Discussion Papers and Journal Articles

Establishing the value of modern seed storage methods for wheat in diverse production ecologies in Nepal

       M. Devkota, K.P. Devkota, S. Acharya a, R. Shrestha, A.J. McDonald (January 2018) | Journal Article

In the developing-country context of Nepal, farmers often incur seed losses of 15e30% due to improper storage. To evaluate the efficacy and costs of modern storage alternatives, experimental trials were set up among ten farmers each in two contrasting ecologies, i.e. Palpa (hills) and Rupandehi (terai plains) districts of Nepal in 2013. Several wheat seed storage options were contrasted including farmer practices (FP) such as reused fertilizer bags, polythene bags, household metal containers, and mud bins. Modern storage methods that were evaluated included plastic bags (with and without pesticide), metal bins, and hermetic ‘SuperGrain bag’ (SGB). Seed quality and losses were assessed after six months of storage (May-October) with parameters such as grain moisture content, insect damage, seed germination, and seedling vigor. The overall quality of seed with FPs was lower in the hills than in the terai plains. Among the treatments, SGBs were more effective in maintaining acceptable seed moisture levels, controlling insect damage (<1%), preserving germination (>90% lab, >65% field), and promoting seedling vigor. Metal bins and plastic bags without pesticide had higher insect damage (7e15%) compared to FP and plastic bags with pesticide (2e5%). In terms of storage costs, SGBs were comparable with the farmers’ storage methods ($5e6 per 100 kg seed storage). Our findings demonstrate that SGBs are better at maintaining seed quality and more economical than not only FP but also the other modern storage methods evaluated
in this study across production ecologies in Nepal.

Can productivity and profitability be enhanced in intensively managed cereal systems while reducing the environmental footprint of production? Assessing sustainable intensification options in the breadbasket of India

V. Kumar, H. S. Jat, P.C. Sharma, B. Singh, 
M. K. Gathala, R. K. Malik, B. R. Kamboj, A. K. Yadav, J. K. Ladha, A. Raman, D. K. Sharma, A. McDonald (October 2017) | Journal Article

In the most productive area of the Indo-Gangetic Plains in Northwest India where high yields of rice and wheat are commonplace, a medium-term cropping system trial was conducted in Haryana State. The goal of the study was to identify integrated management options for further improving productivity and profitability while rationalizing resource use and reducing environmental externalities (i.e., “sustainable intensification”, SI) by drawing on the principles of diversification, precision management, and conservation agriculture. Four scenarios were evaluated: Scenario 1 – “business-as-usual” [conventional puddled transplanted rice (PTR) followed by (fb) conventional-till wheat]; Scenario 2 – reduced tillage with opportunistic diversification and precision resource management [PTR fb zero-till (ZT) wheat fb ZT mungbean]; Scenario 3 – ZT for all crops with opportunistic diversification and precision resource management [ZT direct-seeded rice (ZT-DSR) fb ZT wheat fb ZT mungbean]; and Scenario 4 – ZT for all crops with strategic diversification and precision resource management [ZT maize fb ZT wheat fb ZT mungbean]. Results of this five-year study strongly suggest that, compared with business-as-usual practices, SI strategies that incorporate multi-objective yield, economic, and environmental criteria can be more productive when used in these production environments. For Scenarios 2, 3, and 4, system-level increases in productivity (10–17%) and profitability (24–50%) were observed while using less irrigation water (15–71% reduction) and energy (17–47% reduction), leading to 15–30% lower global warming potential (GWP), with the ranges reflecting the implications of specific innovations. Scenario 3, where early wheat sowing was combined with ZT along with no puddling during the rice phase, resulted in a 13% gain in wheat yield compared with Scenario 2. A similar gain in wheat yield was observed in Scenario 4 vis-à-vis Scenario 2. Compared to Scenario 1, wheat yields in Scenarios 3 and 4 were 15–17% higher, whereas, in Scenario 2, yield was either similar in normal years or higher in warmer years. During the rainy (kharif) season, ZT-DSR provided yields similar to or higher than those of PTR in the first three years and lower (11–30%) in Years 4 and 5, a result that provides a note of caution for interpreting technology performance through short-term trials or simply averaging results over several years. The resource use and economic and environmental advantages of DSR were more stable through time, including reductions in irrigation water (22–40%), production cost (11–17%), energy inputs (13–34%), and total GWP (14–32%). The integration of “best practices” in PTR in Scenario 2 resulted in reductions of 24% in irrigation water and 21% in GWP, with a positive impact on yield (0.9 t/ha) and profitability compared to conventional PTR, demonstrating the power of simple management changes to generate improved SI outcomes. When ZT maize was used as a diversification option instead of rice in Scenario 4, reductions in resource use jumped to 82–89% for irrigation water and 49–66% for energy inputs, with 13–40% lower GWP, similar or higher rice equivalent yield, and higher profitability (27–73%) in comparison to the rice- based scenarios. Despite these advantages, maize value chains are not robust in this part of India and public procurement is absent. Results do demonstrate that transformative opportunities exist to break the cycle of stagnating yields and inefficient resource use in the most productive cereal-based cropping systems of South Asia. However, these SI entry points need to be placed in the context of the major drivers of change in the region, including market conditions, risks, and declining labor availability, and matching with the needs and interests of different types of farmers.

Evaluation of long-term conservation agriculture and crop intensification in rice-wheat rotation of Indo-Gangetic Plains of South Asia: Carbon dynamics and productivity

S.K. Samal, K.K. Rao, S.P. Poonia, R. Kumar, J.S. Mishra, V. Prakash, S. Mondal, S.K. Dwivedi, B.P. Bhatt, S. Kumar Naik, A. Kumar Choubey, V. Kumar, R.K. Malik, A. McDonald (October 2017) | Journal Article

In the context of deteriorating soil health, stagnation of yield in rice-wheat cropping system (RWCS) across Indo- Gangetic plains (IGP) and environmental pollution, a long term field experiment was conducted during 2009–2016 taking four crop scenarios with conservation agriculture (CA), crop intensification and diversified cropping as intervening technology aiming to evaluate the sustainability of the systems. Scenario 1 (S1) represented conventional farmers’ practice of growing rice and wheat with summer fallow. In scenario 2 (S2) and scenario 3 (S3), legume crop was taken along with rice and wheat with partial CA and full CA, respectively. Conventional RWCS was replaced with rice-potato + maize- cowpea cropping system with partial CA in scenario 4 (S4). The S3 scenario registered highest total organic carbon (TOC) stock of 47.71 Mg C ha−1 and resulted in significant increase of 14.57% over S1 (Farmer’s practice) in 0–30 cm soil depth after 7 years of field trial. The S4 scenario having intensified cropping systems recorded lowest TOC of 39.33 Mg C ha−1 and resulted in significant depletion of 17.56% in C stock with respect to S3 in 0–30 cm soil depth. The TOC enrichment was higher in S2, S3 and S4 scenario in the surface soil (0–10 cm) compared to S1. At lower depth (20–30 cm), the TOC enrichment was significantly higher in S2 (12.82 Mg C ha−1) and S3 (13.10 Mg C ha−1 soil) over S1 scenario. The S2 and S3 scenario recorded highest increased allocation of TOC (3.55 and 6.13 Mg C ha−1) to passive pool over S1. The S2 (15.72 t ha−1), S3 (16.08 t ha−1) and S4 (16.39 t ha−1) scenarios recorded significantly higher system rice equivalent yield over S1 (10.30 t ha−1). Among the scenarios, S3 scenario had greater amount of total soil organic carbon, passive pool of carbon and higher system rice equivalent yield, thus, is considered the best cropping management practice to maintain soil health and food security in the middle IGP.

Policy Options to Accelerate Variety Change among Smallholder Farmers in South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara

Spielman, D.; Smale, M. (August 2017) | IFPRI Discussion Paper 01666

The genetic improvement of food staple crops cultivated by small-scale farmers is a well-established route to increasing agricultural productivity and improving rural livelihoods. But in developing countries where seed markets are commercially active or advancing in that direction, undue emphasis in both policy and research is often placed on the adoption of improved cultivars rather than varietal turnover, or the replacement of an already improved variety with a more recently released improved variety. Strong and consistent rates of varietal turnover contribute to sustaining yield gains over time, protecting those gains from both biotic and abiotic stresses, increasing the sustainability of intensive cropping systems, and improving the quality of the commodity itself for storage, processing, and consumption. This paper explores the importance of varietal turnover in advanced and transitional seed systems for food staples in South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara. We first review the measurement of varietal turnover over spatial and temporal dimensions before examining evidence on policies designed to accelerate varietal turnover rates. We then suggest a sequence of regulatory reforms and public investments designed to accelerate varietal turnover while drawing attention to the economic trade-offs, unintended consequences, and operational challenges of such reforms and investments.

