A Farmers Field School (FFS) has been established where farmers are trained in growing less water consuming paddy and crop varieties as part of the Sustainable Water Resource Management-project in West Bengal, India.
Farmers are taught the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method in the FFS. The SRI-method is a labour-intensive rice growing method aimed at increasing yield of rice fields and lowering water usage by only using young rice plants and growing them in a wide spaced pattern in moist soil.
An analysis of crop data from the 2020 spring season showed the yield from SRI paddy fields was 37 % higher than normal rice fields, and the income per sowed kg seed was 176 % higher when comparing 9 of the most common rice varieties. Beside workshops focusing on SRI-methods the farmers have been trained in growing potatoes in mud.
The Baseline Survey made in the beginning of the project in 2018, showed that only 27 out of the 227 (9.9 %) respondents were familiar with the SRI method, and only 4 of the 27 were also practicing it (1.5 %).
In fall 2020 59 farmers have participated in the FFS. 49 of the 59 farmers have been trained in SRI-method and 25 of them are now practicing the new cultivation form, which gives a success rate of 51 %. The remaining 10 farmers have been trained in growing potatoes in mud. Out of these farmers all 10 are now cultivating the mud potatoes, corresponding to a success rate of 100 %. Below is a diagram of the areas where the farmers are from and the number of farmers that are practicing the new methods.
The Farmers Field School is facilitated at the JGVK headquarter in Joygopalpur but the workshops are intended for all farmers in the district of South 24 Parganas. The map below shows the villages where the participating farmers live and how many farmers that are practicing the new methods.
Map showing the location of where farmers have been coming from to the FFS at JGVK headquaters.
It is seen on the map that 62 % of the participating farmers live within a distance of 12 km from JGVK. The map shows a tendency that the further the village is from JGVK, the less the farmers have been participating in the FFS.
We hope that the great work at the Farmers Field School will continue so more farmers are able to participate in the workshops and learn new methods that will make agriculture more sustainable, and villages more climate change resilient.