Discussion Papers and Journal Articles

Can crop production intensification through irrigation be sustainable? An ex-ante impact study of the south-central coastal zone of Bangladesh

Zahirul Haque Khan, Md Saiful Islam, Shume Akhter, Md Raqubul Hasib, Asish Sutradhar, Jagadish Timsina, Timothy J. Krupnik, Urs Schulthess (February 2024) | Journal article

In Bangladesh’s south-central coastal zone, there is considerable potential to intensify crop production by growing dry winter season ‘Boro’ rice, maize, wheat, pulses and oilseeds using irrigation from southward flowing and predominantly freshwater rivers. However, the impacts of surface water withdrawal for sustained irrigation and its safe operating space remain unclear. We used field measurements and simulation modeling to investigate the effects of irrigation water withdrawal for Boro rice–the most water-consumptive crop–on river water flow and salinity under different climate change and river flow scenarios. Under the baseline conditions, about 250,000 ha could potentially be irrigated with river water that has salinity levels below 2 dS/m. The impact on river water salinity would be minimal, and only between 0.71 to 1.12% of the cropland would shift from the 0–2 dS/m class to higher salinity levels. Similarly, for the moderate climate change scenario (RCP 4.5) that forecasts a sea level rise of 22 cm in 2050, there would be a minor change in water flow and salinity. Only under the extreme climate change scenario (RCP 8.5), resulting in a sea level rise of 43 cm by 2050 and low flow conditions that are exceeded in 90% of the cases, the 2 dS/m isohaline would move landward by 64 to 105 km in March and April for the Tentulia and Buriswar Rivers. This would expose an additional 36.6% of potentially irrigable cropland to salinity levels of 2 to 4 dS/m. However, Boro rice will already be well established by that time and can tolerate greater levels of salinity. We conclude that there is considerable scope to expand irrigated crop production without negatively exposing the cropland and rivers to detrimental salinization levels while preserving the ecosystem services of the rivers.

Economic valuation of climate induced losses to aquaculture for evaluating climate information services in Bangladesh

Shammunul Islam , Peerzadi Rumana Hossain , Melody Braun, T.S. Amjath-Babu, Essam Yassin Mohammed, Timothy J. Krupnik, Anwar Hossain Chowdhury, Mitchell Thomas, Max Mauerman (December 2023) | Journal article

Very little research has focused on climate impacts on aquaculture and the potential of climate information services (CIS) for aquaculture to support sustainable development goals 2030 (SDGs).1 This study represents an effort to bridge this gap by conducting a first ex-ante economic evaluation of CIS for aquaculture in Bangladesh by semi-automating the extraction of data on climate-induced fish losses during 2011 to 2021 from popular online newspaper articles and corroborating them with available government and satellite datasets. During this period, Bangladesh faced an estimated loss of around 140 million USD for hatcheries, open water fish and shrimp. When validated with a year of country-wide official data on climate-induced economic losses to aquaculture, the damage reported from these media sources is approximately 10 percent of actual losses. Given this rule of thumb, the potential economic value of aquacultural CIS could be up to USD14 million a year, if 10 percent of the damage can be offset by appropriate services through a range of multi-sector efforts to establish and extend these services to farmers at scale.

Intrahousehold preference heterogeneity and demand for labor-saving agricultural technology

Kalaj Gulati, Patrick S. Ward, Travis J. Lybbert, David J. Spielman (October 2023) | Journal article

Evaluations of agricultural technologies rarely consider the implications of how adoption may alter the labor allocation of different individuals within a household. We examine intrahousehold decision-making dynamics that shape smallholder households’ decision to use mechanical rice transplanting (MRT), a technology that disproportionately influences demand for women’s labor. To study the adoption decision, we experimentally estimate the willingness to pay for MRT services both at the individual and household level. We find that women value MRT more than men, especially when they participate in transplanting on their own farms. This preference heterogeneity is evident in the unconditional differences between women’s and men’s valuation and differences conditional on their individual observable characteristics. Despite having stronger preferences for MRT, women have less influence on the household’s technology adoption decision than men. This differential influence over the MRT adoption decision reflects the intrahousehold power structure: in households where women have less control over assets, they also have less influence over the MRT adoption decision. Our results highlight how technological changes interact with unobserved, gender-based intrahousehold power relations to influence agricultural production decisions and, by extension, the gendered allocation of labor and welfare of women.

Shifting gender roles in agriculture: Estimating the impact of a women-centric R&D programme in India

Vijesh Krishna, Subash Surendra Padmaja, Monish Jose, Wasim Iftikar, Prakashan C Veettil (September 2023) | Journal Article

The article examines the changes in women’s empowerment status as a result of their participation in a women-centric R&D initiative on sustainable intensification of rice-fallow systems. Maize is introduced with the help of demonstration trials, field days, and farmer training sessions, which are mediated through women’s self-help groups (SHGs) to increase farm-household income in Mayurbhanj District. Using a cross-sectional dataset of 1,005 women farmers, the effects of the demonstration trials on maize adoption is obtained. Further, using a quasi-experimental approach with instrumental variables, the impact of maize adoption on women’s empowerment is obtained, captured using the Abbreviated Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (a-WEAI).

Crop establishment and diversification strategies for intensification of rice-based cropping systems in rice-fallow areas in Odisha

Panneerselvam Peramaiyan, Amit Kumar Srivastava, Virender Kumar, Lavanya P. Seelan, Narayan Chandra Banik, Suryakanta Khandai, Nabakishore Parida, Vivek Kumar, Aurovinda Das, Sanghamitra Pattnaik, Dilip Ranjan Sarangi, Pavan Kumar Yeggina, Ashok Yadav, Andrew J. McDonald, Peter Craufurd, Sudhanshu Singh, Ram K. Malik (August 2023) | Journal Article

The study identifies strategies for increasing rice-based system productivity through: (i) alternative crop establishment methods in the wet season (Dry-Direct Seeded Rice or DSR, and mechanical puddled transplanted rice or PTR-M) to traditional methods such as broadcasting followed by post-emergence tillage (locally known as beushening) and manual random puddled transplanted rice (PTR-R); (ii) to identify rice-fallow areas suitable for pulse and oilseed cultivation in the dry season; and (iii) to evaluate the performance of short-duration pulses and oilseeds in rice-fallow areas in the dry season. On-farm experiments were conducted between 2017 and 2019 in three districts of Odisha (Bhadrak, Cuttack and Mayurbhanj) to evaluate DSR compared to beushening and PTR-R; and PTR-M compared to PTR-R and manual line puddled transplanted rice (PTR-L) in the wet season.

Implementing conjunctive management of water resources for irrigation development: A framework applied to the Southern Plain of Western Nepal

Vishnu Prasad Pandey, Nirman Shrestha, Anton Urfels, Anupama Ray, Manohara Khadka, Paul Pavelic, Andrew J. McDonald, Timothy J. Krupnik (June 2023) | Journal Article

Climate variability and insufficient irrigation are primary constraints to stable and higher agricultural productivity and food security in Nepal. Agriculture is the largest global freshwater user, and integration of surface- and ground-water use is frequently presented as an strategy for increasing efficiency as well as climate change adaptation. However, conjunctive management (CM) planning often ignores demand-side requirements and a broader set of sustainable development considerations, including ecosystem health and economics of different development strategies. While there is generic understanding of conjunctive use, detailed technical know-how to realize the CM is lacking in Nepal. This article presents a holistic framework through literature reviews, stakeholders consultations and expert interviews for assessing CM and implementation prospects from a systems-level perspective. We demonstrate the framework through a case study in Western Nepal, where climatic variability and a lack of irrigation are key impediments to increased agricultural productivity and sustainable development. Results show that knowledge of water resources availability is good and that of water demand low in the Western Terai. Additional and coordinated investments are required to improve knowledge gaps as well as access to irrigation. There is therefore a need to assess water resources availability, water access, use and productivity, to fill the knowledge gaps in order to pave pathways for CM. This paper also discusses some strategies to translate prospects of conjunctive management into implementation.

Machine-supported decision-making to improve agricultural training participation and gender inclusivity

Norman Peter Reeves, Ahmed Ramadan, Victor Giancarlo Sal y Rosas Celi, John William Medendorp, Harun Ar-Rashid, Timothy Joseph Krupnik, Anne Namatsi Lutomia, Julia Maria Bello-Bravo, Barry Robert Pittendrigh (May 2023) | Journal Article

Women comprise a significant portion of the agricultural workforce in developing countries but are often less likely to attend government sponsored training events. The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility of using machine-supported decision-making to increase overall training turnout while enhancing gender inclusivity. Using data obtained from 1,067 agricultural extension training events in Bangladesh (130,690 farmers), models were created to assess gender-based training patterns (e.g., preferences and availability for training). Using these models, simulations were performed to predict the top (most attended) training events for increasing total attendance (male and female combined) and female attendance, based on gender of the trainer, and when and where training took place. By selecting a mixture of the top training events for total attendance and female attendance, simulations indicate that total and female attendance can be concurrently increased. However, strongly emphasizing female participation can have negative consequences by reducing overall turnout, thus creating an ethical dilemma for policy makers. In addition to balancing the need for increasing overall training turnout with increased female representation, a balance between model performance and machine learning is needed. Model performance can be enhanced by reducing training variety to a few of the top training events. But given that models are early in development, more training variety is recommended to provide a larger solution space to find more optimal solutions that will lead to better future performance. Simulations show that selecting the top 25 training events for total attendance and the top 25 training events for female attendance can increase female participation by over 82% while at the same time increasing total turnout by 14%. In conclusion, this study supports the use of machine-supported decision-making when developing gender inclusivity policies in agriculture extension services and lays the foundation for future applications of machine learning in this area.

