Agri-Technologies Promoted by BASIX Group of Companies

Soil Testing

Soil Testing Web Portal

Need for the Technology: Soil testing is the base for optimal decisions about fertilizer requirements for a crop. It involves the estimation and evaluation of the available nutrient status and acidic reaction of a sample of soil. Mittidoctor.com is a web portal that provides results of soil health within a short period . This is done by generating a fertility map after testing where the available nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium is marked as low, medium or high. Areas of sufficient and insufficient nutrients are marked out and nutritional requirements are determined. Fertilizers such as NPK, lime or gypsum are recommended in specific quantities to improve soil fertility. Fertilizer addition, which is based on the recommendation of soil testing report, usually leads to an increase in yields and profits by providing the correct amounts of needed nutrients. As nutrient availability becomes less variable, the crop growth is more uniform. Regular soil testing also contributes to environmental sustainability as the use of excess fertilizers can be avoided.

The current bottleneck faced by the farmers is the availability of the soil test results in a short time span. This defeats the purpose of using appropriate fertilizer dosages for productivity enhancements. The current bottleneck faced by the farmers is the availability of the soil test results in a short time span. This defeats the purpose of using appropriate fertilizer dosages for productivity enhancements.

Solution offered by BASIX:To reduce the time lag in receiving the soil test results along with recommendations on the fertilizer dosages, BASIX has developed an online portal called MittiDoctor.com. This portal is for soil testing and subsequent issuance of crop and agro-climatic zone wise ‘Soil Diagnosis and Fertilizer Recommendation Certificate’ called Soil Health Certificate (SHC). The Soil Testing process involves collecting Soil Sample from the farmer’s field, testing the soil sample using Soil Testing Kit, uploading the results obtained from kit to the portal and then generating the Soil health certificate.

Enterprise Model

Rural citizens can be trained as entrepreneurs who can provide services such as soil sample collection, testing of soil sample using Soil Testing Kit, operating the web portal and printing certificates. The micro-enterprise has been found to be viable, both economically and technically. The cost of a new kit including shipping charges and cost of kit refill including shipping charges have been taken into account while working out the economics of such a micro-enterprise. BASIX provides Soil Testing Kits, kit refills; training on soil sample collection, operation of the online portal and production support. The farmer collectives such as Farmer Producer Companies, Cooperatives, and SHGs can set up a centre to serve their members locally.

 
Water Conservation

Water Conservation: Advanced Sub-surface Irrigation System

Need for the Technology: Irrigation is a prerequisite for using farm productivity enhancing technologies. Irrigation is available from two sources: water stored in dams and fed to selective areas through canals, the other is groundwater. The first, being schedule based, have mono-crops of select cereals, while the other is a private property with wider crop options. Both irrigation systems could never foster competition in effective use of water. Rising demand for irrigation, limited scope and environmental costs of large dams, alarmingly falling groundwater tables, competition for water from urban areas and industrial needs, fights among states for river/dam water sharing and unpredictable and changing rainfall patterns etc. has led to water scarcity. To promote water efficiency in farms using groundwater, drip irrigation with huge subsidies is promoted by the government. As government subsidies are limited, due to fiscal limits, big farmers with subsidized/free electricity and mining deeper aquifers, sought drip systems. While the stated purpose of drip is to save water, for the big farmers it was saving on labour and not on water. Whatever water could be mined was done indiscriminately. Govt. subsidy policy had a cascading impact of high price of many otherwise useful water saving components of drip systems. Thus the aggregate level demand for water went up with no improvement in irrigation efficiency or higher production. To address this problem, System of Water for Agriculture Rejuvenation (SWAR) is a streamlined system of irrigation that makes it unique with “moisture at the plant root technology”, requiring only one fifth of water compared to drip irrigation.

Awards and Recognitions: SWAR received the Global Champion Innovation Prize for Water at the 2015 Paris International Agriculture Exposition. SWAR has won Securing Water for Food (SWF) award given by US-AID to promising technologies that grow food and reduce water requirement.

Solution offered by BASIX: System of Water for Agriculture Rejuvenation (SWAR) is a streamlined system of irrigation that makes it unique with “moisture at the plant root technology”, requiring only one fifth of water compared to drip irrigation. This advanced system can be used to grow all varieties of vegetables, flowers, fruit and forestry plants. SWAR combines traditional Indian wisdom and craft with modern science, engineering and locally available materials and is aimed at small farmers to have the gains of irrigation based agriculture. In SWAR water discharges slowly to first wet and later sweat according to the suction capacity and requirement of the soil and the roots. It combines plastic pipes as water carriers and specially designed drippers to serve measured irrigation with clay interface for wetting, sweating and retaining moisture at the plant root zone, leading to healthier plant growth while using much less water. In order to work without electricity, SWAR requires a 1,000 liters capacity overhead plastic tank on six feet high pedestal located at the highest point on the land with cover canopy. The key functions of SWAR are:

  • Longer moisture retention that is spread over a wide area;
  • Sync of oxygen and water in soil particles;
  • No weed growth or surface salt accumulation;
  • Automated, gravity based, no maintenance and needs no electricity;
  • Use well/bore well water, stored rainwater or fetch from nearby water bodies;
  • For critical Irrigation to adult plants under moisture stress to later recoup in rains;
  • Can reuse hardware once the forestry plants are established.

