Partnering with India’s KVK system to improve data collection and diagnostics

Posted on CSISA Success Story, India-news, News - Homepage, Uncategorized, July 29, 2018

In India, the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) network was established in 1974 to serve as district-level “farm science centers” tasked with conducting on-farm tests of agricultural technologies, implementing frontline demonstrations, conducting need-based training programs, serving as local knowledge centers and supporting the marketing of locally relevant agricultural technologies. The KVK system, now comprising 680 KVKs, is overseen by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and administered by a group of 11 agricultural technology application research institutes. The KVK is the largest countrywide network that caters to the needs of researchers from state agricultural universities and ICAR institutes and provides field-level extension for the Department of Agriculture in each state.

Since 2015, CSISA has worked with KVKs in Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Odisha to test and modify locally relevant technologies and help integrate successful technologies into the government’s official package of practices for each state. In the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains, a region marked by low cereal productivity, small farm sizes and resource-poor farmers, CSISA and its KVK partners strive to intensify cereal-based cropping systems by facilitating the adoption of better-bet agronomic management practices such as zero tillage, early wheat sowing, timely establishment of rice, hybrid rice and maize, and crop diversification.

CSISA, national agricultural research and extension system (NARES) institutes, KVKs and the Department of Agriculture are working to increase the availability of scale-appropriate machinery in rural areas so that entrepreneurial farmers can develop service provision businesses. As an example, in each of 25 KVKs, Bihar Agricultural University, Sabour, is facilitating the establishment of 10 service providers who will raise and market rice nurseries to local farmers. To date, CSISA’s programming and partnerships have facilitated the emergence of nearly 4,000 service providers in the project’s working domain.

In 2018, CSISA launched a new capacity-building partnership with 50 KVKs, and trained their staff to conduct a landscape diagnostic survey, a tool that helps KVKs identify which technologies would be most likely to succeed in their geographic domains. KVK teams were taught how to use an Open Data Kit (ODK), an Android-based mobile data collection tool that increases the speed, efficiency and quality of data collection in the field. Once data are in hand, ODK also enables faster data analysis and visualization.

In June, CSISA and its KVK partners launched a landscape diagnostic survey in 50 KVKs. The survey will run through October, ultimately covering 10,500 farmers this year, and is expected to be repeated beginning in January 2019. Survey data collected by the KVKs will help research organizations like the state agricultural universities and ICAR institutes, and state extension agencies like the Department of Agriculture, jointly develop investment strategies and implementation plans that address the needs of multiple stakeholders.

Innovative partnerships such as the ones between CSISA, NARES (including the KVKs) and the private sector, serve as a necessary accelerant for the adoption of scale-appropriate technologies and the intensification of cereal-based cropping systems in India. Rigorous surveys and the sharing of analytical results will serve as important milestones in the overall capacitation and transformation of the KVK system.

Author: Dr. RK Malik and Cynthia Mathys

 

Farmers apply healthy rice seedling practices long after development interventions

Posted on Bangladesh-news, CSISA Success Story, News - Homepage, Uncategorized, July 29, 2018

To promote awareness about raising healthy rice seedlings, CSISA developed a dynamic solution – it introduced seedbed technology, an innovative technique for raising seedlings. Rice farmers in Bangladesh have long employed traditional methods to grow transplanted rice. They often use inferior quality seed and high seed rates that negatively affect the quality of seedlings. These seeds are susceptible to disease and contribute to lower yields. To reduce the yield gap, CSISA began raising awareness about healthy seedlings by promoting the use of seedbed technology.

Seedbed technology has considerable advantages. It facilitates better seed management and ensures quality seedlings. Growing healthy rice seedlings can increase effective tillering, which enhances yield up to 10%. Stronger seedlings have better disease resistance, which benefits farmers.

CSISA typically raises awareness among farmers through five major activities – using mass media, distributing booklets on techniques for raising healthy rice seedlings, hands-on training of trainers on healthy rice seedling production methods, encouraging young entrepreneurs to start seedling businesses to grow and sell healthy rice seedlings to farmers, and scaling-out healthy seedling raising practices through networks of development partners.

CSISA developed a short 10-minute farmer-friendly video in Bangladesh on practices for raising healthy rice seedlings in the 2016–17 winter Boro and summer Aman seasons. It partnered with a national NGO, the Agricultural Advisory Society, to carry out 498 video showings during the 2016–17 winter season and at 265 events during the 2017 summer season for farmers in open-air public gathering places, community centers and markets across Jessore and Faridpur Hubs. A total of 37,117 viewers were registered in the winter season and 17,736 in the summer season. Taking into account unregistered audience members, the total number of farmer/viewers was estimated at approximately 110,000 across both seasons.

