Thursday, December 4, 2014

India: Drought-tolerant rice creates high hopes among farmers in Hazaribagh district

By D.K. Raghav, R. K. Singh, Mayank  Sharma, and Manzoor H. Dar

Holy Cross Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), an agricultural extension center and partner of the  Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) project  in Hazaribagh (Jharkhand) organized a field day featuring a rice variety demonstration of the drought-tolerant Sahbhagi dhan at Village-Khodhar on 10 October 2014.

The demonstration was supervised by Holy Cross KVK under International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)-National Food Security Mission (NFSM) collaborative project in a 100 hectare area of 10 drought-prone villages in Hazaribagh district.  Seed and other inputs were provided to the farmers. The farmers were also trained in quality seed production and safe storage so that they can keep the seed for the next cropping seasons and share with other farmers.

Sahbhagi dhan matures earlier and requires less water than traditional and hybrid varieties, said most of the farmers who participated in the demonstration.  One of the farmers claimed Sahbhagi dhan had more panicles with more number of grains as compared to other traditional varieties. The yield recorded ranged between 3.5 tons per hectare for direct seeding and 6 tons per hectare under transplanted conditions. The farmers also reported that their fields would remain fallow due to drought, but this year’s Sahbhagi dhan crop yielded enough to feed their families and livestock.

Surendra Kumar Singh, District Agriculture Officer of Hazaribagh, emphasized the importance of  disseminating the variety in other drought affected areas. Mr. S.K. Singh also asked farmers to take initiative to adopt the high-yielding, drought-resistant Sahbhagi dhan as a farming community strategy.

 Dr. S. N. Giri, deputy director of the Seed and Farm, BAU Ranchi, said that this variety is suited to mitigate drought effects under climate change scenarios. It can ease the fallow field problem during kharif season, he added.  In the past, farmers cultivating longer duration traditional varieties and hybrids suffered heavy losses due to drought and scanty rainfall.

The field day was organized by Mr. S.K., Dr. S.N. Giri, Dr. R.K. Singh (Programme Coordinator, KVK), Dr. D.K. Raghav, Mr. S.N. Chaudhary, and Mr. D. Rai of Holy Cross KVK. About 160 farmers from surrounding villages were also present.

Under IRRI-NFSM project, 150 such field days/farmers’ awareness meetings have been organized by more than 50 partners in seven eastern states in India. An estimated 8,000 farmers, including farmers from ten drought prone districts in Jharkhand, have participated in these meetings during the kharif season 2014-15.

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