Alternative crops


An increasing number of CBOs have tested dry season crops (garlic, mustard, maize, sunflower, etc) with low water demand which were new to their areas. These have proven to give better returns and to require much less water than irrigated rice, thereby reducing water abstraction and improving fish survival.

384 farmers from 100 CBOs tried different low water demand alternative crops (garlic, potato, maize, sunflower, potato, wheat, and mustard) which were not previously grown in their areas. The number of adopting CBOs increased in all regions and environments.



Garlic demonstration at Hail Haor in Srimangal (NC)

On average all crops proved profitable according to the farmers. Although garlic was the most popular and economically viable crop for the floodplain environment, pulses gave the highest net return on investment (about 5 times) and net return per acre. Pulses also fix nitrogen and need very little fertilizer and almost no pesticide.

Upscaling within each CBO area is slow but farmers who tried the crops have expanded their areas. After successful CBO demonstrations of maize and sunflower in the southwest region, during December 2009-January 2010, 40 CBOs adopted sunflower and made linkages to sell their harvest.

Returns from low water demand crops taken up by CBOs compared with irrigated rice in 2008-09 dry season.


Crop

Water demand (mm)a

No. of farms

Net return as % of HYV rice

Benefit – cost ratio

Net return (US$/100 mm water/ha)

Grasspea

90-100

10

168

4.6

485

Garlic

150

45

323

3.4

625

Mustard

160

38

122

2.9

221

Wheat

200

5

58

2.2

85

Maize

240

29

62

2.7

74

Sunflower

300

29

249

3.7

240

Potato

350

13

558

2.4

462

HYV rice

835-1000

9

100

2.1

8

a Biswas and Mandal (1993) quoted in Shankar et al. (2004)

 

 

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