Climate Change Skepticism and Index Versus Standard Crop Insurance Demand in Coastal Bangladesh

Akter, S.; Krupnik, T.J.; Khanam, F. (June 2017) | Journal Article

This paper investigates if climate change skepticism, farmers’ fatalistic beliefs, and insurance plan design influence interest in crop weather insurance. It also aims to understand farmers’ preferences for index versus standard insurance options, the former entailing damage compensation based on post-hazard assessment, the latter tying damage compensation to a set of weather parameter thresholds.

 Preventive Weed Management in Direct-Seeded Rice: Targeting the Weed Seedbank

Rao, A.N.; Brainard, D.C.; Kumar, V.; Ladha, J.K.; Johnson, D.E. (April 2017) | Journal Article

In Asia, direct-seeded rice (DSR) is becoming popular as an alternative to puddled transplanted rice (PTR) due to its potential to save scarce resources (labor, water, and energy), reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve soil physical properties, and increase yields in rotational crops. However, weed management in DSR is more difficult because the initial size differential between weeds and rice is small, reducing crop competitiveness and limiting opportunities for selective control measures including flooding. In this context, preventive approaches — those which focus primarily on limiting dispersal and persistence of weed propagules — may play a critical role in complementing the current reliance on curative tactics such as herbicides. Greater understanding and integration of preventive approaches in DSR may reduce the risks of herbicide resistance development, limit adverse effects of herbicides on human health and the environment, and lower the overall weed management costs.

Evaluation of the APSIM Model in Cropping Systems of Asia

Gaydon, D.S.; Singh, B.; Wang, E.; Poulton, P.L.; ahmad, B.; Ahmed, F.; Akhter, S.; Ali, I.; Amarasingha, R.; Chaki, A.K.; Chen, C.; Choudhury, B.U.; Darai, R.; Das, A.; Hochman, Z.; Horan, H.; Hosang, E.Y.; Vijaya Kumar, P.; Khan, A.S.M.M.R.; Laing, A.M.; Liu, L.; Malaviachichi, M.A.P.W.K.; Mohapatra, K.P.; Muttaleb, M.A.; Power, B.; Radanielson, A.M.; Rai, G.S.; Rashid, M.H.; Rathanayake, W.M.U.K.; Sarker, M.M.R.; Sena,D.R.; Shamim, M.; Subash, N.; Suriadi, A.; Suriyagoda, L.D.B.; Wang, G.; Wang, J.; Yadav, R.K.; Roth, C.H. (December 2016) | Journal Article

Well-tested cropping systems models that capture interactions between soil water and nutrient dynamics, crop growth, climate and farmer management can assist in the evaluation of modified agricultural practices. One such cropping systems model is the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM). This study evaluates APSIM’s ability to simulate the performance of cropping systems in Asia from several perspectives: crop phenology, production, water use, soil dynamics (water and organic carbon) and crop CO2 response, as well as its ability to simulate cropping sequences without reset of soil variables.

Real-Time Social Data Collection in Rural Bangladesh via a ‘Microtasks for Micropayments’ Platform on Android Smartphones

Bell, A. R.; Ward, P.S.; Killilea, M.E.; Tamal; Md. E. H. (November 2016) | Journal Article

The advent of cheap smartphones in rural areas across the globe presents an opportunity to change the mode with which researchers engage hard-to-reach populations. In particular, smartphones allow researchers to connect with respondents more frequently than standard household surveys, opening a new window into important short-term variability in key measures of household and community well-being. This paper presents early results from a pilot study in rural Bangladesh using a ‘microtasks for micropayments’ model to collect a range of community and household living standards data using Android smartphones.

Sustainable Crop Intensification Through Surface Water Irrigation in Bangladesh? A Geospatial Assessment of Landscape-Scale Production Potential

Krupnik, T.J.; Schulthess, U.; Ahmed, Z.A.; McDonald, A.J. (November 2016) Journal Article

As championed by the Government of Bangladesh, the network of largely underutilized rivers and natural canals in the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains can be tapped to provide less energetically and economically costly surface water irrigation (SWI). However, precise geospatial assessment of where freshwater flows are most prominent, or where viable fallow or low production intensity cropland is most common, remains lacking. This study uses remotely sensed data to identify agricultural land, detect the temporal availability of freshwater in rivers and canals, and assess crop production intensity over a three-year study period in a 33,750 km2 case study area in southwestern Bangladesh.

Improving Resource Use Efficiency of Cereal Based Cropping Systems with Integration of Best Management with Conservation Agriculture Under Changing Agricultural Scenarios in Cauvery Delta of Tamil Nadu

Sharma, S.; Rajendran, R.; Ravi, V.; Panneerselvan, P.; Janarthanan, P.; Saharawat, Y.; Ladha, J.K. (October 2016) | Journal Article

Cropping systems in Cauvery Delta Zone of Tamil Nadu is intensive rice based with double or triple rice crops in a year. The rice system in the region is threatened by yield stagnation, scarcity of water and labour, increased costs of cultivation, and resource degradation. This paper presents findings from an evaluation, from 2009 to 2012, of four scenarios involving a range of best management practices (BMPs) with and without conservation agriculture (CA) components for improving the system productivity and economic returns of rice-based systems.

Mapping Smallholder Wheat Yields and Sowing Dates Using Micro-Satellite Data

Jain, M.; Srivastava, A.K.; Singh, B.; Joon, R.K.; McDonald, A.; Royal, K.; Lisaius M.C.; Lobell, D.B. (October 2016) | Journal Article

Using remote sensing to characterize production of individual farms in South Asia can be challenging since most landholdings are smaller than the spatial resolution of freely available satellite imagery and translating satellite vegetation indices to yield is either too costly or difficult to obtain. The result of an ongoing collaboration between Stanford University and CSISA, this study attempts to overcome the aforementioned challenges using new low cost and high spatio-temporal micro-satellite data and crop modeling.

Growing the Service Economy for Sustainable Wheat Intensification in the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains: Lessons from Custom Hiring Services for Zero Tillage

Keil, A.; D’Souza, A.; McDonald, A. (September 2016) | Journal Article

Zero-tillage (ZT) is a proven technology for enhancing wheat productivity and food security in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, while reducing production costs. However, very few farmers possess their own tractors much less the specialized seed drills required to implement the technology. As a consequence, adoption of ZT largely hinges on affordable access to custom hire services. This paper derives recommendations for an efficient targeting of public sector support for those service providers who are poised for growth by identifying factors that influence ZT entrepreneurship. It uses data from a census of 270 ZT service providers in Bihar.

Evaluation of the Effects of Mulch on Optimum Sowing Date and Irrigation Management of Zero Till Wheat in Central Punjab, India using APSIM

Singh, B.; Humphreys, E.; Gaydon, D.S.; Eberbach, P.L. (August 2016) | Journal Article

This paper presents the results of a simulation study conducted using the APSIM model and 40 years of weather data to evaluate the effects of mulch, sowing date and irrigation management and their interactions on wheat grain yield, irrigation requirement and water productivity with respect to irrigation and evapotranspiration. Results suggest that the optimum wheat sowing date in central Punjab depends on both soil-type and the presence or absence of mulch.

Factors Associated with Small-Scale Agricultural Machinery Adoption in Bangladesh: Census Findings

Mottaleb, K.A.; Krupnik, T.J.; Erenstein, O. (June 2016) | Journal Article

This paper first reviews Bangladesh’s historical policy environment that facilitated the development of agricultural machinery markets. It then uses recent Bangladesh census data from 814,058 farm households to identify variables associated with the adoption of the most common smallholder agricultural machinery – irrigation pumps, threshers, and power tillers (mainly driven by two-wheel tractors). Findings suggest donors and policymakers need to place sustained emphasis on improving physical and civil infrastructure and services, as well as assuring credit availability, to boost machinery adoption.

Towards Better Metrics and Policymaking for Seed Development: Insights from Asia’s Seed Industry

Spielman, D.J.; Kennedy, A. (May 2016) | Journal Article

Policymakers in many countries have expressed impatience with the slow progress on enhancing the contribution of a modern seed industry to the overarching goal of increasing agricultural productivity growth. One reason for this slow progress may be that policymakers are insufficiently cognizant of the trade-offs associated with rules and regulations required to effectively govern a modern seed industry. This paper explores these issues in the context of Asia’s rapidly growing seed industry, with illustrations from seed markets for maize and several other crops, to highlight current gaps in the metrics used to analyze performance, competition, and innovation.

