Adoption of New Agricultural Technologies: Evidence from Field Experiments in Rural India

Posted on India-news, News - Homepage, News & Announcements, May 7, 2014

Agricultural development is largely dependent upon technological innovations that increase or enhance agricultural productivity. Despite the heralded benefits of many new agricultural technologies, their widespread adoption is often slow.

Slow uptake of new technologies may be due to supply-side constraints; large, fixed costs; or difficulties in learning about their relative benefits. IMG_3943The lack of key information about a technology’s benefits may be especially relevant for technologies such as abiotic stress-tolerant cultivars, which may not show benefits under all degrees of stress.

Adoption can be constrained by the uncertainty that arises due to both risk and ambiguity. Some factors that influence adoption decisions may not be directly visible, such as farmer preferences regarding uncertainty. Farmers in developing countries face a wide range of uncertainty, not the least of which arises from climate variability, including droughts. Droughts represent one of the most pressing constraints to rice production in rainfed environments.

Risks and Ambiguity

Risk arises because, while almost all new agricultural technologies tout increases in mean productivity, many perform optimally only under certain conditions, such as with precise additions of complementary inputs. Deviations from these conditions may result in reduced yield benefits vis-´a-vis the traditional technology and increased variance. Many farmers may dislike these risks and prefer more traditional technologies with less variable outcomes.

Ambiguity, on the other hand, arises because new technologies are unknown and unproven in the minds of prospective adopters, who generally do not know the yield distribution of the new technology. While this ambiguity makes it difficult for farmers to formulate profit expectations, farmers may also have apprehensions due to insufficient information, which may influence behavior and decision-making.

In a recent IFPRI Discussion Paper, selected as Best Paper from among 86 competing presentations at the recently held 4th International Conference on Applied Econometrics in March 2014 in Hyderabad, CSISA researchers Patrick Ward and Vartika Singh measure and analyze various behavioral parameters related to decision-making under uncertainty collected through field experiments in rural India. The experimental design allows for the identification of several different behavioral parameters, including risk, ambiguity and loss aversion and individuals’ tendency to weigh disproportionately the probability of rare events when making decisions.

Researchers conducted a series of five experiments, each comprising a set of choices between two options with different real payouts. Specifically, they observed that risk aversion alone does not sufficiently describe individuals’ behavior, but individuals have a tendency to weigh outcomes differently and demonstrate aversion to potential losses.

Disaggregating by gender, the research found that women are both significantly more risk averse and loss averse than men.

Farmers Willing to Adopt the New, Risk-reducing Variety

When they studied preferences for drought tolerant (DT) rice, the researchers observed that farmers’ risk and loss aversion interact with their perceptions about the potential risks and losses associated with the new seeds.

Unlike other new agricultural technologies, which may increase expected yields at the expense of increased variability, DT rice actually reduces overall yield variability and provides protection against downside risks, at least up to a certain level of drought stress. Both risk aversion and loss aversion significantly increase the probability that farmers will choose the newer DT variety seeds over their status quo seed (the seed they cultivated in the previous Kharif) since the additional value given by DT paddy is more compared to other paddy.

Therefore, the role of risk and ambiguity preferences seems straightforward when it comes to a technology like DT rice, since the technology provides benefits specifically targeted to farmers addressing climate-related risks and potential losses. However, considerable scope remains to explore the role of risk and ambiguity preferences on other agricultural technologies or farm management practices, especially ones in which the benefits are less visible in the physical product.

