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Tropentag, September 14 - 16, 2022, Prague

"Can agroecological farming feed the world? Farmers' and academia's views."

Trekking rice: a shift in rice production and grain quality in the nepalese highlands

Shyam Pariyar1, Nagendra Bastakoti2, Mathias Becker1

1University of Bonn, Inst. Crop Sci. and Res. Conserv. (INRES) - Plant Nutrition, Germany
2MountDigit Technology, Nepal


The agricultural sector in Nepal is the largest contributor to the national economy and providing livelihood options to more than 60% of its population. Rice is the main staple crop of Nepal and more than 2000 landraces are available across the county, including the most cold-tolerant ones, which are cultivated in the highest altitudes in the world in Jumla above 2000 m altitude. Emerging land scarcity, a recent policy fostering ecological rice-based production in the highlands, and an increasing demand for high altitude rice is currently shifting and expanding rice cultivation to even higher altitudes of the Nepalese highlands.
The cultivation of highland rice relies on cold-tolerant Oryza sativa japonica landrace, and is directly associated with an ample availability of water combined with low and often highly fluctuating temperatures and very high solar radiation depending on altitude, latitude, and topography. Particularly low (night) temperatures delay the phenological development of highland rice and increase spikelet sterility, affecting the production and productivity of landraces and resulting in relatively low grain yields as compared to the national average. Thus, food insecurity prevails in much of the highland regions, especially in Karnali, where food shortages shape the vulnerability of rural livelihood since decades. On the other hand, low temperatures combined with high UV radiation at high altitudes may enhance antioxidants and phenolic compounds in the grain, thus positively affecting grain quality.
We investigated rice production along altitude gradients in Karnali. Field surveys and farmersĀ“ interview determined drivers of system shifts and effects of altitude expansion of rice cultivation on the phenology and yields. In addition to analysing secondary data from the literature, we collected grain samples at rice harvest to assess grain quality attributes of representative and commonly encountered highland rice genotypes. Since, the upward expansion of highland rice production beyond 2000 m of altitude is a very recent trend, we will report for the first time on the drivers of such system shifts and on associated change trends in grain quality attributes across altitudinal gradients of Nepal. Data analysis is in progress, and results will be presented and discussed.

Keywords: Agronomic traits, grain quality, high altitude rice, Oryza sativa, system shifts

Contact Address: Shyam Pariyar, University of Bonn, Inst. Crop Sci. and Res. Conserv. (INRES) - Plant Nutrition, Karlrobert-kreiten Strasse 13, 53115 Bonn, Germany, e-mail: spariyar@uni-bonn.de

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