A Biophysical and Socioeconomic Characterization of the Cereal Production Systems of Northwest Bangladesh

Raghu, T.P.; Aravindakshan, S.; Rossi, F.; Krishna, V.; Baksh, E.; Miah, A.A. (April 2016) | Research Study

The study assesses cereal production in selected areas of NW-Bangladesh, especially with respect to the biophysical and socio-economic characterization of cereal producing farm households. Primary data required for the study was collected from sampled households through personal interviews using a comprehensive and pre-tested questionnaire. The results of this study indicate a small average size of farms, a high level of inequality, lack of suitable crop variety, and the inadequate presence of government or public sector input and output market channels.

A Performance Assessment of Agricultural Technology in Odisha and Bihar

Ganguly, S.; Nayak, S.; Munshi, S.; Kumar, P.; Singh, M.; Khandai, S. (April 2016) Research Study

In two of CSISA’s priority intervention hubs, Odisha and Bihar, women-centric technology delivery programs were piloted in early 2014. This qualitative study, conducted in May 2015, captures the views of the women farmers regarding the technologies that they have been exposed to with the objective of understanding their experiences and analyzing the potential for future use of technology. It covers a total of 12 focus group discussions, focusing on six technologies in each state.

Can Information Help Reduce Imbalanced Application of Fertilizers in India? Experimental Evidence from Bihar

 Fishman, R.; Kishore, A.; Rothlar, Y.; Ward, P.S.; Jha, S.; Singh, R.K.P. (April 2016) | Discussion Paper

Imbalanced application of chemical fertilizers in India is widely blamed for low yields, poor soil health, pollution of water resources and large public expenditures on subsidies. The Government of India is investing in a large-scale program of individualized soil testing and customized fertilizer recommendations, with the hope that scientific information will lead farmers to optimize the fertilizer mix.  However, a randomized controlled trial in the state of Bihar shows no evidence of any impact of soil testing and customized fertilizer recommendations on actual fertilizer use or the willingness to pay for lacking nutrients.

The Influence of Gender and Product Design on Farmers’ Preferences for Weather-Indexed Crop Insurance

Akter, S.; Krupnik, T.J.; Rossi, F.; Khanam, F. (March 2016) | Journal Article

Theoretically, weather-index insurance is an effective risk reduction option for small-scale farmers in low income countries. To date, however, no quantitative studies have experimentally explored weather-index insurance preferences through a gender lens and little information exists regarding gender-specific preferences for smallholder investment in agricultural weather-index insurance. This study responds to this gap, and advances the understanding of preference heterogeneity for weather-index insurance by analysing data collected from 433 male and female farmers living on a climate change vulnerable coastal island in Bangladesh.

A Study of SHGs in Muzaffarpur District in Bihar

Ganguly, S.; Munshi, S.; Meher, M.; Akter, S.; Samaddar, A. (March 2016) Research Study

Through the CSISA-formed Kisan Sakhi group (women farmers’ group), CSISA has facilitated farmer-to-farmer learning and participatory technology evaluation. This study explores the existing socioeconomic conditions. The themes covered in the survey are household socioeconomic characteristics; gendered participation in decision making related to agriculture, household income, and expenditures; participation and involvement in agricultural activities; access to information; and freedom of mobility.

Public Incentives, Private Investment, and Outlooks for Hybrid Rice in Bangladesh and India

Spielman, D.J.; Ward, P.S.; Kolady, D.E.; Harun-Ar-Rashid, Md. (January 2016) | Journal Article

The governments of Bangladesh and India have set impressive targets to expand hybrid rice cultivation as part of their national food security strategies for the next decade. Although hybrid rice offers significant yield improvements over varietal rice, adoption by farmers remains low and unstable. This paper analyzes the technical challenges, market opportunities, and policy constraints associated with hybrid rice in both countries.

Herbicide Options for Effective Weed Management in Dry Direct-Seeded Rice under Scented Rice-Wheat Rotation of Western Indo-Gangetic Plains

Singh, V.; Jat, M.L.; Ganie, Z.A.; Chauhan, B.S.; Gupta, R.K. (December 2015) | Journal Article

This study evaluates pre-emergence (PRE) and post-emergence (POST) herbicides for providing feasible and economically viable weed management options to farmers for predominant scented rice varieties. Findings are based on farmers’ participatory field trials conducted at Madhuban and Taraori, two CSISA experimental sites in Karnal district of Haryana, India, during Kharif (wet season) 2010 and 2011.

Public Benefits of Private Technology Adoption: The Localized Spatial Externalities of Water Conservation in Eastern Uttar Pradesh

Bhargava, A.K.; Lybbert, T.J.; Spielman, D.J. (August 2015) Discussion Paper

With growing pressure on groundwater resources, water-conserving technologies (WCTs) look especially promising as a method of agricultural adaptation and poverty alleviation. While private benefits of WCTs are increasingly understood, public benefits are not as clear as they may seem. This paper focuses on the geophysical complications that shape public benefits across landscapes, raising spatial considerations of the WCT adoption decision and optimal diffusion patterns that can inform policymakers with the dual objectives of cost-efficient natural resource conservation and poverty alleviation, particularly in light of increasingly erratic weather patterns attributed to climate change.

Zero-Tillage as a Pathway for Sustainable Wheat Intensification in the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains: Does it Work in Farmers’ Fields?

Keil, A.; D’Souza, A.; McDonald, A. (August 2015) Journal Article

In controlled-condition field trials across South Asia, zero-tillage (ZT) has demonstrated considerable scope for enhancing wheat productivity in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) while using less energy and irrigation water. However, studies that quantify the impact of ZT in farmers’ fields are scarce, especially in the less productive and densely populated Eastern IGP, an area that the Indian government is targeting for investment to address current and future food insecurity. This study quantifies the productivity impact of current ZT practices in the State of Bihar to assess the real-world performance of ZT wheat in Eastern India.

What Does Benchmarking of Wheat Farmers Practicing Conservation Tillage in the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains Tell Us About Energy Use Efficiency? An Application of Slack-Based Data Envelopment Analysis

Aravindakshan, S.; Rossi, F.J.; Krupnik, T.J. (August 2015) | Journal Article

Conservation tillage (CT) practices are advocated by donors and development organizations as profitable, high yielding and energy-efficient alternatives to traditional tillage. However, most studies on the energy input use efficiency (EUE) of CT originate from researcher-controlled and on-station experiments. Comparatively little information is available on the EUE of CT practices as farmers apply them in their own fields and under their own management decisions. This research responds to this gap and analyzes EUE of each of three CT options – bed planting, power-tiller operated seeding and strip tillage –  compared to traditional tillage, by surveying 328 rice-wheat farmers in north-western Bangladesh.

Energetic, Hydraulic and Economic Efficiency of Axial Flow and Centrifugal Pumps for Surface Water Irrigation in Bangladesh

Krupnik, T.J.; Valle, S.S.; Islam, M.S.; Hossain, A.; Gathala, M.K.; Qureshi, A.S. (August 2015) | Journal Article

With conventional centrifugal (CEN) pumps, less than 50% of southern Bangladesh’s farmers invest in irrigation, partly due to high diesel energy costs. New policies are prioritizing sustainable crop intensification in Bangladesh’s delta. This objective is unlikely to be achieved without fundamental changes in the energetics and economics of irrigation. Where surface water is available, axial flow pumps (AFPs) may comprise part of the solution to this problem. This study  compares the hydraulic, energetic and economic performance of prototype AFPs and CEN pumps.

Untangling Crop Management and Environmental Influences on Wheat Yield Variability in Bangladesh: An Application of Non-Parametric Approaches

Krupnik, T.J.; Ahmed, Z.A.; Timsina, J.; Yasmin, S.; Hossain, F.; Mamun, A.A.; Mridha, A.I.; McDonald, A.J. (August 2015) | Journal Article

In South Asia, wheat is typically grown in favorable environments, although policies promoting intensification in Bangladesh’s stress-prone coastal zone have resulted in expanded cultivation in this non-traditional area. However, relatively little is known about how to best manage wheat in these unique environments. This paper examines the predictive power of three non-parametric approaches to identify ‘best-bet’ entry points to optimize productivity, including linear mixed effects models and two binary recursive partitioning methods: classification and regression trees and Random Forests.

Moving from Resource Development to Resource Management: Problems, Prospects and Policy Recommendations for Sustainable Groundwater Management in Bangladesh

Qureshi, A.S.; Ahmed, Z.A.; Krupnik, T.J. (July 2015) | Journal Article

Increased groundwater accessibility resulting from the expansion of deep and shallow tube wells helped Bangladesh attain near self-sufficiency in rice, with national output increasing over 15 million tons in the last two decades. However, problems associated with the excessive exploitation of groundwater notably declining water tables, deteriorating water quality, increasing energy costs and carbon emissions are threatening the sustainability of Bangladesh’s groundwater irrigated economy. This publication details the steps necessary to overcome these challenges.

