Rice is grown on about 1.44 million ha of mountain ecosystem in the Indian Himalaya, with total production and productivity of 2.52 million t and 1.75 t ha–1, respectively. The Indian Himalaya region, composed of two geographically distinct flanks, the northeastern and the northwestern, represents a wide range of diversity in agroclimatic conditions such as soil, temperature, rainfall, and altitude. The prevalence of suboptimum temperature throughout the life cycle of the rice plant prolongs its maturity duration. In addition, the hills are known to be a hot spot for rice blast. Tolerance for low temperature stress and resistance to blast are thus considered essential for developing new varieties that can, in turn, improve rice productivity of the hill ecosystem
To develop a rice variety with resistance to blast and tolerance for low-temperature stress, a cross (VR1023) was made in 1986 between VL Dhan 221 (a short-duration, blast-resistant variety for the rainfed uplands) and UPR82-1-7 (genotype with good grain and better plant type). Promising uniform lines that were selected using pedigree methods were tested for yield and other ancillary attributes for two consecutive years at the experiment farm in Hawalbagh (1,250 m asl) before being nominated to the All-India Coordinated Testing under initial varietal trials (early hills) as IET15473 in 1997. On the basis of better yield performance in the hill zone, it was identified for release by the All-India Annual Rice Workshop and subsequently released by the CRVC in 2001 as Vivek Dhan 82 for cultivation in the hills and mountain areas of Uttaranchal (UA), Himachal Pradesh (HP), and Meghalaya states. This variety gave an average yield of 4.94 t ha–1, compared with the national check K39’s 3.35 t ha–1, the regional check K448-1-2’s 3.6 t ha–1, and the local check’s 4.26 t ha–1 in coordinated trials conducted at different hilly sites of UA, HP, and Meghalaya (see table).