Progressive woman farmer leads the way in promoting DSR-based cropping system in Odisha

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From a successful farmer,  Mrs. Biswal became a service provider after attending formal hands-on training by the DSR-Odisha Project. In the 2023 kharif season she and her husband, with support from the project team, offered their service to neighboring farmers. (Photo: IRRI India)

The case of Mrs. Bishnupriya Biswal reflects the importance of considering subjective social paradigms in designing interventions. Her newfound confidence is a testimony to the technological benefits and advantages of experimenting and adopting the DSR-based cropping system at her farm. It also led to her transformation into a woman initiating innovations for the benefit of other farmers.

“I do it,” Bishnupriya Biswal said confidently.

Mrs. Biswal, a farmer from Radho Village in the Mayurbhanj District of Odisha, was responding to the question of who practices direct-seeded rice (DSR)-based farming at a village meeting. But behind her confidence is a story of her willingness to endure adversity to try new things.

Her entry into mechanized DSR  began with her association with the Precision direct-seeded rice-based diversified systems for transforming labor requirements, yields, and profitability of smallholder farmers in Odisha (DSR-Odisha) Project.

Tougher than weeds
Mrs. Biswal and her husband Kiran Kumar owned 3.2 hectares (ha) of land. She tested DSR technology on their land during the 2022 kharif season.

Her initial attempt, however, did not go well. Mrs. Biswal faced a weed infestation more serious than she had encountered before in her rice fields because she failed to apply post-emergence herbicides at the right time. Despite getting several recommendations from the project team on herbicide use, her husband decided to return to traditional cultivation using puddling.

However, Mrs. Biswal did not give up on DSR-based farming as easily.

“I convinced my husband to leave half a hectare for DSR and follow the recommendations shared by the project team,” she said. “After one month my husband was surprised and pleased to see the progress of the DSR crops as compared to the rest of the farm using transplanted rice. The DSR crop resulted in better harvest.”

Mrs. Biswal said the advantages of DSR over puddling, which included less labor, drudgery, higher savings from less water, and higher yields, changed their mindset about the technology.

In the 2022-23 rabi season, the couple conducted adaptive trials and demonstration plots of groundnut, maize, sunflower, green gram, and black gram using a seed driller, potential varieties, and tailored agronomic management practices on their entire farm with technical support from the project.

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