Rural and Agricultural Mechanization: A History of the Spread of Small Engines in Selected Asian Countries

Biggs, S.; Justice, S. (May 2015) | Discussion Paper

The past 50 years witnessed a remarkable spread of smaller-scale rural mechanization in some regions of South Asia. At the same time there have been significant increases in the intensity of agricultural production and in broader-based rural development. Despite this , policy debates do not reflect the significance of these patterns of rural mechanization for agricultural and rural development. This paper analyzes why this smaller-scale mechanization transformation remained below the horizon in policy debates outside the regions where these changes have been taking place.

Leveling with Friends: Social Networks and Indian Farmers’ Demand for a Technology with Heterogeneous Benefits

Magnan, N.; Spielman, D.J.; Lybbert, T. J.; Gulati, K. (May 2015) | Journal Article

Agricultural technologies typically spread as farmers learn about profitability through social networks. This process can be nuanced, however, when net returns for some farmers may not be positive. This study investigates how social learning influences demand for a resource-conserving technology in eastern Uttar Pradesh, India. It identifies potential adopters through an experimental auction and randomly selects a subset to adopt. It revealed that having a benefiting adopter in one’s network increased demand by over 50 percent, whereas having a non-benefiting adopter had no effect.

Distributing and Showing Farmer Learning Videos in Bangladesh

Bentley, J.W.; Mele, P.V.; Harun-ar-Rashid, Md.; Krupnik, T.J. (April 2015) | Journal Article

This study describes the results of showing farmer learning videos through different types of volunteers. The approach included semi-structured interviews with volunteers from different occupational groups in Bangladesh, and a phone survey with 227 respondents. The video featured maize, wheat and rice seeding machinery. Because the machinery is complex and requires hands-on training, the video aimed to expose tillage and sowing service providers and farmers to the machinery, without trying to teach them how to use it. But some farmers were so interested that they watched the video many times to learn more about the equipment. Findings show that video can be an effective way of sharing high-quality information with a large audience, if properly distributed.

Understanding Men’s and Women’s Access to and Control of Assets and the Implications for Agricultural Development Projects: A Case Study in Rice-Farming Households in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, India

Thelma, P.; Pede, V.; Luis, J.; Sharma, R.; Singh, A.; Stipular, J.; Villanueva, D. (April 2015) | Discussion Paper

This study was undertaken to understand gender issues on the distribution of, access to and control over major assets of rice-farming households as well as the effects of technologies promoted by an Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) project in selected villages in eastern Uttar Pradesh (EUP), India. Findings reveal that although no differences between genders are reported in the percentage of those who have access to major assets such as farmland and dairy animals across caste, differences in quantity and value are wide. Overall, the gender wealth gap for each of the major assets indicates that the gender gaps are more severe than suggested by the ownership incidence measures alone.

Exploring the Supply and Demand Factors of Varietal Turnover in Indian Wheat

Krishna, V.V.; Spielman, D.J; Veettil, P.C. (February 2015) | Journal Article

The gradual decline in relative advantage of a cultivated variety over time (cultivar depreciation) accentuates the vulnerability of resource-poor farmers to production risks. This study addresses constraints in combating cultivar depreciation of wheat in India. While the structure of India’s wheat breeding and seed delivery systems might be the primary cause of slow cultivar turnover, a number of social and economic factors at the micro-level are also responsible. Many of the constraints to technology adoption and wheat productivity growth, identified during the Green Revolution era, persist even today.

Eliciting Farmers’ Valuation for Abiotic Stress-Tolerant Rice in India

Arora, A.; Bansal, S.; Ward, P.S. (January 2015) 

Abiotic stresses such as droughts and floods significantly constrain rice production in India. New stress-tolerant technologies have the potential to reduce yield variability and help insulate farmers from the risks posed by these hazards. This study explores the potential adoption of these risk-reducing technologies. Using discrete choice experiments conducted in rural Odisha, it estimates farmers’ valuation for drought-tolerant and submergence-tolerant traits embodied in paddy cultivars. The study finds that farmers value both yield-increasing traits and variability-reducing traits. Results also  show that farmers in both drought-prone and flood-prone regions value the reduction in yield variability offered by cultivars.

Information Networks among Women and Men and the Demand for an Agricultural Technology in India

Magnan, N.; Spielman, D.J.; Gulati, K.; Lybbert, T.J. (January 2015) 

Although there is ample evidence of differences in how and where men and women acquire information, most research on learning and household decision-making only considers access to information for a single, typically male, household head. This assumption may be problematic in developing-country agriculture, where women play a fundamental role in farming. Using gender-disaggregated social network data from Uttar Pradesh, India, this study analyzes agricultural information networks among men and women. Results indicate that extension services can leverage female networks in order to reach more households when promoting new technologies.

Managing Soil Salinity with Permanent Bed Planting in Irrigated Production Systems in Central Asia

Devkota, M.; Martius, C.; Gupta, R.K.; Devkota, K.P.; McDonald, A.J.; Lamers, J.P.A. (January 2015) | Journal Article

Land degradation due to water logging and its influence on secondary soil salinization processes pose a major threat to the sustainability of irrigated agriculture in the semi-arid production ecologies of Central Asia. In rainfed conditions, conservation agriculture (CA) practices, i.e. reduced tillage, residue retention and crop rotation, have proven to have substantial scope for arresting or reversing soil degradation. Previous research findings suggest that CA can be beneficially applied to irrigated croplands as well, but influences on salinization processes are insufficiently documented. This study investigated the effect of CA practices on soil salinity dynamics in irrigated production systems in the Khorezm region, Uzbekistan, Central Asia.

Conservation Agriculture based Tillage and Crop Establishment Options can Maintain Farmers’ Yields and Increase Profits in South Asia’s Rice–Maize Systems: Evidence from Bangladesh

Gathala, M.K.; Timsina, J.; Islam, Md.S.; Rahman, Md.M.; Hossain, Md.I.; Harun-ar-Rashid, Md.; Ghosh, A.K.; Krupnik, T.J.; Tiwari, T.P.; McDonald, A. (December 2014) Journal Article

Rice-maize (R-M) systems are rapidly expanding in South Asia and Bangladesh due to higher yield and profit potential from rabi (winter) maize, its reduced water requirement compared to rice–rice systems and increasing demand from poultry and fish feed industries. But, the current practice of growing puddled transplanted rice and maize with conventional, repeated tillage degrades soil structure, delays maize planting and reduces its yield potential, increasing energy and labour requirements, ultimately leading to high production costs. This study evaluates the productivity and profitability of R-M systems under conservation agriculture (CA) based tillage and crop establishment options across a gradient of 69 farmers’ fields in Northwest Bangladesh.

Heterogeneous Demand for Drought-Tolerant Rice

Ward, P.S.; Ortega D.L.; Spielman D.J.; Singh, V. (December 2014) | Journal Article

Efforts to develop rice cultivars with drought tolerance (DT) traits have resulted in several varieties that demonstrate significant resilience to drought stresses. The study employed discrete choice experiments to examine farmers’ preferences for DT traits and explore heterogeneity in these preferences using primary data from Bihar, India. Results suggest that farmers value reductions in yield variability offered by DT paddy, but are willing to pay even more for seeds that offer yield advantages under normal conditions. It further demonstrates that risk aversion and loss aversion not only significantly influence choice probabilities but also affect the way farmers value different seed attributes.

The Impact of India’s Rural Employment Guarantee on Demand for Agricultural Technology

Bhargava, A.K. (November 2014) | Discussion Paper

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is approaching eight years of implementation. Since 2006, it has offered up to 100 days per year of guaranteed public works employment to tens of millions of rural Indian households. It is intended to augment the purchasing power of the rural poor during droughts and slack agricultural production periods. Given its scale, it has the potential to generate additional ripples throughout the rural economy. Recent working papers have explored NREGA’s effect of higher agricultural wages. This paper investigates whether this increase in the opportunity cost of agricultural labor incentivizes farm owners to adopt labor-saving agricultural technology. Using a regression discontinuity design and new Indian agricultural census data, this paper finds that NREGA causes a shift of roughly 20 percentage points away from labor-intensive technologies toward labor-saving ones, particularly for small farmers and low-powered technologies.

