In Situ Conservation of Traditional Rice Varieties of Uttara Kannada
Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences [CES], Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – 560012, India.
*Corresponding author:


Before the start of Green Revolution there were over 100,000 native varieties of rice in India. These were the results of selection and propagation by the indigenous farmers through 5000 years of efforts. It is feared that over the last few years, due to the introduction of high yielding new varieties from elsewhere and hybrids bulk of Indian varieties have gone extinct. This is unbelievable loss for the gene pool of rice, prime staple food-grain of the world. There is still hope that through field surveys, especially in places of high landscape heterogeneity, the remaining native rice varieties can be located in farmers’ fields and saved from extinction through promotion of in situ conservation. As a preliminary exercise we carried out a field survey in about 300 villages of Uttara Kannada to prepare an inventory of rice varieties grown, through interviews with the farmers. Data was gathered also about the notable characteristics and desirable features of these varieties. Out of about 178 rice varieties inventorised about 95 were native varieties. Most of these are taller to hybrids and other new varieties, over 5-6 in height and yield more fodder for cattle. Though their yields are relatively lower they have more resistance to pests and diseases. Their grains are bolder and longer and the rice comes in white, red and brownish colors. Some like Sannakki and Jeerigesali are fragrant. Doddabatha and Kagga are good for making rice flakes. Chitagya, Doddagya, Halaga, Hasadi etc. are attributed with medicinal properties. Salinity tolerance is found in Bilikagga and Karikagga grown in estuarine fields. Lot of choice exists for selection of rice of different durations, such as Jaddubatha and Kannuru of 90- 100 days, Bantwala, Mullarya and Mysore Sanna of 100-120 days, Dibanasale of 120-140 days and Aloorsanna, Honnekattu etc. needing over 140 days. Long duration varieties are good for places with prolonged rainy periods and short duration for lower rainfall areas and irrigated fields. As most of native varieties are grown with organic manure and least or no use of pesticides they are good for human health and their fields ideal for fishes and frogs and other aquatic fauna as well as for birds which feed on them. In this poster GIS maps on the distribution of the native varieties are given along with pictures of many of them. The poster highlights the need for encouraging the growers of native varieties through honouring them and providing subsidies for conservation of rare ones.


  • Rice is an economically important food crop. It feeds nearly half the world’s population and accounts for more than 50% of their daily calorie intake (Maclean et al. 2002).

  • The world is losing genetic diversity of rice

  • Major reason for this loss is the steady replacement of native varieties with high-yielding new varieties in large scale.

  • India: Land of genetic diversity of rice (100,000 local varieties) and about 90% are feared to be lost


  • High diversity at genetic level.

  • Diverse qualities for rice- height of plant, colour, size, aroma, maturity and habitat.

  • More fodder (5-7 ft height unlike new dwarf varieties).

  • Disease, pest, drought and flood resistance more.


  • To trace out traditional varieties remaining in Uttara Kannada

  • To find out their special characters

  • To estimate number of traditional varieties in the district using field survey and regression analysis for prediction of expected number in the district


Altogether, a total of 181 rice varieties were inventoried from 232 villages, during this survey. Of these, 101 varieties were traditional ones; 80 were new varieties, considered high yielding.

 Taluk-wise numbers found and numbers expected are presented in the table:1


  • For flood tolerance
    Eg: Neermulka; Mysore mallige;

  • Salinity tolerance
    Eg: Bili-kagga; Kari-kagga.

  • Drought tolerance
    Eg:Jeddkempi; One-kaddi.

  • Variable maturity periods: Halga, Jeddubatha (90 -100 days); Dibnasaala, Bantwala (100 -120 days); Hegge, Aloorusanna ( 120 -140 days) 

Table 1: Traditional rice varieties with expected varieties in 11 taluks of Uttara Kannada

Taluks Village covered Total varieties
Expected traditional varieties
Traditional New varieties
Total 232 101 80 181 492
Ankola 17 18 14 32 81
Bhatkal 16 14 15 29 45
Haliyal 20 15 12 27 92
Honnavar 21 25 15 40 93
Joida 2 1 10 11 -
Karwar 11 9 10 19 45
Kumta 42 39 17 56 112
Mundgod 10 8 10 18 68
Sirsi 45 35 28 63 155
Yellapur 11 20 13 34 218
Siddapura 36 33 34 67 165

Figure 1: Map of Uttara Kannada district with 11 taluks

Figure 3: Village-wise diversity sampling trends regarding traditional rice varieties in 10 taluks of Uttara Kannada (after rarefaction)

Some traditional rice varieties in Uttara Kannada

A widely adapted and high yielding local variety


  • High landscape heterogeneity and strong in agriculture traditions make Uttara Kannada a stronghold of genetic diversity of rice and other crops

  • The genepool of rice was neglected all the while and even the agriculture department does not maintain data on local varieties

  • Widespread introduction of dwarfish new varieties, considered high yielding, is a major threat to rice gene-pool.

  • New varieties are susceptible to high disease and pest attacks and marginally high yield is often eclipsed by these drawbacks

  • Introduction of new varieties has caused fodder crisis in the district which is adversely affecting milk production and availability of cattle dung for manure
  • We have predicted using the sample survey method and regression analysis the talukwise numbers of local varieties available in Uttara Kannada; with nearly 500 expected varieties
Citation : Gayatri H. Naik, Balachandran C., Subash Chandran M.D. and Ramachandra. T.V, 2012. In Situ Conservation of Traditional Rice Varieties of Uttara Kannada., Proceedings of the LAKE 2012: National Conference on Conservation and Management of Wetland Ecosystems, 06th - 09th November 2012, School of Environmental Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala.
* Corresponding Author :
Dr. T.V. Ramachandra
Energy & Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – 560 012, India.
Tel : +91-80-2293 3099/2293 3503 [extn - 107],      Fax : 91-80-23601428 / 23600085 / 23600683 [CES-TVR]
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