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Push for scientific rice farming

Nagaon, Nov. 15: The agriculture department here has launched a special drive to make the system of rice intensification (SRI) more popular among farmers.

The drive includes publication of a book on the new concept, awareness meetings among farmers, demonstration packages for summer and autumn paddy cultivation and additional technical support to interested farmers.

The system is a newly developed scientific approach to rice cultivation in which farmers have to plant 12 to 15-day-old high-yield hybrid rice saplings at specific distances, and then apply a new approach in the entire process from sowing to harvesting. According to claims, this method doubles productivity, allowing farmers to get more from a smaller area.

A book on the new concept by two senior rice breeders of the district — Arunima Deb Chaudhury and Pankaj Deb Chaudury — was also published as part of the drive. The book explains the process in detail in a simple way using photographs and graphics so that farmers can easily learn the system by reading the book.

“We travelled to different parts of two central Assam districts and photographed different stages of rice cultivation done using the SRI concept and these were published in the book, which explains things in a simple way. The book also outlines the dos and don’ts in detail,” co-author Arunima Deb Chaudhury said.

The target is to immediately conduct at least 60 village-level programmes in different parts of the district where farmers will be guided at all levels while implementing the new farming method.

The method was officially introduced in the district in 2008 as part of the National Food Security Mission. In 2010, a Nagaon farmer created a state-level record by harvesting 15 metric tonnes of rice per hectare.

The district has 1,45,000 hectares under agriculture, of which summer paddy is cultivated on 65,000 hectares and autumn paddy on 36,000 hectares. The cropping intensity in the district is 197 per cent.

According to official records, the district’s average rice productivity is 2,612 kg per hectare and its annual rice production touched 6,20,073 metric tonnes last year.

“Our target is to double the district’s annual production within the next three years and for that we want our officials to get closer to the farmers so that the latter could get maximum technical support for increasing their productivity. Dispur is coming up with more welfare programmes for farmers and being the implementing authority, we will leave no stone unturned in implementing these,” Nagaon district agriculture officer Debabrata Borgohain said.