Saturday, 28 March 2015

Food Security Technology Demonstration

[Update of April 10, 2015. The Times of India report on this work, titled "IIT leads the way to a 'Green Revolution'" can be found here (ToI Link).]

[A smaller but equally important initiative supported by SRIC, IIT Kharagpur and executed on field by a Professor of Agriculture & Food Engineering Dept., also Program Officer of Pariapara village unit with his team of NSS, IIT Kharagpur student volunteers. A report of that is available here (Link).]
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur has taken an initiative to demonstrate and increase awareness about existing technologies on food grain production and post-harvest processing at farmers field. With the support from Ministry of Human Resource Development, IIT Kharagpur has adopted 14 acres of land from 14 farmers in Kenthia village (Kharagpur Block–II, Paschim Medinipur), located within 10 km from the Institute campus.

A Field Day was organized on 25 March 2015 to develop awareness among the farmers of this village and neighboring villages on scientific food grain production. Dean, SRIC, Dean, Planning and Coordination, Project Coordinator,  Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigators of the project from IIT Kharagpur, Agricultural officers of West Bengal Govt., and Panchayat level official participated in the Field Day. Farmers had a very good opportunity to interact with scientists, officers and gain knowledge on the scientific production technologies. Agricultural officers and farmers from neighboring village want to have similar project in many locations that will help capacity building of farmers on scientific production technologies and hence production improvement. 

Presented below the salient features of the project and visuals from the field. Appended at the end videos of discussion held on the field day but in local language. It includes talks of farmers, Panchayet Pradhan, Development Officers of West Bengal Govt., Dean, SRIC, Dean P & C and IIT Kharagpur faculty associated with the project. Videos also pan on the surrounding by which activities in the project site can be seen.

The Challenge

With the shrinking and degrading land and water resources and changing climate, the implementation of the National Food Security Act forces to increase the food grain productivity by 50% in 2020 and 100% in 2040 to meet the demand. 

Demonstration of sustainable production and post-harvest processing technologies in farmers field to increase food grain productivity and economy of the farmers.

Technology Demonstration Site

Land area of 14 acres from 14 farmers in the Village Kenthia (PO-Benapur, Block- Kharagpur, Dist-West Midnapur) was selected for the project activities. The land has not been cultivated for the past 5-7 years. The technology demonstration site is 10 km away from IIT Kharagpur .

Land Preparation

Small adjacent fields belonging to a single farmer were merged to make larger fields. Primary and secondary tillage was done by tractor driven plough followed by leveling during November 2014.

Ground Water Monitoring

Groundwater monitoring is essential for sustainable agriculture. Based on the  long term field data , improved management strategies will be formulated for efficient utilization of ground water.

Water saving rice production technology

-The production technology of System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which  saves 80-90% seed and 40-50% water requirement is demonstrated in the farmer field.

-Rice seedling of two weeks age were transplanted at one seedling per hill with 25cm × 25cm spacing in SRI, whereas seedlings of four weeks age were transplanted at three seedlings per hill with 20cm × 20cm spacing in conventional production system during the dry season of 2014-15.

Organic rice production

-Organic rice production technology is introduced for both SRI and conventional rice technology.

-Nutrients are supplied through commercially available organic manure and plant protections measures followed are mechanical weeding and use of bio-pesticides. 

Crop Diversification
Farmers had preference to grow rice crop only. However, considering the land topography, water demand, and soil fertility; we introduced high value and soil restoring crops such as sweet corn, sesame, soybean, and peanut. Sweet corn is an important vegetable cash crop consumed widely for its taste and nutritional benefits. It is rich in vitamins and minerals. Leguminous crops like soybean and peanut will add biological N and improve soil health for sustainable production, besides being rich source of protein and oil.

Cow dung , water hyacinth and farm wastes are used as inputs for the composting process with 2.5-3.0 kg earthworms (Eisenia foetida) in each bed of size 1.8m×1.2m×1m. Each bed is expected to produce 100kg of vermicompost in one cycle of 60 days. 
Pond structure for Integrated Farming

To increase economy of the poor farmers, pond of size 25mx15.5mx2m is renovated to store rain water and grow fish as component of integrated farming system. Pond was plastered with bentonite clay to check the water loss through seepage. The stored rain water will be used to provide life saving irrigation.

Future Activity

-Crop planning i.e. crops and cultivars selection with area allocation to maximize return per unit water, nutrient and other resource

-Demonstration of post-harvest processing and storage technologies of food grains at the farm level.

-Imparting training on organic farming, soil health, micro irrigation, etc to village youth to become entrepreneur.

Field Day (25-03-2015) videos (Playlist Link)

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