CHENNAI: Technology should be developed for domestic production of hybrid rice seed varieties that have 20 to 25 per cent higher yield than the usual paddy crops to avoid expensive imports, a senior official of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has said.

“Hybrid rice seeds should be produced locally… technology should be developed to produce hybrid seeds locally and it should be made available locally and that is important,” Hiroyuki Konuma, Assistant Director General and Regional Representative, FAO, Asia Pacific, told PTI on the sidelines of “Role of Family Farming” meet that ended here yesterday at the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation.

Praising the government for its “deep interest” in developing hybrid rice varieties, he also lauded it for being an active participant at a recently held regional consultation on it at Bangkok.

Though hybrid rice varieties gave 20 to 25 per cent higher yield, farmers were still reluctant to introduce it as the cost of hybrid seeds is three times higher than the usual seeds.

“That is why seeds should be produced locally and the cost must be brought down as much as possible,” he said, adding that several other concurrent measures like crop insurance and introduction of better technology could minimise “risks”.

“Government institutions and local communities must be trained to produce hybrid rice seeds locally so that they need not depend on imported seeds from big companies.”

Stating that several countries, including India, Myanmar, Nepal, Indonesia and Philippines have evinced keen interest in hybrid rice varieties, he said his organisation was giving policy and technical support.

“Sixty per cent of all rice produced in China belongs to the hybrid variety,” he added.