Farmer Focused Model

BASIX, along with our technical partner, is offering consultancy services on SWAR to individual farmers, farmer collectives through state horticulture departments etc. Our services include:

  • Identification of potential users of this technology based on need assessment done;
  • Technical assistance to facilitating agencies;
  • Support in marketing and commercialization of the product;
  • Financial consulting such as business planning, cash flow projections, income and expense estimation.

 
SRI for Paddy

Water Conservation: System of Rice Intensification for Paddy

Need for the Technology: With the onset of green revolution initiatives in India, agriculture sector saw the use of chemical inputs, new irrigation methods with newer technologies. This resulted in degradation of the soil health in general and depletion in the ground water, due to excessive mining. However, out of the 852 million poor worldwide, 221 million are in India. The country must increase its food production to 250 million tons to feed a population of over 1.3 billion people. Two thirds of Indian agriculture is largely dependent on rainfall, and current productivity of the rain fed agriculture is quite low (1 to 1.5 t/ha) as against a potential of 2.5 to 7.0 t/ha . Rainfed areas are also impacted by poverty, land degradation, malnutrition and water scarcity. In various projects, power of science-led development model for improving agricultural productivity and incomes of the rural poor in India has been demonstrated. To meet the millennium development goal (MDG) of halving the number of poor people by 2015, and to meet the challenges thrown by global warming by greenhouse gas emission, coordinated effort is urgently needed to apply science for a sustainable development in rainfed areas.

Solution offered by BASIX: The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) for paddy is a well-known agricultural practice that has been adopted by many farmers across the world. This set of agronomic practices increases significantly – in some cases up to three times - paddy yield while reducing the use of inputs such as fertilizers, water and seeds. The system was developed by a Jesuit Priest in Madagascar, who alternatively flooded and dried the paddy fields. This procedure was further studied by Norman Uphoff of Cornell University, USA, who then popularized it globally. The basic premise of SRI is that paddy is a water tolerant crop that tends to grow better when flooded and dried alternatively. SRI method also advocates for less plant density for paddy in a square grid pattern and reduced/controlled water application. This method has been instrumental in increasing yields in several rice growing countries. The principles of SRI are now also being tried with other crops and vegetables with positive results.

BASIX’s Outreach so far: BASIX has since made efforts to disseminate this technology in India and had taken up several pilots in different parts of the country. The first two field trials were conducted in the Gajnam district of Odisha and under the local rain-fed conditions, the resulting yield was about 70q/ha whereas the traditional practice just yielded 35q/ha. The positive results of the two field experiments encouraged BASIX to take up the project in other parts of Odisha and by the year 2007, BASIX had already worked with over 600 farmers. By the year 2010, BASIX had implemented SRI in around 1000 acres in Odisha benefitting 2000 farmers and another 6000 in Bihar and began implementing in other states such as Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka and the total acres of land that was covered by BASIX was around 8000 acres benefitting approximately 11,000 farmers.

In the past five years, BASIX has tied up with several organizations and is actively involved in providing services related to SRI implementation. It has tied up with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to implement SRI in the districts of Nizamabad and Mahbubnagar in Telangana and Raichur District of Karnataka. It has covered over 1500 farmers in this initiative. Furthermore, between the years of 2011-15 it has continued its implementation in the state of Odisha where it has covered 3682 acres benefiting 5700 farmers.

Technology Dissemination

BASIX plans to tie up with several governmental organizations and NGOs to disseminate this technology that could have large scale improvements in the agriculture sector of India. Having successfully contributed to productivity enhancement through SRI technology, BASIX offers to provide consultancy services.

 
Seed Production and Processing

Support for Seed Production and Processing

Need for the Technology: India, home to over 1.3 billion people, is one of the world’s foremost agriculture powerhouses. Agriculture is and has always played a dominant role in the country’s economy. But with increasing production, an emphasis has been made on improving the agricultural output of the country. Green revolution has played a significant role in improving the productivity of agriculture in the country, catapulting India to one the top positions in the world in terms of agricultural output. The country ranks in the top three in the production of several grains and pulses such as rice, wheat, sugarcane etc. With increasing importance of improving agriculture yields to feed the growing population of the country; the choice of Agri-inputs such as seeds is growing in importance.

Solution Offered by BASIX: A vital part of seed production is seed processing, which is needed to move the improved genetic materials of the plant breeder into commercial channels for feeding the rapidly expanding world population. The farmer must get the quality seed that is free from all undesired materials because farmer’s entire crop depends on it.

Advantages of seed processing:

  • Make possible more uniform planting rates by proper sizing
  • Improve seed marketing by improving seed quality
  • Prevent spread of weed seed
  • Prevent crops from disease by applying chemical protectants
  • Reduces seed losses by drying
  • Facilitate uniform marketing by providing storage from harvest time until the seed is needed for planting.

