Thursday, February 9, 2023

Rice 2.0: Towards Transforming Rice Cultivation in Uttar Pradesh

3 February 2023, Varanasi, India – The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the 2030  Water Resource Group (2030 WRG) organized a workshop titled “Rice 2.0- Transforming Rice  Cultivation in Uttar Pradesh” on lowering carbon and water footprints, and enhancing farm income  of rice farmers at the IRRI South Asia Regional Centres (ISARC), Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

The government of Uttar Pradesh, along with the active support of the 2030 Water Resource Group  (2030 WRG), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), and the private sector have launched a high-impact initiative called the Uttar Pradesh Program for agricultural Transformation and  Increased Incomes (UP PRAGATI) for ushering agricultural development in the state through the  adoption of water efficient technologies and low carbon practices by the farmers. This  transformation infuses both technological and institutional innovations. Direct Seeding of Rice  (DSR) is one of the potentially scalable solutions being globally tested for promoting  environmentally sustainable and economically profitable rice producing food systems by IRRI,  which could be a frontrunner towards mitigating the twin challenges of lowering carbon and water  footprints and enhancing farmers’ income.

This multi stakeholder workshop aimed to capture the experiences of the farmers from the ongoing  DSR interventions in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and other states like Punjab and Odisha that can be  contextualized locally for rapid adoption and scaling up. The workshop drives linkage and  networking of public, private partners, carbon project developers, and technology providers who  also shared their field experiences helped us to design the win-win model for the farmers during  the workshop.Congratulating both IRRI and 2030 WRG, Shri. Manoj Kumar Singh, IAS,  Agriculture Production Commissioner (APC), Government of Uttar Pradesh stated,  “Agriculture in UP has grown exponentially over the past few years. Presently, the government of UP emphasizes the need to improve climate resilience in key value chains through the dual  approach of reducing emissions and enhancing the adaptive capacity of the farmers. Water  management in the rice fields can help methane emission reductions along with improving the  yield and productivity for the farmers.”

Using DSR technology in rice farming not just reduces the labor associated with it but also  provides an opportunity to generate carbon credits which would help the farmers in investing in  soil health to enhance productivity and conserve water at the same time.When adopted widely by  farmers, DSR can prove to be helpful in changing the face of agriculture in the state, making rice  cultivation much more sustainable and eco-friendly.

The workshop was attended by dignitaries including Shri Anurag Yadav, Secretary,  Department of Agriculture, Govt. of UP, Dr. Devesh Chaturvedi, Additional Chief Secretary,  Department of Agriculture, Govt. of UP, Shri. Manoj Kumar, Agriculture Production  Commissioner, Govt. of UP, Dr. K V Raju, Economic Advisor to Hon’ble Chief Minister,  Government of UP; Dr. Panjab Singh, Former DG ICAR and Former VC of Banaras Hindu  University; Shri. Alkesh Wadhwani, Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Dr. Sudhanshu  Singh, Director, IRRI South Asia Regional Institute, Dr. Ajay Kohli, DDG, IRRI (online), Shri.  Ajith Radhakrishnan, Country Coordinator India, 2030 WRG, Dr. Yashwant Singh, Director,  IAS,BHU, Dr. Sanjay Singh, Director, UPCAR, Shri. Sudipto Sarkar, Global Program Manager,  2030 WRG; Dr. A R Singh, Director, IARI and other eminent dignitaries. 

More than 24 farmers from three different states (Punjab, Uttar  Pradesh & Odisha) along with officials from prominent companies engaged in production of  agricultural machinery, seeds and other farm supplies were also present.

According to Dr. Panjab Singh, Former DG of ICAR and Former Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu  University, “for a country like India, rice cultivation is synonymous to livelihood. Rice  has been the part and parcel of every Indian household, but when it comes to rice cultivation, there  are two main aspects to it - water and greenhouse gas emissions. Transplanting of rice results in  increased water usage as well as increased methane emissions. DSR technology which was  traditionally used for rice cultivation, although it is not widely used these days, is one of the ways  through which we can ensure environmental sustainability as well as better profitability for the  farmers.” 

Dr. Sudhanshu Singh, Director of ISARC stated, “IRRI in collaboration with the National  Agricultural Research Systems is committed to transforming rice cultivation practices for climate  resilience and carbon negative. IRRI, through the Direct Seeded Rice Consortium (DSRC) has  been engaging with both the public and private stakeholders working towards integrating  innovations in DSR.” 

The main objectives of the workshop included, exploring approaches for mainstreaming the  adoption of DSR in rice cultivation through the collaborative efforts from both the government  and private organizations, to assess environmental and socio-economic sustainability of rice  production systems, discuss innovations and facilitating the rapid adoption of DSR in UP, and to  capture the experiences from the fields and farmer’s perspectives. 

The key outcome and highlight of the deliberations is the development of a Carbon Forum, a  platform to explore Voluntary Carbon Markets through carbon financing for the DSR projects. 

Furthermore, through this workshop IRRI and 2030 WRG intend to develop a consensus on the  project boundaries and develop the pathways for the implementation of the DSR program in the  state leading to the signing of a statement of intent for institutionalizing the adoption of DSR in  UP.

IRRI has been collaborating with multiple stakeholders through DSRC across the  geographies in India to identify region-specific DSR suitable inbreds/hybrids with their  weed-competitiveness, higher yield potentials, screen out AG-tolerant lines, develop best-bet  agronomy for herbicide-tolerant rice varieties, integrated weed management, devise the  strategies of precision nutrient, and water management for resource conservation and  carbon build-up. As evidenced from different field experiments, DSR can save up to 20-30  percent input cost, 20-50 percent irrigation water, 30-40 percent labor and reduce methane  emissions by 20-50 percent in comparison to the conventional PTR. 

The entire workshop was divided into three sessions. The first session was chaired by Dr. Panjab  Singh in which the participating farmers shared their insights and experiences on DSR adoption.  Also, discussion on aggregation and mechanization as the catalysts for DSR adoption was also  made in this session.

In the second session chaired by Dr. K.V. Raju, market and user practices of DSR and development  of carbon markets and related benefits were discussed. The main point of discussion in this session  was to identify factors and opportunities that would upscale the adoption of DSR in Uttar Pradesh.  In the concluding session of the workshop facilitated by Dr. Sudhanshu Singh & Shri. Ajith  Radhakrishnan,, a collective dialogue was made on development of consensus of DSR Boundary  conditions for UP and development of pathways for DSR programming and DSR-based Carbon  alliance. 

The session was concluded with closing remarks of Dr. Devesh Chaturvedi, Shri. Manoj Kumar  Singh, Dr. K.V. Raju and Dr. Ajay Kohli who emphasized on the use of DSR as it may prove as  the technique of sustainable development which would greatly help in the direction of maintaining  ecological balance. For implementing the same, a proper road map of capacity building is also  required to increase the popularity of DSR amongst farmers.  

The workshop was concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Yogesh Bandhu Arya, State  Coordinator, 2030 WRG. 


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