Friday, April 21, 2017

Millions of Odisha rice farmers to receive customized fertilizer recommendation at their doorsteps

The training on RCM will enable extension workers, crop advisors, and service providers 
to give farmers with customized crop and nutrient management recommendations.

ODISHA, India—Rice farmers are now receiving site-specific fertilizer recommendations for their crop without having to leave their villages through the Rice Crop Manager (RCM). Available in Odia and English, RCM is a web-based tool developed by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). It provides farmers with customized crop and nutrient management recommendations based on their actual field conditions and needs. Such recommendations can help increase the productivity and incomes of the farmers.

Fertilizer consumption in Odisha is much lower than the national average of 128.34 kg/ha, according to 2012-13 agricultural statistics.  However, in some districts, there are farmers who also apply more than the required levels of fertilizers. To prevent under- and over-fertilization, Odisha's Department of Agriculture (DoA), in collaboration with IRRI, is promoting the use of RCM through a project that seeks to increase the productivity and profitability of rice-based cropping systems and farmers’ income. Launched in 2016, the project has five subprojects including Raising productivity and profitability of rice-based systems of Odisha through RCM that aims to provide millions of farmers with site-specific recommendations.

During the 2016-17 rabi season, the districts of Puri, Bhadrak, Balasore, Sambalpur, Cuttack, Ganjam, and Bargarh were selected for the dissemination of RCM recommendations. The extension workers of the DoA, crop advisors, and service providers were trained to use RCM in interviewing farmers before the start of a rice cropping season. The responses given by the farmers are utilized in making tailor-made nutrient and crop management advisories. Around 3,000 farmers have received the recommendations for their rabi rice crops.

The DoA and IRRI have also developed partnerships with leading non-government organizations (NGOs) in Odisha to intensify the project's reach. The field staff of the NGOs, who are being trained in using RCM, will mobilize and motivate farmers, provide them the RCM recommendations, and follow up on its proper use.

RCM centers are being set up on every block in the selected districts for the upcoming kharif season. These centers are equipped with laptops, printers, and Internet connection and will be used by DoA extension staff to provide recommendations to the farmers. DoA and IRRI aim to reach around 50,000 farmers in time for kharif.

(Written by Preeti Bharti, Amit Mishra, and Sheetal Sharma)

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