Forgoing the Fallow in Bangladesh’s Stress-Prone Coastal Deltaic Environments: Effect of Sowing Date, Nitrogen and Genotype on Wheat Yield in Farmers’ Fields

Krupnik, T.J.; Ahmed, Z.U.; Timsina, J.; Shahjahan, Md.;  Kurishi, A.S.M.A.; Miah, A.A.; Rahman, B.M.S.; Gathala, M.K.; McDonald, A.J. (September 2014) | Journal Article

Opportunities for boosting production may exist where farmers can transition from single to double cropping and forgo dry season fallows – which are estimated at between 240,000 and 800,000 ha in southern Bangladesh – and establish a crop such as wheat following monsoon season rice. Southern Bangladesh’s fallows result from prolonged post-monsoon soil saturation, soil salinity, and farmers’ low risk-bearing and investment capacity. In response, this study assessed the potential to sow wheat on land that is seasonally fallow with approaches that optimize yields while reducing risk and rationalizing costs. Working with 64 farmers in eight production environments, it examined yield response to three genotypes, BG25 and BG27 (with salinity- and heat-tolerant traits) and BG21 (local check), across a gradient of sowing dates, grouped as early when sown before 15 December and late when sown after 15 December.

Response of Rice Genotypes to Weed Competition in Dry Direct-Seeded Rice in India

Mahajan, G.; Ramesha, M.S.; Chauhan, B.S. (June 2014) | Journal Article

The differential weed-competitive abilities of eight rice genotypes and the traits that may confer such attributes were investigated under partial weedy and weed-free conditions in naturally occurring weed flora in dry direct-seeded rice during the rainy seasons of 2011 and 2012 at Ludhiana, Punjab (India). The study showed that early canopy closure, high leaf area index at early stage and high root biomass and volume correlated positively with competitiveness. It suggests that some traits such as root biomass, leaf area index and shoot biomass at the early stage can play an important role in conferring weed competitiveness and these traits can be explored for dry-seeded rice.

Integration of Conservation Agriculture with Best Management Practices for Improving System Performance of the Rice–Wheat Rotation in the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains of India

Laik, R.; Sharma, S.; Idris, M.; Singh, A.K.; Singh, S.S.; Bhatt, B.P.; Saharawat, Y.; Humphreys, E.; Ladha, J.K. (June 2014) | Journal Article

Cereal production systems in the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains (E-IGP) are traditional, with low yield and low farm income and they have largely missed out on the benefits of the Green Revolution. To enhance productivity, alleviate environmental and management constraints and enhance farmers’ income in the rice–wheat cropping system of the E-IGP, new approaches that are more productive and sustainable need to be developed. Conservation agriculture (CA) together with best management practices (BMP) used in other parts of the IGP offer potential to be extended in the E-IGP. This publication documents a study that was conducted during 2009–2011 with the objective of evaluating a range of approaches for enhancing the productivity and economic returns of rice-wheat-based cropping systems in the E-IGP. Results indicate an enormous untapped potential to improve overall system performance through the adoption of CA in integration with BMP.

Capturing Social Network Effects in Technology Adoption: The Spatial Diffusion of Hybrid Rice in Bangladesh

Ward, P.S.; Pede, V.O. (April 2014) | Journal Article

This paper demonstrates a method for measuring the effect of spatial interactions on the use of hybrid rice using a unique, nationally representative data set from Bangladesh. Results indicate that neighbor effects are a significant determinant of hybrid rice use. Further, using two specifications of spatial network systems, one based on same-village membership (irrespective of distance) and the other based on geographical distance (irrespective of village boundary), it demonstrates that a network including nearby hybrid rice adopters is more influential than a network of more distant hybrid rice adopters, and merely having a network with a large number of adopters may be relatively meaningless if they are far away. Further, these network effects are much more important to hybrid cultivation than interactions with agricultural extension officers.

Seven Years of Conservation Agriculture in a Rice-Wheat rotation of Eastern Gangetic Plains of South Asia: Yield Trends and Economic Profitability

Jat, R.K.; Sapkota, T.B.; Singh, R.G.; Jat, M.L.; Kumar, M.; Gupta, R.K. (April 2014) | Journal Article

Water, energy and labor scarcity, increasing cost of production, diminishing farm profits and uncertain weather events are major challenges faced by farmers under intensive tillage-based conventional rice–wheat (RW) production systems of Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) in South Asia. To address these challenges, conservation agriculture-based (CA) crop management practices are being developed, adapted and promoted in the region. This study evaluates agronomical productivity and economical profitability of various combinations of tillage, crop establishment and residue management practices in rice–wheat rotation of Eastern IGP of India: a smallholder, poorly resourced and most vulnerable region for climatic variability. The long-term trial was initiated in 2006 with seven combinations of tillage, crop establishment and residue management in rice–wheat rotation.

An Empirical Examination of the Dynamics of Varietal Turnover in Indian Wheat

Krishna, V.V.; Spielman, D.J.; Veettil, P.C.; Ghimire, S. (March 2014) | Discussion Paper

Productivity gains associated with improved cultivated varieties (cultivars) tend to break down over time as they lose the genetic advantages conferred by breeding. Cultivar depreciation, in turn, can increase the vulnerability of resource-poor households to risks associated with biotic and abiotic stresses. Efforts to address this challenge through plant breeding tend to fail if varietal turnover rates are low — a problem that is particularly acute among smallholders in many developing countries. This paper addresses the challenge of increasing the rate of varietal turnover to prevent depreciation of improved cultivars over time. It examines the supply of and demand for improved cultivars of wheat in India to illustrate this challenge in a unique manner, combining national-level data on breeder seed production with primary data on cultivar adoption.

Productivity and Efficiency Impacts of Conservation Tillage in Northwest Indo-Gangetic Plains

Krishna, V.V.; Veettil, P.C. (March 2014) | Journal Article

This paper is a micro-level investigation into the farm-level productivity and efficiency impacts of zero tillage (ZT), a prominent resource conservation technology in agriculture. Often heralded as more sustainable than its conventional tillage alternatives, ZT has a number of positive environmental impacts. While the agronomic and economic potentials of the technology have been documented in the researcher-managed field trials, its impact on farmers’ field is not clearly understood in South Asia. In this paper, the on-farm impacts of ZT wheat are assessed using primary data from the state of Haryana, India, employing production function and semi-parametric technical efficiency estimation methods.

Risk and Ambiguity Preferences and the Adoption of New Agricultural Technologies: Evidence from Field Experiments in Rural India

Ward P.S.; Singh, V. (February 2014) | Discussion Paper

Advances in agricultural development have largely been a direct result of increased usage of new technologies. Among other important factors, farmers’ perceptions of risks associated with the new technology as well as their ability or willingness to take risks greatly influences their adoption decisions. This paper covers a series of field experiments in rural India in order to measure preferences related to risk, potential loss, and ambiguity. Disaggregating by gender, it finds that, on average, women are significantly more risk averse and loss averse than men, though the higher average risk aversion arises due to a greater share of women who are extremely risk averse. Through an empirical example, the paper demonstrates how these parameters affect decisions to adopt new agricultural technologies, specifically drought-tolerant seeds.

The Seed and Agricultural Biotechnology Industries in India: An Analysis of Industry Structure, Competition and Policy Options

Spielman, D.J.; Kolady, D.E.; Cavalieri, A.; Rao, N.C. (January 2014) | Journal Article

Since the late 1980s, technological advances and policy reforms have created new opportunities for private-sector investment in India’s seed and agricultural biotechnology industries. These changes have had a significant impact on cotton yields and output in India, but less so for rice and wheat — the country’s main cereal staples — for which yield growth rates are tending toward stagnation. This analysis examines the structures of these industries, their potential effects on competition and innovation, and the policies that may improve both industry performance and the delivery of new productivity-enhancing technologies to India’s cereal production systems. Findings suggest that more substantive policy reforms are needed to encourage further innovation, reduce regulatory uncertainty and encourage firm- and industry-level growth, while continued public spending on agricultural research is needed to support technological change.

Assessing the Performance of the Photo-Acoustic Infrared Gas Monitor for Measuring CO2, N2O, and CH4 Fluxes in Two Major Cereal Rotations

Tirol-Padre, A.; Rai, M.; Gathala, M.; Sharma, S.; Kumar, V.; Sharma, P.C.; Sharma, D.K.; Wassmann, R.; Ladha, J. (January 2014) | Journal Article

Rapid, precise and globally comparable methods for monitoring greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes are required for accurate GHG inventories from different cropping systems and management practices. Manual gas sampling followed by gas chromatography (GC) is widely used for measuring GHG fluxes in agricultural fields, but is laborious and time-consuming. The photo-acoustic infrared gas monitoring system (PAS) with on-line gas sampling is an attractive option, although it has not been evaluated for measuring GHG fluxes in cereals in general and rice in particular. The study found that PAS proved to be a suitable alternative to GC for N2O and CO2 flux measurements in wheat, and showed potential for obtaining accurate measurements of CH4 fluxes in flooded rice after making correction for changes in humidity.