Informative booklets on the subject were developed and distributed by CSISA to 1,500 field-level master trainers of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) and 33,000 farmers through 3,000 input dealers in the Feed the Future zone. In total, 612 block-level DAE staff and 80 NGO field workers were trained on healthy rice seedling raising practices.

Through CSISA’s initiatives, 41 entrepreneurs who were already running seedling businesses and six new entrepreneurs were trained on advanced healthy rice seedling agronomy and business management skills. In winter 2016-17, 95 community-based seedbeds were established across Jessore, Faridpur and Barisal Hubs by 1,092 farmers working with DAE and NGO partners.

However, funding shortfalls forced the suspension of these activities starting in the 2017–18 winter Boro rice season. CSISA conducted a follow-up survey of farmers, which revealed that farmers who had previously watched the videos had continued to adopt healthy rice seedling practices this year, even without CSISA’s intervention.

Survey results indicated that of the 17,736 farmers who viewed the video shown by CSISA and partners prior to the 2017 summer season, 51% continued to use healthy rice seedling practices to grow their crops in the 2017–18 winter season. The average size of plots where healthy rice seedlings were transplanted was 0.52 ha, indicating sustained adoption on more than 4,704 hectares in the Feed the Future zone.

CSISA-driven initiatives using videos and booklets have been tremendously impactful, as evidenced by the number of farmers who retained the core messages and continued to apply healthy rice seedling practices long after they viewed the video.

Author: Dr. M. Murshedul Alam, Sarah Sayeed Gazi and M. Shahidul Haque Khan

Reaper adoption picks up speed in Nepal

Posted on CSISA Success Story, Nepal-news, News - Homepage, Uncategorized, July 29, 2018

 

Nepal struggles with labor shortages in agriculture, particularly due to the out-migration of laborers who move in large numbers to India and Gulf countries to work. These shortages have increased labor wage rates and the cost of cereal crop production. In response to these constraints, and to try to reduce drudgery and increase profits associated with farming to make agriculture more attractive to young people, CSISA has been facilitating the uptake of the reaper, which can increase the speed, improve the timeliness and reduce the labor costs associated with harvesting cereal crops like rice and wheat. Reaper attachments can be front-mounted on the many different two-wheel tractor models available in Nepal, making it relatively affordable for farmers.

Fifteen years ago, a few reapers were sold in central Nepal, but prior to CSISA’s interventions, reapers were not available anywhere in the Feed the Future zone, which constitutes much of the far and mid-west development regions. In 2014, CSISA and its public and private sector partners began to demonstrate reapers in farmers’ fields, starting with a stock of 20 reapers. Demonstrating the functionality and benefits of the reaper across different Feed the Future districts generated rapidly increasing demand among farmers and service providers. To ensure the machines were available at the local level in the areas where reaper uptake was being facilitated, CSISA worked with private sector suppliers and the Nepal Agricultural Machinery Entrepreneurs’ Association (NAMEA) to ensure larger stocks of reapers were available in an uncertain market and greatly multiplied reaper field demonstrations.

Towards the end of 2016, reaper importers’ district sales agents began to capitalize on farmers’ increasing interest in reapers by holding their own farmer field days, focusing their efforts on the 2016 rice harvest. With CSISA’s technical support, NAMEA and its members conducted more than 50 demonstrations in 2016. As a result of the multiplying effect of private sector participation, starting from near zero purchases in 2014, by the end of 2016 farmers in the Feed the Future zone had purchased 678 reapers.

In early 2017, CSISA boosted reaper adoption in Nepal by increasing the range of stakeholders they support. CSISA facilitated innovative partnerships between the private and public sectors so that public extension agencies (such as the Department of Agriculture and the Prime Minister’s Agriculture Modernization Project) partnered with local agents to conduct even more farmer field days. For example, CSISA provided training to farmers who purchased a reaper to enable them to become service providers, thereby increasing the number of farmers who had access to reaper services and the amount of land under reaper harvesting. Each reaper owner provided harvesting services to 10 farmers on 10.5 ha of rice and wheat area in the Feed the Future zone. Also in 2017, District Agriculture Development Offices and the Prime Minister’s Agriculture Modernization Project began providing subsidies on reapers and conducting their own demonstrations.

As commonly occurs when machinery adoption spreads, the availability of spare parts and repairs for reapers lagged behind sales. To address this problem, CSISA, the Nepal Agriculture Research Council and private sector companies provided reaper repair training to district sales agents’ mechanics, as well as small grants (US$ 200 worth of “pre-positioned” reaper spare parts) to certain agents/mechanics in the far and mid-west region to seed the market.

A 2017 CSISA survey of reaper adopters in the Feed the Future zone indicated that, compared with manual harvesting, reapers increased average farm-level profitability by US$ 120 when used for harvesting both rice and wheat. Reaper adoption also relieved families of having to find and manage work teams during harvesting periods, an activity that farmers typically found stressful. Reapers also gave farmers the opportunity of becoming entrepreneurs by turning their reapers into a small business.

