Geospatial assessment of flood-tolerant rice varieties to guide climate adaptation strategies in India

Rice is the most important food crop. With the largest rain-fed lowland area in the world, flooding is considered as the most important abiotic stress to rice production in India. With climate change, it is expected that the frequency and severity of the floods will increase over the years. These changes will have a severe impact on the rain-fed agriculture production and livelihoods of millions of farmers in the flood affected region. There are numerous flood risk adaptation and mitigation options available for rain-fed agriculture in India. Procuring, maintaining and distributing the newly developed submergence-tolerant rice variety called Swarna-Sub1 could play an important role in minimizing the effect of flood on rice production. This paper assesses the quantity and cost of a flood-tolerant rice seed variety- Swarna-Sub1, that would be required during the main cropping season of rice i.e., kharif at a district level for 17 major Indian states. The need for SS1 seeds for rice production was assessed by developing a geospatial framework using remote sensing to map the suitability of SS1, to help stakeholders prepare better in managing the flood risks. Results indicate that districts of Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh will require the highest amount of SS1 seeds for flood adaptation strategies. The total estimated seed requirement for these 17 states would cost around 370 crores INR, less than 0.01 percent of Indian central government’s budget allocation for agriculture sector.