Background: Grown on 4.0 M ha, postrainy sorghum is the lifeline of dryland farmers in Maharashtra state of India. The grain is highly valued for its food use and its stover is highly preferred for animal feed. The crop is grown purely on residual soil moisture with only 50 mm rainfall received during crop growth period. While sorghum productivity during the rainy season in India is over 1200 kg/ha, productivity during the postrainy season is very low at 650-700 kg/ha. Lack of improved seed, poor awareness of new varieties, weak seed systems (seed replacement ratio 20%) were identified as major constraints in enhancing the adoption of new varieties.
ICRISAT with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland cereals (CRP-GLDC) focuses on transforming agri-food systems for enhancing rural prosperity. Towards this, ICRISAT and partners undertook massive transfer of improved seeds and best-bet practices empowering farmers for technology adoption that significantly increased postrainy sorghum grain yields by 35% and stover yields by 20% in over 40,000 farmers’ fields in the Maharashtra state of India. To make these inventions sustainable, an innovative ‘Seed Consortium’ was established by involving Indian National Agricultural Research and Extension System (NARES), seed agencies and farmers. The Consortium helps fix the targets to be achieved annually and work together to achieve the targeted quality seed production and supply to farmers. It involves the research institutions who supply the breeder seed, train the seed farmers and monitor the seed production plots during the crop growth season. The state seed corporation (Mahabeej) provides the buy-back guarantee to seed farmers and procure the seeds from them upon crop harvesting by paying 25% higher price than the market. Mahabeej processes the seeds and supplies to the farmers though its network of dealers across the country. With the concerted efforts by all the partners, the Seed Consortium has grown leaps and bounds producing 11,000 tons of improved seed varieties and supplying seed to 1,100,000 farmers across the postrainy sorghum growing areas in the country (Table 1.)
Table 1. Year-wise seed production and supply under the Seed Consortium
|Year||Quantity of seed produced (tons)||No. of farmers supplied with improved seeds|
The results from early adoption studies indicated that the seed and technology dissemination interventions enhanced adoption rates, reduced the yield gaps (by 30%), increased the productivity and gave higher returns to farmers (36‐41%). The studies also indicated that for every single farmer covered by consortium intervention directly, 5‐6 additional farmers benefitted. Dissemination of technologies (improved varieties seeds) through secondary channels like farmer-to-farmer, relatives, friends and gifts to their kith and kin spurred the production. Another adoption study in the intervention area involving Frontline demonstrations showed that the performance of the demonstrated technologies resulted into increase in adoption (27%), higher net returns (170%), followed by increase in grain yield (58%) and fodder yield (26%) (Chapke and Tonapi 2018).
- Identification of right partners for the initiatives and convincing them of the need and benefits of partnership
- Giving equal importance to all partners and involving them from beginning
- Making every partner own the activities and apply themselves to achieve intended objectives
- Continuous engagement with partners for smooth flow of targeted activities
- Demonstrating the utility of initiatives by taking partners to farmers’ fields
- Giving due credit to the partners upon achieving successful results
- Extensive coverage of activities and success stories in mainstream media
Author: Ashok Kumar Are, Principal Scientist & Product Placement Lead – Asia, ICRISAT
ICAR –Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR), Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (MPKV) and Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth (VNMKV), public sector seed agencies [Maharashtra State Seeds Corporation Ltd (Mahabeej) and Maharashtra State Seeds Certification Agency (MSSCA)], Dept of Agriculture, Govt of Maharashtra and the seed farmers
- Chavan UD, Ashok Kumar A, Ravinder Reddy, Ch, Belum VS Reddy, Gadakh, SR and Kalpande HV. 2016. Innovative Seed Consortium Strengthening the Postrainy Sorghum Seed Systems in India. Bulletin of the Institute of Medicine. 4(1): 1-12
- N Nagaraj, G Basavaraj, P Parthasarathy Rao, Cynthia Bantilan and Surajit Haldar. 2013. Sorghum and Pearl Millet Economy of India: Outlook and Options. Economic and Political Weekly. 48 (52): 74-81.
- Chapke RR and Tonapi VA. 2018. Socio-economic impact and adoption of improved post-rainy sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) production technologies in Maharashtra. Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences 88 (7): 992–997.
Acknowledgement: This work was undertaken as part of, and funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (CRP-GLDC) and supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.