As of March 2018, traders in the Feed the Future zone have sold the vast majority of their 2,197 reapers, representing total sales of approximately US$ 1.2 million. In the 2017 rice and 2018 wheat seasons, farmers harvested around 11,000 hectares of rice and wheat using reapers. Just prior to the 2018 sales season for reapers, importers reported that they had over 300 reapers in their warehouses; to date, farmers have purchased almost 70% (200 pieces). Interestingly, more than 95% of service providers purchased reapers without any subsidy, which indicates a willingness to take risks and an expectation of success. In response to the increased demand, the number of importers increased from four to seven between 2016 and 2018. Given that sales almost doubled in each of the last three years, optimism abounds about the potential for reaper scaling in Nepal.

Authors: Scott Justice and Gokul Paudel

 

Healthy Rice Seedlings for Improved Livelihoods

Posted on Bangladesh-news, News - Homepage, News & Announcements, Uncategorized, December 1, 2016

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Low-cost interventions to promote healthy rice seedlings scaled-out in Bangladesh

Rice nurseries are an important, but often underappreciated, component of a successful agronomic production cycle. How a rice crop is managed in its early stages influences performance and yield later. For example, it is very important to transplant healthy seedlings at an appropriate time to get optimum yield. However, in the absence of proper nursery management and supervision, many farmers obtain suboptimal yields.

As a common practice in South Asia, rice seedlings are grown in nurseries on flat seedbeds, and are then transplanted manually into puddled soil. In Bangladesh, transplanted rice covers around 85 percent of the total rice area. In the aman (wet) season, farmers start preparing rice nurseries after the onset of the monsoon in mid-June and usually transplant more than 30-day old seedlings from mid-July to August. While in the boro (dry) season, farmers start preparing rice nurseries in  late-November and usually transplant more than 40-day old seedlings from early-January to early-February.

Many Bangladeshi farmers are knowledge-, labor- or resource-constrained and do not follow  optimal nursery management practices. Farmers practice less productive methods, such as not making drainage channels in seedbeds, not removing half-filled or empty seeds, not treating seeds with chemicals to reduce the risk of insect and disease infestation at the later stages of crop growth, using unnecessarily large volumes of seeds, not applying farmyard manure and or optimal doses of fertilizers while preparing land for seedbeds, and transplanting old or thin seedlings.

The use of old and unhealthy seedlings has a huge economic cost. Studies have shown that the use of old and unhealthy seedlings can cause more than 10 percent yield loss in rice. This means that scaling the adoption of young and healthy seedlings in at least half of Bangladesh’s 11.7 million hectares rice area could produce an additional 2.5 million tons of paddy per year, which would contribute an additional US$ 680 million to the national economy, and potentially improving the food security of millions of poor Bangladeshis. This would make a huge positive socioeconomic impact for the country and it is achievable by rolling-out some simple interventions.

A variety of improved rice nursery management options are available for Bangladeshi farmers, including seed treatment before sowing (to reduce the potential for diseases), adopting optimal sowing dates for different cultivars in different environments, planting in the correct seed densities, using balanced organic and inorganic fertilizers, and following optimal transplanting age and density. The latter is particularly important for avoiding transplanting shock, which in addition to causing yield losses can also result in delayed crop maturity and harvests, and can further delay the sowing of the subsequent boro crop, in the case of monsoon aman rice. However, majority of farmers are not using these improved options because of knwoledge gap or lack of resources.

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A trader sells his rice seedlings at a ‘haat bazaar’ or open air-market in Bangladesh. In Faridpur District, approximately 10 such markets are convened in the aman season where 15-20 traders, coming from different locations, buy and sell seedlings. Photo: Humnath Bhandari/IRRI

The Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA)  is playing a catalytic role to scale out healthy rice seedlings in the Feed the Future Zone in Bangladesh. Working collaboratively with the Department Agricultural Extension, NGOs, development projects, input dealers, farmer groups and lead farmers, CSISA has focused on a two-pronged approach to scale-out the use of healthy rice seedlings. First, targeting individual rice farmers to  produce  and use  healthy rice seedlings through better nursery management practices. Second, targeting rice nursery entrepreneurs for large-scale production and supply of healthy seedlings in the market alongside income generation through rural enterprise creation.

A diagnostic survey has indicated significant potential to promote improved rice nurseries management practices for production and use of healthy rice seedlings in FtF zone, especially when these messages are deployed at a large scale by development partners and livelihood initiatives, and by linking entrepreneurs to markets. However, the interventions cannot be scaled-out in the tidal flood prone areas of Barisal Hub and the submergence prone areas of Faridpur Hub.