The contributions of scale-appropriate farm mechanization to hunger and poverty reduction: evidence from Nepal

Gokul P. Paudel, Hom Gartaula, Dil Bahadur Rahut, Scott E. Justice, Timothy J. Krupnik and Andrew J. McDonald (January 2023) | Journal Article

This study examines the adoption drivers of scale-appropriate mechanization in Nepal’s maizebased farming systems. The authors also assess the contribution of scale-appropriate mechanization to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of zero hunger (SDG2) and no poverty (SDG1).

The study findings show that farm size, labor shortages, draft animal scarcity, market proximity, household assets and household heads’ educational level influence the adoption of mechanization in Nepal. Mechanized farms exhibited enhanced maize productivity, profits and household food self-sufficiency. Reduced depth and severity of poverty were also observed. Nevertheless, these effects were not uniform; very small farms (≤0.41 ha) facing acute labor shortages benefited the most. The study results suggest that policymakers in developing nations like Nepal may wish to expand their emphasis on scale-appropriate mechanization to improve farm productivity and household food security, reduce poverty and contribute to the SDGs.

Quantifying Wheat Blast Disease Induced Yield and Production Losses of Wheat: A Quasi-Natural Experiment

Khondoker Abdul Mottaleb,David P. Hodson, Timothy J. Krupnik and Kai Sonder (March 2023) | Journal Article

Applying the difference-in-difference (DID) estimation procedure, this study quantifies the wheat blast (Magnaporthe oryzae pathotype Triticum) induced losses in wheat yield, quantity of wheat sold, consumed, or stored, as well as wheat grain value in Bangladesh in 2016 following a disease outbreak that affected over 15,000 ha. Estimates show that the blast-induced yield loss was 540 kg ha−1 on average for households in blast-affected districts. Estimated total wheat production loss was approximately 8,205 tons worth USD 2.1 million in during the 2016 outbreak. Based on these insights, we discuss the need for long-term assured investment and concerted research efforts in controlling transboundary diseases such as wheat blast, including the importance of weather forecast driven early warning systems and the dissemination of blast-resistant varieties.

Reduced tillage and crop diversification can improve productivity and profitability of rice-based rotations of the Eastern Gangetic Plains

Muhammad Arshadul Hoque, Mahesh K. Gathala, Jagadish Timsina, Md.A.T.M. Ziauddin, Mosharraf Hossain, Timothy J. Krupnik (December 2022) | Journal Article

Intensive rice (Oryza sativa)-based cropping systems in south Asia provide much of the calorie and protein requirements of low to middle-income rural and urban populations. Intensive tillage practices demand more resources, damage soil quality, and reduce crop yields and profit margins. Crop diversification along with conservation agriculture (CA)-based management practices may reduce external input use, improve resource-use efficiency, and increase the productivity and profitability of intensive cropping systems. A field study was conducted on loamy soil in a sub-tropical climate in northern Bangladesh to evaluate the effects of three tillage options and six rice-based cropping sequences on grain, calorie, and protein yields and gross margins (GM) for different crops and cropping sequences. The three tillage options were: (1) conservation agriculture (CA) with all crops in sequences untilled, (2) alternating tillage (AT) with the monsoon season rice crop tilled but winter season crops untilled, and (3) conventional tillage (CT) with all crops in sequences tilled. The six cropping sequences were: rice-rice (R-R), rice-mung bean (Vigna radiata) (R-MB), rice-wheat (Triticum aestivum) (R-W), rice-maize (Zea mays) (R-M), rice-wheat-mung bean (R-W-MB), and rice-maize-mung bean (R-M-MB). Over three years of experimentation, the average monsoon rice yield was 8% lower for CA than CT, but the average winter crops yield was 13% higher for CA than CT. Systems rice equivalent yield (SREY) and systems calorie and protein yields were about 5%, 3% and 6%, respectively, higher under CA than CT; additionally, AT added approximately 1% more to these benefits. The systems productivity gain under CA and AT resulted in higher GM by 16% while reducing the labor and total production cost under CA than CT. The R-M rotation had higher SREY, calorie, protein yields, and GM by 24%, 26%, 66%, and 148%, respectively, than the predominantly practiced R-R rotation. The R-W-MB rotation had the highest SREY (30%) and second highest (118%) GM. Considering the combined effect of tillage and cropping system, CA with R-M rotation showed superior performance in terms of SREY, protein yield, and GM. The distribution of labor use and GM across rotations was grouped into four categories: R-W in low-low (low labor use and low GM), R-M in low-high (low labor use and high GM), R-W-MB and R-M-MB in high-high (high labor use and high GM) and R-R and R-MB in high-low (high labor use and low GM). In conclusion, CA performed better than CT in different winter crops and cropping systems but not in monsoon rice. Our results demonstrate the multiple benefits of partial and full CA-based tillage practices employed with appropriate crop diversification to achieve sustainable food security with greater calorie and protein intake while maximizing farm profitability of intensive rice-based rotational systems.

Variable climate suitability for wheat blast (Magnaporthe oryzae pathotype Triticum) in Asia: results from a continental‑scale modeling approach

Carlo Montes, Sk. Ghulam Hussain, Timothy J. Krupnik (August 2022) | Journal Article

Crop fungal diseases constitute a major cause of yield loss. The development of crop disease monitoring and forecasting tools is an important effort to aid farmers in adapting to climate variability and change. Recognizing weather as a main driver of fungal disease outbreaks, this work assesses the climate suitability for wheat blast (Magnaporthe oryzae pathotype Triticum, MoT) development in Asian wheat-producing countries. MoT was reported for the first time in Bangladesh in 2016 and could spread to other countries, provided that environmental conditions are suitable to spore development, distribution, and infection. With results from a generic infection model driven by air temperature and humidity, and motivated by the necessity to assess the potential distribution of MoT based on the response to weather drivers only, we quantify potential MoT infection events across Asia for the period 1980–2019. The results show a potential higher incidence of MoT in Bangladesh, Myanmar, and some areas of India, where the number of potential infection (NPI) events averaged up to 15 during wheat heading. Interannual trends show an increase in NPI over those three countries, which in turns show their higher interannual variability. Cold/dry conditions in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan appear to render them unlikely candidates for MoT establishment. The relationship between seasonal climate anomalies and NPI suggests a greater association with relative humidity than with temperature. These results could help to focus future efforts to develop management strategies where weather conditions are conducive for the establishment of MoT.

Global crop yields can be lifted by timely adaptation of growing periods to climate change

Sara Minoli, Jonas Jägermey, Senthold Asseng, Anton Urfels & Christoph Müller (November 2022) | Journal Article

Adaptive management of crop growing periods by adjusting sowing dates and cultivars is one of the central aspects of crop production systems, tightly connected to local climate. However, it is so far underrepresented in crop model based assessments of yields under climate change. In this study, we integrate models of farmers’ decision making with biophysical crop modeling at the global scale to simulate crop calendars adaptation and its effect on crop yields of maize, rice, sorghum, soybean and wheat.We simulate crop growing periods and yields (1986-2099) under counterfactual management scenarios assuming no adaptation, timely adaptation or delayed adaptation of sowing dates and cultivars. We then compare the counterfactual growing periods and corresponding yields at the end of the century (2080-2099). We find that (i) with adaptation, temperature-driven sowing dates (typical at latitudes >30°N-S) will have larger shifts than precipitation-driven sowing dates (at latitudes <30°N-S); (ii) later-maturing cultivars will be needed, particularly at higher latitudes; (iii) timely adaptation of growing periods would increase actual crop yields by ~12%, reducing climate change negative impacts and enhancing the positive CO2 fertilization effect. Despite remaining uncertainties, crop growing periods adaptation require consideration in climate change impact assessments.

Performance of a hermetic device and neem (Azadirachta indica) in storing wheat seed: Evidence from participatory household trials in central Bangladesh

Timothy J. Krupnik, Khaled Hossain, Jagadish Timsina, Md. Mohi Uddin, Md. Elahi Baksh, Md. Zakaria Hasan, Mahesh K. Gathala (September 2022) | Journal Article

Smallholder farmers in Bangladesh often use low-density polyethylene (LDPE) bags contained within woven polypropylene bags to store wheat seed during the summer monsoon that precedes winter season planting. High humidity and temperature during this period can encourage increased seed moisture and pests, thereby lowering seed quality. Following a farm household survey conducted to inform trial design, eighty farmers were engaged in an action research process in which they participated in designing and conducting trials comparing traditional and alternative seed storage methods over 30 weeks. Factorial treatments included comparison of hermetic SuperGrainbags® (Premium RZ) against LDPE bags, both with and without the addition of dried neem tree leaves (Azadirachta indica). SuperGrainbags® were more effective in maintaining seed moisture at acceptable levels close to pre-storage conditions than LDPE bags. Both seed germination and seedling coleoptile length were significantly greater in hermetic than LDPE bags. Neem had no effect on seed moisture, germination, or coleoptile length. SuperGrainbags® were also more effective in abating seed damage during storage, although inclusion of neem within LDPE bags also had significant damage. Quantification of seed predating insects and diseases suggested that SuperGrainbags® also suppressed Coleopteran pests and blackspot, the latter indicative of Fusarium graminearum. Conversely, where farmers used LDPE bags, neem also had an additional though limited pest suppressive effect. Post-storage treatment scoring by farmers revealed a strong preference for SuperGrainbags® and no preference differences for or against neem. This study demonstrates a process by which farmers can be involved in the participatory co-design and testing of alternative wheat storage options, and stresses the need to develop SuperGrainbag® supply chains so hermetic storage can be made widely available.

Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources and Crop Production in Western Nepal: Implications and Adaptation Strategies

Risal, A.; Urfels, A.; Srinivasan, R.; Bayissa, Y.; Shrestha, N.; Paudel, G.P.; Krupnik, T.J. (July 2022) | Journal Article

Irrigation-led farming system intensification and efficient use of ground and surface water resources are currently being championed as a crucial ingredient for achieving food security and reducing poverty in Nepal. The potential scope and sustainability of irrigation interventions under current and future climates however remains poorly understood. Potential adaptation options in Western Nepal were analyzed using bias-corrected Regional Climate Model (RCM) data and the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model. The RCM climate change scenario suggested that average annual rainfall will increase by about 4% with occurrence of increased number and intensity of rainfall events in the winter. RCM outputs also suggested that average annual maximum temperature could decrease by 1.4 °C, and average annual minimum temperature may increase by 0.3 °C from 2021 to 2050. Similarly, average monthly streamflow volume could increase by about 65% from March–April, although it could decrease by about 10% in June. Our results highlight the tight hydrological coupling of surface and groundwater. Farmers making use of surface water for irrigation in upstream subbasins may inadvertently cause a decrease in average water availability in downstream subbasins at approximately 14%, which may result in increased need to abstract groundwater to compensate for deficits. Well-designed irrigated crop rotations that fully utilize both surface and groundwater conversely may increase groundwater levels by an average of 45 mm from 2022 to 2050, suggesting that in particular subbasins the cultivation of two crops a year may not cause long-term groundwater depletion. Modeled crop yield for the winter and spring seasons were however lower under future climate change scenarios, even with sufficient irrigation application. Lower yields were associated with shortened growing periods and high temperature stress. Irrigation intensification appears to be feasible if both surface and groundwater resources are appropriately targeted and rationally used. Conjunctive irrigation planning is required for equitable and year-round irrigation supply as neither the streamflow nor groundwater can provide full and year-round irrigation for intensified cropping systems without causing the degradation of natural resources. 

Impact of cropping system diversification on productivity and resource use efficiencies of smallholder farmers in south-central Bangladesh: a multi-criteria analysis

Shah-Al Emran, Timothy J. Krupnik, Sreejith Aravindakshan, Virender Kumar, Cameron M. Pittelkow (June 2022) | Journal Article

Diversification of smallholder rice-based cropping systems has the potential to increase cropping system intensity and boost food security. However, impacts on resource use efficiencies (e.g., nutrients, energy, and labor) remain poorly understood, highlighting the need to quantify synergies and trade-offs among different sustainability indicators under on-farm conditions. In southern coastal Bangladesh, aman season rice is characterized by low inputs and low productivity. We evaluated the farm-level impacts of cropping system intensification (adding irrigated boro season rice) and diversification (adding chili, groundnut, mungbean, or lathyrus) on seven performance indicators (rice equivalent yield, energy efficiency, partial nitrogen productivity, partial potassium productivity, partial greenhouse gas footprint, benefit-cost ratio, and hired labor energy productivity) based on a comprehensive survey of 501 households. Indicators were combined into a multi-criteria performance index, and their scope for improvement was calculated by comparing an individual farmer’s performance to top-performing farmers (highest 20%). Results indicate that the baseline system (single-crop aman season rice) was the least productive, while double cropped systems increased rice equivalent yield 72–217%. Despite gains in productivity, higher cropping intensity reduced resource use efficiencies due to higher inputs of fertilizer and energy, which also increased production costs, particularly for boro season rice. However, trade-offs were smaller for diversified systems including legumes, largely owing to lower N fertilizer inputs. Aman season rice had the highest multi-criteria performance index, followed by systems with mungbean and lathyrus, indicating the latter are promising options to boost food production and profitability without compromising sustainability. Large gaps between individual and top-performing farmers existed for each indicator, suggesting significant scope for improvement. By targeting indicators contributing most to the multi-criteria performance index (partial nitrogen productivity, energy efficiency, hired labor energy productivity), results suggest further sustainability gains can be achieved through future field research studies focused on optimizing management within diversified systems.

Adapted Conservation Agriculture Practices Can Increase Energy Productivity and Lower Yield-Scaled Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Coastal Bangladesh

Krupnik TJ, Hossain MK, Timsina J, Gathala MK, Sapkota TB, Yasmin S, Shahjahan M, Hossain F, Kurishi A,
Miah AA, Rahman BMS and McDonald AJ (July 2022) | Journal Article

While numerous studies have documented the benefits of conservation agriculture (CA) in South Asia, most focus on favorable environments where farmers have reliable access to energy supporting irrigation and inputs. The performance of CA in South Asia’s under-developed coastal environments is comparatively understudied. In these environments, farmers are increasingly interested in growing a second crop to meet food security and income generation objectives in rotation following the predominant monsoon season rice crop, though labor, energy costs, and investment constraints limit their ability to do so. We hypothesized that rotating rice (Oryza sativa) with maize (Zea mays) using conservation agriculture, or CA (i.e., strip-tilled maize followed by unpuddled transplanted rice), or seasonally alternating tillage (SAT, i.e., strip-tilled maize followed by fully-tilled, puddled rice with residues retained across rotations) would reduce costs and energy use, increase energy-use efficiency, and reduce yield-scaled CO2-eq emissions (YSE) and total global warming potential (GWP), compared to farmers’ own practices (FP) and conventional full-tillage (CT) under the same rotation in Bangladesh’s coastal region. Starting with winter maize followed by summer rice, we evaluated four tillage and crop establishment treatments in farmer-managed experiments in partially irrigated and rainfed environments over three years in 35 farmer’s fields across Bangladesh’s coastal districts. Treatments included FP, CT, complete CA, and SAT under a rice-maize rotation. Across years, the full suite of CA practices and SAT were significantly more energy-efficient and energy-productive than FP or CT. The order of YSE in rice was CA< CT or FP < SAT while in maize, it was CA or SAT < FP < CT. Across environments, CA and SAT resulted in 15-18% higher yield at the cropping systems level (maize and rice yields combined) and 26-40% less manual labor than CT or FP. CA and SAT also reduced by 1-12% and 33-35% total production costs respective to CT and FP. This was associated with 13-17% greater grain energy output in CA and SAT, and 2-18% lower YSE, compared to CT or FP. While our data suggest that both CA and SAT can result in a range of positive agronomic, economic, and environmental outcomes compared to FP or CT, post-trial surveys and discussions with farmers revealed a strong practical aversion to use of the full suite of CA practices and preference for adapted practices due to logistical constraints in negotiating the hire of laborers for unpuddled manual transplanting.

Large-scale rollout of extension training in Bangladesh: Challenges and opportunities for gender-inclusive participation

Medendorp JW, Reeves NP, Celi VGSyR, Harun-ar-Rashid M., Krupnik TJ, Lutomia AN, et al. (July 2022) | Journal Article

Despite the recognized importance of women’s participation in agricultural extension services, research continues to show inequalities in women’s participation. Emerging capacities for conducting large-scale extension training using information and communication technologies (ICTs) now afford opportunities for generating the rich datasets needed to analyze situational factors that affect women’s participation. Data was recorded from 1,070 video-based agricultural extension training events (131,073 farmers) in four Administrative Divisions of Bangladesh (Rangpur, Dhaka, Khulna, and Rajshahi). The study analyzed the effect of gender of the trainer, time of the day, day of the week, month of the year, Bangladesh Administrative Division, and venue type on (1) the expected number of extension event attendees and (2) the odds of females attending the event conditioned on the total number of attendees. The study revealed strong gender specific training preferences. Several factors that increased total participation, decreased female attendance (e.g., male-led training event held after 3:30 pm in Rangpur). These findings highlight the dilemma faced by extension trainers seeking to maximize attendance at training events while avoiding exacerbating gender inequalities. The study concludes with a discussion of ways to mitigate gender exclusion in extension training by extending data collection processes, incorporating machine learning to understand gender preferences, and applying optimization theory to increase total participation while concurrently improving gender inclusivity.

