The state government is presently supplying free fertilizers and seeds

Paddy cultivation requires a lot of water. In fact the year’s production of paddy depends to a large extent on the season’s rainfall and any delay or failure in the monsoon has a direct impact on the paddy yield.

“As scientists we face a great challenge in motivating a farmer and sustaining his interest in continuing paddy cultivation with less amount of water, using techniques like Systematic Rice Intensification (SRI). For this we need to identify enterprising growers in respective districts who are optimistic and ready to try,” says Mr. M.Devanathan, programme co-ordinator, Thirur KVK, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Thiruvallur, Tamil Nadu.

Personal interest

“Though today SRI technique has established increased yield and helps farmers get a better income there are some pockets where farmers still have not accepted it. We take a personal interest for those farmers having some inhibition and try to make them aware through interactions with others who have successfully done it, and impress upon them to try it out,” he says.

A. Venkattahiri, a farmer, has nearly 13 acres in Ramakuppam village in the region. Initially the farmer was growing paddy under the common conventional method along with some other crops. He was not willing to accept this simple and effective technology having his own doubts on its effectiveness. On one of their regular visits, the KVK staff met him and impressed upon him to try SRI. “Though initially reluctant, the farmer was willing to try it since we promised him that he would get a better yield and income.”

And today the farmer does not regret taking to SRI as he has got a net income of more than Rs. 1 lakh from his two and half hectares in less than four months in which he carried out SRI. Previously he was able to earn a little over Rs. 50,000 using conventional methods.

“Ï regret not taking to SRI earlier,” says the farmer.

“Practically under this method the cost of cultivation has come down. The seed requirement for an acre is only 3 kg, whereas under conventional methods I used to sow 30 kg of seeds for eight cents. Plant protection is easy and less expensive. The incidence of pest and disease also seems to be low.

No rat menace

Most important, rat menace is practically absent in SRI planted fields due to the square system of planting the seedlings. I noticed that the grain panicles are quite dense and tillers are more in number,” explains the farmer.

The KVK constantly kept guiding and motivating him. Right from supplying leaf colour charts to providing the different machines on time they saw to it that the farmer got all the necessary inputs on time.

Sourcing is difficult

“Though the Government has made available certain devices like cono weeder and markers (devices required for this type of cultivation) at a subsidized cost for farmers through the different KVK offices to encourage SRI cultivation, many farmers find it difficult to source the devices on time as there is a good demand for them.

“One needs to wait for some weeks to be able to get the machines. In such cases farmers lose patience and decide to grow the crop under the conventional method. If they are able to get the devices on time then I am sure like me many would start adopting SRI,” he says confidently.

At a time when paddy growing is fast becoming un-remunerative for many paddy growers across the State, people like Mr.Venkattahiri serve as motivation for others.

Earning nearly Rs. 1 lakh from an hectare in three and half months is no longer a fairy tale.

In fact today nearly 200 hectares in Poondi region have come under SRI cultivation after seeing the financial success of Mr. Venkattahiri, according to Mr. Devanathan.

The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has also uploaded a detailed visual presentation on SRI cultivation, methods, inputs, irrigation schedule etc at http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/

sri.html

Scheme

The state government through a world bank scheme called 'TN-IAMWARM' is presently supplying six bags of urea, three bags of superphosphate, one bag of potash and eight kg of any seed variety free of cost for cultivating SRI in one hectare. Interested farmers need to approach the respective KVK offices in their region with relevant land documents to avail this benefit.

For more details readers can contact Mr. M. Devanathan through email: kvktirur@tnau.ac.in, mobile: 9443095008 and the farmer Mr.Venkattahiri on mobile: 09629508079.