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SRI, a boon for paddy farmers

By Our Staff Correspondent

RAICHUR, APRIL 7. The paddy crop cultivated by adopting the system of rice intensification (SRI) in the Tungabhadra command area in Raichur district has proved to be a boon for farmers who often face a shortage of water.

SRI involves a systematic handling of water management in paddy cultivation. The method was developed and first experimented with in South Africa in 1987. Two years ago, the system was introduced in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Last year, a few progressive farmers introduced the method in Mandya and Raichur districts.

Experiment

Farmers who have cultivated paddy using the system on an experimental basis saw a big improvement in the crop conditions. They supplied water to the crop only once a week and just enough to maintain the moisture. They did not use any pesticide and added very little quantity of fertilizer to the crop. After 140 days, the crop recorded a yield of over 80 bags of paddy (each bag containing 75 kg) an acre with superior quality rice. The farmers were able to earn a profit of Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 17,000 for each acre against an expenditure of about Rs. 8,000 an acre.

Less expenditure

The farmers found that SRI also reduced the expenditure on seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, and labour. Besides, the use of less water ensured fertility of the soil without causing salinity. The traditional method of paddy cultivation requires a continuous supply of water till the crop is harvested.

It also involves the use of a large amount of fertilizers and pesticides. The excessive use of water also increases soil salinity. Inspired by the results of the new method, K.V. Krishna Rao, a progressive farmer in Madagiri Camp in Manvi taluk of Raichur district decided to use the method in his fields.

He owned a few acres of land in the tail-end region of the command area irrigated by the Tungabhadra Left Bank Canal.

Higher yield

Last year, he visited areas in Andhra Pradesh where farmers had adopted SRI to cultivate paddy. He found that the method was economical and assured a higher yield. He took up paddy cultivation using SRI on about five acres of land on an experimental basis. He told a group of journalists who visited the camp on Tuesday that he had harvested a record 80 bags of paddy for each acre and earned a net profit of nearly Rs. 15,000 an acre. This year, he said, he has cultivated paddy on about 15 acres using the SRI method. Mr. Rao said that when he used the traditional method, the expenditure per acre was around Rs. 25,000 and he used around 25 kg to 30 kg of seeds for raising a nursery. The yield was around 40 bags (each bag of 25 kg) an acre. He said that his experience with the system has encouraged other farmers in the camp to adopt the SRI method.

Water shortage

C.V. Patil, scientist and the former principal of Raichur Agricultural College, said that using the SRI method in paddy cultivation directly addressed the water shortage in the command area. The method will also help double the food production and improve the economical condition of farmers. The Government, scientists and the departments concerned should try to encourage farmers to take up the new method, he said.

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