Through mass-media campaigns such as showing a video and distributing leaflets to farmers, training  lead farmers and farmer groups on  ideal rice nursery technologies, training  rice nursery entrepreneurs and input dealers on production and marketing of healthy seedlings, and conducting training of trainers workshops for extension agents of  government and NGO, CSISA has supported large-scale awareness and adoption of healthy rice seedlings among farmers across Faridpur, Jessore, and Barisal Hubs in this year. In 2016 aman season alone, CSISA, working together with partners, showed a video to more than 23,200 farmers, distributed leaflets to 650 farmers, initiated eight new community-based nurseries, trained 20 rice nursery entrepreneurs, and conducted training of traniers workshop to 80 extension agents. These activities will continue and expand in coming seasons.

This article is authored by Humnath Bhandari, Agricultural Economist, International Rice Research Institute, Bangladesh.

Major Impacts of CSISA in India 2012-2015

Posted on News & Announcements, Uncategorized, December 22, 2015

Major Impacts of CSISA

South Asia has the largest number of poor and undernourished in the world. Cereal crops – rice, wheat and maize – provide staple food for a half-billion people living on less than US$ 1.25 a day. Land degradation, water scarcity and climate change are slowing the cereal productivity growth in the region, posing steep challenges for both rural livelihoods and food security.

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Working together with national research and extension systems, research institutes, state governments, non-governmental organizations, private companies and farmers in India, CSISA helped to generate access and increase affordability of modern technologies, practices and new varieties to improve agricultural yields and farmers’ incomes in a sustainable manner. This publication captures some of those impacts, achieved during our second phase, 2012 to 2015, made possible through the continued support of our partners and donors.

Download PDF                                     Interactive Web Version                                     Magazine

 

Reaping Benefits from Rice and Wheat

Posted on Bangladesh-news, News - Homepage, News & Announcements, Uncategorized, December 21, 2015

Rafiqul LSP ReaperIn Kalukhali, Rajbari district, Bangladeshi farmers mostly cultivate paddy, which requires engaging a large labor force in order to harvest the crop. Mohammad Rafiqul Islam, an experienced agricultural service provider, was keen to minimize labor expenses in order to accelerate his business profits. After seeing a reaper in the neighboring village that harvested the crop faster, thus helping in timely planting of the subsequent crop, he decided to purchase this new machine. Imported and marketed by ACI company, this machine was suitable for reaping wheat and Amon and Aush paddy.

“Initially, my family members were against the big investment of US$ 2,360 for purchasing this machine,” said Rafiqul.  “They told me this will be a costly deal,” he added. Previously, Rafiqul would hire 10 laborers for around two weeks to harvest 3.57 hectares of land, which used to cost him around US$ 1,300.

Despite facing resistance at home, Rafiqul bought the reaper anyway, and he didn’t regret it. Even after hiring a machine operator and purchasing fuel, Rafiqul could save around US$ 1,230 in labor costs from harvesting his land in less than two weeks. Additionally, he generated an income of US$ 76 by providing harvesting services to others for one more week.

“The demand for reaper services will increase in the dry season, and if weather conditions remain favorable, more than 20 hectares of land can be harvested by the machine,” said Mohammad Jahangir Jowarder, a reaper operator working with Rafiqul Islam.

The benefits extend beyond the farm and are helping make Rafiqul’s family life more comfortable.  “Earlier, during the harvest season I could not sleep more than three hours per night. I had to prepare at least four meals for ten laborers as well as dry, thresh, pack and store around 80 kg of paddy every day. But this time it’s different. I am able to rest in the evenings – first time in 30 years!” laughed Rafiqul’s wife Shirin Sultana, who originally opposed the decision to invest in the machine. So far, local service providers have supported more than 6,000 farmers with this machine covering 2,200 ha of farm land.

“The reaper is fast becoming popular among farmers. In short time, 55 local service providers have bought the reaper and harvested more than 2,000 hectares of land of more than 6,000 farmers,” said Subrata Chakrabarty, Project Manager, CSISA-MI. “It can be the most extensively used technology for rice and wheat harvesting in the next five years in Bangladesh,” he added.

Funded by USAID, the Cereal Systems Initiative in South Asia – Mechanization and Irrigation (CSISA-MI) Project – part of US President Obama’s Feed the Future (FtF) Initiative – is facilitating the market promotion of the reaper machine in collaboration with ACI. CSISA-MI seeks to transform agriculture in southern Bangladesh by unlocking the potential productivity of the region’s farmers during the dry season, while conserving the land’s ability to produce quality crops in the long term through surface water irrigation, efficient agricultural machinery and local service provision.

This article is authored by M. Shahidul Haque Khan, Communications Officer, CIMMYT-Bangladesh.