Change and Diversity in Smallholder Rice-Fish Systems: Recent Evidence from Bangladesh

Dey, M.M.; Spielman, D.J.; Haque, A.B.M.M.; Rahman, M.S.; Valmonte-Santos, R.A. (December 2013) | Journal Article

Efforts to unlock the genetic potential of both rice and fish, when combined with improvements in the management of rice-fish systems, can potentially increase agricultural productivity and food security in some of the poorest and most populous countries in Asia. In Bangladesh, estimates suggest that the country’s potential rice-fish production system encompasses 2-3 million hectares of land. But despite three decades of research on biophysical and technical aspects of rice-fish systems, this potential has not been fully realized due to insufficient attention given to the social, economic, and policy dimensions of rice-fish system improvement. This paper provides a characterization of the diverse and changing nature of rice-fish systems in Bangladesh to shed new light on the economic viability of different systems and recommend policy and investment options to accelerate the development of appropriate technologies.

Farmer Preferences for Drought Tolerance in Hybrid versus Inbred Rice: Evidence from Bihar, India

Ward, P.S.; Ortega, D.L.; Spielman, D.J.; Singh, V. (December 2013) | Discussion Paper

Recent efforts to develop rice cultivars with drought-tolerance (DT) traits have resulted in the release of several varieties that demonstrate significant resilience to drought stresses. This paper addresses the previously unanswered question of whether the private sector may play a future role in developing similar strains through applications of advanced biotechnology and whether their research and development efforts would benefit poor and vulnerable farmers in hazard-prone ecosystems. It employs discrete choice experiments to examine farmers’ preferences for DT traits and explore heterogeneity in these preferences using primary data collected in rural Bihar, India. Results show that farmers value the reduction in yield variability offered by DT cultivars but are willing to pay even more for rice seed that offers yield advantages even under normal conditions.

Leveling with Friends: Social Networks and Indian Farmers’ Demand for Agricultural Custom-Hire Services

Magnan, N.; Spielman, D.J.; Lybbert, T. J.; Gulati, K. (November 2013) | Conference Paper

Technology-driven gains in agricultural productivity and profitability can dramatically improve quality of life for the rural poor in developing countries. Extension efforts to disseminate agricultural technologies typically assume that farmers learn from early adopters who catalyze the diffusion process. This research was undertaken to understand how information about a new agricultural technology is transmitted through social networks, and what effect information gained through social networks has on technology demand at the household level. The technology in question is laser land leveling (LLL) — a resource-conserving technology — which was introduced in eastern Uttar Pradesh, India as part of the study.

Factors Affecting the Adoption of Direct-Seeded Rice in the Northeastern Indo-Gangetic Plain

Yamano, T.; Baruah, S.; Sharma, R.; Kumar, A. (October 2013) | Research Report

Rising labor costs for manual transplanting of rice, concerns about depleting underground water, and increasing costs of irrigation have made transplanting less appealing to farmers. Direct-seeded rice (DSR) is an alternative method that could reduce the labor and irrigation water requirements for crop establishment. This report describes CSISA training on DSR, identifies constraints to the continuous use of DSR, compares DSR and non-DSR rice production and summarizes perceptions of DSR among male and female farmers.

Characterization of CSISA Odisha Hub Districts for Technology Development and Targeting

Samaddar, A.; Yamano, T.; Mohapatra, B.K.; Nayak, S.; Mehar, M.; Khanda, C. (October 2013) | Working Paper

This report documents findings from a key informant survey of 120 randomly selected villages in Puri, Bhadrak and Mayurbhanj districts of Odisha (India). The survey was conducted in May 2013 and was designed to help the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) Odisha hub team and government agencies to identify technology options and prioritize activities for technology demonstrations. The report aims at capturing the following aspects by district: agroecological and socioeconomic characteristics, major crops for all cropping seasons, current agricultural technologies and practices, level of mechanization and major constraints across districts. Constraints reported in this report point to opportunities for the CSISA project and government agencies to intervene and improve agricultural production.

The Prospects for Hybrid Rice in India

Spielman, D.J.; Kolady, D.E.; Ward, P.S. (August 2013) | Journal Article

The Government of India has set a target of expanding the cultivation of hybrid rice to 25 percent of the area occupied by the crop by 2015. Current growth trends suggest that this target will not be met, despite the potential contribution of hybrid rice to lagging growth in national rice yields, overall rice production, land-use reallocation and food security. This unfolding experience suggests a different trajectory from that of China, where hybrid rice accounts for more than half of the area under the crop and has contributed significantly to yield and output growth, reallocation of land to other agriculture and non-agricultural uses and food security. This paper examines the technical challenges, market opportunities and policy constraints relating to hybrid rice in India.

Targeting Technology to Reduce Poverty and Conserve Resources: Experimental Delivery of Laser Land Leveling to Farmers in Uttar Pradesh, India

Lybbert, T.J.; Magnan, N.; Spielman, D.J.; Bhargava, A.; Gulati, K. (July 2013) | Discussion Paper

Demand heterogeneity often makes it profitable for firms to price and promote goods and services differently in different market segments. When private consumption brings public benefits, this same heterogeneity can be used to target public subsidies. This study explores the design of public–private targeting and segmentation strategies in the case of a resource-conserving agricultural technology in India. Simulations demonstrate inherent tradeoffs between increasing the amount of land that is leveled and expanding the number of farmers who adopt the technology, and between adoption and water savings. While segmenting and targeting are popular elements of many public–private partnerships to develop and disseminate agricultural technologies, formulating and implementing effective delivery strategies requires a rich understanding of costs, benefits and demand. This study’s experimental approach generates such an understanding and may be relevant in other contexts.

Earliness in Wheat: A Key to Adaptation under Terminal and Continual High Temperature Stress in South Asia

Mondal, S.; Singh, R.P.; Crossa, J.; Huerta-Espino, J.; Sharma, I.; Chatrath, R.; Singh, G.P.; Sohu, V.S.; Mavi, G.S.; Sukaru, V.S.P.; Kalappanavarg, I.K.; Mishra, V.K.; Hussain, M.; Gautam, N.R.; Uddin, J.; Barma, N.C.D.; Hakim, A.; Joshi, A.K. (June 2013) | Journal Article

High temperatures are a primary concern for wheat production in South Asia. A trial was conducted to evaluate the grain yield performance of high yielding, early maturing heat tolerant International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) wheat lines, developed in Mexico, for adaptation to high temperature stresses in South Asia. The trial, comprised 28 entries and two checks, was grown in 13 locations across South Asia and two environments in Mexico. Each location was classified by mega environment. Grain yields, thousand kernel weight, days to heading and plant height were recorded at each location. Canopy temperature was also measured at some locations. This study documents the results, which suggest that the early maturing, high yielding, and heat tolerant wheat lines developed in Mexico can adapt to the diverse heat-stressed areas of South Asia.

Optimizing Intensive Cereal-Based Cropping Systems Addressing Current and Future Drivers of Agricultural Change in the Northwestern Indo-Gangetic Plains of India

Gathala, M.K.; Kumar, V.; Sharma, P.C.; Saharawat, Y.S.; Jat, H.S.; Singh, M.; Kumar, A.; Jat, M.L.; Humphreys, E.; Sharma, D.K.; Sharma, S.; Ladha, J.K. (June 2013) | Journal Article

Increasing scarcity of resources and rise in cost of production, along with climate variability, are major challenges for the sustainability of rice–wheat systems in the northwestern Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP). The study hypothesizes that adopting the principles of conservation agriculture (CA) together with best crop management practices will improve system productivity and overall efficiency, resulting in a higher profitability. To test this hypothesis, the performances of four cropping system scenarios (treatments) were evaluated. These scenarios were designed to be adapted to current and future drivers of agricultural changes. The initial results of the two-year field study show positive effects of CA-based improved management practices on yield and system efficiencies with greater benefits in the second year. However, there is a need for longer-term monitoring to quantify cumulative effects of various interventions and to eventually make recommendations for wider dissemination.