Efficient and Cost-effective Pumps Boost Irrigation in Bangladesh

Posted on Bangladesh-news, News & Announcements, April 14, 2014

More fields in Barisal region in southern Bangladesh are now being irrigated faster and more efficiently, as Local Service Providers (LSPs) have started using CSISA-MI’s Axial Flow Pumps (AFPs) for irrigation. The AFP, researched and promoted by the USAID-funded CSISA-MI project, part of President Obama’s Feed the Future (FtF) Campaign, is marketed and sold in local communities by agricultural retailer RFL. CSISA-MI promotes and supports sales of the irrigators to help increase dry season production in southern Bangladesh. Over the past six months since the project started, 46 AFPs have been purchased in the Barisal region, 35 of which are already deployed irrigating dry season crops. Attachable to a common two-wheeled tractor, the AFPs are easy to use and deploy. They have already irrigated 3.5 hectares of land owned by a total of 1,825 farmers in the target region. RFL aims to sell 165 of the machines by the end of March and irrigate at least 10.5 hectares of land. Participating LSPs report that a low-lift pump, currently the most common irrigation machine in Barisal, can irrigate about 16 hectares of land in one dry season; the AFP, however, can cover at least 24 hectares. LSPs’ revenues are increasing, with some earning more than 15 percent over the last year. Not only are the AFPs more efficient, they are more cost effective. LSPs estimate they can irrigate 0.40 hectares of land in 90 minutes with 1.5 liters of fuel and one laborer. In contrast, the low lift pumps take two hours and two liters of fuel to irrigate the same area. AFPs conserve at least $1.30 per day.

Local Ingenuity Multiplies Intervention

Posted on Bangladesh-news, News - Homepage, News & Announcements, April 10, 2014

Like many other farmers of Bangladesh, forty-year-old Ashim Halder of Batiaghata Upazila in Khulna is also skilled in carpentry, Ashim Halderearning extra money on the side by offering carpentry services to neighbors. This ability turned out for Ashim to be the key to innovate a wooden seed plate for the Bed Planter. Besides maize and wheat, the machine now also works for Sunflower seed plantation.

The Bed Planter is a new piece of technology introduced by USAID’s CSISA-MI project. The machine, marketed by agricultural retailer ACI, allows Local Service Providers (LSPs) like Halder to add seed to the farms as they plow – drastically increasing the rate at which land is prepared and the value of their services.

“I wanted to plant Sunflower with this machine, but it had no plate for Sunflower seed. They (CSISA-MI) said it’ll take two weeks to research on this. But by that time, plantation time would be over. So, I thought to try… within hours and after few trial and errors, I made the plate,” says Halder, describing how his innovation improved the Bed Planter and saved him from waiting till next Sunflower season.

Halder purchased the machine under the voucher scheme of CSISA-MI. “It cost 10,000 taka (US $128.62)… though the actual price is 40,000 taka (US $514.47). For this, I have to cultivate at least 8.1 hectares of land by this season (April). I already cultivated around 6.5 hectares. Once I fulfill the condition, I plan to cultivate another 2.0 hectares this season.”

Last season, at least 10 laborers were needed to cultivate and plant seed for a 0.1 hectares plot. This season, Halder has not only saved this cost, but his fuel and seed costs are actually half. Female members of his family are also relieved from a large work load. “Before (in plantation) at least 10 laborers used to work for a week. The women had to cook and serve meals three times a day for the laborers. In comparison, they are quite relaxed now,” says one of the female neighbors of Halder.

CSISA-MI’s innovation, combined with Halder’s hard work and ingenuity, are already improving lives of farmers and LSPs as labor scarcity is high in the rural as well as not affordable for smallholder farmers. It also contributing to increase production during dry season in the region.

