Machine transplanting makes headway in the State

Mechanization is a crucial input for agricultural crop production. Sustainable agricultural mechanization can effectively add to the development of agricultural value chain and food systems. Mechanization across the rice value chain has been kept in the priority list of the World Bank funded Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART). Being a technical partner, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) with its implementing partner Assam Agricultural University and Dept of Agriculture, has strived for starting a positive move towards accelerated adoption of mechanization in Assam.

In Assam, intense days of heavy rain, booming thunder, and plenty of lightning have already announced the arrival of monsoon in the current season. The onset of monsoon has brought cheer to farmers of the State. This rain has injected an amazing amount of vigor into the farmers. They have gathered extra energy to go to the field and turn their dreams into reality in the form of bountiful harvest.

This time, some farmers in the State are more enthusiastic because of an endeavor created by the District Krishi Vigyan Kendras by planning mechanization in their field. It is an established fact that the traditional way of rice transplanting is labor-intensive and involves a lot of drudgery. Therefore, IRRI with AAU has projected mechanical transplanting in the State as an alternative that could successfully address the woes of small and marginal farmers. This method, being time-saving, labour saving, cost-effective and operation friendly, is gaining popularity amongst the farmers. Moreover, it helps in maintaining soil physical properties and is considered to be better from crop management and productivity point of view.

“Yes, we have an edge over traditional transplanting, but as you have seen adoption rate of mechanical transplanters was low due to high initial investment and lack of knowledge in growing mat-type nursery. Now under APART, everyone is really in a mode to grab the opportunity. It’s one of the most efficient alternatives for our farming community. The best thing is that we have a customer service center in place now … everyone can approach us for availing the service of the machine at a cheaper rental fee” said the president of the Custom Hiring Center of Nalbari.

IRRI and KVK staff are obsessed with imparting technical knowledge to farmers, ensuring timely availability of seed and encouraging custom hiring centers for including more farmers in their list.

In Assam, as per plan 40-ha area is targeted for machine transplanting under APART this year. Besides this, it is expected that on average 50 bighas of land in each district will be transplanted by the machine available in a custom hiring center or in the respective KVKs of the district.

Though the exact figure of mechanically transplanted areas in each district is yet to be computed, it is expected that the curve will scale up in the right trajectory. When interacting, the farmers of Darrang district said, “Paddy farming is now becoming interesting; technology has come to us in the right time, in the right way. It saves our energy, time and money…”

Most people are of the opinion that despite the visible benefits of many of the new agricultural technologies, including machinery and management practices, farmers either do not adopt them or it takes a long time to begin the adoption process and scaling up. This time the challenge is with IRRI, APART, AAU, and the Department of Agriculture !! A young, dynamic group of agricultural professionals is in action... for a change... for transformation in a positive direction.