Friday, 12 April 2013

“Wheat Growing Was Never So Profitable!”

Farmers of Ratanpur village will tell you how good it feels when you get 3 times more wheat yield, that too, after reducing the input cost by more than half!

Until the last wheat crop, the highest yield that small farmers of Ratanpur had achieved was a mere 35 quintal per acre. However, this year the farmers witnessed something which they could hardly believe. Their wheat yield rate rocketed to a phenomenal 120 quintal per acre, which is nearly 250 per cent increase in productivity!

Hariram Athia holds in his right hand the yield from trial plot

Ratanpur is one of the ten intervention villages in Sagar where Caritas India implements several initiatives under its On Farm Agriculture Research (OFAR) programme ‘Strengthening Adaptive Farming in Bangladesh India and Nepal (SAFBIN)’ for making local smallholder farmers’ agriculture practices more climate change resilient. The smallholder farmers of these ten villages in Sagar had blended traditional and modern agriculture techniques for safeguarding their agriculture from the fury of climate change. SAFBIN also envisages blending traditional agriculture innovations with good practices suggested by mainline agriculture research for achieving food and nutrition security for the smallholder households.

Santosh Yadav, Sonu Athia and Hariram Athia are enterprising smallholder farmers of Ratanpur village with landholding of less than 2 acre and cropped twice a year on their small pieces of land. After several rounds of discussion in the meetings of a Small Holder Farmers’ Collective (SHFC), a reflection platform for smallholder farmers, they decided to implement wheat trials using System of Wheat Intensification (SWI). They also received assistance from SAFBIN in preparing soil health enhancing solutions with locally available materials. During the discussions on farming issues, these farmers realized that heavy input cost and declining land productivity were at the root of reducing profitability of wheat cultivation. Therefore, they started exploring solutions for these priority challenges.
Santosh Yadav with his produce from trial and control plots

Santosh Yadav narrates the success at reducing input costs, “We learned from SAFBIN the method of making Matka Khaad (manure prepared in pitcher pot) which is cheap and easy to make. It indeed does marvels to the plant and the land”. Santosh is one of 18 smallholder farmers who have stopped using chemical fertilizers and adopted Matka Khaad which is a fermented manure solution made from cow urine, cow dung, jaggery (sugar molasses) and gram flour. These farmers also prepared and administered fish manure which is a treated mix of fish and jaggery in different proportions. Instead of using costly chemical fertilizers, these enterprising farmers used only Matka Khaad and fish manure twice each during the second and third irrigations.

By adopting SWI, these farmers reduced the seed rate of 60-80kg per acre to just 10kg thereby saving significantly on seeds as well. “We were eagerly watching the progress of the trials. Once the plants started growing, we knew that the harvest will be good because the wheat plants were greener and more robust and number of tillers per plant was also higher than other wheat fields”, Hariram Athia said.

Sonu Athiya holds the trial plot harvest in his right hand
The real moment of surprise and celebration arrived on 28 March 2013 when farmers harvested their fields. Harvest was taken from two each randomly picked blocks measuring 1x2 m2 from the trial plots measuring 10x10m2 (0.025acre). Similarly, harvest was taken from the sample blocks of 1x2m2 which were randomly selected from control plots (normal farmers’ field where no improved practices of trials were implemented). The two sample blocks from trial plots yielded 5.6kg and 6.4kg whereas the yields of the blocks from control plot was 1.6kg and 1.7kg respectively. “The comparative analysis of harvest of trial and control plot was simply amazing. Though we knew the harvest would be good, we never expected it to be so impressive”, Sonu Athia said while comparing the two bags of grains harvested from trial and control plots.

Since the yield was unprecedented, farmers did one recheck, this time, with the help of SAFBIN team. The community-based analysis, especially the cost-benefit analysis, revealed more interesting insights. The blended wheat cultivation model helped farmers reduce the input cost by Rs. 2000-3000 per acre as it reduced seed requirement, developed locally-made cheap inputs and used of indigenous cultivar of wheat.

Hariram Athiya is all smiles when he says “aapne hume ye jo anmol tohfa diya hai, use hum agle season se aur bare paimane par karege aur apni utpadan kshamta aur jyada badhayege” (We will adopt this valuable gift of improved cultivation on a larger scale from the next season. We are certain that this will further increase the productivity of our crops).

By Manish Kumar
District Project Officer, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh

1 comment:

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