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Rice cornerstone of food security, says President Murmu

Cuttack: President Droupadi Murmu said on Saturday that rice is the cornerstone of food security in the country, and a key factor of the nation’s economy. The President said this while inaugurating the second Indian Rice Congress at ICAR-National Rice Research Institute, here in Odisha.

“Though India is the leading consumer and exporter of rice today, the situation was different when the nation got Independence… those days, we were dependent on imports to meet our food requirements,” she said.

Praising the National Rice Research Institute, the President said: “If the nation could overcome that dependency and has become the largest exporter, a lot of credit goes to the National Rice Research Institute.

It has contributed immensely to India’s food security and also in improving farmers’ lives.” She also said that in the last century, as irrigation facilities expanded, rice came to be grown in new places and found new consumers.

Speaking about the challenges faced for cultivation of rice, the President said: “Even as rice has broken new ground, there are places where traditional varieties are facing challenges. Thus, the task before us today is to find the middle path — preserving and conserving traditional varieties on one hand, and maintaining ecological balance on the other.”

Another challenge is to save the soil from excessive use of chemical fertilisers, which are considered necessary for modern rice cultivation, she added. Murmu further said: “As rice forms the bedrock of our food security, we must consider its nutritional aspects too.

Large sections of low-income groups depend on rice, which is often the only source of daily nutrition for them.” Murmu said: “ICAR-NRRI has developed India’s first high protein rice, called CR Dhan 310 and released a high-zinc rice variety, called CR Dhan 315.”

Development of such bio-fortified varieties is an ideal example of science in the service of society. More and more of such efforts would be needed to support the increasing population amid a changing climate, she said. Earlier, on Saturday morning, the President along with her daughter, Itishree Murmu, visited Shree Lingaraj Temple here on the second day of her Odisha visit.

She first visited the Bindu Sagar lake before proceeding to the temple. After visiting different temples in the premises of the Lingaraj temple complex, Murmu signed the visitors’ book and wished for the well-being of the world.

After completing her two-day tour, the President returned to Delhi. Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik were there to see her off at the airport.

Murmu, on her first day of the Odisha tour, visited her alma mater, Ramadevi Women’s University, and also graced the foundation day of Jnanaprabha Mission as chief guest.