The Telegraph
Friday , January 3 , 2014
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Farmers warm to hybrid cultivation

- Buoyed by response, Dima Hasao to expand method over larger areas

Nagaon, Jan. 2: Farmers in the hills traditionally believe in jhum cultivation but 60 Pura households in the Mahur area of Dima Hasao district feel they have got a viable alternative.

Last year, hybrid rice cultivation was introduced in the district under the system of rice intensification.

The outcome has been very satisfactory with every hectare yielding almost 8.4 tonnes of rice.

“I saw fertiliser for the first time. Some of our villagers warned me that I might not get anything if I use it in the fields. Seeds, which came in plastic packets, were treated with chemicals for a day before sowing. Seedlings were transplanted in rows. I used fertiliser three times till the growth stage,” said Lalmo Khersa, a 30-year-old Dimasa farmer, who opted for the hybrid cultivation.

According to official reports, Khersa got the maximum yield of the year.

The initiative to get farmers to leave jhum cultivation has been on for quite some time but hybrid cultivation did not catch on because officials could not visit the sites owing to the poor law and order situation in Dima Hasao district, an official report said.

“We distributed JKRH 401 hybrid rice variety seeds among farmers of the district. Khersa and his neighbours were assisted with technical and material support from our side. Departmental experts trained them and local NGOs backed us in executing the programme,” said Dima Hasao agriculture district officer Banibrata Mukherjee.

Mukherjee said this year the department plans to expand hybrid rice cultivation over a larger area in the district. A masterplan has also been prepared for the purpose.

Dima Hasao is the only district in the state where the rate of fertiliser use is just 16.71kg per hectare of cultivable area. The district has 36,758 hectares of cultivable land and around 23,700 families of the district are involved in agriculture. Slash-and-burn or jhum cultivation is practised in 17,293 hectares of the district.

A high-level source of the Dima Hasao Autonomous Council said soon, a council team would move Dispur to include the hill district under the centrally-sponsored National Food Security Mission.

“We want to introduce our farmers to new concepts of cultivation. To achieve this we may hold motivational programmes and training camps at different levels. Sufficient infrastructure close by may prompt farmers to carry out a green revolution,” said Dima Hasao Autonomous Council chief executive member Debojeet Thaosen.