Hello, can you hear me? Impact of speakerphones on phone survey responses

Muzna Fatima Alvi, Prapti Barooah, Shweta Gupta, Ruth Suseela Meinzen-Dick and Claudia Ringler (2022) | Discussion Paper

Ensuring privacy of respondents in phone surveys is especially challenging compared to face-to-face interviews. While the use of phone surveys has become more common in development research, there is little information on how the conduct of phone surveys affects responses. Using phone survey data from India and Nepal, we test the impact of speakerphone use on bias in responses by women and men. We find that 65% of women respondents in India, and 61% of women and 59% of men respondents in Nepal had their phone on speaker during the survey. Speakerphone use is lower when women are matched with the same enumerators in the second round. Speaker use was associated with lower reported agency by women over their own income and the income of their spouse, while it is opposite for men. Our findings have important implication for the collection, design, and analysis of phone survey data.

Smart precision agriculture but resource constrained farmers: Is service provision a potential solution? Farmer’s willingness to pay for laser-land leveling services in Nepal

Paudel, P., Khanal, A.R., Rahut, D.R., Krupnik, T.J., McDonald, A.J. (June 2022) | Journal Article

Farmers commonly split large, undulating crop fields, even those at similar elevation range or contour, into a patchwork of small sub-plots in plane areas of Nepal. Specifically, to ensure irrigation or rainwater throughout their cultivated rice or wheat growing areas, structures like bunds, dikes, and ditches are commonly built. These structures not only require significant labor hours to build but also incur loss of some portion of productive crop areas. Laser-land leveling (LLL) is one of the precision technologies that can prevent these area losses, save labor costs, and enhance water utilization. However, purchase of LLL system requires significant capital which could be beyond the access of low resource farmers. In this study, we examined the potential of LLL adoption in a form of service provision or fee-for-service basis among farmers in Nepal. Using an appropriate contingent valuation that maintains efficient estimation and consistent response, we found that Nepali farmers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for LLL services averages 1,550 Nepalese Rupees per hour. However, WTP is heterogeneous across farm size—top quantile farmers with relatively higher land acreages have 47% higher WTP for LLL than bottom quantile farmers. Additionally, our interval regression results show positive association of WTP with low irrigation access and with the opportunity cost of land area occupied by bunds and dikes. The results suggest for service provision support programs in LLL adoption to enhance market development of this precision technology in Nepal, specifically focusing land holders with low irrigation access in plane areas.

Re-prioritizing climate services for agriculture: Insights from Bangladesh

Simon J. Mason, Timothy J. Krupnik, James W. Hansen, Melody Braun, S. Ghulam Hussain, Md. Shah Kamal Khan , Abdu Mannan, Ashley Curtis, Eunjin Han, Andrew Kruczkiewicz (June 2022) | Journal Article

Considerable progress has been made in establishing climate service capabilities over the last few decades, but the gap between the resulting services and national needs remains large. Using climate services for agriculture in Bangladesh as a case study example, we highlight mismatches between local needs on the one hand and international initiatives that have focused largely on prediction on the other, and we make suggestions for addressing such mismatches in similar settings. To achieve greater benefit at the national level, there should be a stronger focus on addressing important preliminaries for building services. These preliminaries include the identification of priorities, the definition of responsibilities and expectations, the development of climate services skills, and the construction of a high-quality and easily usable national climate record. Once appropriate institutional, human resources and data infrastructure are in place, the implementation of a climate monitoring and watch system would form a more logical basis for initial climate service implementation than attempting to promote sub-seasonal to seasonal climate forecasting, especially when and where the inherent predictability is limited at best. When and where forecasting at these scales is viable, efforts should focus on defining and predicting high-impact events important for decision-making, rather than on simple seasonal aggregates that often correlate poorly with outcomes. Some such forecasts may be more skillful than the 3- to 4-month seasonal aggregates that have become the internationally adopted standard. By establishing a firm foundation for climate services within National Meteorological Services, there is a greater chance that individual climate service development initiatives will be sustainable after their respective project lifetimes.

Biological nitrogen fixation and prospects for ecological intensification in cereal-based cropping systems

Jagdish K. Ladha, Mark B. Peoples, Pallavolu M. Reddy, Jatish C. Biswas, Alan Bennett, Mangi L. Jat, Timothy J. Krupnik (April 2022) | Journal Article

The demand for nitrogen (N) for crop production increased rapidly from the middle of the twentieth century and is predicted to at least double by 2050 to satisfy the on-going improvements in productivity of major food crops such as wheat, rice and maize that underpin the staple diet of most of the world’s population. The increased demand will need to be fulfilled by the two main sources of N supply – biological nitrogen (gas) (N2) fixation (BNF) and fertilizer N supplied through the Haber-Bosch processes. BNF provides many functional benefits for agroecosystems. It is a vital mechanism for replenishing the reservoirs of soil organic N and improving the availability of soil N to support crop growth while also assisting in efforts to lower negative environmental externalities than fertilizer N. In cereal-based cropping systems, legumes in symbiosis with rhizobia contribute the largest BNF input; however, diazotrophs involved in non-symbiotic associations with plants or present as free-living N2-fixers are ubiquitous and also provide an additional source of fixed N. This review presents the current knowledge of BNF by free-living, non-symbiotic and symbiotic diazotrophs in the global N cycle, examines global and regional estimates of contributions of BNF, and discusses possible strategies to enhance BNF for the prospective benefit of cereal N nutrition. We conclude by considering the challenges of introducing in planta BNF into cereals and reflect on the potential for BNF in both conventional and alternative crop management systems to encourage the ecological intensification of cereal and legume production.

A metafrontier approach and fractional regression model to analyze the environmental efficiency of alternative tillage practices for wheat in Bangladesh

Sreejith Aravindakshan, Ali AlQahtany, Muhammad Arshad, A. V. Manjunatha, Timothy J. Krupnik (2022) | Journal Article

Among alternative tillage practices, conservation tillage (CT) is a prominent greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation strategy advocated in wheat cultivation, largely because of its low energy consumption and minimum soil disturbance during cultural operations. This paper examines the agricultural production and GHG emission trade-off of CT vis-à-vis traditional tillage (TT) on wheat farms of Bangladesh. Using a directional distance function approach, the maximum reduction in GHG emissions was searched for within all available tillage technology options, while increasing wheat production as much as possible. The underlying institutional, technical, and other socio-economic factors determining the efficient use of CT were analyzed using a fractional regression model. The average meta-efficiency score for permanent bed planting (PBP) and strip tillage (ST) was 0.89, while that achieved using power tiller operated seeders (PTOS) is 0.87. This indicates that with the given input sets, there is potential to reduce GHG emissions by about 11% for ST and PTOS; that potential is 13% for farmers using PTOS. The largest share of TT farmers cultivate wheat at lower meta-efficiency levels (0.65–0.70) compared to that observed with farmers practicing CT (0.75–0.80). Fractional regression model estimates indicate that an optimal, timely dose of fertilizers with a balanced dose of nutrients is required to reduce GHG emissions. To develop climate smart sustainable intensification strategies in wheat cultivation, it is important to educate farmers on efficient input management and CT together. Agricultural development programs should focus on addressing heterogeneities in nutrient management in addition to tillage options within CT.

Assessing direct benefit transfer of agricultural subsidies in Bihar and Odisha

Avinash Kishore; Smriti Saini; and Muzna Fatima Alvi (April 2022) / Journal Article

The article discusses findings based on administrative data on sales of 0.49 million subsidized agricultural implements in the two states. It examines the transaction costs associated with the subsidy process, changes brought by DBT, and the efficiency of the new mechanism for subsidy disbursal.

Influence of Residue Type and Method of Placement on Dynamics of Decomposition and Nitrogen Release in Maize-Wheat-Mungbean Cropping on Permanent Raised Beds: A Litterbag Study

Opinder Singh Sandhu, Mangi L. Jat, Rajeev Kumar Gupta, Harmeet Singh Thind, Harminder Singh Sidhu and Yadvinder Singh (January 2022) | Journal Article

Decomposition influences carbon and nutrient cycling from crop residues. The nylon-mesh-bag technique was implied to study the decomposition and N-release dynamics from different crop residues under field conditions. The four types of residues were: maize (lower than 50% below the cob), wheat (lower than 25% of wheat stubbles), a whole mung bean residue, and a mixture of wheat + mung bean residue (1:1 ratio) put on the soil surface and in below the sub-surface. Decomposition and N release from both at-surface- and below-surface-placed residues were accurately described by a single-pool first-order exponential decay function as a function of thermal time (based on the accumulative daily mean temperature). The simple first-order exponential model met the criteria of goodness of fit. Throughout the decomposition cycle (one thermal year), the rate of decomposition as measured by a decrease in residue mass and the release of total N were statistically higher from the sub-surface compared to the surface-placed residue, irrespective of the residue type. At the end of the 150-day decomposition cycle, the release of total N was highest in mung bean (32.0 kg N ha−1), followed by maize (31.5 kg N ha−1) > wheat + mung bean (16.1 kg N ha−1), and the minimum (6.54 kg N ha−1) in wheat residue. Crop residues with a wider C/N ratio such as maize and wheat, when applied on the soil surface in conservation agriculture, caused the decomposition to occur at slower rates, thereby providing long-term beneficial effects on the soil thermal regime, soil moisture conservation, and C sequestration in North-West India.

