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VCD to help farmers raise rice production

Nagaon, March 25: A Nagaon scientist is preparing to launch a video CD to guide farmers on hi-tech methods of rice cultivation.

The initiative is reportedly the first of its kind in the Northeast and targets both farmers in remote areas and grassroots-level agriculture workers.

Senior agriculturist Arunima Deb Chaudhury has prepared the 60-minute video, which highlights the newly popularised System of Rice Intensification (SRI) that can be used increase both summer and autumn paddy production.

Deb Chaudhury’s maiden initiative was a guidebook on SRI that was published by the state agriculture department last year.

“SRI is not like the traditional way of cultivation with which some farmers of two or three districts of Assam are accustomed. My target is to make the concept more popular through both print and audio-visual medium,” Deb Chaudhury said.

According to her, the VCD includes all topics, like showing of seeds, methods of transplantation, usage of fertiliser and minerals, essential steps during the vegetative stage, pre-harvesting nourishment and finally ways of threshing.

SRI was successfully introduced in 13 districts of Assam under the centrally sponsored National Food Security Mission (NFSM) in 2007. Later, the concept became more popular among the farmers of two central Assam districts —Nagaon and Morigaon.

Unlike the traditional farming, SRI implements hi-tech concepts from the very preliminary seedbed preparation stage. Siblings, just 13 days old, are transplanted. An additional dose of zinc is applied to soil to get better returns.

“Usually, varieties like Arize 6444, Arize ghani and Swarnabh are used because they are comparatively short duration varieties,” Deb Chaudhury said.

According to her, the SRI system could double or triple the state’s annual paddy production and to do this, just some sincere awareness drives need to be undertaken.

“Normally a farmer can expect 8mon (320kg) per bigha. But if SRI is applied and hybrid varieties are used, production might go up to 56mon (2,240kg)” she said.

According to records, rice productivity could go up to 15,000kg per hectare if hybrid rice variety is used in SRI method. Interestingly, Nagaon farmer Pradip Das crossed the limit by increasing productivity to 15,300kg per hectare last year.

“Our target is to increase rice productivity in the state and for that the VCD could be used for documentation. The state’s rice production increased from 29,16,014 metric tonnes in 2007 to 50,45,091 metric tonnes in 2011. Productivity increased from 1,349kg per hectare to 1,990kg per hectare during that period. If possible, we will use the VCD for departmental use,” said a high-level NFSM source.


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