In the backdrop of erratic rainfall and prolonged drought conditions, M S Swaminathan Foundation (MSSRF) interventions started showing positive results in Odisha's Koraput district. The Foundation's interventions helped the tribal farmers of the Koraput block achieve 44 percent higher yields and better returns.
MSSRF encouraged tribal farmers to produce improved quality finger millet seeds and engaged in post-harvest processing under the project named 'Enhancing Production and Productivity of Millets and Pulses in Odisha through an Alternative Seed System Model for Production and Supply of Improved Seed Varieties', which supported by Government of Odisha under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) launched in April 2018.
The project's main objective is to make available quality seeds of improved varieties in time and incorporate systematic practices and deployment of the scientific method in cultivation.
The project has been implemented in Mustiput and Umuri Gram panchayat in Koarput district. The project introduced new technology like System of Millet Intensification (SMI) and line transplanting.
In line with the efforts, awareness and training-cum-planning programs were organized by the scientists of the Foundation at project area villages. At the event, tribal farmers received guidance on finger millet cultivation and an estimate on the costs incurred. Over the last three years, the interventions of improved varieties have helped finger millet farmers overcome the challenge of extreme climate variability of Koraput block of Odisha.
The scientists of the Foundation helped farmers with techniques for in-situ soil moisture conservation, improved varieties, knowledge on improved production technologies, seed treatment, crop management practices, and input and output market linkages, enhancing capacity building of the farmers in quality seed production.
The production of certified seeds increased with the adoption of new, improved varieties such as KMR-204 and ARJUN compared to older varieties such as ML-365, Chilika, Bhairabi, etc...Some farmers cultivated around three times more than average production with new improved varieties.
The project helped over two hundred finger millet seed production farmers by reducing the yield gaps by one-third, and enhancing the farmers' incomes by over 50 percent. Odisha State Seed Corporation Ltd. and other stakeholders procured quality seeds from farmers, encouraging them to grow. Now, the Foundation also helps producers in grading, processing and packaging, and marketing to get better prices.