Farmers in Tamil Nadu Benefit from Better Information, Tools and Technology

Posted on India-news, News - Homepage, News & Announcements, Uncategorized, October 9, 2015

TN exit workshopIn the last five years, CSISA has reached over 25,000 farmers and has covered more than 70,000 acres through water- and labor-saving agricultural technologies in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, as reported during the CSISA Tamil Nadu Hub Celebration Workshop from 15-16 September in Thanjavur (participants of the workshop pictured above).

As part of CSISA, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) tested and scaled-out improved rice crop technologies and management practices including laser land leveling, mechanized dry direct seeding of rice, mechanical transplanting of rice, site-specific nutrient management and line sowing using a multicrop seeder under reduced-tillage conditions. These technologies are helping farmers reduce the cost of production and increase their income in Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts of the Cauvery Delta and the neighboring districts of Ramanathapuram and Sivagangai.

“Farmers can save water by 25–35 percent by not puddling the field and by using shorter-duration crops,” said R. Ganeshamoorthy, CSISA Tamil Nadu hub manager. “Farmers can save about 40 percent of labor because renting a farm machine is cheaper than hiring manual labor. The profit from the dry direct seeded rice is twice as much as that of conventional rice cultivation. Overall, farmers can increase their yields by 7–10 percent depending on the rice variety.”

Making Arid Lands Cultivable

Sivagangai and Ramanathapuram districts are two of the most arid areas in Tamil Nadu. With almost 73 percent of the population depending on agriculture, paddy is a staple crop grown only during the dry season (rabi), mainly under rainfed conditions, with seeds broadcasted before the rains. The practice of dry direct seeding of rice, which requires less water and labor, is helping transform uncultivable lands (geographically about 50 percent of the area) to productive agricultural areas in these districts.

The Reliance Foundation and CSISA have been working in partnership to convert dry tracts of lands from traditional broadcasted rice to dry direct seeded using a seed drill. As a result, 250 hectares in Sivagangai have already become cultivable and farmers’ groups have purchased 11 seed drills and are renting out the equipment to other farmers.

“Working together with several important organizations is key to the success of the widespread dissemination of these technologies in Tamil Nadu,” said Noel Magor, head of the Impact Acceleration Unit and Training Center at IRRI.  “In 2013, for example, the use of seed drill and land laser leveling machines was endorsed by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) while the Department of Agriculture (DoA) facilitated and provided some subsidy to purchase the machines for outscaling to the farmers.”

The Tamil Nadu Rice Research Institute, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, ITC Agribusiness division, Syngenta, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and the Reliance Foundation are among several partners who supported the research, capacity-building and extension work for large-scale adoption of the technologies.

Less Fertilizers, More Profits

The Nutrient Manager for Rice (NMR), an ICT-based decision tool that gives real-time site-specific fertilizer recommendation, is helping farmers use less fertilizers as compared with farmers’ current practice, thus increasing their profits by US$ 67 per hectare on average. This tool, introduced by CSISA in the Cauvery delta, provides fertilizer guidelines matching the field-specific needs and conditions of a farmer, according to IRRI scientist P. Panneerselvam.

“Fertilizers are typically the second largest input cost in rice production,” said Panneerselvam. “Thus, Nutrient Manager for Rice is a welcome technology in Tamil Nadu.” NMR supports and complements the existing crop management advisory services of the state government.

Based on the information provided by farmers about their fields, Nutrient Manager recommends the ideal amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to be added at critical growth stages, while taking into account the amount of fertilizer the farmer prefers to use.

With the use of NMR, farmers can save 15-20 percent of nitrogen, 36-42 percent of phosphorous and 28 percent of potassium compared with state fertilizer recommendation; and 33-42 percent phosphorous and 30 percent potassium compared with farmer’s practice. These were the results from an on-farm participatory research done from 2013 to 2015 in Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, and Nagapattinam districts in Tamil Nadu.

“Tamil Nadu is a major rice producing state in India with 1.9 million hectares under rice. The Cauvery delta contributes a substantial share to the state’s rice production,” said Panneerselvam. “Thus, helping farmers here will have an impact on the overall production of the country.”

Sustaining Impacts

Partner organizations such as TNAU and MSSRF have agreed to extend the research and development initiatives under CSISA, beyond the project life-cycle. “TNAU will take up the outscaling of key technologies under CSISA although the project has already ended,” said R. Rajendran, TNAU agronomist, who has been associated with CSISA for the last seven years.

“TNAU will continue by extending technologies such as improved dry seeded rice cultivation, nonpuddled machine rice transplanting and laser land leveling,” Rajendran said. “Also, the research initiatives conducted through CSISA will not stop. The research outcomes will be taken continually to the farmers with the support from the Government of Tamil Nadu and TNAU,” he added.

