Kandhamal, Kalahandi and Nabarangapur are among the poorest and most disaster prone in Odisha. CARE India has been implementing the Pathways program in these districts since 2012. The program has directly impacted 12,000 women with direct wellbeing benefits to 4,000 others in their households. Pathways India collaborated with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to provide stress tolerant varieties of paddy seeds in these program areas.
Stress tolerant paddy varieties were provided to small holder women farmers. Prior to distribution of the paddy seeds, a cluster of villages was selected for seed distribution in each district. Each selected farmer was given a single mini kit of 5 kg seeds. For a cluster demonstration of one variety, 4-5 hectares of land was identified with the involvement of 10-16 farmers in a well-accessible area so activities could be organized to show the performance of the variety to other farmers and officials. Selected farmers were given a 10-kg package of seed to try out along with the local variety under the same conditions. Baseline information for these farmers was collected, and the same cohort of farmers was studied for productivity enhancement through a cohort study in the post-harvesting season that occurred from November-December of 2016.
Initial analysis demonstrated the germination rate of the seeds was 85-90%, and final study findings are still being collected. Women farmers utilized sustainable agriculture practices in the sowing stage, i.e. line sowing and maintaining proper spacing from plant to plant. Women reported learning these practices from agriculture trainings they attended through Pathways. They also stated that they are encouraging other women farmers in the village to adopt these practices to enhance agricultural productivity.