchid gardens. It will make you feel like you are strolling through the clouds.

Visit the Waterfall 

27 km away from the beautiful hill station, lies the Kothapally waterfall. In between enchanting forests, the crystal white water of this waterfall will leave you enchanted.

Lambasingi is also famous for its coffee and pepper plantations. Wikimedia Commons
Lambasingi is also famous for its coffee and pepper plantations. Wikimedia Commons
Enjoy the Misty Mornings 

Mornings in the mountains are the best, and in Lambasingi the experience is just as beautiful. The Lambasingi temperature throughout the year stays less than 10 degrees Celcius, so you can expect a beautiful, chilly morning every day during your stay there.

Also Read: Travel and Tourism Fair in Kolkata aims at Exploiting Huge Travel and Tourism Potential in the Country 

Stroll through the Forests 

Lambasingi weather is beautiful, it needs no reiterating. And there are even more beautiful and lush green forests for you to stroll through to make yourself feel at peace. One can also observe various birds, plants and animals, to make for a more thrilling experience.

Forests in Lambasingi are green and lush, perfect for walks. Wikimedia Commons
Forests in Lambasingi are green and lush, perfect for walks. Wikimedia Commons
Try Adventure Sports 

The Lambasingi travel guide also promises adventurous experiences. You can go trekking, rock climbing and rappelling as well.

Also Read: Goa pins ‘bird’ing hopes to attract tourists

Lambasingi is becoming one of the hottest tourist places in Andhra Pradesh really fast, and the people are capitalising on it like anything. Lambasingi has hotels now which promise an amazing experience and comfortable stay. This place is a pocket-friendly trip you can enjoy with your family.