Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB), one of India’s leading FMCG companies, is enabling farmers in the village of Goblej, near Ahmedabad, Gujarat to adopt the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) methodology in a bid to drive the next green revolution in India.
The SRI is an innovative farming method where in the farmers transplant 8 to 12-day old seedlings, using only single seedling per hill, not in clumps, but in a square pattern 25cm x 25cm apart.
This enables the farmers to lift single seedling at a time required for transplanting and allows roots to grow deep and produce 30 to 50 tillers making the plants that much stronger. Increased microbial activity due to organic manure provides more nutrients to roots, further adding to their strengths.
The rice produced through SRI commands a price premium in the market. The major difference is in the taste, flavor and even the food content of SRI rice are much better than the ones produced through the conventional farming method.
Besides, the paddy under SRI is cultivated with organic manure sans any chemical fertilizer. The plants are, therefore, healthy and can resist insects naturally without any pest control.
There was a lack of general awareness about the existence and benefits of such innovative practices. The new methodology challenged the age-old concepts, techniques and practices of traditional rice farming.
HCCB sent these farmers in small groups to nearby villages practicing SRI. Simultaneously, HCCB in partnership with Development Support Centre (DSC), an NGO that specializes in SRI methodology, organized training programmes on SRI technique for the farmers. HCCB also developed demo plots to demonstrate the benefits of SRI technique to all the farmers. The idea was to show them the difference between traditional and SRI techniques for rice farming.
Sanjay Bhatt, Zonal Head, Public Affairs and Communication (PAC), HCCB said “Initially, there were a lot of apprehensions about the efficacy of SRI methodology when we introduced this in Goblej. The resistance was understandable as the SRI technology challenged the well-entrenched beliefs and practices of rice farming.”
“The yield from my field has now almost doubled.” Says Avanish (name changed), one of the early adopters of the System of Rice Intensification, “And, my income has more than quadrupled” he added.
It requires less water, seeds and time to produce larger quantity of rice of much better quality without requiring any chemical fertiliser or pest control. Farmers can concurrently grow azolla in the paddy fields, which acts as bio-fertilizer, enriching the soil with organic nutrients. Most importantly, due to the increased fertility of the soil and moderate requirement of water, the farmers are able to grow the second paddy crop in a season enhancing their earning potential.