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Farmers in eastern Punjab attend training on direct-seeded rice technology to address water shortage and high labor cost

(Photo: Dr. Buta Singh Dhillon, Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics, PAU Ludhiana)

A team of progressive farmers from and around Ropar District in Punjap attended a participatory training on direct seeded rice (DSR) technology conducted at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra under Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) on 05 August 2021.

DSR technology reduces the need for water in land preparation and allows farmers to plant rice crops before the rains of the wet season arrive. This means that rainfall is used in supporting crop growth rather than in land preparation activities. Planting earlier can also help rice avoid drought that generally occurs late in the wet season in rainfed systems. DSR can also help farmers overcome shortage of labor that became particularly severe under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr GS Makker, Joint Director Training, KVK

Dr. Gurpreet Singh Makkar, joint director of Training at Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Ropar, highlighted why the district needs DSR technology.  Sh. Rajesh Rathi from Bayer Crop Science Limited also expressed his views on the dire need of this training program for farmers.  The agriculture department in Punjab has been encouraging more farmers to shift from traditional rice planting to DSR because of the fast-deteriorating groundwater levels in the state.

The training, implemented by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)–South Asia Regional Centre (SARC), in collaboration with Bayer Crop Science Limited and Bayer’s field implementation partner, Ambuja Cement Foundation, featured hands-on activities, demonstrations, and discussions with experts from IRRI and PAU.

Dr. Pardeep Sagwal, Associate Scientist, IRRI SARC

Dr. Pardeep Sagwal, an associate scientist at IRRI-SARC presented an overview of mechanized DSR and its advantages over transplanted rice.

Buta Singh Dhillon from the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics at PAU Ludhiana discussed effective weed management as well as selection of short-duration varieties, fertilizer scheduling, and other technology to help farmers adopt DSR. Dr. Dhillon also presented a comparison of the yields of various varieties under DSR that gave the farmers a good understanding of the importance of varietal selection.

IRRI-ISARC facilitated and anchored the training program and the coordinated the arrangements.