Officials of Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (JEEViKA), a community-driven, anti-poverty project implemented by the Government of Bihar, participated in a training program for enhancing their knowledge and creating master trainers on direct seeded rice (DSR) technology. The program, conducted by the International Rice Research Institute South Asia Regional Centre (IRRI-SARC) and the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) on 11 – 12 May, trained 14 livelihood farm managers and program manager who work directly with women farmers in the six districts under the JEEViKA.
This awareness cum hands-on training program was organized to educate the district officials of JEEViKA on the benefits of DSR technology. DSR is a viable option for small and marginal farmers, especially women, for reducing drudgery, labor requirement, and cost of crop establishment compared to manually transplanted rice. DSR delivers faster planting and maturing, conserves scarce resources like water, is more conducive to mechanization, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
“Increasing water scarcity due to climate change and competition from urbanization coupled with other factors like labor shortage make traditional rice production unsustainable,” said Direct-Seeded Rice Consortium Global Coordinator Virender Kumar “New ideas and innovations in rice cultivation are critically needed to meet rising demand and ensure food security.”
Although widely practiced in the Americas and some countries in Southeast Asia, productivity challenges have limited its wide-scale adoption in Asia in general and South Asia in particular. There is a need for an integrated and scientific approach to make DSR socio-economically and environmentally sustainable, according to ISARC Director Sudhanshu Singh.
”DSR is emerging as an alternative crop establishment method in India’s northwest states,” Dr. Singh said. “Punjab and Haryana have shown tremendous progress in DSR adoption. Upscaling of DSR in the eastern states like Bihar will be a game changer for a sustainable rice production system.”
IRRI experts Drs. Ashok Yadav, Vipin Ahlawat, M.K. Bhowmick, and Pardeep Sagwal discussed DSR basic requirements, suitable precise machineries, laser-assisted land levelling, field preparation, and best management practices. Also the common challenges associated with DSR and strategies for effective and economic weed management were thoroughly discussed.
“The training helped us to understand the basics of good crop establishment in DSR and ways to manage the weeds in an integrated way,” said Ms. Priyanka Kumari, the JEEViKA Livelihood Specialist in Samastipur.
“Collaborating with ISARC in the future will help us to address the region's specific issues in Bihar” added Anil Kumar, JEEViKA program manager. “The impact of the already going CSISA activities with JEEViKA on climate resilience is already benefiting small and marginal farmers, especially women, in Bihar. Mr. Kumar visited ISARC and looks forward to working closely with IRRI experts for improving the livelihoods of small and marginal women farmers.
JEEViKA has been intensively working with nearly 12.7 million rural poor households through one million self-help groups under sixty nine thousand five hundred eighty six village organizations and one thousand four hundred fifty three cluster-level federations in Bihar.
“Organizations like JEEViKA can play a crucial role to make it socio-economically sustainable and targeting the small and marginal farmers especially women farmers in the state of Bihar,” said Dr. Kumar.
Also at the event were Dr. Panneerselvam Peramaiyan, cropping systems agronomist at IRRI, Mr. Sh. T.C. Dhoundiyal , ISARC Programs and Coordination manager, and Ms. Sugandha Munshi, senior specialist and CSISA Gender Lead in Bihar.