By Ajeet Kumar and Barsha Das
“Everything else can wait, but not agriculture” ~Shri Jawaharlal Nehru
Lajja Ram, a small-scale farmer of Punhana block, Nuh, Haryana, devotes all his time to farming and animal husbandry. He has three acres of agricultural land, where he mostly cultivates staple crops like wheat, mustard, and pearl millet. For the past twelve years, he has relied on traditional farming techniques due to a lack of scientific understanding of modern and sustainable farming methods, and his overall yield and productivity decreased due to excessive use of DAP and urea.
Under a CSR-supported project implemented by S M Sehgal Foundation, farmers received capacity-building training on modern agriculture techniques, including demonstrations on Package of Practices (PoP) for better crop productivity, and income generation was a key intervention.
During the training, Lajja Ram learned about many scientific ways to increase the output of various crops. He participated in a demonstration using good practices in mustard, for which he received a PoP kit for a half-acre of land. The other half-acre was the control plot where he used his usual traditional methods of agriculture. The same mustard seeds were used for both the demonstration (demo) and control plots. The micronutrients provided in the PoP kit included sulphur, zinc, and sulphate of potash, among others. During the crop cycle, Lajja Ram observed differences in both the quantity and quality of the crops between the two plots in terms of the growth of the leaves, stems, plant height, size, and texture. In the control plot, the mustard seeds were a dull color and smaller in size due to the use of inappropriate amounts of urea and DAP. The physical characteristics of the seeds from the demo plot were larger, more in number, having a good texture and shine.
Lajja Ram said, “There were variances in both quantity and quality between the demonstration and control plots. The demonstration plot produced 520 kg of mustard, while the control plot produced 400 kg, i.e. a difference of 120 kg. Given that mustard cost INR 50 per kg, the demonstration plot’s half-acre yielded a gross profit of INR 7200, due to improved cultivation practices.”
(Ajeet is field assistant, and Barsha is assistant program lead, S M Sehgal Foundation)