Farmers Grow Business with Seed-Fertilizer Drills in Bangladesh

Posted on Bangladesh-news, March 11, 2014

Like many rural families in Bagarpara Upazilla Khulna division, Jessore, Bangladesh, Md. Tariqul Islam and his family make their living from agriculture. In addition to cultivating his family farm, Islam uses specialized machinery to cultivate land for neighboring farmers. “I used a simple two wheeled tractor (2WT) before,” says Islam, describing the most common agricultural technology in the region, “and these conventional power tillers have limited facility in comparison to the SFD.” The SFD, or Seeder Fertilizer Drill, is a technology introduced by USAID’s CSISA-MI project that allows local service providers like Islam to plant, fertilize and plow at the same time – drastically increasing the rate at which land is prepared and the value of their services. “When SFD was demonstrated in our village, I was impressed by its facilities of tillage, seeding and laddering simultaneously. It offers fertilizing facilities also. This year I have cultivated 10.5 hectares and given services to around fifty farmers. Last year with the 2WT, I had to plow much more land to earn the same amount.” “The cost of SFD is $745 and I bought it from a local dealer at $280. I paid the balance through a voucher program, which required that I cultivate at least eight hectares over the following three months. After two months, I’ve already completed more than that.” With this investment, he has earned $400 in less than two months. “The Seed Fertilizer Drill has helped to grow my business. With the additional income, we have leased an additional plot of land to grow lentils,” said Md. Tariqul Islam.1. SS - seeder - tariqul islam - khulna Islam also runs a crop stock business, buying wheat, lentils and jute when prices are low and re-selling them as prices increase. “My new investment will supplement my stock business,” says Islam. “It will also improve the living standard of my five-member family.” Islam is not the only one in the area who is excited about the new SFD. “My neighboring farmers are surprised to see the machine’s simultaneous tilling, six-line sowing, fertilization, and laddering functions. Its efficiency and accuracy result in better yields, which have also impressed them. I have already advised my fellow farmers to buy the machine and everyone seems positive.”

Nutrient Management Tool for Smallholder Famers Wins Award

Posted on India-news, March 4, 2014

In South Asia, 90 percent of smallholder farmers do not have access to soil testing. Blanket fertilizer recommendations are made over large regions, an approach that discounts all the different site and year-specific factors that govern economically optimal fertilizer usage. Existing approaches lead to inefficient use of nutrients and in case lower yield and profitability.

The International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) and CIMMYT jointly developed the Nutrient Expert® dSONY DSCecision support tools under the umbrella of the Cereal System Initiative in South Asia (CSISA) and later CRPs MAIZE, WHEAT, and CCAFS, to provide location-specific fertilizer recommendations for farmers growing maize and wheat and to help Indian farmers achieve higher yields and profits.

These easy-to-use, interactive, computer-based tools capture spatial and temporal variability to provide precise nutrient recommendations to smallholder farmers in the wheat and maize systems of India. In February 2014, the tool received the award for Best Innovation at the Bihar Innovation Forum II, which recognizes innovations to improve rural livelihoods in India. Nutrient Expert® is the product of close collaboration with key partners such as national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES), seed and fertilizer industries, non-governmental organizations, farmers’ and women’s self-help groups in India. “The advantage of developing the Nutrient Expert® in a participatory mode was that the partners were on-board from day one and ultimately ‘owned’ the innovation,” said Kaushik Majumdar, Director of IPNI South Asia. Read the full article here (Source: CRP Maize)

Farmers in western Nepal excited about new spring maize varieties by CSISA-Nepal

Posted on Nepal-news, News - Homepage, News & Announcements, September 19, 2013

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.

Arun-2 (L) and hybrid (R) at Kanchanpur site in the far-west

Arun-2 (L) and hybrid (R) at Kanchanpur site in the far-west

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.
Typical farmer spring maize in far-west: water-stressed, and poorly managed

Typical farmer spring maize in far-west: water-stressed, and poorly managed

Contributed by: M. Devare

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.

Helping farmers in implementing DSR technology

Posted on CSISA Success Story, India-news, News & Announcements, September 16, 2013

Sekhpura is a small village in the Fatua block of Patna District in Bihar. Farmers of this village have been practicing traditional methods of paddy cultivation. During the transplanting peak season, many farmers faced acute labor shortages for various farm operations, leaving them with little option but to delay the transplanting of paddy seedlings. This year CSISA has been active in training farmers to introduce dry direct-seeding of rice (DSR) using zero-tillage machines, to help solve the problem of labor scarcity. Rajiv Ranjan Singh has cultivated 3 acres of land under DSR. Expressing satisfaction on the progress of his crop, he said,”We saw the demonstration of this technology in nearby village and were inspired to adopt this method. The success of my crop will surely inspire others to follow.” Fatua and Punpun block was selected as it has a vast low-land area, which is suitable for DSR. The CSISA team worked closely with many farmers of the region to help them follow the appropriate technologies, which are pre-requisites for the success of DSR. This includes: time of seeding, weed management, and irrigation-water management. Training and consultation were conducted in Fatua which involved correct seeding method using seed-drill and spray techniques of herbicide by the CSISA team. Effective ways of water management for paddy cultivation were also explained, in the wake of low rainfall registered in the region. CSISA agricultural officer Anurag Ajay said, “Following the success of DSR in Baisa of Punpun during last year, many farmers were eager to adopt this technology. Training has helped us create awareness leading to adoption of this technology.”

