The State government of Orissa has decided to take up Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI), a method of sugarcane production involving use of less seed, less water and optimum use of fertilizer for more yields, on experimental basis across the State. “SSI involves similar techniques being used in SRI (System of Rice Intensification) which is getting encouraging response in the State,” said State Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout while formally releasing the SSI manual occasion of “More with Less - Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI) in Odisa, Launch of SSI Manual in Odia”, held at Red Cross Bhawan, Bhubaneshwar on 13th April 2010.
Rout said OUAT would popularize SSI among farmers through its extension programme on sugar cultivation. Appreciating the ongoing work on SSI by the local NGO NIRMAN with the marginal farmers of Nayagarh with the support of ICRISAT-WWF Project, the Minister expressed that there should be a healthy coordination between the civil society organizations and the government departments for the greater benefit of the people - in this context, for the betterment of the sugarcane farmers. He expressed that, “SSI is a method of cultivation of sugarcane which uses less water, less seed, less fertilizers and less labor, which in turn reduces the cost of cultivation for the farmer, while increasing the productivity.”
The Minister expressed that SSI will be scaled up with the support of the Agriculture Departments in the state. He said that the SRI methods which have been successful in ensuring the food security for small and marginal farmers over the last few years could now be replicated through the SSI principles in sugarcane. Around 70 agriculture and extension officers from various districts of the state were present at the occasion in order to learn and share their experiences with SSI.
Natawar Sarangi, a renowned organic farmer was invited to release the SSI Farmers’ Guidebook.
The SSI manual is a groundbreaking insight to sugarcane cultivation with farm-based approaches based on principles of ‘more with less’ in agriculture. The new methodology is in practice in Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Orissa.
Arundhati Jena, Secretary, NIRMAN, an NGO based at Nayagarh district of the state, the anchor person for both the implementation and the event in the state said that, “SSI is a method of Sugarcane Cultivation, which is of great benefit to the small and marginal sugarcane farmers of Odisha as with less input they are getting more yields. In the conventional cultivation, where the farmers are using 3 to 4 tonnes of sugarcane as seed material for one acre, now the same can be saved, as SSI needs only 50 kilos of bud chips removed from the canes and the rest of the canes can be used for making jaggery or sent to the sugar mills.”
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Biksham Gujja, the Team Leader of ICRISAT-WWF Project and Senior Advisor, Freshwater Programme, WWF-International gave an overall perspective of the need for the conservation of freshwater systems globally. Dr. Gujja stressed that methods like SRI and SSI will not only help in mitigating the present water crisis but at the same time improve the water productivity. “By adopting SSI, a farmer would be able to produce at least 20 per cent more sugarcane while reducing 30 per cent of water input and 25 per cent of chemical input,” he added. SSI would help sugarcane growers overcome problems such as rising cost of cultivation, unavailability of good quality of seed material and imbalanced nutrient management and other practices like mono cropping often resulted in low productivity.
He made suggestions to the Government of Orissa for taking up at least 1000 ha of SSI next season, trainings to extension officers, wider publication and dissemination of the manual, provide good quality bud chippers, support drip irrigation to save water, promote bio-fertilizers, ensure millers provide quality seedlings with 50% subsidy in the beginning. He further stated other areas of exploration like more involvement of women groups for raising nurseries, launching the SSI programme with NGOs, millers, researchers and Government agencies.
Pitabas Dalai, a farmer from Nayagarh district, who experimented the technology in his field, said the water input has been reduced by about 50 per cent and the need of labor has also been decreased substantially than the traditional method. The new method also provides enough scope for multi-cropping in the sugarcane fields.
The other dignitaries to grace the occasion and shared their views included Dr. Babaji Giri, Addl. Director, of Agriculture, Prof. Radhamohan, Environmentalist (Ex-Commissioner, RTI), Mr. Sisir Kumar Parija, Consultant on Organic Farming and SSI and Prof. Shambu Prasad from XIMB. The audience included the SSI farmers with whom NIRMAN is working, personnel from several national media, other than the government officials of the state.
Source: Business Wire India
written by fivefingers kso, July 27, 2010
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