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Vanaja T, Dr.

Associate Director
Mobile Phone No: 
Email ID: 
Address (Residence): 
Echilamvayal P.O, Vellur
Payyannur Kerala 670305
Position(s) Email ID Phone No
Associate Director, Regional Agricultural Research Station, Pilicode 9495240048
  • Professor (Plant Breeding & Genetics)
  • Associate Director of Research(North Zone), Kerala Agricultural University
  • Head, Regional Agricultural Research Station, Pilicode, Kerala Agricultural University 
  • Project Director, Kaipad agency, KADS of Govt. of Kerala


  • Ph.D. in Plant Breeding & Genetics, Kerala Agricultural University, 1999
  • MSc(Ag) in Plant Breeding , Kerala Agricultural University,1993
  • BSc(Ag), Kerala Agricultural University,1988
  • Certificate in Molecular Biotechnology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA, 2009


  • 2020 - ‘Vanitha Ratnam’ award from the Government of Kerala, for outstanding contributions to the field of science & education.
  • 2012 - ‘Krishivigyan Award’ from the Government of Kerala, for the best Agricultural scientist.
  • 2004 - ‘Young Scientist award’  from Kerala State Council for Science & Technology and Environment, Government of Kerala, for the best young scientist.
  • 2012 - ‘Best Research Paper - Poster presentation Award’ at the international conference on sustainable agriculture for food and livelihood security held at Ludhiana, Panjab, India.
  • 2011 - Documentary titled ‘Kayal Kandam’ won award in the children’s film festival held in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India.
  • Number of Honours = 11


Research Programmes

Variety Development

  1. Developed and released five saline tolerant organic rice varieties namely, ‘Ezhome-1’,  ‘Ezhome-2’, ‘Ezhome-3’, ‘Ezhome-4’, and ‘Mithila’, as principal breeder and principal investigator. These are the first high yielding organic rice varieties of the world tolerant to salinity, as well as first high yielding varieties of saline prone Kaipad tract of North Kerala.
  2. Developed and released the first organic rice variety of non-saline wetlands – ‘JAIVA’ as principal breeder and principal investigator. All the developed rice varieties/cultures were tested in various locations in various Indian states under AICRP on rice, and most of them were found to be superior to their local check.
  3. Developed the first promising inter specific hybrid, between Piper nigrum and Piper colubrinum, for Phytophthora foot rot tolerance as principal breeder and principal investigator.
  4. Associated with the development of the black pepper varieties, Panniyur-6, Panniyur-7, and Panniyur-8.
  5. Developed two flood tolerant pre-release organic rice cultures JK 71 & MK 115 and two organic rice cultures JK14 & JK59 and are under evaluation.
  6. Developed an array of organic rice breeding lines, for saline tract as well as for non-saline tract, through inter varietal hybridization, and are under evaluation.
  7. Developed an array of inter-specific as well as inter-varietal hybrids of black pepper for biotic stress tolerance, and are under evaluation at Pepper Research Station Panniyur of Kerala Agricultural University

Identification of New Genetic Resources

  1. Identified two new genetic resources of rice for salinity tolerance namely, ‘Kuthiru’, and ‘Orkayama’. In the newly identified genetic resource ‘Orkayama’ and it’s derived variety  ‘Ezhome-2’, salinity tolerance mechanism was indicated to be different from that in the internationally accepted saline tolerant ‘Pokkali’ variety.
  2. Identified ‘Vytilla-3’ as an alternative source for cytoplasmic male sterility in tropical climate.
  3. Piper argyropyllum male was identified as new source for tolerance to Phytophthora foot rot disease

Germplasm collection, Conservation and Evaluation

  1. Collected more than 100 traditional rice genotypes from North Kerala and is being conserved and evaluated. Out of these, seeds of 77 were deposited in NBPGR, New Delhi.
  2. Characterized 68 numbers of traditional rice genotypes of North Kerala regarding morphological, physico-chemical properties, cooking qualities and nutritional qualities and documented as book. In order to locate, collect, and conserve coconut germplasm from Kerala state, conducted state wide campaign in 14 districts of Kerala state in 2015 and formed 14 CGCUs (Coconut Germplasm Conservation Unit), for farmer participatory location of germplasm in farmers’ field. Fifty-two new coconut ecotypes were located in farmers’ field and replicated at RARS Pilicode

DNA Finger Printing and Identification of putative molecular markers

  1. Putative DNA markers were identified for the trait salinity tolerance, red & white kernel colours of rice, and for photoperiod sensitivity & insensitivity in rice.
  2. DNA finger printing and genetic diversity analysis among a collection of indica rice genotypes, which include all released rice varieties of Kerala till 2003, was carried out using SSR and RAPD molecular markers. This is the first report of DNA finger printing of released rice varieties of Kerala.