Mr. Rajiv Ranjan Singh of Sekhpura from Fatua village in his DSR field

Mr. Rajiv Ranjan Singh of Sekhpura from Fatua village in his DSR field

Besides addressing labor scarcity issues, DSR can help reduce the amount of water needed for paddy, more so at a time when there has been scant rainfall in the region.

Continued support for mechanical transplanting of rice in Bihar

Posted on CSISA Success Story, India-news, News - Homepage, News & Announcements, September 16, 2013

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.

Newly transplanted rice seedlings: a mechanical transplanter in operation

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:

    • Efficient use of resources by saving on labour (20 man-days ha-1), cost savings (Rs 1500 ha-1), and water savings up to 10%
    • Timely transplanting of seedlings of optimal age (20 days)
    • Uniform spacing and optimum plant density  (30 -35 hills/m2 with 2-3 seedlings per hill)
    • Higher productivity (0.5 to 0.7 t ha-1) compared with traditional methods
    • Less transplanting shock, early vigour of seedling, better tillering,  and uniform maturity of crop that facilitate timely harvest and reduce harvest losses
    • Less incidence of ‘Bakanae’ disease due to less root injury
    • Improving soil health through eliminating puddling
    • Employment generation and the creation of alternate sources of income for rural youth through custom services on nursery raising and mechanical transplanting.

 

 

 

A snapshot of the CSISA Odisha hub activities

Posted on CSISA Bulletin – Issue 1, India-news, September 13, 2013

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 and Mayurbhanj.

The demonstrations and research carried out at the various locations includes components like crop establishment methods, site specific nutrient management (SSNM), seed to seed demonstration, integrated weed management for transplanted rice, varietal demonstration,  crop establishment methods in rice, laser land leveling, intercropping, germplasm testing and line sowing using seed drill in maize.

  • Strip tillage in Maize trial in Mayurbhanj

    Strip tillage in maize trial in Mayurbhanj

  • Demonstration and trial of Laser land leveler in Puri for rice fields

    Demonstration and trial of Laser land leveler in Puri for rice fields

  • SSNM trial in maize in Mayurbhanj

    SSNM trial in maize in Mayurbhanj

  • image033

    Sowing of maize with tractor drawn seed drill in Mayurbhanj

  • Line sowing of maize using maize seed drill at Manada, Jashipur in Mayurbhanj

    Line sowing of maize using maize seed drill at Manada, Jashipur in Mayurbhanj

  •                                             Direct Seeded Rice in Puri

    Direct Seeded Rice field in Puri

Travel seminar on CA-based best management practices for rice

Posted on CSISA Bulletin – Issue 1, India-news, Trainings and Events, September 13, 2013

A two-day traveling seminar sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) project of IRRI was organized by CSISA Bihar hub for visiting scientists from Nepal, Bangladesh and India during 31 August – 01 September, 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.

Partnering Indian farmers for environment-friendly and cost-efficient technology

Posted on CSISA Bulletin – Issue 1, India-news, News & Announcements, September 11, 2013

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. This technique has been popular in some developed countries of the world, including the U.S., but is new for farmers in India.

Dr. Kamboj with farmers in Haryana

Farmers practicing DSR technology with CSISA scientist

The Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of India has been promoting this technique through its two flagship schemes, the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY).

