Rice is the principal food crop of Assam and NE India. More than 90% population of the region depends on rice for their caloric requirement. Rice has been playing a key role in all spheres of life in the region. Realizing the importance of the crop in the state, rice research was initiated through establishment of a Rice Experimental Station at Karimganj in 1913. Ten years later, i.e. in 1923, another rice experimental station came up at Titabar in the Brahmaputra Valley of the state which is situated at 20 km away from Jorhat, on Titabar- Borholla road. The research station celebrated its Platinum Jubilee of its establishment in1997 and going to complete 100 years during 2023. The research station has been taking up rice research activities since its inception and played a key role in increasing production and productivity of rice in the state.
The mandate of the station are to generate technological packages through interdisciplinary research and disseminating production technologies to the farmer’s field to increase rice productivity and sustainability by adopting applied, basic and location specific, need based research on rice, to conserve the genetic resources of rice besides producing quality seeds of popular high yielding varieties.
The Rice Experimental Station at Titabar came under the administrative control of Assam Agricultural University in 1969 as Rice Research Station. In early eighties, emphasis was laid on taking up need-based, location specific research as per the concept of National Agricultural Research Project (NARP). Therefore, one research station was established in each of the six agro-climatic zones of Assam. Since then Rice Research Station at Titabar became a Zonal Research Station for Upper Brahmaputra Valley Zone and re-designated as Regional Agricultural Research Station. Rice continued to be the main subject of research in this station and in recent years, a number of location specific technologies have been generated on the crop.
The station occupies about 50 ha of land area of which 10 ha are under roads and buildings and remaining 40 ha are cultivable land. About 13 ha are being utilized for research and in remaining 27 ha. quality seeds of popular rice varieties are produced.
Research on rice is being undertaken in six disciplines viz., Plant Breeding, Agronomy, Soil Science, Plant Pathology, Entomology and Plant Physiology. The station is headed by a Chief Scientist. At present, a team of eight scientists is thriving hard to evolve high yielding varieties for diverse rice growing situations, cultural practices, plant protection measures and technology for maintaining soil physical health for sustainable rice production.
In the pre AAU era, emphasis was laid on collection and evaluation of indigenous cultivars, purify them and release the pure lines for cultivation. Mention may be made about Rangadoria, Fapori, Farma, Ahomsali, Kalamdani etc.
Later on, hybridization programs were also taken up to improve the existing cultivars for one or two agronomically important characters. Andrewsali, Sali hybrid, TTB ASC 313-11 are some of the varieties evolved in the station through hybridization program.
Collection, evaluation and maintenance of rice germplasm continued to be an important rice research activity. The rice germplasm in the state is diverse and are sources of valuable genes. However due to rapid urbanization, modernization of agriculture and natural calamities these resources are depleting and there is danger of extinction of such valuable germplasm in the years to come. Regional Agricultural Research Station, Titabar is maintaining 2500 accessions of different categories of indigenous rice cultivars. Some of these cultivars have been utilized in the breeding programs within and outside the state.
Regional Agricultural Research Station, Titabar has so far developed more than 54 rice varieties through its breeding program. Besides a number of varieties bred elsewhere in the country are also tested through All India Coordinated Programs and other national and International collaborative programs. Some of the varieties selected from such programmes include Pankaj, IR 8, Jaya, IR 36, Lakhimi, Swarna Sub1, Arize 6444, US 382, Arize 6129, Rajalaxmi, DRRH 2, NK 5251 .BR11 Sub-1 etc.