Geographical Indication Tag for Kaipad rice

As a result of sustained efforts taken to obtain Geographical Indication Tag, a category of patent, for the specialty rice of Kaipad tract, Kaipad Rice entered in Geographical Indication register in 2014.

Farmer outreach Programmes

  1. In 2010, in order to take up food security activities in Kaipad tract, a society of stake holders named Malabar Kaipad Farmers Society was formed and registered. This society was equipped with trained Food Security Army through a comprehensive network development activity among farmers, public, local governing bodies, and agriculture department. Since 2011 working as the chief adviser of ‘Malabar Kaipad Farmers’ Society’.
  2. As a result of conduct of series of dialogue between the Government of Kerala, ‘Malabar Kaipad Farmers Society’ (MKFS), and local governing bodies, the Government of Kerala has decided to form a new agency, for the comprehensive development of Kaipad tract of North Kerala, in the name KADS (Kaipad Area Development Society). All the document package were submitted and the agency came into existence in November 2018. Working as the Project Director of KADS since 2019.
  3. A documentary titled ‘Kayal  Kandam’, highlighting the importance of the unique Kaipad organic rice tract in food security, nutritional security, water security, environmental protection, biodiversity preservation, and livelihood security; and highlighting scientific method of variety development was made and released in 2010.
  4. Farmer participatory organic seed production of rice.
  5. Hands-on training on mechanized organic rice farming from nursery to harvest in farmers field to convert conventional rice farming tract to organic.
  6. Organic rice farming mission in large scale areas in selected padasekharams of Kasaragod and Kannur districts.
  7. As KADS Project Director :
    1. Conducted field visit of 58 Panchayaths in Kannur, Kasaragod and Kozhikode districts where Kaipad rice tract exists and taken action to build infrastructural facilities for the tract development.
    2. Strengthened Malabar Kaipad farmers society by forming 58 panchayath level Kaipad samithies and four regional societies  in three districts.


Ongoing Research Projects as Principal Investigator:

  1. Development of Kaipad organic tidal wet lands of Northern Kerala through mechanized farming, rice germplasm conservation, and biodiversity-based farming (Rebuild Kerala Project).
  2. Thirumumb Centre for studies on farming culture at RARS, Pilicode (Kasaragode Development Package).
  3. Evolution of high yielding rice varieties suited to Pokkali rice tracts of North Kerala (Kaipad) through farmers participatory breeding approach (KAU plan).
  4. Collection, conservation, and evaluation of local germplasm of coconut (AICRP-Palms).
  5. Performance of Dwarf x Dwarf hybrids of coconut in different agro-climatic regions (AICRP-Palms).
  6. Training on Biofertilizer and Bio-Input preparation and  Nursery operations (GoK, Plan)

Completed Research Projects as Principal Investigator:

  1. Identification of dwarf ecotypes in coconut with high copra content(GoK plan).
  2. Advanced breeding cum seed production centre (GoK plan).
  3. Development of molecular markers in rice associated with genes responsible for salinity tolerance, exploring new genetic variations, and development of rice cultivars with strong tolerance to salinity through  molecular breeding (DBT) .
  4. Truthfully labeled seed production of newly developed rice varieties of North Kerala through farmer participatory approach (GoK plan).
  5. Comprehensive development of saline Kaipad rice tract of Kerala through farmer participatory approach (RKVY).
  6. Breeding for Phytophthora foot rot resistance in black pepper (Piper nigrum) (KSCSTE).
  7. Evaluation of black pepper varieties for growing as bush pepper (KAU plan).
  8. Identification of RAPD molecular marker(s) linked to salinity resistance / tolerance in rice (Oryza sativa L.) (KSCSTE).
  9. Compatibility studies of grafting Piper nigrum on Piper colubrinum for Phytophthora foot rot resistance (KAU plan).


  • Research books : 7  
  • Publications in International Refereed Journals : 32
  • Publications in national Refereed Journals : 10
  • Research papers/ abstracts published  in symposia, conference and seminars : 15
  • Book chapters : 10                  
  • Technical brochures / leaflets : 8
  • Research Documentary & Album : 3;
  • Popular articles : 62       
  • Allied publications (book/ souvenir/ documentary) : 3

