In this time of the year, the scenes are the same in the whole Terai region. Green and yellow fields slowly give place to small patches of land that have already been cleared. Farmers on their colourful outfits provide a beautiful contrast to the landscape, while they carry big bundles of rice above their heads.
SAFBIN started to work in the Naulapur village, Banke district, in the second phase of the programme, which started in 2018. The “Naulapur Agriculture Research Group-1” was just finishing a meeting to collect savings from members when Caritas Nepal’s team arrived to accompany the first rice harvest in the village, where 15 households are participating of the programme.
In the Terai region, most of the houses have a pump that gets water from an underground source. However, in the drought periods, such sources of water are not enough for household consume and irrigation. The erratic rain patterns are already making rice transplanting difficult, because there is not enough water in this period, since the Monsoon season has been usually late in the past years. Without rain, there is a risk to waste the seedlings, which become old for transplant, thus less productive.
SAFBIN provides different varieties of seeds that are more tolerant to drought, so farmers are able to research what works best in their fields. Below we describe the phases involved in the whole process until smallholder farmers are able to get the results of this beautiful, hard and important work:
1 – Nursery bed preparation (around June)
There are 4 types of seeds: Breeder, Foundation, Improved 1 and Improved 2. The programme provided Foundation seeds, which smallholders can use and reproduce for 3 to 4 years. They will germinate for 21 to 25 days, when it is time to transfer them to the field.
2 – Transplanting
At the end of July, rice seedlings grown in the nursery are pulled and manually transplanted into the fields, which have been laid out in 8 plots of 9m2, with a distance of 30cm between them.
3 – Monitoring
Monthly meetings were held with the Farmer Field Schools to monitor the progress of the crops and discuss issues such as Integrated Pest Management and urea top dressing, which is a nitrogen fertilizer. Weeding is also done periodically to remove unwanted plants out of the fields.
Usually happens at the end of October. Before the process starts, SAFBIN staff measures the field and takes sample data of 6m2 of each rice variety provided. The data will later be converted to tons/hectare. Measures are also taken from the straw and grain yields, to check productivity. Farmers harvest the rice and separate the seeds using their traditional method.
The grains harvested from this field specifically will be used for seeding in the next season. After threshing, they will be left to dry for 3 days. SAFBIN staff weighed the seeds obtained to check which variety was more productive.
5 – Presentation of results
SAFBIN staff presents the results of the harvest to the representatives of the agricultural groups. Some varieties of rice provided more straw than others, while some varieties needed more water and compost. If they need more straw for their cattle, or to grow mushrooms, now they are able to make an informed decision on which variety works best for them in their field and conditions.
After the harvest of rice, participants will cultivate lentils, mustard and wheat. SAFBIN will assist them in verifying the productivity and soil health of the different crop rotations.
Pictures Credit: Dipendra Lamsal and Safbin Team