In Terai, farmers were initially skeptical about growing maize in the dry spring period, with one farmer’s wife berating him for sowing maize on land she thought they should grow a fodder crop on. By about two months after planting, she was delightedly admitting being wrong, and showing visitors their maize field, with both the farmer’s variety and a hybrid, both under farmer management and recommended nutrient and establishment practices. All hybrids tested yielded at least 2 t/ha more than the farmer’s open pollinated variety (OPV), Arun-2 — which also yielded over 1 t/ha more with improved management than under typical farmer management.Yields of the Rajkumar hybrid that farmers voiced early preference for were often doubled, at over 10 t/ha with just 3 irrigations. Hybrid yields under farmer management were comparable to or better than OPV yields under best practices, leading several farmers to state that they wanted to expand spring maize area next year and plant the Rajkumar hybrid by line-sowing as introduced by CSISA-NP rather than the traditional practice of broadcasting: they said that although initial time for line-sowing might be high, applying irrigation and weeding were cheaper and easier in the line-sown plots. Feed industry representatives invited to visit the plots were also pleased with the hybrid maize, and told farmers that they could guarantee the purchase of these farmers’ hybrid maize at the same rates as they currently pay Indian producers if they could increase production, as currently purchase over 200 t of maize annually from India at NPR 24/kg to meet demand. Following the discussion with feed company representatives, CSISA-NP participating farmers in the far-western Terai project sites were able to negotiate higher prices (about NPR 4-5 per kg) from the (non-feed company) buyers of their maize.
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.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.
Ranjit Singh, who cultivates paddy and maize on 22 acres of farmland with his brother, Neeraj Singh, said that although they had not yet quantified in detail the benefits of mechanical transplanting of rice, in general their observations indicated savings in labor and irrigation costs, and resulted in higher yields than traditional methods of paddy cultivation. Having started the operation in 2012, this year the acreage under mechanized transplanting in the village has increased substantially.
In Rampur village, Tribhuvan Singh is also convinced that mechanical transplanting has helped them address challenges associated with farm labour in the region. The other advantage of this technology has been that it allowed him to transplant seedlings immediately after irrigating the field in an unpuddled condition, thus saving irrigation cost. “The practice of transplanting in unpuddled conditions has been helpful in saving water and maintaining of soil structure. The yield has been exceptionally good, which reinforced my belief in the technology. Other farmers are also convinced of this technology and were enthusiastic about opting for it,” Tribhuvan said.
The technology dissemination for mechanical transplanting of paddy is supported by CSISA team in Bihar which included raising of mat-type nursery, field preparation for transplanting in unpuddled conditions, and weed management.
According to scientific studies, around 10-20% of the total water required for rice culture, dedicated to puddling and transplanting, can be saved by unpuddled transplanting using self-propelled mechanical rice transplanters. Farmers benefit due to:
The Koattakha River runs through the small village of Paspota, in the Jessore district, supporting around 50 households along its banks. The general livelihood activities of men in the village are fishing, agricultural day labor, and small-scale business, while women are mainly housewives and occasionally keep livestock.