Landscape diagnostic survey data of wheat production practices and yield in eastern India

Anurag Ajay, Peter Craufurd, Sachin Sharma, Harshit Ranjan, Gokul Poudel, Ram Kanwar Malik, Balwinder Singh, Ashok Kumar Singh, Arindam Samaddar, Ashok Rai, Alwin Keil and Andrew McDonald (November 2021) | Journal Article

Approximately 7,600 wheat plots were surveyed and geo-tagged in the 2017-18 winter or rabi season in Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) in India to capture farmers’ wheat production practices at the landscape level. A two-stage cluster sampling method, based on Census data and electoral rolls, was used to identify 210 wheat farmers in each of 40 districts. The survey, implemented in Open Data Kit (ODK), recorded 226 variables covering major crop production factors such as previous crop, residue management, crop establishment method, variety and seed sources, nutrient management, irrigation management, weed flora and their management, harvesting method and farmer reported yield. Crop cuts were also made in 10% of fields. Data were very carefully checked with enumerators. These data should be very useful for technology targeting, yield prediction and other spatial analyses.

Weed germinable seedbanks of rice–wheat systems in the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains: Do tillage and edaphic factors explain community variation?

Carolyn J. Lowry, Daniel C. Brainard, Virender Kumar, Richard G. Smith, Madhulika Singh. Pankaj Kumar, Ajay Kumar, Vipin Kumar, Rajiv K. Joon, Raj K. Jat, Shishpal Poonia, Ram K. Malik, Andrew McDonald (August 2021) | Journal Article

Zero tillage (ZT) is widely promoted throughout India’s Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) because of its potential to increase wheat productivity and resilience to abiotic stresses. Weeds remain a major barrier to ZT adoption, yet it remains unclear how ZT will influence weed communities in the Eastern-IGP. The primary objective of this study was to characterise the composition of the germinable weed seedbank sampled just prior to the wheat phase of rice–wheat farms in Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh, and examine whether adoption of ZT wheat has shifted weed community composition compared to conventional tillage (CT). Additionally, we examined whether edaphic properties and topography (upland vs. lowland) explain variation in germinable weed seedbank communities. In December 2014, we evaluated the germinable seedbank from 72 fields differing in their historic (>=3 year) tillage practices (ZT vs. CT) in three regions: Samastipur–Vaishali–Muzaffarpur (SVM), Ara–Buxar and Maharajgunj–Kushinagar. Weed community composition and species richness varied by region and topography. ZT adoption was associated with lower relative density of Chenopodium album in the germinable seedbank and lower emergence of Phalaris minor seedlings within farmers’ fields. In upland topographies of the SVM region, ZT adoption was also associated with greater relative abundance of Solanum nigrum in the weed seedbank. However, differences between tillage systems in individual species were not large enough to result in detection of differences at the whole-community level. Variation in edaphic properties, most notably soil texture and pH, explained 51% of the variation in the weed seedbank community. Our work suggests several frequent but poorly understood species (e.g. Mazus pumilus and Grangea maderaspatana) in Eastern IGP for which future research should quantify their effects on crop yields. Finally, future work surveying weed species abundance at harvest could further determine the dominant problematic species in these regions.

Integrated weed management in transplanted rice: options for addressing labor constraints and improving farmers’ income in Bangladesh

Sharif Ahmed, Virender Kumar , Murshedul Alam, Mahbubur Rahman Dewan, Khairul Alam Bhuiyan, Abu Abdullah Miajy, Abhijit Saha, Sudhanshu Singh, Jagadish Timsina and Timothy J. Krupnik (June 2021) | Journal Article

In Bangladesh, weeds in transplanted rice are largely controlled by labor-intensive and costly manual weeding, resulting in inadequate and untimely weed control. Labor scarcity coupled with intensive rice production has triggered increased use of herbicides. These factors warrant a cost-effective and strategic integrated weed management (IWM) approach. On-farm trials with transplanted rice were conducted during monsoon (‘Aman’) season in 2016 and 2017 and winter (‘Boro’) season in 2016 to 2017 in agroecological zones 11 and 12 with ten treatments—seven herbicide-based IWM options, one mechanical weed control-based option, and two checks (farmers’ current weed control practice and weed-free)—to assess effects on weed control, grain yield, labor use, and profitability. Compared to farmers’ practice, herbicide-based IWM options with mefenacet+bensulfuron-methyl as preemergence followed by (fb) either bispyribac-sodium or penoxsulam as postemergence fb one hand-weeding were the most profitable alternatives, with reductions in labor requirement by 11 to 25 person-days ha–1 and in total weed control cost by US$44 to 94 ha–1, resulting in net returns increases by US$54 to 77 ha–1 without compromising on grain yield. In contrast, IWM options with bispyrbac-sodium or penoxsulam as postemergence application fb one hand-weeding reduced yields by 12% to 13% and profits by US$71 to 190 ha–1. The nonchemical option with mechanical weeding fb one hand-weeding performed similarly to farmers’ practice on yield and profitability. We suggest additional research to develop feasible herbicide-free approaches to weed management in transplanted rice that can offer competitive advantages to current practices.

Land gradient and configuration effects on yield, irrigation amount and irrigation water productivity in rice-wheat and maize-wheat cropping systems in Eastern India

Krishna Prasad Devkota, SudhirYadav, E.Humphreys, Akhilesh Kumar, Pankaj Kumar, Virender Kumar, R.K. Malik, Amit K.Srivastava (June 2021) | Journal Article

Laser land levelling is expanding rapidly in the rice-wheat (RW) and maize-wheat (MW) systems of the Indo-Gangetic Plains of India and Pakistan. Current practice is to level to zero (0%) gradient, whereas a small gradient (e.g. 0.1%) is typically used in developed countries. Therefore, experiments were conducted in farmers’ plots (~15 m x 40 m) in the Eastern Gangetic Plains to evaluate laser levelling with a 0.1% gradient in comparison with 0% and farmer levelling practice (FL). The study was conducted over two years in RW and MW systems. In the MW system, raised beds in plots lasered with 0% and 0.1% gradients were also evaluated. Laser levelling with 0% gradient significantly reduced irrigation amount and/or increased irrigation water productivity (WPi) in all crops/systems grown on the flat compared to FL except for wheat in the MW system. While there was a consistent trend for higher yield with a 0% gradient compared with FL, the differences were not significant in any crop/system. For the RW system, the results suggest no to marginal benefits in irrigation amount and WPi from levelling with a 0.1% gradient in comparison with 0% gradient. In that system, by far the bigger gains were from changing from FL to laser levelling with 0% gradient. This resulted in substantial reductions in irrigation amount, which greatly increased WPi in both crops (by ~40%), while yield was not affected. Rice grown with FL was not profitable, but lasering with 0% gradient significantly increased gross margin for rice, wheat and the total RW system. As for the RW system, levelling to 0% with a flat configuration significantly increased WPi of both crops in the MW system compared to FL, but by a lesser proportion. Raised beds significantly increased yield of maize by 8% (0.5 t ha−1), reduced irrigation amount by 20% (40 mm) and increased WPi by 34% (1.0 kg m−3) in comparison with the laser levelled flat plots. Gross margin of the MW system on beds was 17–20% higher than FL, and gross margin with beds on a 0.1% gradient was significantly higher than either gradient on the flat. The results suggest that the gains from levelling with a 0.1% gradient compared to 0% are marginal; however, this may change if the goal of consolidation of small farmer plots into larger fields becomes a reality provided there is a proportionate increase in irrigation flow rates, and ability to drain.

Visualising adoption processes through a stepwise framework: A case study of mechanisation on the Nepal Terai

 Brendan Brown, Gokul P. Paudel, Timothy J. Krupnik (June 2021) | Journal Article

CONTEXT: The desire for agricultural mechanisation is mainstreaming across the Global South, yet there are limited tools through which to monitor and estimate progress made in pursuit of this. Despite Nepal enacting an agricultural development agenda focused on mechanisation to address issues of productivity, labour scarcity, inclusive economic growth and sustainability, it remains one of the few places in South Asia that is yet to see substantial agricultural mechanisation rates. We use this scenario as a case study to propose and investigate adoption processes.

OBJECTIVE: This research aims to provide a baseline to understand progress made towards Agri-mechanisation on the Nepal Terai. Despite decades of promotional efforts, there are only limited comprehensive analyses of the status of agricultural mechanisation in Nepal that cover diverse machinery and go beyond binary adoption estimates, nor a framework to understand different types of (non-)adopters.

METHODS: The applied non-binary ‘Stepwise Process of Mechanisation’ framework provides a systematic process for investigation of the status of agricultural mechanisation on the Nepal Terai. This framework is applied to representative survey data from 14 districts across 1569 households from Nepal’s Plains (Terai) region.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that decades of activity have not yet led to the substantial closure of exposure gaps, nor sufficient ownership of machines that enables accessible fee-for-hire service provision.

