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The government today cleared a proposal to set up a regional centre of the global rice research institute IRRI in Varanasi, the Prime Minister's constituency, to develop high-yielding rice varieties. The Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which has offices in 17 countries, is known for its work in developing rice varieties that contributed to the green revolution in 1960s. The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As per the proposal, IRRI's South Asia Regional Centre will be set up at the campus of National Seed Research and Training Centre (NSRTC) in Varanasi, an official statement said. The centre will be commissioned within six months after signing of memorandum of agreement between the agriculture ministry and IRRI, it said. The ministry will provide physical space for laboratories, offices, training classes with associated infrastructure and land at NSRTC. The proposed centre will operate under the governance of the IRRI Board of Trustees, who will appoint an IRRI staff member as Director. "This centre will be the first international centre in the eastern India and will play a major role in harnessing and sustaining rice production in the region," the statement said. It is expected to be a boon for food production and skill development in eastern India and similar ecologies in other South Asian and African countries, it added. The proposed centre will have a modern and sophisticated laboratory with capacity to determine quality and status of heavy metals in grain and straw. It will also undertake capacity building exercises for stakeholders across the rice value chain. The centre will help in utilising the rich biodiversity of India to develop special rice varieties.
This will help the country achieve higher per hectare yields and improved nutritional contents, the statement added.