The Tamil Nadu Rice Research Institute and the Soil and Water Management Research Institute will also continue to expand the adoption of the water- and labor-saving technologies in the Cauvery Delta and the entire rice-growing areas of Tamil Nadu.

“MSSRF is now extending the training to farmers after its staff members attended the season-long training on dry direct seeded rice,” said G. Sudhakar, scientist at MSSRF. The season-long training was piloted by CSISA where participants received hands-on training on all aspects of crop production and management — from sowing to grain storage — during the entire growing season.

The original version of this article appears in the IRRI News Bulletin.

Improved Cattle Feed Provides New Business Opportunities for Farmers in Bihar

Posted on India-news, News & Announcements, Uncategorized, December 22, 2014

Ram nandan_SStory (2)Ram Nandan Prasad, a dairy farmer in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, was convinced that his 19–20 crossbred dairy cattle could yield more milk than they were producing. So, he fed them concentrates available in the local market and ensured high levels of hygiene. Yet, the average yield per cow was just 15–20 liters per day.

There is a strong demand for milk in the region where Prasad lives, for direct human consumption and for mixing in tea/coffee, making ice cream, sweets, curd and butter. Milk provides vital nutrients for the community, besides serving as an important source of income for producers. Prasad sells his milk to the Ganga Dairy, a local private corporation, as do a number of his fellow villagers.

Last year, Prasad participated in a farmers’ training program organized by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) under CSISA for members of the Hitkari Krishak Club, a local farmers’ association where Prasad serves as the secretary. In this training on ‘Crop Residue Based Feeding Strategies to Improve Milk Production of Dairy Animals,’ he learned that the potential average milk each cow can produce with improved feed is 30 liters.

Using the scientific formula taught during the program, Prasad prepared balanced concentrate feed from locally available ingredients for his dairy cattle and also adopted the use of green fodder. The results, he says, were remarkable. “Within two months the quantity and quality of milk drastically improved even though I was now feeding the cows a lesser amount of concentrates than before.”

Encouraged by this outcome, he increased his herd to 25 crossbred dairy cattle with milk yields incresead by 10-15%, milk fat and solids-not-fat (SNF) increased by 10-12% and 3-5%, respectively, and decreased concentrate consumption by 8-10% per cow. The increase in milk fat and SNF represents an improvement in the quality of milk, which results in higher price per liter of milk sold. For many of his fellow farmers, however, preparing the concentrate was time consuming and buying individual ingredients was expensive as most farmers keep only one or two cows. So, Prasad went a step further. He produced more concentrate than he required and sold the surplus to other farmers in his village at no profit, only charging an additional Rs. 1 ($0.02) as service charge.

Seeing this change in the level of milk production, farmers from other villages have become his customers as well. Today, Prasad manually prepares 25–30 tons per month, using 8 tons for his own herd and selling the rest. He also increased his land under green fodder so that he can sell that surplus as well. He is also assembling a tractor-driven grinding, milling and mixing machine to produce more concentrate to meet the demand of his growing new business.

Smart Tools for Farmers in South Asia to Help Increase Yield

Posted on Uncategorized, July 21, 2014

To produce food for more people using less land and under more difficult climatic conditions, many studies predict that the use and demand for fertilizers will continue to rise in South Asia. By 2020, fertilizer demand in India is projected to increase to about 41.6 million tons from 26.4 million tons in 2010. However, fertilizer use by farmers in India is often insufficient and applied inefficiently, leading to sub-optimal yields. As demand for fertilizers rise, it is important to ensure that they are applied at the right amounts, at the right time and in the right locations to enhance productivity and increase crop yields.

In South Asia, 90 percent of smallholder farmers who use fertilizer lack access to soil testing services. Due to blanket fertilizer recommendations provided over a wide area, the application of nutrients is often not well matched to the requirement of the soil and crop. Also, excessive, non-judicious and imbalanced use of chemical fertilizers can result in the deterioration of soil fertility. This is becoming a cause for concern for Indian agriculture. According to a study published in the Journal of the Environment, Development and Sustainability, India is losing soil 30 to 40 times faster than its natural replenishment rate. The solution lies in part in having a precise, site-specific nutrient management approach that will build sustainable and profitable agriculture sector.

The Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), in collaboration with International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and state universities and government partners, are developing localized versions of the ‘Crop Manager’ decision-making tool to provide location-specific fertilizer recommendations for farmers growing rice and maize in Odisha, and rice-wheat and maize in Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In the Cauvery Delta of Tamil Nadu, a version of ‘Rice Nutrient Manager’ has been developed by CSISA to support and complement the existing crop management advisory services of the State government. The partners are in the advanced field testing phase and are fine-tuning the tools prior to official release.

Crop Manager is an expanded version of Nutrient Manager, first conceptualized and released by IRRI in the Philippines in 2009. Crop Manager combines improved nutrient management with field-specific best-bet crop management guidelines to address three to four of the main agronomic constraints in addition to fertilizer recommendations.

