Overcoming inhibitions in packing off age old tradition and embracing new technology, Nanjai Kalikurichi villagers in the district have adopted the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method of paddy cultivation on their own after witnessing the merits of the path-breaking technology over the conventional method, to the pleasant surprise of even Agriculture Department officials.
When the Agriculture Department officials introduced the SRI method to the area farmers during the previous years, circumspect paddy farmers in the village refused countenance even for awareness creation activities. In particular they had deep trepidation regarding pacing, nursery raising, and water usage for irrigation.
Officials had encountered enormous hardship in convincing the farmers of the efficacy of SRI as they also had targets to meet as per State government stipulations for the district. Up to last year they could succeed in persuading only a handful of farmers to take up SRI and the area under the method was restricted to just 20 acres in the village. Even those who adopted the method were circumspect in having a decent harvest.
Dispelling their doubts, harvest time gave rise to great expectations among the farming community as the fields under paddy bloomed in time, showed double the productivity and reaped the beneficiaries' rich dividends that they had never ever seen in their life. The result was simple – overwhelming response to adopting SRI cultivation of paddy in all the fields at Nanjai Kalikurichi village irrigated by the Amaravathy river.
“In the conventional method of paddy cultivation, the productivity was 23 to 25 bags of paddy during harvest. But last season we found out that in fields under SRI the yield was 46 to 50 bags and that was great,” points out Nanjai Kalikurichi Panchayat president T. Paramasivam.
We also found less water is required under SRI. Calibrated application of fertilizer and other agricultural input has caught the imagination of the farmers who are now rooting for SRI.
We also need lesser quantum of seeds for raising nurseries, he adds. Figures back his claim as now more than 350 acres in the village, mostly belonging to small and marginal farmers, have already been brought under SRI with a lot more slated to follow soon.
With farmers showing thumbs down to turmeric farming due to low returns this year, paddy cultivation under SRI method is bound to increase in the village, Mr. Paramasivam observes.
We are happy that the Nanjai Kalikurichi farmers have voluntarily embraced SRI method, reckons Joint Director of Agriculture K. Soundaram.
They are smitten by the SRI bug as they saw the results at the paddy fields where the progressive method was implemented and are enthusiastic to replicate in their fields this year and we are only too happy to designate the area as ‘SRI Village'.
Each farmer undertaking SRI method of cultivation would be extended Rs. 3,000 worth agricultural inputs as incentive but that's just a bonus here as Nanjai Kalikurichi villagers are going to be our best advertisement for SRI method, notes Assistant Director of Agriculture K. Balakrishnan.