As the main mandate of KVK is geared towards technology assessment, refinement and demonstration, it is not always easy to get new technologies adopted at a scale in a short period of time. However, there are certain technologies that get easily adopted at a
scale if different extension approaches are carefully deployed. P N Ananth, A K Dash and J K Sundaray illustrate one such experience here.
Khordha is one of the 33 districts of Odisha (India) which has a favourable climate for cultivating cereals, pulses, oilseeds and different vegetable crops. Many varieties of vegetables are grown during the winter (Rabi) season. Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK)-Khordha, under the administrative control of ICAR-Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, is mandated to work in Khordha district. KVK has been responsible in the district for diversifying crops, introducing new varieties, and breeding of animal and fish species with scientific package of practices for improving production and farm income.
In Odisha, capsicum (Capsicum annuum L. var. grossum Sendt) is grown on limited scale in different districts; predominantly, the supply to the state is from outside. The farmers in Khordha district used to grow chilli after paddy was harvested and were not aware of capsicum cultivation. In fact, they had the perception that it would not grow in their soil and also would not sell in the local market. KVK tried to change this preconceived idea of the farmers and introduced high-value and low-volume capsicum as part of crop diversification in the district.
Capsicum is also called bell pepper and is one of the high-valued vegetables with a high content of antioxidants. Nutritionists indicate that a small bell pepper could provide up to three times the recommended daily amount of vitamin C, compared to any citrus food. The vegetable also possesses a very high content of vitamins A, C and E (all antioxidants) that help to effectively neutralise free radicals. India contributes one-fourth of the world production of capsicum with an average annual production of 0.9 million tons from an area of 0.885 million hectare with a productivity of 1266 kg per hectare (Sreedhara et al., 2013).
GOOD PRACTICES IN PROMOTING NEW CROP ESTABLISHMENT
Like any other crop introduction in the district, KVK too started organising awareness programmes for farmers to cultivate capsicum by replacing chillies to an extent with a view to increasing farmers’ income. With this initiative, KVK regularly reminded farmers that capsicum could indeed be grown in Khordha district and the market could be developed over time. A great opportunity to introduce the crop came to KVK during 2011 after floods hit the district.
Provision of seedlings
KVK worked on the flood assistance programme and farmers were provided with seedlings of vegetables. Along with other vegetable seedlings, capsicum seedlings were also provided. As the need of the hour, farmers accepted the seedlings of capsicum and were astonished to see capsicum growing and thriving in their fields. Today the crop has spread to 550 farmers in the district due to the initiation by KVK and through introduction of capsicum by state schemes.
The pathway to new crop development: It took five years to influence the farmers to adopt this crop. The timeline of the introduction is presented below:
Table 1: Timeline of capsicum as a newly introduced crop in Khordha district
in Khordha district
grown on their
input dealers to procure and supply seeds at district level
specific testing and confirmation by KVK
provides seeds to farmers in subsidised rate (post cyclone