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Increasing Productivity of Rice-based Cropping Systems and Farmers' Income in Odisha (India)


The state of Odisha in India has a cultivated area of 61.80 lakh hectares (6.18 million ha), and the ownership of operational holdings is skewed with over 91% of these belonging to a small and marginal farmers with an average landholding of 1.04 hectare (source: Odisha Niti Aayog Report). Agriculture in Odisha is characterized by low productivity on account of various factors such as abiotic stresses which are increasing in frequency and intensity, lack of assured irrigation facilities, low seed and varietal replacement rate, non-availability of quality seed particularly in rainfed areas, low cropping intensity, sub-optimal levels of fertilizer and pesticide applications, limited mechanization practices, and knowledge gaps among other reasons. 

Opportunities in the State also abound with ten agro-climatic zones that are suitable for growing a wide range of crops. Coupled with rich natural endowments in the state and an annual average rainfall of 1452 mm, there is enormous potential in the state for enhancing the incomes of the farmers by enhancing their knowledge, productivity, and production.

Project summary 

IRRI in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, Government of Odisha is implementing the project - “Increasing Productivity of Rice-based Cropping Systems and Farmers’ Income in Odisha” aimed at enhancing farm productivity, production, and incomes of smallholder rice farmers in Odisha. The project spanning a five-year period from 2016 to 2021 is being implemented in 30 districts of Odisha, India.

The project aims to contribute to achieving food and livelihood security of poor and marginal farmers as well as empowerment of rural women in Odisha. The key approaches being taken to achieve these objectives are:

  • Awareness and demand creation of stress-tolerant rice varieties and strengthened formal and farmer-led seed systems to ensure local availability of quality seeds of these varieties; 
  • Management of rice fallows through development of decision-support tools based on geo-spatial analysis and promoting other suitable crops for diversification;
  •  Promotion of rice crop manager for efficient soil nutrient management and rice doctor for pest and disease management;
  •  Knowledge management and strengthening advisory services for enhancing access to new knowledge and technologies by farmers;
  • Develop leadership and entrepreneurial capacity of women farmers to become drivers of change;
  • Near-real-time assessment of cropping areas, yield prediction, and damage assessments during floods, droughts and other calamitous events using remote sensing-based technology for rice monitoring to facilitate claim settlement; and also to design strategies to improve uptake of crop insurance by farmers

Expected project outcomes

  • Enhanced varietal and seed replacement to improve rice productivity and food security
  • Optimized cropping intensity in rice fallows using geospatial-based resource characterization and on-farm evaluation of best-fit crop varietal combinations
  • Improved and sustained system productivity with site-specific nutrient management recommendations and, use of ICT-based diagnosis and management of biotic stresses
  • Rice farmers using relevant knowledge and skills for rice and seed production and, Research, extension and advisory services using new skills, knowledge and approaches to better contribute to improving the productivity and resilience of populations dependent on rice-based systems
  • Remote sensing-based technology being used for real-time assessment of crop damage to facilitate quick claim settlements; along with improved uptake of crop insurance by climate-vulnerable farming communities; and
  • Women farmers using enhanced skills for continued entrepreneurial engagement in rice agri-food systems  

Strategic interventions to accelerate impact

Systems to enhance seed security

About: Ensures promotion, dissemination, and delivery of quality seeds of Stress-Tolerant Rice Varieties (STRVs) through innovative extension and demonstration methods.

Outputs: Has facilitated the introduction and rapid diffusion of five STRVs in Odisha through the Odisha State Seed Corporation (OSSC). A digital solution ‘SeedCast’ has also been developed for the Odisha government, for quick and seamless seed demand aggregation from all licensed dealers in the state. To ensure local availability of seeds, farmers, NGOs, block and district-level agri officials and others, have been trained in Quality Seed Production (QSP). Awareness and demand creation methods like varietal cafeteria, cluster and dealer demonstrations have been introduced to accelerate varietal replacement.

Managing rice-fallows for cropping system intensification

About: Aims to improve food security and reducing risk of rural communities in Odisha by focusing on rice fallows intensification.

Outputs: A Rice Fallow Atlas developed for Odisha details the rice fallow trends in the state between 2016-2020. Advanced geospatial and logical decision-tree approaches for precise targeting, are helping optimize fallow land use for pulses and other suitable crop cultivation. The 'Dynamic Digital Platform', an open Web-GIS-based platform, enables better technology targeting. The mobile application - 'Rice-Pulse Monitoring System' (RPMS) offers a suite of geo-spatial tools to help collect and store geo-referenced information. Farmer training on crop intensification and good management practices have been conducted.

Optimal nutrient management for increased profitability in rice

About: Rice Crop Manager (RCM) is a digital tool that provides rice farmers with timely site-specific recommendations for nutrient management practices.

Outputs: A large number of RCM recommendations have been generated and farmers, extension agents, researchers and other intermediaries have been trained in the use of RCM. 100 RCM kendras have been established across the State at block office levels and staff have been trained to use the RCM application. The benefits from using RCM have been popularized employing a diverse set of communication channels and media.

Strengthening Extension and Advisory Services (EAS)

About: To enhance expertise of Extension Advisory Services (EAS) for effective service delivery to the end-users i.e. farmers, rural communities, and other stakeholders in an equitable and gender-responsive manner.

Outputs: A capacity needs assessment of EAS providers in Odisha was conducted to identify knowledge and skill gaps and training needs among state agricultural officers and NGOs. Training of trainers (ToTs) on key areas, i.e. Value Chain Extension; Climate-Smart Agriculture; Facilitation for development; and Designing and developing a gender-responsive EAS, have been organized to support effective and knowledge-driven EAS in Odisha, including development of training modules. An Organizational & Management (O&M) review of EAS in Odisha was conducted and recommendations provided to the Government. The training module for induction of assistant agriculture officers (AAOs) organized by IMAGE was reviewed and a new curriculum was designed. 

Knowledge Management

About: The project has designed user-friendly digital tools to improve knowledge and skills among farmers, agricultural extension officers, and other key stakeholders for protection of crops, enhancing production, and farmer incomes.

Outputs: Rice Doctor (RD), an android-based mobile app for pest and disease identification in rice and for obtaining management recommendations has been released after extensive usability testing. The Rice-based cropping systems Knowledge Bank (RKB) available both in English and Odia can be used by literate farmers either on the web or through the mobile app. Extension and advisory service providers and NGOs can use this to scale out good practices and appropriate context-specific knowledge regarding rice-based cropping systems. 

Women’s Entrepreneurship

About: The project is investing in enhancing leadership, entrepreneurship, and skill development of women farmers, to enhance livelihoods and food security.

Outputs: The project has incubated a women-led Farmer Producer Company (FPC), ‘Adarsh Dharmagarh Women Farmers Services Producer Company Ltd’ at Kalahandi district in Odisha. The FPC has been engaged in input trading business, grocery sales, production and marketing of certified quality rice seed. The capacity building activities have created  a critical mass of women entrepreneurs trained in various aspects of management.

Crop insurance for risk mitigation

About: The project has facilitated the establishment of a science-based insurance system, using remote-sensing technologies for ground validation, to estimate real-time area and yield under normal and stressed conditions.

Outputs: To increase uptake and enhance adoption of crop insurance products by farmers, educational and ICT-based tools have been developed. Using remote sensing-based technologies, mid-season yield forecast, end-of-season yield estimates, and the extent of crop damage caused by climatic catastrophes such as  droughts, floods, cyclones  events are being captured in a timely manner and shared with the Government of Odisha.