Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Assam’s Grand Harvest program: fostering accelerated adoption of rice farm mechanization

In Assam State, India, agriculture is the backbone of the economy. The agro-climatic condition of Assam, with its highly fertile arable soils, abundant rainfall, and rich biodiversity favors the production of rice.

The majority of the farmers of Assam harvest paddy manually, which is labor-intensive and costly. Since the harvest window for boro paddy is very short due to the arrival of monsoons, the farmers face several challenges.

To address these challenges, the Assam Agricultural University (AAU) and the Department of Agriculture (DoA), Government of Assam, with the technical support of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) under the Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART), have been advancing farmer-friendly modern harvesting and threshing technologies through the Grand Harvest program. These include mini combine harvesters, reapers, reaper binders, axial flow threshers, and open drum threshers. These technologies are being promoted and demonstrated among farmers through different trainings and demonstrations.

Technological demonstrations play a critical role in increasing awareness among key stakeholders, especially farmers and government officials of agriculture and allied departments. These help build awareness of farm mechanization and post-harvest technologies, as well as encourage entrepreneurship among youth and women.

The implementing partners, with the technical support of IRRI,  are organizing Grand Harvest programs in various locations around Assam, with the objective to educate farmers about critical inputs, how to maximize yields, promote the adoption of modern mechanization, and to provide firsthand knowledge on the benefits of using improved technologies.

For the boro and sali season 2023-2024, 220 Grand Harvest programs have been scheduled to be organized across the state. 54 have already been successfully completed, attracting over 100 participants per event, including farmers, Farmer Producer Company (FPC) members, panchayat members, district administration representatives, and local members of the Legislative Assembly.

These programs provided ideal opportunities for participants to see for themselves how the adoption of farm mechanization can deliver quicker, cheaper, and more sustainable means of cultivation. During these programs, demonstrations showcasing the efficiency of a combine harvester have helped spark discussions and inquiries among farmers on ways to transition from traditional manual harvesting and embrace modern technology.

The biggest motivation for the farmers on using improved technologies, as said by some progressive farmers, is that “with the use of post-harvest machinery, the field could be cleared early, which facilitates timely sowing of the next crop.”

Given ample time, there is an optimistic outlook for a transformative shift in the farming community of Assam toward widespread adoption of farm mechanization, leading to enhanced yields and increased agricultural production.


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