Training Program on machine transplanting held in Jamui

Posted on India-news, Trainings and Events, August 27, 2013

Across the 12 districts in Bihar where the CSISA project is being implemented, farmers are switching to low tillage systems and other conservation agriculture management practices that protect the soil, cut water use, and require less labour. As a step towards popularization of latest and advanced machinery in the agriculture sector, CSISA organised a series of demonstrations and training programme on raising of mat-type nursery of paddy to be transplanted by the paddy transplanter, and on direct seeding of rice.

Taslima – pleased with the labor and time savings of a wheat reaper

Posted on Bangladesh-news, CSISA Success Story, August 21, 2013

Taslima Begum is a house wife in Kandakul village under Faridpur District. She and her husband, a marginal farmer, work hard for the well-being of their three children. Since income from agriculture is not always sufficient to meet their family requirements, she helps her husband in their field to reduce the workload and the cost of hired labor, in addition to her housewife responsibilities.

Prior to joining with CSISA-BD, Taslima and her husband had never seen a reaper. In 2013, project staff organized a one-day training session in her village on wheat production under strip tillage and bed planting.

Taslima – pleased with the labor and time savings of a wheat reaper

Taslima was amazed when she observed the quick and efficient harvesting of wheat with a reaper

The training featured a wheat reaper as an example of a profit-increasing technology. After her participation in the training, and obtaining additional knowledge about wheat reapers from a short video, Talisma asked CSISA-BD staff to do a demonstration on wheat reaper harvesting each time they visited her 120 decimal field. This request was realized on March 31st, when CSISA-BD CIMMYT personnel organized a demonstration in her field. She was astounded by the results:

New stress tolerant rice varieties: a promise for the barren lands of Southern Bangladesh

Posted on Bangladesh-news, CSISA Success Story, August 21, 2013

Pashchim Shariakhali is a village under Patuakhali Sadar upazila with almost 2,000 resident farm families where agriculture is the only source of livelihood. Five to six years ago, villages there used to cultivate two to three crops in a year and earn a reasonable income from it. Today, most of the villagers cultivate only during aman season due to salinity problems. In the last boro season, Bihango Mohila Sangstha (BMS), NGO partner of CSISA-BD SRSPDS, organized a training event at Pashchim Shariakhali for production of newly developed salt-tolerant rice varieties: Binadhan-8 and BRRI dhan47.

U.S. Ambassador to India visit CSISA Research Platform in Bihar

Posted on India-news, News & Announcements, May 13, 2013

U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy J. Powell visited the experimental site of the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), Sabajpura, at ICAR Research Complex for Eastern Region (RCER) – Patna, on 13 May, 2013.






Ambassador Powell interacted with scientists from CSISA and ICAR, Subject Matter Specialists (SMS) of State Agriculture Department, women farmers of Muzaffarpur and Samastipur districts and service providers from Bhojpur, Begusarai and Buxar districts of Bihar.

Ambassador Powell said that the U.S.-India partnership has been based on the joint commitment to improve agriculture productivity and climate resilience, and increase farm profits. She also commented on how the success of CSISA has set an example of the United States and India working side-by-side, and making a positive difference in people’s lives.

Various resource-conserving farm technologies were demonstrated at the ICAR-RCER Sabajpura farm. These technologies included mechanical transplanting of rice, laser land leveling and direct seeding of rice. Dr. R.K. Malik, Co-ordinator, Eastern UP & Bihar, explained the technologies being demonstrated at the site and its impact in helping farmers improve their productivity.

Earlier, Dr. B.P. Bhatt, Director, ICAR-RCER, and Dr. Andrew McDonald, Country Representative, CSISA, explained the role played by CSISA in developing and extending the best management practices under conservation agriculture in Bihar.

The CSISA project is jointly funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It supports efforts to improve cereal production growth in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Orissa. Such efforts utilize improved cropping systems, better management of natural resources, development of new cereal varieties and hybrids, and increased public and private investments in markets.Dr. R.K. Malik explaining machine transplanting technology to Nancy J. Powell

 
Dr. R.K. Malik explaining machine transplanting technology to Nancy J. Powell

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