Site suitability analysis for dissemination of salt-tolerant rice varieties in Southern Bangladesh

A.N. Singh, D.D. Sinha, M.A. Bari, A. Ismail and U.S. Singh (2012)

The USAID supported CSISA-Bangladesh project on “Sustainable Rice Seed Production and Delivery Systems for Southern Bangladesh” was executed in twenty districts in South Bangladesh. The project aims at improving food security in these districts using high yielding rice varieties equipped with tolerances to prevailing stresses. These twenty districts grow rice in about 2.9 M ha out of the country’s total rice area of about 11.3 M ha. Twelve out of the twenty project districts in southern Bangladesh face the problem of soil salinity of various levels. Recently, BRRI dhan 47, Binadhan-8 and Binadhan – 10 have been released by the Government of Bangladesh for the salinity-prone areas.  For the distribution of salt-tolerant rice seeds in the potential areas, an assessment of ‘upazilas’, ‘unions’ and ‘mauzas’ suitable for the dissemination of BRRI dhan 47, Binadhan-8 and – 10 rice seeds have been carried out. This report aims to be useful in the assessment of upazila-wise seed requirement and the dissemination of salinity tolerant BRRI dhan 47, Binadhan-8 and – 10 and other HYVs in their targeted environments.

Farmers’ Heterogeneous Valuation of Laser Land Leveling in Eastern Uttar Pradesh: An Experimental Auction to Inform Segmentation and Subsidy Strategies

Lybbert, T.J.; Magnan, N.; Bhargava, A.K.; Gulati, K.; Spielman, D.J. (May 2012) | Journal Article

Demand heterogeneity often makes it profitable for firms to price and promote goods and services differently in different market segments. When private consumption brings public benefits, this same heterogeneity can be used to develop targeted public subsidies. This publication explores the design of public-private targeting and segmentation strategies in the case of a resource-conserving agricultural technology in India. To understand farmers’ heterogeneous demand for Laser Land Leveling (LLL), an experimental auction was conducted for LLL services with an integrated randomized control trial to estimate the private benefits of the technology.

Weed Management Strategies to Reduce Herbicide Use in Zero-Till Rice–Wheat Cropping Systems of the Indo-Gangetic Plains

Kumar, V.; Singh, S.; Chhokar, R.S.; Malik, R.K.; Brainard, D.C.; Ladha, J.K. (April 2013) | Journal Article

In the rice–wheat (RW) systems of the Indo-Gangetic Plains of South Asia, conservation tillage practices, including zero-tillage (ZT), are being promoted to address emerging problems such as shortage of labor and water, declining factor productivity, deterioration of soil health and climate change. Despite multiple benefits of ZT, weed control remains a major challenge to adoption, resulting in greater dependence on herbicides for weed control. Alternative management strategies are needed to reduce dependence on herbicides and minimize risks associated with their overuse, including evolution of herbicide resistance. This research highlights and synthesizes research efforts in nonchemical weed management in ZT RW systems and identifies future weed ecology and management research needs to facilitate successful adoption of these systems.

Biophysical and Socioeconomic Characterization of the Cereal Production Systems of Central Nepal

Ghimire, S.; Dhungana, S.M.; Krishna, V.V.; Teufel, N.; Sherchan D.P. (January 2013) | Working Paper

The domestic food security of Nepal is critically dependent on the sustainability of the cereal production systems in the Central Terai region. This study was undertaken focusing on biophysical and socio-economic characterization of the cereal producing households in this region and special attention was rendered to assess the economics of crop production in detail and to examine the potential of conservation agriculture (CA) technologies. Sample households were categorized into three nearly identically-sized, mutually-exclusive groups – small (lowest 33 percent with respect to scale of operation), medium (middle 33 percent) and large (upper 33 percent) farmers.

Relay Planting of Wheat in Cotton: An Innovative Technology for Enhancing Productivity and Profitability of Wheat in Cotton-Wheat Production System of South Asia

Buttar, G.S.; Sidhu, H.S.; Singh, V.; Jat, M.L.; Gupta, R.; Singh, Y.; Singh, B. (January 2013) | Journal Article

Cotton–wheat (CW) is the second most important cropping system after rice–wheat in South Asia. Sowing of wheat after cotton is usually delayed due to late pickings coupled with time needed for seedbed preparation, resulting in low wheat yield. Lack of suitable machinery has remained a major constraint to direct drilling of wheat into the heavy cotton stubbles. But, the ‘two-wheel tractor-based self-propelled relay seeder’ with a seed-cum-fertilizer attachment offers an innovative solution to this challenge. This study documents on-farm trials at four locations during 2009–2010 and at 10 locations during 2010–2011 to evaluate four wheat establishment methods in CW-dominated areas of south-western Punjab, India.

Agriculture, Seed and Innovation in Nepal: Industry and Policy Issues for the Future

Joshi, K.D.; Conroy, C.; Witcombe, J.R. (December 2012) | Project Paper

Farmers’ access to agricultural inputs and modern technologies and technical knowhow in Nepal is constrained. An analysis of these constraints can provide evidence for practical policy recommendations to the Government of Nepal, which plans on developing a new Agricultural Development Strategy (ADS) to replace the existing Agriculture Perspective Plan (APP). This study conducts such an analysis with reference to three major cereal crops – rice, maize and wheat – in four subsectors – crop-breeding research and seed supply, fertilizers, pesticides and agricultural machinery. The study presents information on the research, development and innovation system and on the role of policy and organizations in providing agricultural inputs and innovations.

Public Expenditures, Private Incentives and Technology Adoption: The Economics of Hybrid Rice in South Asia

Spielman, D.J.; Kolady, D.E.; Ward, P.; Harun-Ar-Rashid; Gulati, K. (December 2012) | Discussion Paper       

The rapid expansion of hybrid rice cultivation in China has contributed significantly to improving food security in the country since the 1980s. However, few other Asian countries have seen similar expansions in hybrid rice cultivation or the associated yield and output gains. This paper examines the technical challenges, market opportunities and policy constraints related to hybrid rice in South Asia, with specific emphasis on India and Bangladesh. The paper sets the discussion within a novel analytical approach to agricultural science, technology, and innovation that focuses on improving the efficiency with which new technologies are transformed into economically relevant products and services.

Review of Input and Output Policies for Cereals Production in Pakistan

Salam, A. (November 2012) | Project Paper

The marketing of farm inputs and outputs has become a major problem for farmers in Pakistan. Farm input supplies are irregular, characterized by shortages and high prices at critical times. This report reviews the input and output policies for cereals implemented in Pakistan during the period 1996–2010. It highlights that to transform existing challenges into opportunities and address emerging issues, it is imperative to develop and strengthen institutional capacity for policymaking based on coordinated and concerted technical and economic analyses at the federal and provincial levels. To meet the technological challenges facing agriculture, the research system needs major restructuring and overhauling, administrative decentralization, financial support, autonomy and accountability.

Change and Diversity in Smallholder Rice-Fish Systems: Recent Evidence from Bangladesh

Dey, M.M.; Spielman, D.J.; Mahfuzul Haque, A.B.M.; Rahman, Md.S.; Valmonte-Santos, R.A. (October 2012) | Discussion Paper

Efforts to unlock the genetic potential of both rice and fish, when combined with efforts to improve the management of rice-fish systems, have proven potential for increasing agricultural productivity and food security. In Bangladesh, estimates suggest that the country’s potential rice-fish production system encompasses between two and three million hectares of land. Despite three decades of research on biophysical and technical aspects of rice-fish systems, this potential has not been realized fully due to insufficient attention given to the social, economic and policy dimensions of system improvement. This paper provides a characterization of the diverse and changing nature of rice-fish systems in Bangladesh by combining data from a novel upazilla-level (sub-district-level) survey of fishery officers with household surveys, focus group discussions, and a meta-review of the literature on aquaculture in the country.

Supply and Demand for Cereals in Pakistan, 2010-2030

Nazli, H.; Haider, S.H.; Sheikh, A.T. (October 2012) | Discussion Paper

Since the year 2000, Pakistan’s population has been growing at a rate that is higher than domestic food grain production. In view of the importance of wheat and rice in the human diet in Pakistan, it is extremely important to estimate the future demand and supply of both cereals. This paper presents the projections of future demand and supply for these two main cereals for 2010, 2015, 2020, 2025, and 2030. Results show that the demand for wheat is expected to be greater than its supply whereas production of rice will be higher than consumption. In other words, the country is likely to face a deficit in wheat and surplus in rice.

Review of Input and Output Policies for Cereal Production in Bangladesh

Pullabhotla, H.; Ganesh-Kumar, A. (July 2012) | Discussion Paper

In Bangladesh, supportive government policies have played a crucial role in the rapid growth of the cereals sector, and rice in particular. Despite this growth, the country remains a net importer of rice. Even as Bangladesh struggles to achieve food security, the country’s cereal sector faces new challenges. What are these challenges and what should be the country’s response? With these questions in mind, this paper reviews the key policies of agricultural inputs and outputs in Bangladesh that are crucial for improving cereal production in the country. On the input side, the review covers seed, fertilizer and agrochemicals, irrigation/water, farm equipment, research, extension, and agricultural credit. The paper also provides an overview of the policies concerning agricultural output markets, with a particular reference to rice, the main staple crop in the country.

