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A participatory technology development programme has been launched by the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS) of the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) at Pilicode in Kasaragod to promote manual mat nursery in paddy in a big way.
RARS initiated the programme at Kolachery padashekhara in the district to perfect the technology of mat nursery without the use of machine.
The programme has been conceived under the Lead Farmers Extension Advisory and Delivery Services (LEADS) in association with the Department of Agriculture. The participatory technology development programme is being conducted by enlisting the participation of field assistants of LEADS programme, farmers, officers of the Agriculture Department and KAU scientists.
According to RARS scientists, the mat nursery is usually used for transplanting paddy using machine, namely transplanter. However, it is not practical to use transplanter in many of the paddy fields due to the difficulty in transporting it to the difficult terrain, non-availability of the machine as also shortage of trained persons to operate it, they said.
“The mat nursery does not require the services of traditional women labourers for transplanting,” said K. Abdul Kareem, Associate Director, RARS. Mat nursery saves labour up to 50 per cent and it reduces the nursery area to two cents of land as against 10 cents required for planting one-acre under the conventional nursery, he noted. Moreover, the nursery need not be prepared in paddy fields as it can be prepared anywhere and carried to the location, Dr. Kareem said.
The other advantages include requirement of no additional labour for picking the seedlings from nursery. It is also said that there will not be any incidence of weeds and that it is possible to effectively curb the occurrence of pests and diseases. A one-day practical training and workshop was conducted at Kolachery on December 5 for field assistants and lead farmers as part of the programme. Dr. Kareem inaugurated the programme at a function presided over by Narayanan Namboodiri, a leading rice farmer of the district. Agricultural scientists P.K. Ratheesh, T. Santhoshkumar, and others spoke.