Odisha increases area coverage for rice fallow management by 5 fold

Odisha govt has increased area coverage for rice fallow management by five-fold this season compared to last season’s 70,000 hectares under this programme. So far it has covered 3.4 lakh hectares and work is underway to touch four lakh hectares this time, said the official sources.Due to lack of adequate irrigation facilities, most of the farmland remains fallow in the rabi (winter) season after harvesting of paddy. Rice fallow management initiative is to bring these rice fallows into cultivation to increase farmers’ income. The season begins from late November or early December upto June.
The Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment department is running a flagship project ‘Comprehensive Project on Rice Fallow Management’ from 2022 to address this rice fallow challenge. Odisha has about 16 lakh hectares under rice fallow area out of which 10 lakh hectares can be effectively put to use, said a department official.
Farmers get help to cultivate eight crops- green gram, black gram, lentil, field pea, Bengal gram (chana), grass pea, mustard and sesamum- under this programme. Choice of crop is decided on the basis of agro-climatic zone suitability and local practice, said the official.

Govt is focussing on less chemical and environmentally intensive farming. Farmers have been assisted with different interventions like seeds, biofertilizers, micronutrients, light traps, pheromone traps, weedicides and need based plant protection chemicals, said the official.
“Odisha has been a rice surplus state for more than one and half decades now. Crop diversification, from paddy to non-paddy crops, has been our main focus in the policy space. Moreover, to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture, we have always tried to make all govt interventions climate resilient,” said department principal secretary Arabinda Kumar Padhee.

He said rice fallow management is such a low hanging, yet scientific initiative that embraces these principles. “For a state like Odisha, it’s indeed the best adaptation strategy to make the agri-food system climate smart, while enriching the soil health and enhancing farmers’ income. We feel extremely happy seeing the positive response from all farmers, extension officials, participating research institutions and stakeholders across the state,” he added.

As the cultivation of crops is taken up in large patches, steps will be taken to link them to the markets too so that farmers can fetch better prices, said the official statement of the department.

Agencies including International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) are involved in the programme.

This article has been republished from The Times of India.

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