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Rice cultivation

It is believed that the rice plant may have originated in southern India, then spread to the north of the country and then onwards to China. It then arrived in Korea, the Philippines (about 2000 B. C.) and then Japan and Indonesia (about 1000 B. C.).

In the Indian subcontinent more than a quarter of the cultivated land is given to rice (20011-12). It is a very essential part of the daily meal in the southern and eastern parts of India. In the northern and central parts of the subcontinent, where wheat is frequently eaten, rice holds its own and is cooked daily as well as on festivals and special occasions.

History of Rice:
India is an important centre of rice cultivation. The rice is cultivated on the largest areas in India. It is believed that the indica variety of rice was first domesticated in the area covering the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas. Perennial wild rice still grow in Assam and Nepal.

Climatic Requirements:
In India rice is grown under widely varying conditions of altitude and climate. Rice crop needs a hot and humid climate. It is best suited to regions which have high humidity, prolonged sunshine and an assured supply of water.
The average temperature required throughout to the crop throughout its life ranges from 21 to 37º C. Maximum temp in which the crop can grow is 400C to 42 0C.

Nutritional value of Rice:
Carbohydrate (starch) is the important component of rice due to which it provides instant energy. Rice is poor in nitrogenous substances with average composition of these substances being only 8 per cent and fat content or lipids only negligible, i.e., 1per cent and due to this reason it is considered as a complete food for eating.
Rice flour is rich in starch and is used for making various food materials. It is also used in some instances by brewers to make alcoholic malt.

Medicinal Value:
The various varieties of rice germplasm is a rich source for many rice based products. It is also helps in treating many health related issues such as indigestion, diabetes, arthritis, paralysis, epilepsy. Medicinal rice varieties like Kanthi Banko (Chhattisgarh), Meher, Saraiphul & Danwar (Orissa), Atikaya & Kari Bhatta (Karnataka), are very common in India.

Crop Production Practices:
In India Rice is mainly grown in two types of soils i.e., (i) uplands and (ii) low lands. The crop of rice is grown with the following methods:
1. Dry or Semi-dry upland cultivation
Broadcasting the seed
Sowing the seed behind the plough or drilling

2. Wet or lowland cultivation
Transplanting in puddled fields.
Broadcasting sprouted seeds in puddled fields.

Selection of Seeds:
The use of quality seeds in cultivation of rice is an important factor to get better crop yield. Seeds intended for sowing should satisfy the following requirements:
- The seed should belong to the proper variety, which is proposed to be grown.
- The seed should be clean and free from obvious mixtures of other seeds.
- The seed should be mature, well developed and plump in size.
- The seed should be free from obvious signs of age or bad storage.
- The seed should have a high germinating capacity.
- Before sowing the seed should be treated with fungicides which protects the seed against soil-born fungi and also give a boost to the seedlings.

Paddy is grown in wide range of soil. Fertile riverine alluvial soil is best for rice cultivation. Clayey loam soil in monsoon land is considered to be the best for rice cultivation as water retention capacity of this soil is very high.

Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are three essential plant nutrients required for rice. Most of the paddy lands have a moderate quantity of such nutrients, but if they are deficient, organic manure or artificial fertilizers have to be used.

Straw Management Strategies For Next Season

A meeting was arranged by PAU yesterday at the instance of Chairman, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), in the wake of unprecedented polluted smog this season causing health hazards and ecosystem disturbances, the meeting was chaired by Vice Chancellor, PAU, Ludhiana.

Based on the experiences of this season, the agri experts and progressive farmers joined heads to device strategy to manage paddy straw during next year in an environment friendly manner. Lamenting at the myopic vision of few self-serving people who instigated the farmers to burn paddy residue (even after when paddy straw has been taken out of fields), the participants requested for effective ban on stubble burning to protect humanity and agro ecology.

The participants discussed the effectiveness and economics of various machines used this season for straw management by the farmers. It was observed that super straw management system on combine harvesters must be made compulsory so that farmers can easily manage the harvested straw. Besides, it was seen that existing different version machines such as cutter cum spreaders (mulchers), reversible plough and happy seederseffectively managepaddy straw for wheat sowing. Also, farmers already have other requisite machines like harrows and plankers besides tractors and rotavators.

