The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has been intensively working to improve crop production and farmers’ net income in rice-based diversified cropping systems through innovative technologies that are resource-efficient, cost-effective, and resilient to climatic vulnerabilities.
The IRRI-Odisha Government project, precision direct-seeded rice-based diversification systems for transforming labour requirement, yields and profitability of smallholder farmers in Odisha (DSR-Odisha Project), is one of IRRI’s initiatives to improve and optimize rice production in the state through DSR with a system based approach.
As part of the project, a series of round table meetings with top government officials, academics, farmers, and other stakeholders were organized in Bhubaneswar and Puri district from 27 September to 01 October 2022. The aim is to discuss the progress of activities under the DSR-Odisha Project. The convergence of various stakeholders (DAFE, OUAT-KVKs, DMS and Bayer CropScience) has been the key driving force for improving the production and farm income of small and marginal farmers in Odisha.
During the meetings, Principal Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment (DAFE) Dr Arabinda Padhee and Director of Agriculture Shri PK Choudhry expressed their satisfaction on the overall progress of the project and assured that all necessary government support will be provided to ensure more quality seed drills/multi-crop planters are in place.
A series of precision DSR field visits and interaction meetings were also organized at the farmers’ fields in Pipilli, Nimapara, Delang, Kanas, Gop, and Puri Sadar blocks of Puri district involving 168 men and 96 women farmers who have adopted the DSR technology during kharif season of 2022. The farmers were enthusiastic about the progress of DSR technology in their fields and acknowledged that the DSR along with improved rice varieties/ hybrids and tailored agronomy, is helping them to get an assured production with less investment and reduced drudgery compared to traditional puddled transplanting. They further shared their keen interest and willingness to adopt mechanization and requested making more multi-crop planters available.
A field visit, worth to mention here, was also organized at Benupada Matha Farm in Delang block of Puri, which focused on attracting the youths’ attention and interest in agriculture, particularly in new innovations like DSR and component technologies. The activity involved 94 female and 61 male students from Delang College, along with the college principal and faculty members, to make them aware on modern farm technologies and tools including precision DSR, multi-crop planters, laser leveling, integrated weed management, promising rice varieties, agricultural drones, WeedApp, etc.
“To mainstream the youth and generate their interest in agriculture, it is important to involve and expose them to such demonstrations and provide a platform where they can learn about new innovations, improved technologies, and new business models around these innovations,” said Dr. Virender Kumar, lead of the Climate - Adaptive Agronomy and Mechanization Cluster of the Sustainable Impact Platform at IRRI and Global Lead of IRRI’s Direct-Seeded Rice Consortium. “These exposure visits with youth involvement will create a conducive environment for them to explore avenues in agriculture, trigger the interest of their parents in new innovations like DSR leading to greater adoption and further scaling in Odisha,” Dr. Kumar added.
Additionally two field visits were also organized to ensure that women receive similar access to new technologies promoted under the DSR-Odisha as their male counterparts. These two field visits attracted the participation of 51 women and 169 men farmers. The farmers expressed their enthusiasm about adopting precision DSR and pulses and oilseeds as Rabi season crops in the future to increase their system based production and farm income.
Apart from the field visits, along with Dr Virendra Kumar, Dr Sudhanshu Singh, Director – ISARC; Dr US Singh, Asia and Africa Advisor for Research and Partnership; Dr PJ Mishra, Dean Extension Education, OUAT; Dr Ashok Kumar, Coordinator – CSISA and DSR – Odisha Project; Dr Panneerselvum, System Agronomist, Mr Amit Srivastava, GIS and Remote Sensing Expert, and Ms Sugandha Munshi, Senior Specialist Gender, CSISA participated in policy and advocacy discussions related to DSR in the state.
During the interaction sessions on the progress, opportunities, and challenges for scaling up precision DSR in the state, one of the key takeawaysfor the project team was that compared to the puddled transplanted rice in Nimapara and Kanas blocks, mechanized DSR crop was found to be better adapted to recent flash floods that occurred in August 2022. “An early establishment, robust root development and strong stand along with an edge in plant height in DSR over PTR could be the possible reasons for better adaptation of DSR and successfully averting the adverse impact of flash floods in the given situation.” opined Dr Ashok Kumar.
The convergence of the different stakeholders has created momentum, leading to scale up the interventions. On-time availability of quality seed drills and improved crop varieties by linking with other schemes in the state are crucial. The DSR-Odisha Project supports the emergence of a service economy for the mechanized seeding of rice and other crops (green and black gram, groundnut, mustard, sunflower, maize, etc.) in the rabi season as a strategy for increasing the access of small and marginal farmers to capital-intensive technologies and reaching new farmers for creating a more inclusive impact at scale.
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