A model to conserve indigenous paddy varieties -S Annamalai
The system brought down input costs — two to four kg of seeds per acre against 30 kg needed for fertiliser-based, water-intensive farming
A model evolved for applying traditional wisdom in farming has also helped in conserving indigenous paddy varieties that are under threat of extinction.
The Biodiversity Rainfed Farming System, promoted by Rural Organisation for Social Education, a not-for-profit voluntary organisation, in four blocks of Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu, has revived the cultivation of 18 indigenous paddy varieties that are disease and drought-resistant. Farmers also believe that they contain medicinal properties.
The system, successfully experimented with funding from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, factors in population explosion, which demands higher productivity, and climate change, which necessitates optimal use of available water.
“It focused on climate resilience, conservation of traditional paddy varieties, revitalisation of rainfed farming, sustained productivity and food and nutrition security,” says A. Adhappan of ROSE, who is also the Managing Director of Pudukottai Organic Farmers and Producers’ Company that is involved in production, value addition and marketing of indigenous paddy varieties and minor millets.
The results of the NABARD-funded pilot project, ‘Conserving traditional paddy varieties having medicinal values’, in 30 acres among 15 marginal farmers have encouraged many small and medium farmers to raise them in about 500 acres in Annavasal, Arimalam, Kunnandarkoil and Pudukottai blocks.
The 18 varieties raised using System of Rice Intensification techniques include Mappillai Samba, Garudan Samba, Poongar, Karunguruvai, Chandikar, Thooyamalli, Thanga Samba, Manjal Ponni, Milagi and Sornamusiri.
The biodiversity system brought down input costs -- two to four kg of seeds per acre against 30 kg needed for fertiliser-based, water intensive farming; 2.5 lakh litres of water (7.5 lakh litres); no fertiliser ( Rs.3,740 of fertiliser per acre) and Rs.500 as average cost of pest management against Rs.1,200. The yield was 34 quintals per acre, against 21 quintals in fertiliser-based farming. The fodder yield was also high at 5.4 tonnes, against 1.5 tonnes.
The total expenditure per acre was Rs.9,050, against Rs.3, 000 and the net income was at Rs.56, 000 (Rs.35, 000). Non-application of chemical fertilisers and pesticides enhanced soil health and rejuvenated fertility of the farm. But the biggest benefit, according to Mr. Adhappan, was the presence of spiders, earthworms, bee hives and birds, post-harvest.
Small and medium farmers
The model has been used as a tool to enhance the income of small and medium farmers in the region. The producers’ company, which has 1,023 farmers as shareholders, provides training in biodiversity farming, procures the produce in bulk and sells it in the market after value addition, thus ensuring a higher price for paddy and rice for farmers. It ensures a big saving on cost of transportation for farmers.
Says D. Raghupathy of Melur village in Annavasal block: “The company has liberated farmers from the clutches of middlemen. Now, we determine the prices for our produce and even sell it above the market price with value addition.”
“Our farmers sell traditional rice varieties at Rs.80 when normal rice is sold at Rs.35-40 a kg,” says Mr. Adhappan. More details about the traditional paddy varieties can be had from A. Adhappan, Managing Director, Pudukottai Organic Farmers and Producers’ Company, 21 Selva Nagar, SIPCOT Post, Pudukottai 622002, Tamil Nadu. Phone: 98420 93143. e-mail: [email protected]
The Hindu, 25 October, 2015, please The Hindu, 25 October, 2015, please click here to access
The Hindu, 25 October, 2015, http://www.thehindu.com/business/agri-business/a-model-to-conserve-indigenous-paddy-varieties/article7802903.ece