Given the highly diverse and dynamic nature of the rice farming, research activities took explicit account of site-specificity by way of AICRIP System (All India Coordinated Rice Improvement Project). What is practical and profitable for farmers at any given site depends on the unique combination of bio-physical, socioeconomic, organizational and institutional circumstances. As a consequence, it is almost impossible for researchers to develop standard technologies that can be adopted everywhere and thus easily replicated in different contexts.
To address this problem, we have brought out this handbook on Package of Practices (POPs) for rice in the most simple and lucid form. Because the best agricultural practices are localized, it is not easy to present a “cook book” of Package of Practices” for all practical purposes. However, an attempt is made here to enlist the ingredients and cooking methods, to enable extension professionals and farmers to develop their own regional recipes, to suit the specific local conditions.
Thisbook could be put in its best use when the ‘packages’ are discussed among fellow extension professionals, farmers in a participatory way embedding with farmer experimentation, discussions, experiences, standardizing and adaptation of technologies.
While going thorugh the state specific and topic specific POPs, it is advised to keep in mind the following six principles.
Principle 1: Rice Integrated Crop Management (RICM)
Rice growing should be seen as a complete production system and integrated management is essential as each single practice and output interacts with other practices, and affects a range of outputs of management that ultimately combine to give the yield, grain quality, and environmental sustainability.
Principle 2: Inputs, Outputs, and Outcomes
Differentiating between practices and the results is very essential. Management inputs (the practices or what the farmer needs to do) are different from the management outputs (the results of these practices or what the farmer is trying to achieve); the management of inputs must achieve optimum level of outputs at all growth stages and management areas to achieve optimum yields and other outcomes such as reduced cost of cultivation.
Principle 3: Key Outputs
Identifying the most important factors in package of practices is essential. Some practices / outputs of practices are more important than others in managing the rice crop to achieve improved yield and other outcomes. These factors may vary from place to place.
Principle 4: Key Checks
Using the key outputs (such as optimum level of tillers) as targets of management practices and subsequently, as benchmarks for effectively evaluating and checking the Outputs at every stage of crop growth.
Principle 5: Changing farmers’ practices
Change in farmers’ practices may not occur overnight. A farmer identifying good practices is a precursor to change. The strengths and weaknesses of each of the practices must be identified and recognized by the farmer before these can be changed; and yield, grain quality, and environmental outcomes can be improved.
Principle 6: Farmer group discussions
Encourage farmers to discuss about the contents of this book to facilitate collaborative learning with others. Create an environment where every farmer feels that these practices are not thrusted on him, rather these are the cafeteria of practices from which he can choose what is best for him.
Finally encourage farmers to use a Crop Calendar. A crop calendar is a picture of your rice growing season: crop production from the fallow, land preparation, crop establishment and maintenance through to harvest and storage. By using a crop calendar, farm activities are better planned, done at the right time and it is easier to organize labor and obtain inputs such as seed and fertilizer. Better planning will decrease input costs and increase yields.
While we are trying to make the book available online in most useful fromat, for hard copies (on payment basis, you can write to Project Director, Directorate of Rice Research, Hyderabad)