Good Practices

Promoting Eco-Friendly Technologies In Rice Production In Kuttanad, Kerala

While large scale demonstrations are important to promote eco-friendly and climate resilient technologies, their up-scaling requires support from a wide range of partners. Dr. P. Muralidharan shares the experience of promoting and upscaling new technologies among farmers in Kuttanad here.


Kuttanad, the major rice granary of Kerala, is one of the few regions of the world that produces rice at below mean sea level. It forms a unique ecologically fragile bio-geographical unit that is located mostly in Alappuzha district. The vulnerability of the system is attributed to the problems of water logging and soil acidity along with climatic variations.  Crop damage due to summer rains and floods during monsoon in the low-lying paddy fields called padashekharamsare quite common. This uniqueness in bio-geography and associated social factors and institutions has earned it the status of a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) by FAO in 2013.

The heritage status also necessitates ecological restoration and sustainable development of the water-logged system which has come under increased stress due to the environmental pollution caused by indiscriminate use of high quantity of chemical fertilizers and plant protection chemicals. Moreover, the use of high quantity of seeds and high labour charges has resulted in higher cost of cultivation leaving only marginal profit to paddy farmers.
To address these problems, technology demonstrations were organised by the
KrishiVigyan Kendra (KVK) Alappuzha in Muttur Village of Veliyanad Block of Kerala. These demonstrations continued for foursuccessive crop seasons (only one crop season possible in a year) under the National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) project of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.


Identifying the Technology package

Based on the problems identified through focus group discussions (FGD) with farmers and also inputs from expert consultants, components of the technology package for demonstrations were identified. The emphasis was on identifying technologies that promote agro-ecosystem resilience against climate variations. The package of technologies demonstrated includes the following:

  1. Optimization of seed rate and plant population through the use of drum seeder:  Drum seeder is a simple device used for wet sowing of pre-germinated paddy seeds directly on well puddled and levelled fields. The seeder consists of four seed drums fixed on a central shaft with wheels on both the sides. Each drum has holes of 9 mm diameter at both ends for dropping seeds at a spacing of 20 x 10 cm. Water soaked pre sprouted seeds of paddy are filled upto half the drums. On pulling the seeder, 3-4 paddy seeds are placed at 10cm intervals at a row spacing of 20 cmseeder @ 30 kg/ha.
  1. Site specific acidity-nutrient management (SSNM) based on soil testing: Soils of the Kuttanad region are inherently highly acidic and hence acidity management forms the key for higher crop production through improved nutrient efficiency. Based on soil testing, dolomite was applied as the liming material to have the added advantage of magnesium in this liming material. The quantity of fertilisers recommended for application were modified based on the soil test results, which in many cases were less than the quantity traditionally applied by the farmers;
  1. Eco-friendly pest and disease management:

Pests and diseases were managed by use of Pseudomonas for seed treatment, soil, and foliar applications; placement of trichocards for the control of major pests (stem borer and leaf roller) and light traps for pest monitoring; and use of fish amino acid against rice bugs.



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  • This is the way I think the KVKs must function. With small number of technical people the KVKs are not expected to cover the entire district and the other stakeholders in agricultural development especially the DoA, can take advantage of such initiatives and emulate in other areas which are similar in agro ecological situations.I congratulate the team KVK of CPCRI headed by Dr.Muralidharan. I am sure there will be such good performing KVKs which need to be promoted. By reading the earlier blogs of Dr.Mahesh Kumar and others on KVKs including the present one on good practices, I feel it is high time for the ICAR to identify and rank the KVKs through transparent evaluation system and encourage the best KVKs with better inflow of funds and close the KVKs which are non performing KVKs. Culling of non performing KVKs as is known to everybody will help in proper distribution of scant resources. There is no point in increasing the number of KVKs without weeding the non performing ones.

  • I had chance to visti Rice production areas of Kuttanad, Kerala on number of occasions when I reviewed Kuttanad package from Planning Commission side. The Department of Agriculture there has a panchayat level outfit called as Krishi Bhavan, managed by AEO of the area. I found its g good outpost but not very well equipped technically and therefore I am strongly in favour of our KVK scientists to be available, may be on a fortnightly or monthly basis, with these Krishi Bhavans. Their visit schedule can be pre- determined on demand basis and widely publicized in the entire panchayat so that maximum number of farmers could take an advantage of the same. The SAU Dir.Extension and PC KVK could work out such a arrangement in consultation with PD,ATMA. I am endorsing this email to Dr. AKSingh,DDG Extension ICAR for his intervention as deemed appropriate, as the linkage between KVK-ATMA was highlight of our report submitted to ICAR in January 2015.

  • Hi sir I am very much impressed with your aticle and the findings , my self Naveen kumar working on the same line in palakkad district on impact of eco-friendly technologies in rice promoted through FFS I too have noticed the same result in some of the areas they are not all using chemicals in cultivation and some of them have reduced usage of pesticides , I want a clarification about the cost of cultivation of rice by using eco-friendly technologies.

  • Successful KVK-ATMA convergence is rare due to variety of reasons but essential to achieve success in demonstrating, convincing & upscaling technologies. Here we find this happening for the good ! congratulations & thanks for sharing good practices. May be many others would come forward to share their good practices on different aspects of agricultural production.