A number of farmers who have been sowing wheat without paddy straw burning participated in this meeting shared their experiences and informed that the straw management technologies recommended by PAU are working well in fields. It was further highlighted that they are harvestingeven better wheat yield as compared to farmers who are burning the straw.

Dr H.S. Sidhu, from the Borlaugh Institutefor South Asia stressed the need for incorporation of paddy straw in the field rather than its removal by way of bales as the latter may create other ecological issues. He shared that happy seeder was found to be very effective tool for direct sowing of wheat after paddy harvestingby combine harvesters fitted with Super Straw Management System.

The experts and farmers requested the government to ensure effective ban on stubble burning as a measure for not only human and animals' right to breathe but also for better agro ecology and sustainability of agriculture. All emphasized that there should be no burning in the next season.


New Pest Resistant Paddy Variety

Perturbed over pest attacks, Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) is mulling to encourage farmers to opt for cultivation of some new varieties of paddy which have developed resistance against insects.

The Orissa agriculture university had released seven varieties of paddy such as Tanmayee, Hiranmayee, Jyotirmayee, Nua Acharmati, Asutosh, Gobinda and Hasanta which are under various stages of notification by the State Government.

The Hasanta variety, which was cultivated by two farmers in Chikiti and Digapahandi areas in Ganjam district, seems to have developed resistance against BPH, said OUAT VC Prof Surendranath Pasupalak.

He also said, "Though other paddy varieties cultivated in lands close to Hastanta have been damaged by pest attacks, this new variety is left unharmed. We are collecting data on it. After one more test production, we would advice farmers to go for it instead of Swarna and other varieties."

Not only Hasanta, four other high yielding varieties of paddy cultivated by Subrat Adhikary of Chikiti Pentha have been untouched by the pests.

Hasanta is a high yielding paddy variety that can be harvested in 145 days and this variety is released by the agro scientists in 2014.

This paddy could be prescribed to farmers along with these four varieties so that they can be protected from huge crop loss, said Prof Pasupalak, though it has not been notified by the Government.


Wheat, Rice Preference Limiting Punjab Farmer's Income

Due to the high productivity levels of wheat and rice and an extremely high cropping intensity, almost 204 per cent, that makes diversification to other crops challenging, the scientists in Punjab feels that the central government’s ambitious goal of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022 could be ‘hard’ to achieve in the Punjab.

However, to double farmers’ incomes, the gross state domestic product (GSDP) from agriculture (crops and livestock) needs to rise from an estimated Rs 87,532 crore in 2015-16 to over Rs 175,064 crore in 2022, while the GSDP of Punjab at constant prices has risen by just 11.6 per cent in the six years to 2015-16. In the last six years, the GSDP in the crop sector rose by 2.9 per cent in Punjab, while for livestock it increased by 32.3 per cent.

While making a presentation in a seminar on Doubling Farmers’ Incomes by 2022, scientists from Punjab Agricultural University, the Indian Council of Agriculture Research’s (ICAR’s) Central Institute for Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology, and Guru Angad Dev Animal and Veterinary Sciences University said managing the declining water table and overcoming the adverse impact of climate variability were some of the major challenges in the state.

Punjab is among the foremost agricultural states in the country with 4.2 million hectares of net sown area, of which 99 per cent is irrigated. Rice and wheat was grown in almost 82 per cent of the state’s net sown area in 2016-17.

Punjab’s annual productivity in paddy is a high 61.9 quintals per hectare, while in wheat it is 50.5 quintals per hectare. The Centre has embarked on an ambitious target of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022.

According to the presentation, it is important to encouraging cultivation of high-value crops like vegetables, fruits and agro-forestry, which yield better returns; promoting integrated farming systems in small and marginal farms; rationalizing the use of chemical fertilizers; and raising yields of important crops through technological innovation were some of the measures through which farmers’ incomes could be doubled in the state by 2022.

