Paira Rice Cropping System

News Excerpt:

Odisha is capitalising on the Paira Rice Cropping technique to promote climate-resilient agriculture and nutrition sensitivity in the state.

What is Paira Rice Cropping System?

  • Traditionally, coastal areas of the state have practiced Paira cropping system, where pulse crops were sown in standing paddy fields prior to harvest, utilising available moisture and requiring minimal intervention and cost. However, due to climate change, this conservation agricultural practice has dwindled in recent years. 
  • This practice saves time, money (to be spent on land preparation etc.) and utilizes residual fertility. This practice is common in both upland and lowland rice culture. It is also known as Relay or Utera cropping.

The case of Odisha:

  • Odisha has a cultivable area of over 6.18 million hectares and is endowed with 10 agro-climatic zones. The state predominantly relies on rice cultivation to meet the food demands of its population.
  • The area under rice crops accounts for about 60 per cent of the total sown area during the Kharif season. On the other hand, pulse crops cover about 50 per cent of the total area during the Rabi season. 
  • However, limited irrigation facilities during the Rabi season have constrained the expansion of crop production. 
  • Cultivation of short-duration pulse, oilseed crops in rice fallow is helping maximize land use efficiency, boost farmers’ income, and promote regenerative agriculture.
  • The residual moisture left in the soil at the time of rice harvest is often sufficient to raise short-duration pulses and oilseed crops. This is an efficient way of utilising resources for sustainable crop intensification and boosting land productivity. 
  • Rice fallow, or uncropped land left after rice harvest, is a major agricultural issue in eastern India. However, introducing technologies and crops with tailored agronomy based on landscape suitability helps turn it into an opportunity. It also helps farm income and ensure food and nutritional security.
  • The state government implemented the comprehensive project on rice fallow management for the first time during the 2022-23 Rabi season, achieving about 70,000 hectares.
  • Taking a cue from its success, during the 2023-24 Rabi season, the programme has been scaled up to 382,000 hectares against the target of 400,000. The scheme is being implemented in all 30 districts of the state.
  • Eight crops, including green gram, black gram, field pea, Bengal gram, grass pea, lentil, mustard and sesamum have been targeted under the scheme. Local varieties of green gram have shown great potential.

Promoting rice fallow management

  • The rice fallow management initiative is a simple and effective scientific approach that has the potential to improve soil health and climate resilience of agri-food systems.
  • The rice fallow management approach helps in enhancing crop coverage, reducing soil degradation, increasing soil nutrients through crop systems approach, improving nutrition security through the consumption of pulses and other crops and above all, making effective use of the natural resources of the region. 
  • Rice fallow management is the largest regenerative crop demonstration activity in the entire country. It will not only set a milestone in regenerative agriculture but also set a precedent for sustainable crop management practices nationwide. 

Access to eco-friendly inputs

  • Central to the success of the rice fallow initiative is the incorporation of a diverse range of eco-friendly agri-inputs, including bio-fertilisers, bio-pesticides and integrated pest management techniques such as light traps, pheromone traps and blue and yellow sticky traps. These measures are designed to promote natural pest control, reduce reliance on chemical pesticides and enhance overall ecosystem health.
  • In addition to pest management strategies, the programme emphasises the importance of balanced nutrient management through the application of micronutrients. 
  • For addressing the issue of soil acidity, which is a major stumbling block for improving the productivity of non-paddy crops. Accordingly, dolomitic limestone is being provided to farmers for the amelioration of acid soils. 

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