Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Assam farmers learn about technologies that increase yield and improve rice farming efficiency

Agriculture in Assam accounts for over a third of income generated in the state, and employs over 70% of the workforce, making agriculture one of the most important means of livelihood in Assam.

To increase profitability of small and marginal farmers and strengthen the seed supply systems in 16 districts, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in partnership with Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (APART) signed an agreement in March 2018 supporting activities under this effort.

As a technical partner, IRRI’s focus is on crop diversification, using climate-resilient rice varieties and technologies and bringing forth resource-efficient technologies like seed-cum-fertilizer drill for direct seeding, mechanical transplanter, drum-seeder, power-weeder, sprayer-cum-fertilizer spreader, post-harvest machinery (Reaper, harvester, thresher, solar-bubble-dryer, IRRI super bag, portable rice mill, rice puffing machines etc.). Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Regional Agricultural Research Stations of Assam Agricultural University, district Agricultural Technology Management agencies are implementing partners in the project.

A recent endeavour under this project was a technology demonstration and training program organized in Pasoniapara village (Kamrup) where over 150 farmers from adjoining villages were trained on mechanical rice planting techniques to be used in line transplanting, which will enable farmers to save as much as Rs 5000-7000 per ha and leads to yield gains of 5 to 6 quintals per ha, while saving them 16-20 work days per ha. It also saves water and input cost in rice fields. Hands-on training on Mat-type nursery, seed-drill operation, and reaper was also provided to the participants.

Chief guest Shri Vinod Seshan, Agriculture Secretary in Government of Assam, Department of Agriculture & State Project Director for ARIAS (Assam Rural Infrastructure & Agricultural Services Society), emphasized the importance of introducing new stress-tolerant rice varieties that are flood and drought-tolerant, developed by IRRI and national partners. He recognized the need to increase mechanization and enhance productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers with new and innovative technologies like mechanical transplanter, IT-enabled applications, and precision agriculture solutions to attract youth in Assam.

Dr. Sudhanshu Singh, Project Leader and Coordinator of APART in South Asia, expressed his gratitude to the Assam government and ARIAS Society for providing a platform to work on improving the welfare of farmers in Assam. He highlighted the advantages of using climate-resilient, stress-tolerant rice varieties, mechanization and postharvest technologies in farming like Solar-bubble-dryer; and stressed on the need to create better avenues for service providers of these technologies.

The demonstration and training program was held on 6 August, and was attended by chief guest, Shri Vinod Seshan, IAS, Secretary to Government of Assam, Agricultural Department & State Project Director of ARIAS; Dr.Sudhanshu Singh Sr. Scientist and Kanwar Singh Sr.Associate Scientist at IRRI; Kalyan Pathak from Assam Agricultural University; Dhirendra Nath Kalita, PC KVK-Kamrup; and over 150 farmers and agricultural experts. 

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