Over 25,000 farmers in Tamil Nadu benefit from rice technologies

 Alaric Santiaguel   |  
In the last 5 years, the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) project has scaled out water- and labor-saving technologies. These technologies have reached over 25,000 farmers and have covered more than 70,000 acres in Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, and Nagapattinam districts of the Cauvery Delta and the neighboring districts of Ramanathapuram and Sivagangai. This is one of the impacts reported during the CSISA Tamil Nadu HubCelebration Workshop.
CSISA tested and then rolled out laser land leveling, improved and mechanized dry direct seeding of rice, mechanical transplanting of rice under both puddled and nonpuddled conditions, site-specific nutrient management, alternate wetting and drying, and line sowing using a multicrop seeder under reduced-tillage conditions. The technologies are now helping farmers in Tamil Nadu reduce the cost of production and thus increase their income.
“Farmers can save water by 25–35% by not puddling the field and by using shorter-duration crops,” said R. Ganeshamoorthy , hub manager of the CSISA project in Tamil Nadu. “Farmers can save about 40% of labor because renting a farm machine is cheaper than hiring manual labor. The profit from the dry direct seeded rice is twice as much as that of conventional rice cultivation. Most of all, farmers can increase their yields by 7–10 % depending on the rice variety.”
CSISA also introduced laser land leveling technology in the Cauvery Delta to improve the efficiency of crop production. Farmers has widely accepted the laser land leveling technology because of leveling precision, uniform crop maturity, and water savings by 30–40 %, and increased input-use efficiency.  
“Farmers in Tamil Nadu can save some costs from the machine transplanted rice in nonpuddled 
condition compared with puddled transplanted rice,” said Ganeshamoorthy. “In fact, farmers can save as much as 48% of the labor cost from land preparation, 50% for irrigation, and 67% from the cost of seed and sowing.” Through this technology, farmers can save around USD100 or about 20 % of the overall production cost per hectare, according to him.
 “Working together with several important organizations is key to the success of the widespread of these technologies in Tamil Nadu,” said Noel Magor, head of the Impact Acceleration Unit and Training at IRRI.  “In 2013, for example, the use of seed drill and land laser leveling machines was endorsed by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) while the Department of Agriculture (DoA) facilitated and provided some subsidy to purchase the machines for outscaling to the farmers.”
g The Tamil Nadu Rice Research Institute, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, the ITC Agribusiness division, Syngenta, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, and the Reliance Foundation also supported the research, capacity-building, and extension work toward large-scale adoption of the technologies. These partner organizations share CSISA’s goal of increasing the food and income security of resource-poor farm families in South Asia through the development and deployment of new varieties, sustainable management technologies, and through policies and partnerships. The project  has been promoting durable change at scale in South Asia’s cereal-based cropping systems for several years now. It operates through rural “innovation hubs” in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, and complements regional and national efforts.
The project in Tamil Nadu is jointly implemented by IRRI, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the International Food Policy Research Institute, and the International Livestock Research Institute. It is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development.
The CSISA Tamil Nadu Hub Celebration Workshopwas held on 15-16 September in Thanjavur.
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