For more information, go to The Status of Mechanisation in Nepal – SRFSI (cimmyt.org)

Furrow design for improving crop establishment of two-wheel tractor operated strip tillage planters in loam and clay loam soils

M. Arshadul Hoque, M. M. Hossain, A. T. M. Ziauddin, Timothy J. Krupnik, Mahesh K. Gathala (June 2021) | Journal Article

Conservation agriculture (CA) based production systems may help in achieving more sustainable intensification of cropping systems that use less labour and energy and have higher profit margins, in addition to soil conservation and environmental impact mitigation advantages. But these objectives can only be achieved when the right mechanization options, including appropriate crop establishment equipment, are in place to assist in timely field operations. An urgent need exists, therefore, to fine tune and re-adjust the existing two-wheel tractor (2WT) operated seed drills, with specific reference to the design of blade and furrow openers, while at the same time considering performance in different soil types and environments. To this end, experiments were conducted during 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 at two BARI Regional Agricultural Research Stations in Jamalpur and Barisal, Bangladesh, on a loam and clay loam soil, respectively, to evaluate five types of furrow opener for strip tillage. Shoe and modified shoe-type furrow openers were tested and compared with three inverted-T furrow openers with rake angles of 75°, 65° and 55°. The newly designed inverted-T furrow openers were narrower than the shoe-type openers; they also had a longer, hollow shanks and provided better options for adjustment to achieve the desired seeding depth and line spacing. Compared to shoe-type openers, better seeding depth, uniformity and higher degree of seed coverage were recorded with use of the inverted-T furrow opener with a 65° rake angle. This resulted in better seed coverage in the furrow, a higher emergence rate index, and the highest emergence percentage of maize and mung bean. Our research findings can be generalized to smallholder production systems on loam and clay loam soils where farmers utilize 2WT operated seed drills for crop establishment in both traditional and conservation agriculture-based planting systems.

Developing Climate Information Services for Aquaculture in Bangladesh: A Decision Framework for Managing Temperature and Rainfall Variability-Induced Risks

Peerzadi Rumana Hossain, T. S. Amjath-Babu, Timothy J. Krupnik, Melody Braun, Essam Yassin Mohammed and Michael Phillips (June 2021) | Journal Article

Climate information services (CIS) are increasingly in demand to assist farmers in managing risks associated with climate variability and extremes experienced in food production. However, there are significant gaps in the availability and accessibility of these services, especially in aquatic food production in developing countries. In response, this study aims to generate the background knowledge for developing climate information and decision support services tailored for aquaculture farmers in Bangladesh. We surveyed 800 fish-farming households, interviewed 30 key informants, and conducted a systematic literature review to identify climate-sensitive operations and management decisions in aquaculture and to document fish-farmers’ awareness of the relationships between climate variability and aquatic food production systems. We also sought to identify the lead time and communication method(s) needed to deploy forecasts effectively and prepare aquaculture farmers to act in response to the forecasts. A fish-farming activity calendar was developed that identified high temperature, cold spell, heavy rainfall, and dry spell events as key climatic phenomena affecting year-round aquaculture operations, including pond preparation and maintenance, fingerling stocking, grow-out management, and harvesting. We also identified five climate-sensitive management decision points and 26 potential advisories in line with specific climate variability to manage induced risks in the day-to-day operations of fish farmers. Finally, the research team developed a decision framework based on the temperature and rainfall thresholds for the grow-out phase of four widely cultivated and economically important fish species in Bangladesh. This innovative decision support approach is to our knowledge the very first endeavor to develop CIS using species-specific temperature and rainfall thresholds to reduce climate risks and ensure resilience capacity for South Asian aquaculture system.

Modified strip tillage blades for two-wheel tractor seed drills improves maize crop establishment under conservation agriculture

Muhammad Arshadul Hoque, Mahesh K. Gathala , Md Mosharraf Hossain, A.T.M. Ziauddin, Timothy J. Krupnik (April 2021) | Journal Article

Two-wheel tractors (2WTs) are widely used by resource-poor farmers to prepare land in the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains (EIGP). This paper demonstrates that improved tillage blade design can enhance maize crop establishment under strip tillage, which falls under the rubric of conservation agriculture (CA). In order to achieve this aim, it is necessary to identify appropriate blade design and rotational speed for power tiller operated seeders, or PTOS, which can be attached to 2WTs and that are increasingly popular in the EIGP. We conducted experiments over two years in two locations in the EIGP within Bangladesh with loam and clay loam soils, respectively. Four blades designed with varying tip angles and five levels of rotational speed were compared with commercially available C-shaped blades sold with 2WTs. Torque and power requirements for strip tillage decreased with decreasing blade tip angle and rotational speed. The best combination of blade design and rotational speed was found with a 15◦ blade tip angle at 320 RPM. This combination resulted in higher furrow cross sectional area, more soil backfill with appropriately sized soil aggregates, and better seeding depth than C-shaped and 45◦ tip angle blades. These characteristics also facilitated improved crop establishment on both soil types. Our results indicate that strip-till maize establishment can be improved in Bangladesh by substituting commercially-available C-shaped blades with a 15◦ blade tip angle at appropriate 320 RPM, though machinery operators will require educational efforts to learn how to fine-tune RPM to improve crop establishment and achieve more sustainable crop establishment systems.

Quantifying opportunities for greenhouse gas emissions mitigation using big data from smallholder crop and livestock farmers across Bangladesh

Tek B. Sapkota, Fahmida Khanam, Gokul Prasad Mathivanan, Sylvia Vetter, Sk. Ghulam Hussain, Anne-Laure Pilat, Sumona Shahrin, Md. Khaled Hossain, Nathu Ram Sarker, Timothy J. Krupnik (April 2021) | Journal Article

Climate change is andwill continue to have significant implications for agricultural systems. While adaptation to climate change should be the priority for smallholder production systems, adoption of cost-effective mitigation options in agriculture not only contributes to food security but also reduces the extent of climate change and future adaptation needs. Utilizing management data from 16,413 and 12,548 crop and livestock farmers and associated soil and climatic data, we estimated GHG emissions generated from crop and livestock production using crop and livestock models, respectively. Mitigation measures in crop and livestock production, their mitigation potential and cost/benefit of adoption were then obtained from literature review, stakeholder consultations and expert opinion. We applied the identified mitigation measures to a realistic scale of adoption scenario in the short- (2030) and long-term (2050). Our results were then validated through stakeholders consultations. Here, we present identified mitigation options, their mitigation potentials and cost or benefit of adoption in the form of Marginal Abatement Cost Curves (MACC). Based on our analysis, total GHG emissions from agricultural sector in Bangladesh for the year 2014–15 is 76.79 million tonne (Mt) carbon-dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Business-as-usual GHG emissions from the agricultural sector in Bangladesh are approximately 86.87 and 100.44 Mt CO2e year−1 by 2030 and 2050, respectively. Adoption of climate-smart crop and livestock management options to reduce emissions considering a realistic adoption scenario would offer GHG mitigation opportunities of 9.51 and 14.21 Mt CO2e year−1 by 2030 and 2050, respectively. Of this mitigation potential, 70–75% can be achieved through cost-saving options that could benefit smallholder farmers. Realization of this potential mitigation benefit, however, largely depends on the degree towhich supportive policies and measures can encourage farmers’ adoption of the identified climate smart agricultural techniques. Therefore, government should focus on facilitating uptake of these options through appropriate policy interventions, incentive mechanisms and strengthening agricultural extension programs.

Factors affecting farmers’ use of organic and inorganic fertilizers in South Asia

Jeetendra Prakash Aryal, Tek Bahadur Sapkota, Timothy J. Krupnik, Dil Bahadur Rahut, Mangi Lal Jat, Clare M. Stirling (April 2021) | Journal Article

Fertilizer, though one of the most essential inputs for increasing agricultural production, is a leading cause of nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture, contributing significantly to global warming. Therefore, understanding factors affecting farmers’ use of fertilizers is crucial to develop strategies to improve its efficient use and to minimize its negative impacts. Using data from 2528 households across the Indo-Gangetic Plains in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, this study examines the factors affecting farmers’ use of organic and inorganic fertilizers for the two most important cereal crops – rice and wheat. Together, these crops provide the bulk of calories consumed in the region. As nitrogen (N) fertilizer is the major source of global warming and other environmental effects, we also examine the factors contributing to its overuse. We applied multiple regression models to understand the factors influencing the use of inorganic fertilizer, Heckman models to understand the likelihood and intensity of organic fertilizer (manure) use, and a probit model to examine the over-use of N fertilizer. Our results indicate that various socio-economic and geographical factors influence the use of organic and inorganic fertilizers in rice and wheat. Across the study sites, N fertilizer over-use is the highest in Haryana (India) and the lowest in Nepal. Across all locations, farmers reported a decline in manure application, concomitant with a lack of awareness of the principles of appropriate fertilizer management that can limit environmental externalities. Educational programs highlighting measures to improving nutrient-use-efficiency and reducing the negative externalities of N fertilizer over-use are proposed to address these problems.

Women’s access to agriculture extension amidst COVID-19: Insights from Gujarat, India and Dang, Nepal

Muzna Alvi, Prapti Barooah, Shweta Gupta, Smriti Saini (March 2021) | Journal Article

COVID-19 induced lockdowns have had far reaching impacts on the rural sector, particularly on women farmers. These impacts have been exacerbated by lack of access to reliable and timely agriculture information. Using panel phone survey data from India and Nepal, we study how women’s access to agricultural extension was impacted by the lockdowns and its effect on agricultural productivity. We find that women’s already low access to formal extension was reduced further, leading to an increased reliance on informal social networks. In both countries, nearly 50% farmers reported negative impacts on productivity due to inaccessibility of information during the lockdown. In India, we find that access to formal extension is mediated by crop type, geographic location and caste identity. We discuss ways in which extension systems in India and Nepal can be made more inclusive and resilient to future crisis, including by adapting group and community-based approaches to post-pandemic best practices.