Supply and Demand for Cereals in Bangladesh: 2010-2030

Ganesh-Kumar, A.; Prasad, S.; Pullabhotla, H. (June 2012)

Bangladesh remains a net importer of rice despite significant progress in improving yield and production levels. With growing population, planning for future cereal production to meet food security challenges would require projections of future supply and demand for cereals. This study attempts to forecast the demand and supply of cereals in Bangladesh for the period 2015–2030, focusing on rice – the main staple in Bangladeshi diets and also the most important crop in Bangladesh’s agriculture. A detailed model of the supply of rice in the three main rice growing seasons — aman, aus, and boro — is built up through separate acreage and yield functions, which are estimated with data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. On the demand side, the projections made here consider both direct demand by households and also indirect demand.

Demand and Supply of Cereals in India: 2010-2025

Ganesh-Kumar, A.; Mehta, R.; Pullabhotla, H.; Prasad, S.K.; Ganguly, K.; Gulati, A. (January 2012) | Discussion Paper

A review of studies that forecast the supply and demand of Indian agriculture commodities revealed three important limitations of such studies. First, the forecasts are generally overestimated (in the ex post situation). Second, the methodology is not clearly outlined. And third, ex-ante validation of the forecast has not been carried out. This paper attempts to overcome these challenges to more accurately project the supply and demand for rice and wheat, the two main cereals cultivated and consumed in India, up to the year 2025. It presents forecasts based on models that are validated so that forecast performances can be assessed. Results suggest that managing surpluses rather than deficits is likely to be the bigger policy challenge for India in the future, especially in the case of rice.

A Review of Input and Output Policies for Cereals Production in India

Shreedhar, G.; Gupta, N.; Pullabhotla, H.; Ganesh-Kumar, A.; Gulati, A. (January 2012) | Discussion Paper

This paper reviews the key policies with regard to agriculture inputs such as seed, fertilizer, water, agricultural equipment, research, extension, and agricultural credit. It also provides an overview of the policies and programs related to agricultural output markets that are crucial for improving cereal production in the country. A review of the past performance and policies of India’s foodgrain sector reveals that the main drivers of growth have been modern inputs and technology, institutions, and markets with the changing role of the public and private sectors. The present challenge facing Indian policymakers is to efficiently balance food security concerns and higher growth objectives. This will require not only pushing the production frontier to sustainably augment supply, but also ensuring strategic management of foodgrains including procurement and distribution.

The Impact of Seed Policy Reforms and Intellectual Property Rights on Crop Productivity in India

Kolady, D.E.; Spielman, D.J.; Cavalieri, A. (January 2012) | Journal Article

The growth of private investment in developing-country agriculture, new advances in the biological sciences and rapid integration of developing countries into the global trading system has heightened interest in the topic of seed market and intellectual property rights’ (IPRs) policies among public policy-makers, corporate decision-makers and other actors in the agricultural sector. But, questions about whether emerging and evolving seed policy reforms and IPR regimes in developing countries will contribute to increasing crop productivity and improving food security remain unanswered. This paper attempts to answer some of these questions by focusing specifically on the case of India, the regional leader in implementing seed policy reforms and IPRs in agriculture.

Characterizing the Cereal Systems and Identifying the Potential of Conservation Agriculture in South Asia

Krishna, V.; Mehrotra, M.B.; Teufel, N.; Bishnoi, D.K. (December 2012) | Working Paper

Conservation agriculture (CA) and related resource conserving technologies potentially offer a way to sustainably increase the agricultural productivity in developing countries. These practices, which involve minimal soil disturbance, residue retention and crop rotations, could help farmers increase crop yields and reduce the cost of production. This paper presents the major findings of a set of village-level surveys aiming at the characterization of the cropping systems in the Indo-Gangetic Plains with a special focus on the potential entry points for CA-related technologies. The study area comprises of four regions in the IGP, namely Indian Punjab, Haryana, Central Nepal Terai and northwest Bangladesh.

A Review of Input and Output Policies for Cereals Production in Nepal

Pullabhotla, H.; Shreedhar, G.; Ganesh-Kumar, A.; Gulati, A. (September 2011) | Discussion Paper

This study examines the existing status, policies and institutions for promoting agricultural output in Nepal, in particular cereals. In this context, it reviews the policies on agricultural input such as seed, fertilizer, water, agricultural equipment, research and extension, and agricultural credit. It also provides an overview of the policies and programs related to agricultural output marketing and procurement of food grains in Nepal. The study finds that availability and usage is at a very low level for most of the inputs in Nepal. On the output side, public intervention in cereal markets does not seem feasible due to infrastructure and resource constraints, which also restricts the government’s capacity for affecting/regulating output prices.

Supply and Demand for Cereals in Nepal, 2010–2030

Prasad, S.K.; Pullabhotla, H.; Ganesh-Kumar, A. (September 2011)

This paper attempts to estimate the future supply and demand for cereals in Nepal. While there has been considerable research in the past examining the agricultural sector in Nepal, there has been no analysis of the supply-demand scenario for foodgrains in the country. The analysis undertaken in this paper attempts to bridge this gap in the literature by estimating supply and demand models for the three most important cereals in Nepal’s food basket – rice, wheat, and maize. The supply projections have been carried out on the basis of a single-crop production function model using data for the period 1995-2008. For estimating the demand function and projecting future demand, data from the Nepal Living Standards Survey II, undertaken in the year 2003-04, are used.

The Seed and Agricultural Biotechnology Industries in India: An Analysis of Industry Structure, Competition and Policy Options

Spielman, D.J.; Kolady D.E; Cavalieri, A.; Chandrasekhara Rao, N. (July 2011) | Journal Article

Since the late 1980s, technological advances and policy reforms have opened up new opportunities for growth in India’s seed and agricultural biotechnology industries. The impacts of such changes have been significant in India’s cotton sector, but less so for the country’s main cereal crops, where both yield and output growth rates have been relatively stagnant. This analysis focuses on indicators and scenarios within India’s agricultural innovation market for improved seed and agricultural biotechnology products. This market includes firms engaged in the development, commercialization and marketing of new seed-based technologies. And it is within this market that factors such as strategic corporate behavior and public policy can affect the balance between a socially desirable rate of innovation, on the one hand, and a socially desirable distribution of the gains from innovation among consumers, farmers, and innovators, on the other hand.

Direct Seeding of Rice: Recent Developments and Future Research Needs

Kumar, V.; Ladha, J.K. (April 2011) | Journal Article

A staple food for more than half of the world’s population, Rice is commonly grown by transplanting seedlings into puddled soil (wet tillage) in Asia. This production system is labor-, water-, and energy-intensive and is becoming less profitable as these resources become increasingly scarce. It also deteriorates the physical properties of soil, adversely affects the performance of succeeding upland crops and contributes to methane emissions. These factors demand a major shift from puddled transplanting to direct seeding of rice (DSR) in irrigated rice ecosystems. This document reviews drivers of the shift from puddled transplanting to DSR, overall crop performance including resource-use efficiencies of DSR and lessons from countries where DSR has already been widely adopted.

Intellectual Property Rights, Private Investment in Research and Productivity Growth in Indian Agriculture: A Review of Evidence and Options

Kolady, D.; Spielman, D.J.; Cavalieri, A.J. (November 2010) | Discussion Paper

With the growth of private investment in developing-country agriculture, new advances in the biological sciences and rapid integration of developing countries into the global trading system, intellectual property rights (IPRs) have become an important concern for policymakers, corporate decision-makers and many other players in the agricultural sector. But there are still unanswered questions about whether emerging and evolving IPR regimes in developing countries will contribute to increasing agricultural productivity and improving food security. This paper attempts to answer some of these questions by tracing the effects of IPRs on private investment in crop genetic improvement and, in turn, on agricultural productivity.

Halting the Groundwater Decline in North-West India — Which Crop Technologies will be Winners?

Humphreys, E.; Kukal, S.S.; Christen, E.W.; Hira, G.S.; Singh, B.; Yadav, S.; Sharma, R.K. (October 2010) | Journal Article

Increasing the productivity of the rice-wheat (RW) system in north-west India is critical for the food security of India. However, yields are stagnating or declining and the rate of groundwater use is not sustainable. Many improved technologies are under development for RW systems, with multiple objectives including increased production, improved soil fertility, greater input use efficiency, reduced environmental pollution and higher profitability for farmers. There are large reductions in irrigation amount with many of these technologies compared with conventional practice. However, the nature of the irrigation water savings has seldom been determined, which is what this paper attempts to do.

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