New Delhi, November 5
Global agriculture firm Corteva Agriscience is slowly making inroads to push its hybrid paddy seeds and other products in Bihar and Jharkhand, where it has trained about 90,000 women pravaktas or village leaders on growing hybrids along with agronomic practices and post-transplantaton care.
These rural women were growing inbred rice, a self-pollinated home-grown rice, in a traditional way. Now, they are trained to grow hybrid seeds even by using the Direct Seed Rice (DSR) technique.
Now, they have become ambassadors of early adopters of the new technology and advocating the same in their villages to have a multiplier effect, thereby creating demand and market for hybrid seeds and crop protection products.
Corteva Agriscience Marketing Director (South Asia) Aruna Rachakonda told PTI, “These woman farmers, after the training, have sown hybrid paddy seeds in about 10,000 acres in the current kharif season of 2020-21.” In fact, there has been about 15-20 per cent rise in the acreage under hybrid paddy from the previous kharif season when the company first rolled out the training programme.
“We worked on two hybrid paddy seeds 27P37 and 27P31 in these two states (Bihar and Jharkhand). We have received good response,” she said adding that Corteva had launched hybrid paddy seed 27P37 four years ago, while the other one seven years ago in India.
The company first made a technological intervention by introducing to women farmers hybrid paddy seeds, she said.
She added that growing hybrids is different from inbred rice, as it requires training in proper transplantation technique, agronomical practices and post-transplantation care.
The second technological intervention was introducing them to the Direct Seed Rice (DSR) technique with hybrid seeds which is basically Corteva’s technology, she said.
The Corteva’s DSR technology has three components—transplanting hybrids, weed management and sowing service. “DSR was introduced this kharif season to these women farmers. It cannot be just broadcast but has to be sown in a certain way with the help of a machine.” Further, Rachakonda said about 20 per cent of 90,000 women farmers have now been trained in the DSR technology, which the company is promoting in a structured and sustainable format.
“In India, we are promoting with a mechanical sowing machine, which is tractor mounted. We specify how many seeds required for an acreage.
“That’s the training we give. If you train 100 farmers, 40 of them will not get it right in the first instance. It is quite a strenuous and structured training,” she added.
In Bihar and Jharkhand, woman farmers are being trained separately for a period of three years. The company is holding similar training programmes in other rice-growing belts of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana where both man and woman farmers are being trained.
Rachakonda said these training programmes are part of the business strategy and the aim is to create an environment very much receptive of hybrid seeds and sell more weed control chemicals.
“There is a lot of cultural change that we need to bring to the farmers’ mind. It does not happen with a blink of an eye. In one season, you will not find transformation,” she said.
Rachakonda added that besides the commercial interest, the company through these programmes wants to promote community development with a focus on “sustainability as a shared value”.
Companies are vying for a huge potential market of hybrid seeds in India, which still cultivates inbred seeds in about 95 per cent of the country’s total paddy area of around 45 million hectare.
Inbred paddy seeds are self-pollinated seeds that can be saved and used for the next few years unlike hybrids. — PTI