Organic Rice Cultivation by SRI

 Agricultural activities in the field are carried out by both the man and woman in the household. Women perform activities such as seeding and weeding which require them to bend and work for long hours in the field. This caused considerable amount of drudgery for women who, aside from farming, also perform household activities on a daily basis.

The harsh conditions of women farmers evoked Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal (MAVIM) – State’s Women Development Corporation of Government of Maharasthra – in Chandrapur district, Maharashtra to initiate reforms to address the drudgery of women. In Chandrapur, paddy cultivation is the main agricultural practice. It was decided on consultation with the Rice grower farmers, Department of Agriculture, Government of Maharashtra and Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Chandrapur that the new methodology for rice cultivation – System of Rice Intensification (SRI) – would be implemented.

The programme is initiated with small interaction meeting with 250 to 300 farmers in October 2010 on SRI. The response from the community was good and 715 women members covering 565 acre of land from 18 villages came forward to take up the initiative of organic cultivation of Rice under SRI method.

The project is being implemented in 6 blocks of Chandrapur district as Chandrapur, Pombhurna, Gondpipri, Brahmapuri, Chimur and Mul. At present 137 SHG are involved in the production activity covering 1280 women farmers. The area under cultivation is 1170 acres and the last year total production is 14040 quintals.Since the year of implementation till last year 3455 women farms were involved in production of Rice. The coverage in acre is 335 acres of land produced 38040 quintals of rice in four year period.

Impact change between traditional farming and SRI

 The production cost has reduced from INR 10, 000 -12,000 to INR 4,000-5,000. In the tradition method of paddy cultivation farmer used 30 to 50 Kg of seed but after introduction of SRI the rate of seed is drastically down to 3 kg. the cost also gone down from INR 1,500 to INR 2,500 to INR 150. After introducing SRI in the area the farmers are using organic fertilizer which leads to reduce in the cost on fertilizer from INR 3,000 to INR 1,000. Use of inorganic chemical insecticide is no more found in the plots where SRI is introduced which also leads to use of organic spray and the cost also reduces down from INR 2,000 to INR 200. For cultivation of Paddy and intercultural operation by traditional method was a lead to labour drudgery. After introduction of SRI 75% to 95% reduction is seen. In traditional method farmer use to get 9 to 11 quintals/ acre of production. After introduction of SRI the increase in production was observed upto 13 to 15 quintals.  The quality of production leads to increase the per kg selling price of rice from Rs. 17 to 20 per kg to Rs. 25 to 40 per kg.

Outcomes of the initiatives under different components

Women Empowerment

  • Reduced the drudgery of women in agricultural work, upto 75% in paddy cultivation and 95% in inter-cultivation
  • Increased women’s participation in decision-making matters of the household.
  • Reinforced faith in the capacity and potential of women-related government schemes in agriculture

Micro-Finance – Under the Microfinance

  • 700 women benefited from crop insurance
  • 86 SHGs received bank linkage services
  • Extended agricultural subsidies to beneficiaries

Livelihood and Microenterprise Development

  • Reduction in production expenses
  • Better quality of produce due to organic farming
  • Increased market rate of production
  • Promotion of cluster activities
  • Labeling, branding and marketing of products under new ‘Tejaswini’ brand of MAVIM

Key Challenges in Implementation

  • Resistance in shifting from traditional practice : Initially, the target was to cover 1,000 acres of cultivation but this came down to 565 acres. This was primarily because, at the transplantation stage, the beneficiaries, particularly the husbands, would object to the reduced use of seeds in the fear that it would result in lower yield. This led to the withdrawal of a number of participants but this perception was dispelled after they saw the higher productivity under SRI method.
  • Lack of faith in government projects : The community was of the mindset that government schemes are not very successful and will not have the desired results. They would say, “Nothing is going to happen. You are only trying to fulfill government targets by doing this”.  This was overcome by showing the results of the trial phase and through continuous IEC efforts.
  • Inter-departmental convergence : At the start of the project, convergence with the Department of Agriculture required considerable effort to break away from the status quo of imparting SRI training only to the male members of the community. However, this has come to pass and the Department of Agriculture, in addition to convergence activities, has started supporting and participating in the marketing exhibitions held by women SHGs.
  • Land ownership : Ground-level implementation of some agricultural schemes requires land to be in the name of beneficiary but land is often in the name of the man while the target beneficiaries in the project are women which led to difficulties in combining assets.
  • Marketing issues : Due to issues of pricing and lack of sufficient marketing channels, there has been an overall reduction in the production of rice. This is being addressed now by encouraging the creation of SHG federations for production and marketing.

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