Punjab farmers benefit from PAU-Bayer collaboration
−− Collaboration between Bayer India’s Crop Science division and Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to enhance productivity of rice and cotton farmers
Jan. 22, 2018
In 2017, Bayer India’s Crop Science division embarked on a collaborative project with Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to enhance productivity of rice and cotton farmers in Punjab. Today, PAU and Bayer officials met at Ludhiana to share the outcome of the cotton and rice initiatives. Participating farmers were also invited to share their experience.
Appreciating the joint initiative with Bayer, Prof. Dr. M.S. Bhullar, Principal Scientist, Department of Agronomy at Punjab Agricultural University, said, “The knowledge and research strengths of both PAU and Bayer, combined under the umbrella of collaborative projects, has resulted in enhanced productivity and profitability from cotton and rice crops.”
Sharing his experience, Srinath Bala, Head of Regional Marketing, Crop Science division, Bayer South Asia said, “The success of this project is a result of strong collaboration and trust between the project farmers, PAU and Bayer. As a customer focused company, Bayer’s aim was to help rice and cotton farmers increase their productivity and farm income by finding sustainable, long-term solutions to their problems.”
In 2017, PAU and Bayer jointly identified villages to implement projects in the areas of integrated crop management solutions, good agronomic practices, integrated pest management, correct use of crop protection products, spray application technologies, integrated nutrient management and integrated weed management.
The model followed a hub and spoke approach where the local Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) was the cluster/hub and the selected villages served as the spoke. Farmers were imparted knowledge and advisory through field demonstrations, field visits and training programs. The project also focused on creating Parthenium-free villages by creating awareness among Gram Panchayats and farmers. Parthenium is one of the most dreaded weed species.
Since 2015, whitefly has created havoc in cotton farms, significantly reducing yields and causing heavy losses to cotton farmers. To revive the cotton crop and increase productivity of cotton growers in Punjab, PAU and Bayer identified 280 cotton farmers from 25 villages in Bathinda, Mansa, Fazilka and Sri Muktsar Sahib Districts.
These farmers were then guided on the selection of cotton hybrids, sowing time, good agricultural practices, integrated pest management, safe & judicious usage of crop protection chemicals, application of balance fertilizers, weed management and irrigation requirements as recommended by officials of KVK/PAU and Bayer. Besides this, cotton growers were also guided on scouting techniques and on methods of taking informed pest management decisions for whitefly based on economic threshold level of the pest throughout the season. Participating farmers achieved an average yield increase of 10 to 12 percent over farmer’s practice plot. Averaged over 40 locations, the project demo plot recorded an average of 1.2 QT per acre higher seed cotton yield and an average of Rs. 5000-6000 per acre higher net return compared to farmer’s practice plot.
In 2018, PAU and Bayer will further scale up the project and create awareness for achieving contamination free cotton at the farm level and will focus on completing the cotton value chain.
Cultivating Basmati rice comes with its own set of challenges. Besides dealing with the vagaries of climate and nature, Basmati rice growers have to maintain rice quality without compromising on the quantity of produce. Further, as a common export commodity, Basmati rice faces intense scrutiny with regard to international standards of maximum residue levels (MRLs) and safe usage of pesticides.
Keeping Basmati rice cultivation sustainable and profitable is therefore important for both the government and the industry. PAU and Bayer identified 250 rice farmers from 20 villages in the four Basmati growing districts of Punjab, i.e Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Ludhiana.
Under the project, rice farmers were demonstrated integrated Basmati crop solutions through field demonstrations. The focus was on increasing the ROI and capability building of farmers for making the Basmati crop sustainable for the region. Averaged over 40 locations, the project demo plot gave 0.4 tons/hectare higher Basmati grain yield and Rs. 11,200 per hectare higher net returns compared to farmer’s practice plot. In addition, the project made Jonewal in Ludhiana district as Parthenium-free village.
Based on excellent response received from participating farmers and villages, other villages have approached KVK for including their villages under the PAU-Bayer collaborative project. In 2018, the rice project will be scaled up significantly. Talks are also in progress to include more stakeholders from the Basmati value chain.