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Vanaja T, Dr.

Associate Director
Mobile Phone No: 
Address (Residence): 
Echilamvayal P.O, Vellur
Payyannur Kerala 670305
Position(s) Email ID Phone No
Associate Director, Regional Agricultural Research Station, Pilicode adrpil@kau.in 9495240048


  • 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


  • Research books : 7
  • Research Papers : 56 
  • Book chapters : 9
  • Research Documentary : 2
  • Popular articles : 56
  • Technical booklets/ leaflets : 6
  • Allied publication & documentary: 3


  • 2020 - ‘Vanitha Ratna’ award from the Government of Kerala, for outstanding contributions to the field of science & education.
  • 2012 - ‘Krishi Vigyan’ 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.
  • 2016 - ‘Mother Teresa Sadbhavana’ award, instituted by International Business Council, New Delhi. The award is summoned to people and organization for their outstanding contributions to the society.


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  71 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.
  3. 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.

Project Support

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.
  2. Thirumumb Centre for studies on farming culture at RARS, Pilicode.
  3. Evolution of high yielding rice varieties suited to Pokkali rice tracts of North Kerala (Kaipad ) through farmers participatory breeding approach.
  4. Collection, conservation, and evaluation of local germplasm of coconut.
  5. Performance of Dwarf x Dwarf hybrids of coconut in different agro-climatic regions.
  6. Identification of dwarf ecotypes in coconut with high copra content.

Completed Research Projects as Principal Investigator:

  1. Advanced breeding cum seed production centre.
  2. 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.
  3. Truthfully labeled seed production of newly developed rice varieties of North Kerala through farmer participatory approach.
  4. Comprehensive development of saline Kaipad rice tract of Kerala through farmer participatory approach.
  5. Breeding for Phytophthora foot rot resistance in black pepper (Piper nigrum).
  6. Evaluation of black pepper varieties for growing as bush pepper.
  7. Identification of RAPD molecular marker(s) linked to salinity resistance / tolerance in rice (Oryza sativa L.)
  8. Compatibility studies of grafting Piper nigrum on Piper colubrinum for Phytophthora foot rot resistance


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Kerala Agricultural University
KAU Main Campus
KAU P.O., Vellanikkara
Thrissur Kerala 680656