Selected 20 Research Papers

  • Total research papers published: 57
  1. 1.Vanaja, T.,  Neema, V.P.,  Mammootty, K.P. and Rajeshkumar, R. 2008. Development of a promising interspecific hybrid in black pepper (Piper nigrum L.) for Phytophthora foot rot resistance. Euphytica. 161(3): 437-445.
  2. Vanaja, T.,  Neema, V.P.,  Mammootty, K.P., Rajeshkumar, R., Balakrishnan, P.C., Jayaprakash Naik and Raji, P.2009. Development of first non-lodging and high yielding rice cultures for saline Kaipad paddy tracts of Kerala, India. Current Science. 96(8): 1024-1028.
  3. Vanaja, T. and Mammootty, K.P. 2010. ‘Kuthiru’ and ‘Orkayama’ – Newly Identified Genetic Resources from Kerala, India for Salinity Tolerance in Indica Rice. Online publication in Nature  proceedings.
  4. Vanaja, T., Randhawa, G.J., Singh, R. and Mohapatra, T. 2007. Analysis of molecular diversity and differentiation of photoperiod sensitive and photoperiod insensitive rice varieties. Indian J. Genet. and plant breeding 67(2):128-134.
  5. Vanaja, T., Rakesh Singh, GJ Randhawa and T. Mohapatra. 2008. Analysis of Molecular Diversity and Differentiation of Red and White Kernel Rice Varieties. J. of Plant Genetic resources.21(3): 186 -191.
  6. Vanaja, T.   Mammootty, K.P. and Govindan, M.2013. Development of organic indica rice cultivar (Oryza sativa L.) for the wetlands of Kerala, India through new concepts and strategies of crop improvement. Journal of Organic Systems, 8(2): 18- 28.
  7. Vanaja, T., Rakesh Singh, and  GJ Randhawa. 2010. . Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences
  8. Vanaja, T.,  Neema, V.P.,  Mammootty, K.P.,  Balakrishnan, P.C.,  and Jayaprakash Naik. 2015. Journal of Organics(JO)2(1): 21- 31.
  9. Vanaja, T.,  2016. ‘Kuthiru’, a land race of indica rice (Oryza sativa L.), suitable donor parent for organic variety development. Oryza, 53(4):444-447.
  10. Vanaja, T.,  Neema, V.P.,  Mammootty, K.P.,  Balakrishnan, P.C.,  and Jayaprakash Naik. 2017. A high yielding organic rice variety suited for coastal saline and non-saline fields:’Ezhome -2’.Journal of organics, 4(1): 21-28.
  11. Vanaja, T.,  Neema, V.P.,  Mammootty, K.P.,  Balakrishnan, P.C.,  and Jayaprakash Naik. 2015.’ Ezhome-3’ – A high yielding rice (Oryza sativa L.) variety for enhancing the varietal diversity of saline prone tidal farming ecosystem of Kerala. International Journal of Tropica Agriculture© Serials Publications, ISSN: 0254-8755: 2489- 2493
  12. Vanaja, T.,  Neema, V.P.,  Mammootty, K.P.,  Balakrishnan, P.C.,  and Jayaprakash Naik. 2018. Saline and flood tolerant long duration organic rice varietyOryza sativa L., ‘Ezhome -4’. International Journal of Tropical Agriculture, 36(1): 1 -9.
  13. Vanaja, T.,  Neema, V.P.,  Mammootty, K.P.,  Balakrishnan, P.C.,  and Jayaprakash Naik. 2017. JAIVA – the First Organic Rice( Oryza sativa L.) Variety for Non – stress wetlands. International Journal of Tropical Agriculture, 35(3): 537 -545.
  14. Manjunatha, G.A. Vanaja, T. , Naik, J., Anilkumar, A.S. and Vasudevan, N.R.2016. Identification of rice genotypes best suited for the development of organic varieties and identification of current varieties best suited for organic farming. Journal of organics, 3(1): 16-24.
  15. KAIPAD –a unique, naturally organic, saline prone rice ecosystem of Kerala, India. American Journal of Environmental Protection.
  16. Vanaja, T. and Mammootty, K.P. 2010. Allele mining of a collection of Indica rice genotypes for blast resistance gene pi2(t) and bacterial blight resistance gene Xa 13 .In  The fifth International Rice Blast Conference ,The Peabody hotel,, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, August 12 -14, 2010.
  17. Vanaja, T.,   Mammootty, K.P. and Govindan, M. 2012.  Rice cultivar development for organic farming, utilizing land race of a naturally organic rice production tract as donor parent, and adopting farmer participatory approach. In proceedings of first international conference on organic rice farming and production systems, held during 27th to 30th  August2012 at Montpellier, France;57-59.
  18. Vanaja, T., Luckins C. Babu and V.V. Radhakrishnan. 2003. ‘Vytilla 3’ – A new cytoplasmic male sterile source of tropical rice (Oryza sativa L.). Indian J. Genet. and  plant breeding 63(1): 30-32
  19. Vanaja, T.,   Mammootty, K.P. and Govindan, M. 2012.  at Ludhian, Panjab 27-29, November 2012:439- 440
  20. N.Naresh Babu, K.K.Vinod, S. Gopalakrishnan, P.K. Bhowmick, T. Vanaja, S.L. Krishnamurthy, M. Nagarajan, N.K. Singh, K.V.Prabhu, and A.K.Singh. 2014. Marker based haplotype diversity of Saltol QTL in relation to seedling stage salinity tolerance in selected genotypes of rice. Indian J. Genet., 74(1): 16-25.