Socio‑cognitive constraints and opportunities for sustainable intensification in South Asia: insights from fuzzy cognitive mapping in coastal Bangladesh

Sreejith Aravindakshan, et al. (March 2021) | Journal Article

Appreciating and dealing with the plurality of farmers’ perceptions and their contextual knowledge and perspectives of the functioning and performance of their agroecosystems— in other words, their ‘mental models’—is central for appropriate and sustainable agricultural development. In this respect, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) aim to eradicate poverty and food insecurity by 2030 by envisioning social inclusivity that incorporates the preferences and knowledge of key stakeholders, including farmers. Agricultural development interventions and policies directed at sustainable intensification (SI), however, do not sufficiently account for farmers’ perceptions, beliefs, priorities, or interests. Considering two contrasting agroecological systems in coastal Bangladesh, we used a fuzzy cognitive mapping (FCM)-based simulation and sensitivity analysis of mental models of respondents of different farm types from 240 farm households. The employed FCM mental models were able to (1) capture farmers’ perception of farming system concepts and relationships for each farm type and (2) assess the impact of external interventions (drivers) on cropping intensification and food security. We decomposed the FCM models’ variance into the first-order sensitivity index (SVI) and total sensitivity index (TSI) using a winding stairs algorithm. Both within and outside polder areas, the highest TSIs (35–68%) were observed for effects of agricultural extension on changes in other concepts in the map, particularly food security and income (SI indicators), indicating the importance of extension programs for SI. Outside polders, drainage and micro-credit were also influential; within polders, the availability of micro-credit appears to affect farmer perceptions of SI indicators more than drainage. This study demonstrated the importance of reflection on the differing perspectives of farmers both within and outside polders to identify entry points for development interventions. In addition, the study underscores the need for micro-farming systems-level research to assess the context-based feasibility of introduced interventions as perceived by farmers of different farm types.

Soil enzymes activity: Effect of climate smart agriculture on rhizosphere and bulk soil under cereal based systems of north-west India

H.S. Jat, Ashim Datta, Madhu Choudhary, P.C. Sharma, Bharti Dixit , M.L. Jat (February 2021) | Journal Article

In agriculture production system, soil enzymes are important indicators of soil quality. Measurements of soil quality parameter changes are essential for assessing the impact of soil and crop management practices. Keeping this in view, an experiment was conducted to evaluate the enzyme activities namely dehydrogenase (DHA), β-glucosidase, acid and alkaline phosphatase (AcP & AlP), fluorescein diacetate hydrolases (FDH), cellulase, urease and aryl sulphatase in rhizosphere and bulk soil after 8 years of different management regimes. Soil organic carbon (SOC), moisture content and few enzyme indices such as enzymatic pH indicator (AcP/AlP), alteration index three (Al3) and geometric mean (GMea) were also measured. The treatments were conventional rice-wheat system (termed as scenario (Sc1), CT system), partial conservation agriculture (CA)-based rice-wheat-mungbean system (Sc2, PCA-RW), partial climate smart agriculture (CSA)-based rice-wheat-mungbean system (Sc3), partial CSA-based maize-wheat-mungbean system (Sc4), full CSA-based rice-wheat-mungbean system (Sc5), and full CSA-based maize-wheat-mungbean system (Sc6). Soil samples were collected from rhizosphere and away from roots (bulk soil) at 0–15 cm soil depth before sowing (from rhizosphere of previous crops), at maximum tillering, flowering, and after harvesting of wheat crop. Results showed that DHA activity was higher before sowing (59.8%), at maximum tillering (48.4%), flowering (8.6%) and after harvesting (19.1%) in rice-based CSA systems (mean of Sc3 and Sc5) over maize based CSA systems (mean of Sc4 and Sc6) in rhizospheric soil. On average, β-glucosidase activity was significantly higher in rhizospheric soils of rice-based system over maize based CSA system. Before sowing of wheat, significantly higher (21.4%) acid phosphatase activity was observed in rhizosphere over bulk soils of maize based CSA system. Significantly higher alkaline phosphatase activity was observed before sowing of wheat in bulk soils of rice (25.3%) and maize (38.5%) based CSA systems over rhizospheric soils. Rice based CSA systems showed 27% higher FDH activity than maize based systems. Significant interaction effect was observed between the managements and enzymes. SOC played an important role in regulating the enzymes activity both in rhizosphere and bulk soil. Significant variation in AcP/AlP, Al3 and GMea was observed among the managements. Therefore, CSA managements are beneficial in improving enzyme activities not only in rhizosphere but also in bulk soil where residues are retained thereby may help in improving nutrient cycling.

Designing better input support programs: Lessons from zinc subsidies in Andhra Pradesh, India

Shweta Gupta, Avinash Kishore, Muzna Fatima Alvi, Vartika Singh (December 2020) | Journal Article

India has one of the largest agricultural input support programs in the world, delivered in the form of subsidies to farmers, raising concerns about its sustainability. This paper evaluates the performance of one such support, the micronutrient subsidy program in the state of Andhra Pradesh (AP) and presents a case for providing this support in the form of direct cash transfers. Under the program, key soil micronutrients- zinc, boron, and gypsum were distributed free of cost to farmers living in micronutrient-deficient areas, with identification and targeting managed entirely by the state. We survey 1621 farmers, 61 agriculture extension officers, and 78 agriculture input dealers to assess the efficacy of the program and to identify bottlenecks preventing effective targeting, with a focus on zinc. We find that use of non-subsidized zinc is high in AP, and awareness of benefits of zinc and physical access to input dealer shops are significant predictors of zinc use. We argue that the free provision of micronutrients may have created demand among farmers, but there is little justification to continue subsidizing such a program at such high rates or resorting to public distribution. We find that micronutrient procurement and distribution has become a burden on extension staff and crowds out the private sector. Our analysis shows that the subsidy can benefit more farmers if it is channeled through the network of private fertilizer dealers. We use administrative data on budgetary outlays and digital soil maps to suggest fiscal redistribution in the form of direct cash transfers that may ensure more effective targeting at a lower cost to the state.

Quantifying farmers’ preferences for cropping systems intensification: A choice experiment approach applied in coastal Bangladesh’s risk prone farming systems

Sreejith Aravindakshan, Timothy J. Krupnik, T.S. Amjath-Babu, Stijn Speelman, Juan Tur-Cardona, Pablo Tittonell, Jeroen C.J. Groot (2020) | Journal Article

CONTEXT: Sustainable intensification (SI) is envisioned as an effective strategy for developing countries to increase farm productivity while reducing negative environmental and social externalities. The development of regionally appropriate SI options however requires accounting for the knowledge and preferences of key stakeholders. In Bangladesh, the Government has requested international donors to support the development of dry season rice expansion in the coastal region. Policies however tend to be made without adequate study of farmers’ preferences and ambitions; this can render crop intensification efforts ineffective. Understanding farmers’ preferences for alternative crops and crop management practices are therefore crucial for success where agricultural development investments aim at incorporating the principles of SI.

OBJECTIVE(S): Using coastal Bangladesh as a case study– we aim to (1) quantify farmers’ preferences for alternative irrigated crop and crop management options in comparison to the status quo (land fallowing), (2) analyze whether farmers’ preferences are conditioned by concerns regarding the cost and availability of irrigation and fertilizer inputs in comparison to expected net revenues, (3) understand how the heterogeneity in preferences can be attributed to farmer and/or farm characteristics, institutional, and biophysical factors, (4) determine how much farmers’ are willing to invest in different crops and crop management options – including those reliant and not reliant on irrigation. METHODS: Taking 300 farmers in two diverse coastal environments, a choice experiment (CE) was employed to explore the heterogeneity in farmers’ preferences for different dry “rabi” season intensification options (‘boro’ rice, maize, wheat and mungbean) against the status quo (dry season land fallowing after harvest of the monsoon season rice crop). Analyses included random parameter logit modeling followed by willingness-to-invest and profit simulations.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Analyses revealed strong farmer preferences against rice and in favor of irrigated maize, and also in favor of rainfed or partially irrigated mungbean as an alternative to land fallowing. Irrespective of their location and environmental conditions, respondents had largely a negative preference for irrigation and fertilizer use due to high investment costs and associated production risks in the dry season. Nonetheless, a significant positive effect on their willingness-to-intensify cropping was observed where farmers felt it feasible to provide in-field drainage to limit waterlogging risks.

