Odisha State has about 6.5 million hectares of cultivable area out of the total geographical area of 15.6 million ha, accounting for 41.16%. Rice is the main crop of the State covering 75-80% of the total cultivated area with 3.8 million ha (SourceOdisha Agriculture Statistics 2013-14 ). A large portion of potentially productive cropland in Odisha remains fallow during the winter (Rabi) season after the monsoon (Kharif) rice season due to several constraints. An estimate of nearly 2 million ha remains fallow in the winter season in the state.
Constraints of Rice-fallow:
- Lack of irrigation water, mostly in the plateaus and tablelands
- Stagnant water causing waterlogging in the coastal low land areas
- High soil or water salinity in the coastal zone
- Cultivation of long duration paddy varieties
- Lack of residual moisture at planting time of winter crops
- Non-availability of good quality seeds of rice and pulses
- Social constraints like lack of knowledge and traditional mind-setsof farmers, customary aspects of leaving the cattle for open grazing during dry season etc.
Additionally, the late harvest of the Kharif crop or excessive soil wetting after rice harvest leads to delayed planting and low productivity of the Rabi crop.Consideringall these issues, the major challenge for the state is how to increase the productivity and profitability of these agricultural lands? Bringing these fallow lands into cultivation could substantially improve food production and enhance the livelihoods of rural communities in this geography. Availability of drought-, flood-, and salt-tolerant rice cultivars and short-duration pulse crops, along with improved agronomy, water management, and mechanization, and technology targeting using GIS and remote- sensing, significant numbers of potential rice-fallows areas can be brought into cultivation.
Once the Kharif paddy is harvested, the fields which are suitable for taking up a second crop with available residual soil moisture / optimum use of irrigation water can be explored further. Potential crops for rice fallows could be a pulse, mungbean, lentil, urd bean, lathyrus, mustard, and groundnut, etc. To efficiently target these potential fallows, need a detailed characterization of resource profile (e.g. salinity, submergence, inundation depth and Groundwater availability etc.) to understand the potential opportunities and constraints systematically.
Therefore, The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has identified and recognized this problem and has strategically placed a well-designed initiative called “Targeting Rice-Follow” under IRRI-Odisha project, “Increasing Productivity of Rice-based Cropping Systems and Farmer’s Income”, with the support from the Department of Agriculture and Farmer’s Empowerment (DAFE). In this connection, IRRI experts arecontinuouslyengaged in delivering geo-spatial solutions through “extrapolation domain suitability maps” based on optimal soil moisture availability period and different other parameters for targeting Rabi crops and disseminatestress-tolerant varieties (STRVs) with improved cropping systems to target the potential “Rice-fallows” and “Kharif fallows” under multi-stress prone zones of Odisha.
The Rice-follow agronomical interventions are involved with small and marginal farmers by conducting the pulses cluster demonstrations and adaptive trialsin the farmer’s field, by testing and evaluating the field trials concerning improved practices in pulses cultivation with the support of research collaborativepartners Odisha University of Agriculture & Technology (OUAT) and National Rice Research Institute (NRRI), NGO Partners, progressive, and women farmers. The intervention aims to achieve:
- The suitable pulse crops recommendations in rice fallows, depending on the available soil moisture, soil type, temperature regime of the area in different districts of the state
- Inclusion of new short duration, high yielding, disease-resistant pulse varieties in rice-based cropping systems for better yield
- Targeting the rice-fallows by intensifying with pulses leads in enhancing the farmer’s income
- Test, evaluate and recommend different improved crop management practices to increase productivity
- Ensuring participation of women farmers in the farming system
Promotion of varieties: High yielding short duration rice & pulsevarieties are being promoted under rice fallow in Odisha are:
- Rice:SahbhagiDhan, Bina Dhan 11, Swarna Sub 1, and DRR 44
- Black gram: VBN 8, PU-31, and PU-35
- Green gram: IPM 2-5-7 (VIRAT), SIKHA (IPM 410-3) IPM 02-14, IPM 99-125 (Meha), IPM 02-3, and MH 421
Agronomical interventions: With improved management practices of Pulses (Green gram & Black gram), the following agronomical interventions are being promoted:
- Farmers practices (Broadcast without fertilizer application)
- Improved practices (Line sowing + Seed treatment with FIR i.e., fungicide, Insecticide and Rhizobium + RDF)
- Improved practices + Seed treatment with Trichoderma along with PSB and sodium molybdate
Collaborating with CGIAR institutions to conduct Multi-Institutional Trials (MIT) targeting Rabi crops in Rice-fallow system: Under the “Multi-Institutional Trials on Rice-Fallow”, the initiative lead by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Ministry of Agriculture, India, where five different crops (i.e., Sweet potato, Black gram, Green gram, Chick Pea, and Pigeon Pea) have been demonstrated by four different CGIAR organizations (i.e., CIP, ICARDA, ICRISAT, WVC)along with IRRI(leading organization) in different districts of Odisha.
To reach out to more numbers of farmers, the various methods and techniques have been planned to promote rice-fallow intervention in Odisha:
- Creating awareness through farmers’ training programs in the targeted district
- Conducting cluster demonstrations in farmer fields to demonstrate the pulse crops with improved management practices in rice fallows
- Organizing farmers’ field days as well as yield assessment by conducting the crop cutting experiments
- Generate recommendations on improved crop management practices with sustainable crop and better yield performance
- Create market linkages and networks to avoid distress selling by farmers and get fair price of their produce
Hence, theintegrative approach of advance remote-sensing and geospatial analysis-based targeting method combine with cropping system-based research, can facilitate increase income of farmers and allows considerable scope to improve the productivity of rice-based system.