International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)South Asia Regional Centre, Varanasi collaborated with Chhattisgarh Agricon Samiti, to perform direct on-ground trials with farmers of 2 districts of Chhattisgarh, Raipur & Durg. Varieties developed by scientists and state agriculture universities were put on trial directly into farmer’s fields. Through this practical approach not only variety’s performance in the field was observed but also feedback from farmers group and their observation was given consideration.
Starting of Trials: Trials started in July 2021. These trials were conducted in 2 different modes: On-farm trials (OFT)and Varietal Cafeteria (VC). In OFT 7 paddy varieties provided by IRRI and a local popular variety of the area was distributed to farmers by team members of Chhattisgarh Agricon Samiti. These varieties were cultivated in farmers land, using farmer’s regular package of practices. Demonstration of VC was done with one farmer in Raipur in which 30 on-trial varieties were demonstrated. In varietal cafeteria farmers and other stakeholders like agriculture department, scientists, interact, learn, evaluate, and decide on their favourite varieties.
“Farmers training cum evaluation” was organised at the varietal cafeteria and other OFT sites. Field visit and feedback session was conducted during October 2021 in the presence of scientists of IRRI(Varanasi) Dr. Kuntal Das, Dr. Sarvesh Shukla, and Dr. Sanket Thakur of Chhattisgarh Agricon Samiti. Farmers shared their feedback and problems related to the varieties with the scientists.
In the varietal cafeteria, an evaluation training and feedback workshop was conducted before harvesting of the crop. 50 farmers participated in the event along with Mr. Gayaraam joint director agriculture, Raipur, dr. Sanket Thakur (agriculture scientists) Mr. Gajendra Chandrakar agricultural scientist from Indira Gandhi Agriculture University, Mr. R.K Kashyap Deputy Director Agriculture. The evaluation process involved aspects like the height of the crop, number of panicles, number of grains per panicle, and other agronomical observations along with ease of cultivation.
The workshop encouraged farmers to identify preferred characteristics in the paddy plant. Evidence-based trial and evaluation improved awareness about various new and improved varieties among farmers.
Quality Seed Production and inclusion of women
This trial of paddy varieties was formulated with an approach of “providing seeds to producing seeds”. After harvesting and evaluation by farmers, a farmer’s favourite variety was selected for seed production. The training was conducted on “Quality Seed Production of Rice” by Chhattisgarh Agricon Samiti.45-50 women participated in this training and learnt to produce quality seeds. These seeds will be used for OFT in Rabi season. These trials are now being carried out for rabi season with 45 farmers of Raipur and Durg.
Farmers were supported and motivated in the adaption of emerging and improved varieties of paddy along with aspiring them for quality seed production.
IRRI received performance analysis, farmers’ acceptance, and behavioural analysis from the trial which will support them for further research.