19 June 2023, Odisha: When farmer Malho Marndi first adopted new, mechanised planting practices on half of her sixteen-hectare farm in Odisha, the other villagers called her “mad”, perhaps concerned about the potentially negative impacts it would have on her operational costs and yield. Marndi‘s quick adoption of new agricultural innovations, including seed drills that mechanically transplant crops such as rice, maize and wheat, instead had the opposite effect, turning her into a model farmer that others now emulate.
This is because she was part of a new project run by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which helped introduce farmers like her to new planting practices combined with improved crop varieties. Farmers can use a machine to plant rice seeds using mechanical drills rather than the traditional method of growing seedlings in a nursery and then hand transplanting them into flooded fields.
During the 2022 kharif or “monsoon” season, Marndi harvested a yield of 5.6 and 6.4 tons per hectare from planting Arize 6129 and Arize 6444 Gold, respectively. This is far higher than the average 3.7 tons per hectare attained in the country on average.
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