The benefits to the farming community of partnerships between public research institutes and private companies have been demonstrated in East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh, India, where machine transplantation has reduced the cost of cultivation by half, as well as increased yields by around 750 kg per ha.
Developing farmer field laboratory and sites of learning to pilot new technologies, ICRISAT has introduced machine transplanting on a pilot basis under the Private Public Partnership (PPP) mode in 16 ha under the Rythu Kosam program. ICRISAT and the pilot site farmers entered into a PPP agreement with KUBOTA India, a Japanese farm machinery company.
Several awareness programmes were conducted in the pilot village of Lingumparthy in Yeleswaram mandal, regarding the benefits from cost reduction and increased yields the farmers would obtain by adopting machine transplanting. These programmes were conducted by Dr Rajesh Nune, Visiting Scientist, ICRISAT, Mr Bharat Chandra, Scientific Officer, ICRISAT and Ms T Sangeeta, Research Technician, ICRISAT Development Centre, along with Nature Volunteer Organization, a local NGO.
Nearly 120 farmers showed interest in being part of the pilot initiative. Data such as preferred seed variety, date of sowing, proposed area of machine transplantation, etc., was collected from the interested farmers. KUBOTA procured seeds of the farmer preferred varieties, raised the nursery of different varieties of paddy at the Maruteru Research Station (West Godavari), transported the saplings to the farmers’ fields and transplanted them using the machine, in the first week of August 2015.
The cost incurred by the farmer for this was ` 7,500 (US$ 112) per ha, which was half of what a farmer usually spends, ` 15,000 (US$ 223), for the above work. Another issue addressed through this intervention is the labour shortage, which is a major problem in this village.
Through crop cutting experiments in machine transplanted fields and control fields, it was demonstrated that on an average, the machine transplanted fields showed increased yield of around 3-5 bags (approximately 750 kg per ha) compared to the control fields.
In rabi (post rainy) 2015-16, farmers from Siripuram village, located adjacent to Lingumparthy village, have also come forward and joined the PPP mode. The area under machine transplantation has now expanded to 80 ha.
Under the Rythu Kosam program, KUBOTA India will set up a “Custom Hiring Centre” in the pilot village, where farmers will have access to all farm equipment of the company and can hire them for their fields on a first-come-first-serve basis. Additional farmer support will also be made available at the centre.