Fast and Futuristic

The tool includes both web-based and mobile Android application with a simple, user-friendly interface providing personalized fertilizer guidance for small-scale farmers and extension workers. The farmer has to provide information about their fields by responding to a set of 12-15 brief questions about field location, planting method, seed variety, typical yields, choice of fertilizer, method of harvesting and other factors.

Based on these inputs, the program recommends how much fertilizers (nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K)) should

CSISA scientists sensitizing the partners and farmers on the Nutrient Manager of Rice tool in a workshop from 17-19 June in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

CSISA scientists sensitizing the partners and farmers on Nutrient Manager for Rice in a workshop from 17-19 June in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

be added at critical growth stages of the plant in order to increase yield and profit. The recommendation is given in the amount of fertilizer that farmer prefers to use and they can receive the advice instantly, if their mobile is connected to internet. The crop manager will be available in Hindi, Odiya and English. Interactive voice response (IVR) system to guide the user through this survey with a recorded questionnaire is also planned.

With mobile phone and internet penetrating fast in rural India – India has 110 million mobile internet users of which 25 million are in rural India – these ICT-based tools, especially in the future, will serve as a useful platform to take knowledge to the farmers easily and when they need it, said Sheetal Sharma, CSISA nutrient management specialist.

Aiming to increase a farmer’s income by US$100 per hectare per crop, the Rice Crop Manager was released in Bangladesh last year, as part of CSISA. Sharma further added that these ICT tools are based on strong scientific principles and show an edge over the traditional soil testing facilities, which usually take more time to give recommendations and require farmers to carry soil samples to a testing facility.

With the help of technologies like Crop Manager, CSISA hopes that farmers in South Asia will be able to replicate high-tech precision farming used in developed countries with easy-to-use and low-cost options. Farmers are able; they just need the right tools.

View the web-based Crop Manager tool, click here.

Watch Seminar on Rice Crop Manager by Roland Buresh, Principal Scientist in the Crop and Environmental Sciences Division, IRRI

Supporting policy change: Bihar promotes early wheat sowing and zero tillage technology

Posted on News & Announcements, Uncategorized, December 19, 2013

CSISA’s efforts to promote early wheat sowing and zero tillage technology get full support from the Bihar Department of Agriculture. After three years of extensive work, CSISA has demonstrated that early wheat sowing – between November 1 and 15 – increases yields, primarily due to the crop’s ability to avoid terminal heat (35°C) during the grain-filling stage. This is a critical intervention in light of the changing climate of the eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains. CSISA has also shown that a zero-till seed drill can facilitate early sowing by sowing the crop faster and with less labor. Largely due to CSISA’s policy advocacy around these two issues, the Bihar Department of Agriculture promoted early wheat sowing and zero till technology in its 2013 advisory to farmers, reversing earlier guidance that wheat only be sown in the last two weeks of November, or even in early December. In preparation for the 2013 Rabi cropping season, CSISA, the Bihar Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Technology Management Agency launched a campaign to promote early sowing, zero tillage and to discuss best management practices for wheat. Workshops were held in Darbhanga, Begusarai, Vaishali, Lakhisarai, Samastipur and Muzaffarpur during 26 October to 2 November, 2Bihar advisory on early wheat planting013. CSISA conducted lectures, shared case studies, showed relevant videos, and engaged in discussions with State Department officers and field functionaries at the grassroots level to encourage farmers to advance their wheat sowing at least by 10 days compared to last year, since most farmers would have sown their wheat in late November or early December. The State Agriculture Officers also directed their Block Agriculture Officers, agriculture coordinators, and Krishi Salhakars (farm advisors at the Panchayat level) to ensure maximum area under early wheat sowing, preferably under zero-tillage. The CSISA hub team developed extension materials (factsheets) on the advantages of ‘early sowing of wheat’ and ‘management of Phalaris minor in wheat’ with the help of BAMETI, the extension and training wing of the Bihar Department of Agriculture. These factsheets are being distributed to thousands of field level extension staff.

Farmers learn to manage paddy transplanting “business”

Posted on News - Homepage, Uncategorized, September 16, 2013

Satyadev Prasad of Ratanpur Birta is like any other farmer of his village. Formerly, he cultivated paddy much the same way as his father and grandfather did. This year, however, he purchased paddy transplanter with the aim of providing custom-hire services. To ensure success of his envisioned business, he also undertook the challenge of raising mat-type nursery, which is mandatory for the paddy machine transplanter. With guidance from CSISA team, he began the task of raising of mat-nursery for paddy. He took advantage of an agricultural program on community nursery (financial assistance is provided by Govt. of Bihar) for aggregating demand and raising community nursery for other farmers in the village. Also, he availed of the benefit from State Department of Agriculture schemes (in the form of subsidy on the purchase of agricultural machinery) enabling him to procure machine at subsidized price.