Research Books

  1. Vanaja, T. 2018. Compendium on a collection of indigenous rice varieties of Kerala, Published by Kerala Agricultural University.
  2. Vanaja, T. and Meera Manjusha, A.V.2016. ‘Jaiva Nelkrushikkoru Kaipusthakam’(In Malayalam).
  3. Vanaja, T. 2016. Organic varieties and Jaiva Nellinangal (In  Malayalam & English).
  4. Vanaja, T. 2014. “Kaipadu- Keralathinte Jaiva Nellara” (In Malayalam).
  5. Vanaja, T. Neema, V.P. and  Mammootty , K.P. 2007. Panniyur black pepper varieties.
  6. Vanaja, T. Mammootty , K.P . and Neema, V.P. . 2007. ‘Kurumulaku nursery nirmanam’.
  7. Vanaja, T. Neema, V.P.  Mammootty , K.P. , Sivakumar, S.G. and Abdul Kareem, K.2005. ‘Panniyur kurumulaku Inangal’

Paper Presented / Selected  Abroad

  1. France – 2020: Presented an oral communication on “Development of the first organic saline tolerant rice varieties” in the Organic World Congress 2021 held at Rennes, France from 7 Sep 2021 to 10 Sep 21.
  2. France – 2012:  Presented an oral communication on organic rice variety development in the first international conference on organic rice farming and production system.
  3. USA, Little Rock, Arkansas – 2012: Presented a poster communication on Allele Mining of a Collection of Indica Rice Genotypes for Blast Resistance Gene pi2(t) and Bacterial Blight Resistance Gene Xa 13, at 5th International Rice Blast Conference.
  4. Japan, Tokyo – 2004: Selected for presenting paper in ‘International Rice Congress-2004 organized by  Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences.
  5. China, Beijing – 2002: Selected for presenting paper at ‘International Rice Congress-2002’ organized by International Rice Research Institute.
  6. Nepal, Nepal – 2002: Selected for presenting paper at ‘International Conference on Wild Rice-2002, at Kathmandu, Nepal’. Organized by Green Energy mission, Nepal.

Creation of research facilities: Created facilities for rice research at RARS, Pilicode namely, rice breeding cum seed production centre, a rice germplasm conservation unit, a rice hybridization unit, and a plant molecular breeding laboratory.


Research Experience

  • Variety development in rice for yield and salinity tolerance adopting combined strategy of Global plant breeding, Organic plant breeding and Participatory plant breeding.
  • Germplasm collection, conservation and evaluation in rice, black pepper and coconut
  • Molecular characterization of rice  using  RAPD and micro satellite  markers
  • Inter-varietal and inter -specific hybrid development in black pepper
  • Mutation breeding for abiotic and biotic stress resistance in black pepper 
  • Grafting for biotic resistance transfer from wild species in black pepper.
  • Handling experiments and observational trials dealing with botanicals and bio-extracts as insecticides, fungicides and growth enhancers, and as mulch materials to control fungal diseases.

Training Experience

  • Application of AFLP and SSR markers in crop improvement, University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK, Bangalore, India (21 days in 2010).
  • Mutant genotyping with SNPs ,cloning, sequencing, transformation etc  of arabidopsis in the Department of Biology,  University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA( two months in 2009).
  • Recent techniques in plant genetic Engineering and molecular breeding at National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology , (NRCPB),IARI, New Delhi, India ( 21 days in 2004).
  • Molecular characterization of plant genetic resources at National centre for DNA finger printing, National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources ( NBPGR), New Delhi, India( Six months during 2002 -2003).

Research Guidance & Teaching

  • Guided 3 MSc (Ag) students
  • Handled 7 BSc (Ag) courses and 3 MSc (Ag) courses

Professional Affiliation

  • Life member of Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding
  • Life member of Association of Rice Research Workers
  • Life member of Indian Society for Plant Physiology


  • Despite progress in agriculture over the last fifty years, there remains the specter of food shortage for billions of people around the world (FAO). So, my overriding goal also must be in line with FAO to provide improved food/ nutritional/livelihood security for the poor of the world through development of precious ecosystems, governed by small and marginal farmers, which laid neglected with respect to research and development.


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കേരള കാര്‍ഷിക സര്‍വകലാശാല
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കെ.എ.യു. (പി.ഓ.), വെള്ളാനിക്കര
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