“Compared to the local groundnut variety, I earned INR 2,000-3,000 (USD 31-46) more per acre from the new improved variety ‘Devi’,” says Bhubaneswar Biswal, a farmer group leader from Kalahandi district in Odisha, India.
Groundnut is an important cash crop for Odisha state. It is cultivated on about 280,000 ha and is a key crop supporting crop-livestock production system. Rich in protein and edible oil, groundnut is also important for the nutritional and financial well-being of farmers and consumers. Yet, farmers have been facing a major problem in terms of accessing quality groundnut seeds.
To tackle the issue of quality seed availability and to strengthen the local seed system, about 4,000 kg breeder seed of ICGV 91114 (Devi) and ICGV 00351 were supplied by ICRISAT during 2017 to the Odisha State Seed Corporation Limited and the National Seeds Corporation, respectively to produce foundation seeds.
Tackling labor scarcity
Threshing, a laborious post-harvest activity, involves separation of pods from the groundnut haulms. This key activity is cost intensive and is often challenged by shortage of labor availability during the peak season. To tackle this challenge, ICRISAT introduced dry plant threshers in Ganjam and Bolangir districts of Odisha.
The results from the farmer’s fields indicate 50% reduction in cost for threshing when dry plant threshers are used as compared to manual threshing.
Over a span of 6-7 hours, the machine can thresh two hectares of groundnut plant (about 3,500 kg). Small heaps of plants are dried by keeping plants upside down to ensure easy threshing. This practice also contributes to better quality pods as they are away from the soil during the drying process.
From this successful pilot, the use of threshers will be scaled out in 12 major groundnut-growing districts (Jajpur, Jagatsinghpur, Balasore, Kendrapara, Dhenkhanal, Gajapati, Puri, Cuttack, Naupada, Ganjam, Kalahandi, Bolangir) of Odisha.
As creating awareness and training on new technologies is an essential part of scaling out, ICRISAT recently conducted a one-day training program on ‘Opportunities for Mechanization of Groundnut Production in Odisha’. While interacting with farmers, Dr Pradhan from Farm and Implements Unit of the Orissa University of Agriculture Technology (OUAT) discussed the importance of using seed drills to ensure line planting to facilitate inter-cultural operations, plant diggers, decorticators and graders.
Dr M Muthu Kumar, Director of Agriculture and Food Production, Government of Odisha, described the collaboration between ICRISAT, the Department of Agriculture, and OUAT in piloting the dry plant threshers in the state as a critical move to strengthen the groundnut seed systems. He emphasized on the need to mechanize groundnut threshing as it is highly labor intensive.
Reducing post-harvest loss
Generally groundnut seeds are prone to quality deterioration and damage due to improper storage. Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS)-based triple layer plastic bags can be used to store groundnut pods without loss of viability for a period of eight months.
“This cost-efficient environment-friendly technology is of immense help to farmers as they can now save and reuse their own seeds for the next season. It helps regulate moisture content and insect activity. The PICS bags can not only protect the pod quality but also prevent aflatoxin contamination,” explains Dr Hari Sudini, Scientist- Groundnut Pathology, ICRISAT.
“It is not possible to supply seed for all the cropped area of groundnut in Odisha as it requires huge quantities of seeds, approximately 30,000 t to plant 200,000 ha. Even at 150 kg per ha and an average yield of 1.7 t per ha, an area of 18,000 ha has to be planted for seed production. Therefore, farmers are encouraged to save and reuse seeds as an alternative, provided good storage options are available,” adds Dr P Janila, Principal Scientist – Groundnut Breeding, ICRISAT.
Dr Swain Braja presented the opportunities of using groundnut-based feed and fodder to increase livestock productivity. An earlier study on the same subject conducted in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, indicated an 11% increase in milk yield when groundnut haulms of the new variety Devi (ICGV 91114) were fed to cattle.
The training program was conducted at Bhubaneshwar for members of the Department of Agriculture, Government of Odisha; NGOs; Farm Engineering Department, Government of Odisha; fabricators; National Seed Corporation; Odisha State Seed Corporation Limited; faculty members from OUAT and eight farmer group leaders. A total of 61 participants were trained.