Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture

First source of information on SRI

Since 8 years I have been propagating SRI method after reading LEISA India magazine (about a successful experience in Andhra Pradesh). There was no government support for propagation of SRI method except a few NGOs had some knowledge. Later in 2005, the district administration and Agriculture department supported this method and conducted workshops/training programmes.

Basically I am a government teacher/trainer having an inner call for human development. Of course my area of expertise is Primary Education. Still I find time to spare on LEISA concepts from time to time. I travel extensively through out the district (Ganjam) and introduce the concepts during teachers training or farmers trainings.

Often I come in contact with agriculture, horticulture and forest department people. Nowadays the agriculture department has printed booklets, leaflets, CDs for video display and invite guest faculties for propagation of SRI method. The block level VLWs and agriculture extension officers conduct trainings according to their convenience. The District Ag department conducts trainings on SRI method which is not sufficient for implementation. Besides NGOs like GRAM VIKAS, LIPICA, ISRD etc., introduce this method in their target group communities, i.e., remote tribal/hilly areas. The method is slowly getting popular when farmers gain knowledge by exposure trips. Farmers did not believe initially but now they are convinced, but the number of motivated farmers is low.

I am not yet sure of the number of SRI practitioners. Most farmers showed keen interest to adopt this method on trial basis and later again skipped to their traditional methods.

During my interaction with farmers of about 20 villages, they agreed that they yielded better crops and are benefited. Some farmers got 20-25 quintals of paddy from an acre whereas traditional method yielded hardly 15-16 quintals. They agree that this is very innovative and cost effective but cumbersome to adopt in large scale.

Last but not the least, 75% farmers of Ganjam district work as migrated labourers to Surat, Mumbai, Chennai or Bangalore. So the effects of SRI trainings are not yet visibly materialized. They don’t believe that only agricultural engagement can bring them enough income. As a result they lose their interest to engage full time in agriculture.

Pradeep Kumar Mohapatra, Bhimapur, Ganjam District, Orissa.