Seed Processing

BASIX has promoted a large number of Farmer Producer Organizations in several states of India. The seed requirement of the members of these collective is huge. BASIX offers services to these FPOs in both seed production and setting of seed processing units that can cater to not only the FPO members but to the market requirements of seed.

 
Agro-Chemicals

On-farm production of Microbial Bio-pesticides to promote sustainable agriculture

Need for the Technology: The world and more importantly India has realized the importance of adopting sustainable practices of agriculture. As new evidence of climate change unfolds, the once erratic instances of drought have begun to recur with alarming consistency. Chemical pesticides, once hailed to be the panacea of mankind’s problems of hunger and poverty, have today been dismissed because of untoward aberration of soil composition in the face of their excessive use. Overuse of chemical pesticides has caused acidification of soils resulting in poor and surprisingly unpredictable yields. India has a vast potential for bio-pesticides. However, its adoption by farmers in India needs education for maximizing gains. The market share of bio-pesticides is only 2.5% of the total pesticide market (as of 2010) . The stress on organic farming and on residue free commodities would certainly warrant increased adoption of bio-pesticides by the farmers.

Solution offered by BASIX: BASIX is piloting an intervention on bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides and other organic practices towards better plant health and yied. BASIX is supporting tailor-made training for farmer representatives by experts; which is aimed at creating farmer trainers in their own villages/area. These farmer trainers in turn are giving training to their peer groups which are facilitated and supervised by BASIX staff, who have the required expertise in bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides. The techniques of making these organic products have been de-mystified and instruction methods have been simplified along with ensuring that the maximum material requirements can be procured locally. The farmers are trained to produce Bio-pesticides (Trichoderma & Pseudomonas), in addition, they are also trained on the following:

  • Introduction and discussion on importance of soil testing based nutrient management
  • Agroecosystem analysis (AESA): observation in field & Ecological Engineering for Pest Management
  • Plant Compensation Ability
  • Pest: Defender Ratio
  • Insect Zoo studies
  • Farm level mass production of Mycorrhiza bio-fertilizer
  • On farm production of biological control agents and host insects (Trichogramma, Bracon & Spiders, Reduviids bugs, Corcyra)
  • Preparation and application of Neem Seed Kernel Extract (NSKE)
  • Low cost fruit fly trap
  • Rodent Pest Management
  • Vermi-technology

Bio – Pesticide Making

BASIX can offer services on training and production of Bio-Pesticides at the village level to farmer groups.

 
Agri-implements

Agri-technology as livelihood promoter, particularly for Small and Marginal Farmers

Need for the Technology: Agriculture remains the prime livelihood activity for majority of people in rural India and is crucial for food security. While, agriculture has remained a traditional activity in many parts of the country, its contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is declining and is only 13.7% . The cultivable unit land has higher pressure due to large population it has to feed while its productivity has remained lower.

Agricultural mechanization has proven success in farm operations with greater efficiency at every level of farm production. Agricultural mechanization has helped in increasing production, productivity and profitability in agriculture by achieving timelines in farm operations, precision in metering and placement of inputs, reducing available input losses, increasing utilization efficiency of costly inputs, reducing unit cost of produce, enhancing profitability. The efficient machinery helps in increasing productivity by about 30%, besides, enabling the farmers to raise a second crop or multi crop making the agriculture attractive and a way of life by becoming commercial instead of subsistence.

Solution Offered by BASIX: Farm Technology adoption among small and marginal farmers is low and limited to fewer implements compared to high number of implements been designed and tested by Standard Government Organizations due to various factors. It is in the above context that Institute of Livelihood Research and Training (ILRT), a member of the BASIX Social Enterprise Group; is interested to understand the key reasons for lesser adoptability of farm mechanization and to test out the incremental benefit of technological intervention and best management practices (BMPs) in agricultural on-farm activity as action research.

ILRT is attempting to understand five specific aspects:

  • What are the various reasons for low adoption of farm implements/technology among small farmers?
  • What are the socio-cultural barriers that prevent technology adoption?
  • To explore gender issue as reason for the same poor adoption rate
  • What are the current technology transfer/dissemination processes?
  • What would be incremental benefit to the small and marginal farmers?

A group of eight farmers from villages – Bhandari, Damna and Gaghod of Bandavgarh area were introduced to Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering Bhopal for exposure visit to showcase the usefulness of modern agricultural technology developed particularly for small farmers. The farmers were able to see many small useful implements which they were unaware of.

Farmers were encouraged to use the technologies with an objective.

  • Farmers will have higher productivity and production due to technological intervention
  • Farmers will have enhanced capacity to understand the usefulness and timeliness in operation due to new technology adoption
  • There will be saving in total physical energy input in farm operations
  • The drudgery of human and animal labour will reduce
  • There will be opening for secondary and tertiary market due to higher and timely production of crops