Development of balanced nutrient management innovations in South Asia: Perspectives from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka

Avinash Kishore, Muzna Alvi, Timothy J. Krupnik (2020) / Journal Article

Imbalanced application of fertilizers is a major fiscal and environmental problem in South Asia. The article reviews fertilizer policies and extension efforts to promote the balanced application of nutrients in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka and draw 4 important lessons. (1) Fertilizer sector reforms need to be fiscally sustainable and politically feasible. Governments in South Asia have abolished fertilizer subsidies on multiple occasions, only to restore them a few years later. (2) The use of phosphate and potash did not decline much even after a sharp increase in their prices in India in 2011–12. Therefore, rationalizing subsidies, while necessary, may not be sufficient to ensure balanced use of fertilizers. Changing farmers’ practice requires combining the right incentives with the right information. (3) Soil test based soil health cards (SHC) hold promise, but there is limited evidence on their utility. India’s SHC program had very little impact on fertilizer use. (4) Direct cash transfer (DCT) of fertilizer subsidies can reduce distortions, but Sri Lanka’s experience shows that implementing it is more challenging than universal subsidies. DCT requires the removal of price controls, integration of land records, farmer identity cards, a cash transfer system with universal coverage, and a competitive fertilizer retail sector.

Optimal design and setting of rotary strip-tiller blades to intensify dry season cropping in Asian wet clay soil conditions

Md. A. Matin, Md. I. Hossain, Mahesh K. Gathala, Jagadish Timsina, Timothy J. Krupnik (2020)| Journal Article

Fine-textured clayey soils dominate Asian rice fields that are kept either fallow or cultivated with non-rice crops after harvest of monsoon rice. Use of seeding machinery compatible with the principles of conservation agriculture on such soils, however, has not been promising. Under these conditions – which predominate the population and poverty dense areas of coastal South Asia – such machinery fails to open a furrow or throws excessive soil out of the tilled furrow during strip-till seeding. This results in a poor seed coverage at planting jeopardizing crop establishment. In response, this soil bin study investigated strip-tillage blade designs and settings to optimize rotary strip-till system for wet clay soil conditions common in South Asian rice fields. Three designs of C type rotary blade (conventional, medium and straight) and two blade settings (four and six blades per row; 50 and 100 mm cutting widths) were tested at three blade operating depths (50, 75, and 100 mm) using a tillage test rig and a soil bin, and a high-speed camera to understand the processes of soil cutting, throwing, backfilling, and creation of furrow seedbed. The soil bin soil consisted of a wet sandy-clay-loam soil with a moisture content of 28.2% (85% of field capacity) and was compacted to the bulk density of 1440 kg m-3. Using the test rig, rotary speed of the blades was maintained at 480 rpm and forward speed at 0.4 m s-1. At four blades per row setting, all blades created high amounts of optimum clods (1–20 mm size). The conventional and medium blades threw too much soil out of the strip-tilled furrow while the straight blade created adequate backfill at 75- and 100-mm operating depths. At 6 blades per row setting, all blades produced high amounts of backfill at any depths, but the straight blade also produced the highest amounts of optimum clods and a uniform furrow. Considering machine and energy costs, blade performance, and the necessity of minimizing soil disturbance in strip-tillage, our study indicates that the use of straight blades (four blades per row) operated at a depth of 75 or 100 mm are more ideal. These specifications are likely to enhance strip-tillage stand establishment in fine-textured soils with high moisture contents, though further work is needed under actual field conditions to confirm suitability of the proposed strip-till system for crop establishment in currently fallowed as well as the intensively cropped lands of Asia.

Identification of Mung Bean in a Smallholder Farming Setting of Coastal South Asia Using Manned Aircraft Photography and Sentinel-2 Images

Mustafa Kamal, Urs Schulthess, and Timothy J. Krupnik (2020) | Journal Article

Mung bean (Vigna radiata) plays an important role providing protein in the rice-based diet of the people in Bangladesh. In the coastal division of Barisal, our study area, the average farm size is less than 0.5 ha and individual fields measure about 0.10 ha. The availability of free Sentinel-2 optical satellite data acquired at a 10m ground sampling distance (GSD) may offer an opportunity to generate crop area estimates in smallholder farming settings in South Asia. We combined diferent sources of in situ data, such as aerial photographs taken from a low flying manned aircraft, data collected on the ground, and data derived from satellite images to create a data set for a segment based classification of mung bean. User’s accuracy for mung bean was 0.98 and producer’s accuracy was 0.99. Hence, the accuracy metrics indicate that the random tree classifier was able to identify mung bean based on 10 m GSD data, despite the small size of individual fields. We estimated the mung bean area for 2019 at 109,416 ha, which is about 40% lower than the Department of Agricultural Extension estimates (183,480 ha), but more than four times higher than the 2019 data reported by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (26,612 ha). Further analysis revealed that crop production tends to be clustered in the landscape by crop type. After merging adjacent segments by crop type, the following average cluster sizes resulted: 1.62 ha for mung bean, 0.74 ha for rice (Oryza sativa), 0.68 ha for weedy fallow and 0.40 ha for a category of other crops. This explains why 10 m GSD satellite data can be used for the identification of predominant crops grown in specific regions of South Asia.

Designing profitable, resource-use efficient, and environmentally sound cereal-based systems for the Western Indo‑Gangetic Plains

Hanuman S. Jat, Virender Kumar, Ashim Datta, Madhu Choudhary, Yadvinder‑Singh, Suresh K. Kakraliya, Tanuja Poonia, Andrew J. McDonald, Mangi L. Jat & Parbodh C. Sharma (2020) / Journal Article

In the western Indo-Gangetic plains, issues of deterioration in soil, water, and environment quality coupled with low profitability jeopardize the sustainability of the dominant rice–wheat (RW) system. To address these issues, crop diversification and conservation agriculture (CA)-based management hold considerable promise but the adoption of both approaches has been low, and additional evidence generation from a multi-criteria productivity and sustainability perspective is likely required to help drive the change. Compared to prevailing farmers’ practice (FP), results suggest that CA-based rice management increased profitability by 13% and energy use efficiency (EUE) by 21% while reducing irrigation by 19% and global warming potential (GWP) by 28%. By substituting CA-based maize for rice, similar mean profitability gains were realized (16%) but transformative improvements in irrigation (− 84%), EUE (+ 231%), and GWP (− 95%) were observed compared to FP. Inclusion of mungbean in the rotation (i.e. maize-wheat-mungbean) with CA-based management increased the system productivity, profitability, and EUE by 11, 25 and 103%, respectively while decreasing irrigation water use by 64% and GWP by 106% compared to FP. Despite considerable benefits from the CA-based maize-wheat system, adoption of maize is not widespread due to uneven market demand and assured price guarantees for rice.

Transforming labor requirement, crop yield, and profitability with precision dry-direct seeding of rice and integrated weed management in Eastern India

P.Panneerselvam, Virender Kumar, Narayan Chandra Banik, Vivek Kumar, Nabakishore Parida, Iftikar Wasim, Aurovinda Das, Sanghamitra Pattnaik Pravat, Kumar Roul, Dilip Ranjan Sarangi, Pardeep K.Sagwal, P.Craufurd, Balwinder-Singh, Ashok Yadav, Ram K.Malik, Sudhanshu Singh, Andrew J.McDonald (2020) / Journal Article

In many parts of Eastern India that have a very high prevalence of rural poverty and food insecurity, the prevailing rice establishment practice of beushening is characterized by low yields and modest profitability, while labor and energy inputs are high. Beushening consists of broadcasting ungerminated rice seed at high rates (>100 kg ha−1) prior to the onset of monsoon rain, followed by ploughing at 4–6 weeks after crop emergence to control weeds with subsequent manual gap filling through seedling redistribution to ensure stand uniformity. Dry-direct seeding of rice (DSR), both drill-DSR and precision broadcast-DSR in combination with integrated weed management (IWM) may offer a pathway for simultaneously reducing costs and markedly increasing productivity. On-farm trials were conducted from 2016 to 2018 in four districts of Odisha (Mayurbhanj, Cuttack, Bhadrak, and Puri) to evaluate the yield and economic performance of dry-DSR (drill and precision broadcast), coupled with herbicide-based IWM strategies, in comparison with conventional beushening. Rice yield gaps in eastern India can be reduced, and farmers’ income from rice can be increased by more than 50 % by replacing beushening with drill-DSR or precision broadcast-DSR.The results could be applicable to approximately 6.4 million ha of lowland rice where beushening is currently practiced in Eastern India.

Agricultural labor, COVID-19, and potential implications for food security and air quality in the breadbasket of India

A.J.McDonald, Balwinder Singh, M.L.Jat, P.Craufurd, J.Hellin, N.V.Hung, A.Keil, A.Kishore, V.Kumar, J.L.McCarty, P.Pearson, A.Samaddar, P.Shyamsundar, P.B.Shirsath, H.S.Sidhu, A.k.Singh, SudhanshuSingh, A.K.Srivastava, E.Urban, R.K.Malik, B.Gerard (2020) / Journal Article

Agriculture scientists and researchers study the impact of COVID-19 disruptions to agricultural systems and the increasing threat of air pollution to health due to stubble burning in northern India.

Emerging evidence supports the intuitive link between chronic health conditions associated with air pollution and the vulnerability of individuals and communities to COVID-19. Poor air quality already imposes a highly significant public health burden in Northwest India, with pollution levels spiking to hazardous levels in November and early December when rice crop residues are burned. The urgency of curtailing the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigating a potential resurgence later in the year provides even more justification for accelerating efforts to dramatically reduce open agricultural burning in India.

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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