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Naveen sheaves add to Assam farm cheer

Naveen variety of rice cultivated by farmers in Upper Assam

Guwahati: Naveen, a short duration boro paddy variety, grown in just three months, has come as a blessing for nearly 10,000 farmers in four flood-prone districts in Upper Assam - Dhemaji, Majuli, Lakhimpur and Golaghat.

The rice variety was introduced to farmers in at least 89 villages in 2016 under a livelihood support project of Centre for Micro-finance and Livelihood, an NGO, Tata Trusts and the Mising Autonomous Council.

As a result, 90 per cent farmers could successfully harvest their paddy before early (pre-monsoon) floods in May last year and their average production has increased from three tonnes per hectare to seven tonnes per hectare.

The villages covered under the project have seen paddy production of 3,576 metric tonnes on 894 hectares.

"Floods kill many people, destroy their houses and basic infrastructure but the destruction of crops leaves a long-term impact on the livelihood of our farmers, mostly in these flood-prone districts almost every year. Keeping this in mind, the boro paddy variety was introduced so that the farmers could harvest their paddy before monsoons and floods hit them. It has already proved a success and we hope many more farmers will come forward and adopt this method," said Rajashree Das, of the Centre for Micro-finance and Livelihood.

Floods last year affected more than 30 lakh people in at least 30 districts in Assam and over three lakh hectares of cropland.

A field survey, conducted by a forum of NGOs during the floods between July to September last year revealed that flood-hit people faced food scarcity as they had food stocks for less than a month.

Das said during the current year (2017-2018), altogether 894 hectares have been covered and the process was on for an additional 410 hectares in the four flood-prone districts.

"The farmers have been provided training on systematic root intensification technique of paddy cultivation, short duration variety (Naveen), assured irrigation, use of cono-weeder and organic practice of cultivation are the main reasons of our success of the intervention," she said, adding that at least 37 local community resource persons had been groomed for constant handholding support as it was a new practice for the farmers.

The organisation has also taken up skill upgrade programmes for women weavers and fish-rearing techniques among farmers, to support their livelihood.

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