SOUTH ASIA - Improving Cereal Productivity in South Asia
IMPROVING CEREAL PRODUCTIVITY IN SOUTH ASIA
Intensive cereal cropping systems that include rice, wheat, and/or maize are widespread throughout South Asia. These systems constitute the main economic activity in many rural areas, and provide staple food for hundreds of millions of people. The decrease in the rate of growth of cereal, both grain and residue, production in South Asia is therefore of great concern. The slowdown in yield growth mainly affected wheat and rice crops, with annual growth rates falling below 1% in recent years and staying well below the annual population growth for the past decade or more.
The Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) project was envisioned to provide an overall strategy and a new umbrella for contributing new science and technologies to accelerating short- and long-term cereal production growth in South Asia’s most important grain baskets. Several Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) organizations, in association with public and private partners, are working together for developing and implementing innovative cereal technologies and knowledge for improving farm productivity and incomes of resource poor farmers in South Asia.
International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) was invited by CSISA to partner and lead the plant nutrient management aspects of the CSISA project. This has provided an excellent opportunity to develop and extend sound nutrient management strategies across large cereal growing areas of South Asia through multiple partners. We are focusing our research and extension activities on issues that we feel are critical to overcome the stagnation in cereal yields:
– Moving from generalized fertilizer recommendation to site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) practices.
– Developing nutrient management strategies as a component technology of emerging no/reduced-till and residue management scenarios.
– Addressing nutrient management in intensified cropping systems as well as in emerging rice-maize and intercropping systems.
– Packaging site-specific nutrient management technologies in farmer/extension agent- friendly format for easy application and adoption in farmers’ field.
International Plant Nutrition Institute and the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) jointly provided funds to run hundreds of trials in rice, wheat and maize across the Indo-Gangetic Plains and the Cauvery Delta. These trials are providing new insights in to N, P, and K responses of cereal crops grown under different environment, tillage, and residue retention scenarios. The results from these on-farm trials have helped IPNI in improving general awareness about NPK requirements in intensive cereal systems among stakeholders. The trials have also helped in developing decision support tools that are expected to help in adoption of improved nutrient management practices in cereals across large areas. Two such software tools, Wheat Nutrient Expert and Maize Nutrient Expert, developed by IPNI in association with collaborating NARS and CG Scientists, are capable of providing field-specific nutrient recommendations to individual farmers quickly. These recommendations are based on a realistic target yield for the farmer, history of fertilizer use in the field, and the likelihood of N, P, and K responses in the targeted crop. The tools are now at different stages of validation across diverse growing environments. We expect that the decision support tools will be released for free public use by the end of 2012.
For more information, contact Dr. Kaushik Majumdar, Director, IPNI South Asia Programme, 354, Sector-21, HUDA, Gurgaon 122016, Haryana, India. Phone: Tel: +91.124.2461694. Fax: +91.124.2461709. Email: email@example.com.