Gubansha Panabati was among the women farmers who had raised doubts over the claim of significant increase in productivity of paddy when they were invited in the training for developing paddy demonstration during the Village Development committee meeting of their village Kampamaligaon on July 7, 2018. However, when Prayatn staff showed her some videos of System of Rice Intensification (SRI), she felt motivated and decided to attend the residential training which was held at Rayagada, Odisha, from July 23 to 25, 2018.

Prayatn had started working in the village from April 2018 onwards under its Holistic Rural Development Project which is funded by HDFC bank Parivartan, its CSR initiative. Under the project, multiple dimensions of rural development were covered and Village Development Committees comprising exclusively of villagers were developed to act as institutions that shall lead the process of development on their own in future. Farm-based livelihood development was one of the most important components of the initiative; and under the same, capacity building of farmers to increase their production and earn higher income by using better techniques was pursued. As a part of this process, strategy of developing crop demonstrations within the village itself was adopted so that farmers are able to believe what is being said by seeing the development taking place in their immediate neighbourhood. Paddy is the staple crop in Odisha and therefore, developing its demonstrations that reflect success of the new technique was very important. As a part of the process, selected interested farmers were imparted training by agriculture experts on the use of SRI technique and subsequent on-site guidance, handholding and monitoring support by the same were provided to them.

During the training, farmers were told that they should follow SRI technique in which a nursery is prepared after proper land treatment using certified seeds, placing them at proper distance and taking due care of them. The seeds that germinate properly were then transplanted to the larger part of the agricultural field as per the guidance of the experts. Proper seed rate, proper transplantation of the germinated seeds in the new field, proper quantity and timing of irrigation and manuring, proper treatment of weeds, use of natural and better ways of pest management, timely harvesting, etc. were duly focused by the experts who used to pay visits to the field on regular basis.

Gubanshi followed the advice sincerely. As such, she was able to harvest 5.2 quintals of paddy in their 50 dismal land piece which was 30% higher than the production that they obtained for the same crop in the same land last year. She obtained this increase in production with use of lesser quantity of seeds and lesser irrigation as well. Quality of production was also better and clear difference was visible in their production when it was compared with the production of neighbouring farmers who had used their traditional way. All of them decided to learn and follow the technique from the next cycle of cultivation onwards.

“When I heard that new technique is being suggested, we felt that it will be expensive and time taking. But my apprehensions proved wrong. I have witnessed higher production at lower cost. I thank Prayatn team for guiding us in this regard and assure that we shall be following all the inputs being provided by them.” says Gubanshi who recommends everyone to use SRI technique for paddy cultivation.

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