Advances in technology and products are key to increasing productivity on the farm. In addition, certain practices can assist in optimizing the benefits of that technology.
Several years ago, cotton farmers in the state of Gujarat, India, faced a similar issue. Monsanto introduced Bollgard® and Bollgard II® technology, but most farmers were not applying the best agronomic practices.
“Project Rise aimed to improve cotton farmers’ productivity through demonstrating best agronomic practices in the farmers’ fields and showcasing comparative field results,” said Jayantilal Stashia, Monsanto manager for regional coordination.
Project Rise enlisted the help of government officials, scientists and local farmers who had participated in the preceding program, Project Trial, in order to help spread three key agronomic practices: Optimum Plant Population, Proper Nipping Practice and Integrated Nutrient Management.
The team shared the practices through trainings with audio visuals, large-scale field demonstrations, individual farmer follow-up meetings and by distributing a short video documentary.
Cotton productivity grew an average of 34 percent when farmers followed the recommended practices. Also, yields increased an average of 200 kilos/acre. The improved productivity and yields led to other benefits for the farmers.
“With additional income from incremental yield in cotton, many farmers invested in drip irrigation systems and have conserved water,” said Satashia. “Others bought mini tractors to minimize operational and fuel costs and dug wells for resourcing water.”
In addition, many women farmers cultivate cotton for their primary source of income and handle major farm operations, as well as care for their cattle and family.
“We identified these women in the community and involved them during the later phases of the project,” said Satashia. “These women were quick adopters of the new practices and strengthened the efforts of Project Rise.”