State Editions

Rice varieties named after Minister, wife stirs row

| | BHUBANESWAR | in Bhubaneswar

Two rice varieties analogous to the names of a Minister and his wife has kicked up a major controversy as many deserving people have been left out in the naming of the varieties.

The rice varieties developed by the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) have been named after former Agriculture Minister and present Panchayati Raj Minister Pradeep Maharathy and his wife Pratibha Maharathy. They are OR 2327-23 (IET 20923) as Pradeep and OR 2172-7 (IET 21582) as Pratibha.

It is alleged that a top official of the research team is related to Pradeep Maharathy and has christened the rice varieties after the Minister and his spouse.

OUAT Vice-Chancellor Surendranath Pasupalak stated that it was done without his knowledge. “The then VC had passed an order. They had bypassed me. It was done without my knowledge. No variety of rice should be named after any religion or caste. The convention is that any farm produce should be named after a person or a place having prominence. Someone having significant contribution to the field could be named. Nomenclature shouldn’t be done after politicians and Ministers,”

While Maharathy seems to have landed in a soup, present Agriculture Minister Dr Damodar Rout came to his defence putting the onus on the OUAT.

 “It is a coincidence that the rice varieties are similar to the names of former Agriculture Minister and his wife. It might not have happened with the Minister having asked the researchers to name the varieties after him. It is up to the researchers. What could Pradeep Maharathy do?” wondered Dr Rout.

On the other hand, intellectuals rue that Kamala Pujari, who has got recognition for preserving landraces of rice, has been overlooked as at least one rice variety could have been named after her.

Notably, the State Seed Sub Committee for Agricultural Crops had released these rice varieties in November last year.




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