Staff Reporter

BHUBANESWAR: The State government has set a target to increase seed replacement rate (SPR) for paddy through massive seed exchange programme, besides supplying of 4.64 lakh quintal of quality seeds during forthcoming kharif season.

Speaking at the two-day-long pre-kharif orientation programme for district agriculture officers and agricultural extension officers here, State agriculture director-in-charge Babaji Giri said it was expected that SPR for paddy would touch 20.55 per cent this season.

During last kharif the State achieved around 18 per cent of SPR, which is the percentage of area sown out of total area of crop planted in the season by using certified or quality seeds other than the farm saved seed. It has been targeted to achieve a SPR of 25 per cent by 2011 which is being seen as a healthy average. It was not long ago when SPR for paddy was lying at as low as 4.66 per cent during 2004-05 kharif. During past five years, the SPR has almost been quadrupled.

At present seed villages on 24,079 hectare are producing 5.45 lakh quintals of quality seeds, Mr. Giri said. “We will encourage varietals replacement and propagation of newer location-specific high yielding varieties,” he said.

In the ensuing kharif season of 2010, the State is expecting paddy crop of 63.88 lakh Metric Tonnes on 36.50 lakh ha of crop area. In 2009, the paddy production touched a figure of 62.92 lakh metric tonnes on 41 lakh ha.

As per the kharif strategy the State government would give more emphasis on crop diversification from paddy to remunerative crops in highlands. Similarly, cultivation of pulses and oilseeds as inter-crop or mixed crop in rain-fed farming systems would be encouraged.

This time the State government is trying to ensure fertilizer use of 78 kg per ha while last year it was 60 kg per ha. For early flood situation, rice varieties like Kanchan, Ramachandi, Durga, Uphar, Sarla and Varsadhan have been suggested for semi-deep low lands.

Earlier State Agriculture minister Damador Rout said there should be shift from traditional paddy crop to remunerative horticulture and oil and pulse farming. Similarly, agriculture production commissioner R. N. Senapati said the extension officers should have first-hand information about condition of farmers on ground and it should be reported to director agriculture as quickly as possible. Among others State agriculture secretary U. P. Singh was present on the occasion.