Satyadev Prasad in his machine transplanted paddy field

Satyadev Prasad in his machine transplanted paddy field

Further, by using it for his own field and hiring it to the neighboring farmers, he ensured commercial success of this venture. He has planted paddy in about 80 acres for 31 farmers. “On seeing the success of my business model, other farmers are also in the process of purchasing paddy transplanter,” he exclaimed. Owing to efforts of CSISA, the mechanised paddy transplanting this year has increased to 360 acres in East Champararn district. Currently there are 9 paddy transplanters in East Champararn, compared to two last year.

CSISA Bulletin – Issue 1

Posted on Uncategorized, September 13, 2013

CSISA Bulletin brings you information on events, workshops, training, traveling seminars, and other relevant features related to CSISA activities across South Asia.

Travel seminar on CA-based best management practices for rice A two-day traveling seminar sponsored by IFAD project of IRRI was organized by CSISA Bihar hub for the visiting scientists from Nepal, Bangladesh and India during on 31 Aug – 01 Sep, 2013. The objective of the seminar was to initiate a discussion on the performance of conservation agriculture (CA) based best management practices for rice in Bihar. A total of 59 people (including 3 women) consisting of 22 scientists, and 37 farmers participated in the event. More >> ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ Planning meeting for agriculture development in Bihar A two-day contingency planning meeting of the State Department of Agriculture (DoA) was organised by Bihar Agricultural Management, Extension and Training Institute (BAMETI) in Patna during 7-8 September, 2013. The objective of the meet was to create a strategic plan to meet the challenge of drought-like situation prevailing in Bihar. Mr. A.K. Chauhan, Agriculture Production Commissioner and Principal Secretary along with Dr. R.N. Singh, Director BAMETI, District Agriculture Officers (DAOs), scientists from Rajendra Agricultural University (RAU), Bihar Agricultural University (BAU), Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), ICAR and progressive farmers participated in the discussions. More >> ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ Partnering Indian farmers for environment-friendly and cost-efficient technology Compared to the more widely used method where seeds are first germinated in a nursery and then the rice seedlings are manually transplanted to the fields, Dry Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) involves sowing seeds directly in the fields with the help of a machine called a Multi Crop Planter. More >> ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ Precise nutrient recommendation for rice-wheat cropping systems For the first time in Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh, the farmers will be able to apply site-specific precise crop management practices with special emphasis on nutrient management in their fields in a cropping system mode, thanks to computer- and mobile phone-based decision support tool called Crop Manager. More >> ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ Training organised for Advisors of Agriculture Department CSISA team led by Dr. Pankaj Kumar held meeting with Dr. Kaushal Kishore Sharma, District Agriculture Officer (DAO) of Muzaffarpur district and his team on 9 July, 2013, to review progress achieved under mechanised transplanting of paddy. Mr. M.C. Paswan, Block Agriculture Officer, Sakra, Mr. Sunil Sharma, Officer, along with several ‘Krishi Salahkar’ (village level farm advisors) and agriculture specialist also attended the meeting. More >> ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ A snapshot of the CSISA Odisha hub activities CSISA Odisha hub carried out different inception activities to strengthen its entry points across various potential areas for technological interventions in the targeted districts of Puri, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj. More >> ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤  

Training of agri advisors of DAO

Posted on Uncategorized, August 27, 2013

Venue: Rajapur, Sakra Block
Date: 9th July, 2013
Total Participants: 12

Training organised for Advisors of Agriculture Department in Muzaffarpur

CSISA team led by Dr. Pankaj Kumar held meeting with Dr. Kaushal Kishore Sharma, District Agriculture Officer (DAO) of Muzaffarpur district and his team on 9 July, 2013, to review progress achieved under mechanised transplanting of paddy. Mr. M.C. Paswan, Block Agriculture Officer, Sakra, Mr. Sunil Sharma, Officer, along with several ‘Krishi Salahkar’ (village level farm advisors) and agriculture specialist also attended the meeting.

Hands on training on mechanical transplanting of rice

Posted on Uncategorized, August 27, 2013

Date: 13 July 2013
Place: VASFA, Vaishali
Total Number of Farmers: 16

Hands-on Training on Mechanical Transplanting held in Vaislahi

The CSISA project organized a hands-on training session in collaboration with the Vaishali Area Small Farmers Association (VASFA) for select farmers who were invited to understand the operation of mechanical rice transplanters. The event was organised in Vaishali, Bihar, on 13 July 2013. Mr. Upendra Kumar Sharma, Chief Functionary, VASFA, and Dr. Pankaj Kumar, CSISA, facilitated the technical session.


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