Sowing Seeds of Sustainability: The CARE – IRRI Collaboration in Odisha

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Kandhamal, Kalahandi, and Nabarangapur are predominantly tribal dominated districts and are among the poorest ones in Odisha. CARE India has been implementing the Pathways program in these districts since 2012.

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CARE India has collaborated with International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to provide stress-tolerant varieties of paddy seeds in the Pathways program area in Kandhamal, Kalahandi, and Nabarangapur districts in June 2016. Stress -olerant paddy varieties such as Sahbhagi Dhan, Bina Dhan 11, DRR 42 and DRR 44 have been provided to small holder women farmers belonging to SC and ST communities in these districts. Prior to distribution of the paddy seeds, a cluster of villages in contiguous patches was selected for seed distribution in each district. Each selected farmer was given a single mini kit of 5 kilograms of seeds. For a cluster demonstration of one variety, 4-5 hectares of land were identified with the involvement of 10-16 farmers in an easily accessible area where field days or any other activity can be organised to show the performance of the variety to other farmers, DDAs, and other officials. Similarly, for Head-to-Head trial, a 10 kilogram package of seed was supplied to the selected farmers which they will cultivate adjacent to local variety or popular variety under the same conditions and management pattern. Baseline information for these farmers are being collected through a microplan exercise being conducted by BSc Agriculture intern students. The same cohort of farmers will be studied for productivity enhancement outcomes through a cohort study in the post-harvest season in November/December 2016.

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In Kandhamal, three blocks– Phiringia, Tikabali and G Udaugiri– have been covered under the IRRI’s seed distribution program. Burupati is one of the 25 villages that is covered under the initiative in G Udayagiri block in Kandhamal district. Swarnalata Pradhan and Rakhima Pradhan are two leading women farmers in the Burupati village and each of them has been given 5 kilograms of Sahabhagi Dhan through the mini kit distribution. Swarnalata’s nursery is 25 days old now and she has started transplanting the Sahabhagi Dhan saplings which will cover an area of 0.25 acre. Similarly, Rakhima has raised the paddy nursery for 15 days now and she has also started transplanting the saplings. In both  cases, the germination rate is found to be 85-90%, thanks to the good rain the area has received recently. Rakhima aims to cover an area of 0.25 acre with the Sahabhagi Dhan. Both Swarnalata and Rakhima are adopting the sustainable agriculture practices in the sowing stage such as line sowing and maintaining proper spacing of 10 centimeters from plant to plant. Both Swarnalata and Rakhima said that they learned these practices from the agriculture trainings they attended last year in the Pathways program. Now, they feel that with trial of the new variety– Sahabhagi Dhan–, adoption of line sowing and other sustainable agriculture practices would result in a good yield this year. They are also encouraging other women farmers in the village to adopt these practices for enhanced agriculture productivity.