Presentation also noted that reducing the use of pesticides, raising capital expenditure on farm machinery, promoting precision agriculture technologies and encouraging adoption of subsidiary occupations were some of the other ways in which incomes could be doubled.


Samba Paddy Cultivation is Gaining Pick-up in Tiruchi

With farmers busy raising nurseries and transplanting the crop, 'Samba' paddy cultivation is gaining momentum in the Tiruchi district.

Officials of Agriculture Department are expect about 50,000 hectares to be covered under samba paddy and they are confident of a good season this year. For the year, they were also hoping to achieve the food grain production target of 4.07 lakh tonnes.

According to the department, samba paddy has been raised on about 20,900 hectares so far in the district. Nurseries have been raised on another 1,759 hectares.

Though there are complaints that the water has not reached the tail end areas of some of the irrigation canals, farmers too are hopeful of a good season,

The Agriculture Department has launched a campaign to sensitise farmers to insure their crop under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). Insuring the crop would give farmers the confidence and hope that they would be compensated if their crop was damaged due to natural calamities, officials point out.

The total premium payable for an acre of paddy is Rs. 3,974. However, the farmers contribution is just 1.5% of the sum insured (Rs. 26,850) and hence the farmers need to pay Rs. 403 per acre and the rest of the amount will be borne by the Government. Under the scheme, department officials point out that the premium to be paid by the farmers is highly subsidised.

At firka level or revenue village level in the district, this year, crop insurance can be done in 345 notified revenue villages for all notified crops.

Officials said that, the cut-off date for insuring samba paddy crop is November 30 and the cut-off date for being eligible for making claims under the ‘prevented sowing’ category is October 20.


Basmati Sowing Likely to Increase By 25% in FY18

On the back of favourable climatic conditions and forecast of normal rainfall this monsoon season, sowing area under basmati paddy is likely to increase by 25 per cent in 2017.

At 96 per cent of long period average (LPA) with 5 per cent of plus and minus error, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasted normal rainfall this monsoon. Late beginning of rainfall coupled with dry spells in some parts of major growing regions resulted into less acreage under basmati paddy last year.

For the financial year 2016-17, rating agency Icra estimates the area under basmati paddy at 1.6 million hectares, in the previous year, around 20 percent decline from the level of 2.1 million hectares.

Joint managing director, Kohinoor Foods, producer of Kohinoor brand basmati rice, Gurnam Arora said, “This year, the area under basmati paddy, however, is estimated to rise at least to the level of 2015-16. There are two major factors which would help farmers to bring in the additional area under basmati this year – favourable monsoon and sharp increase in realisation from basmati rice this year. We are confident that basmati rice production and export would also proportionately go up."

Basmati rice constitutes a small portion of the total rice produced in India. According to the advanced estimate of the Ministry of Agriculture estimates India’s total rice output to hit the new record at 108.86 million tonnes for the year 2016-17 compared to the final output of 104.41 million tonnes for 2015-16.

While nearly 88 per cent of India’s overall output contributed by Kharif season and rabi season shares the rest. for past few years, basmati rice has witnessed growing demand from the domestic market. For the last two years, the international demand, though has remained weak, from this year onwards on Iran, the largest importer, coming back on procurement from India again, it is expected to witness some uptick.

Since January–March quarter, basmati rice exports to Iran have started. This financial year, the industry expects Iran to purchase at least 1 million tonnes.

Executive director of All India Rice Exporters’ Association, Rajan Sundareshan said, “The Chinese government has identified 14 Indian firms to export basmati rice to that country. Despite the taste being different for consumers, there has been a growing appetite for Indian basmati rice in China. We expect direct export to China to begin very shortly. Currently, India exports a small quantity of basmati rice to China indirectly through Hong Kong."

The basmati rice industry has witnessed moderation over the last few years on the back of subdued international demand, partly attributable to the delay in resumption of imports by Iran.

Basmati paddy prices have firmed up by 20-25 per cent across various varieties, primarily due to relatively lower production, in the recent procurement season, after declining considerably during the procurement season in FY16. This is likely to push up basmati rice prices in the next financial year.


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