Rice Production Sustainability and Livelihood Improvement in Rice Farmers of Fragile Environment in West Bengal, India.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Prominentenzimmer (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Subir Kumar BARDHAN ROY, CENTRE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES, India, Centre for Strategic Studies, India
West Bengal   located in the eastern India  is a major rice producing state . Rice is the staple food of the  state and produced by small and  marginal poor farmers for their livelihood under harsh  abiotic and biotic conditions.  Out of  total rice area  5.8 million hectare,   4.2 million ha of rice  grown under rain fed   condition in   different   stress situations  viz.  flood and drought prone , salinity and pest  severity .Thus   variability  of rice production  is often visualized influencing livelihood of the farmers.

Traditionally  farmers  in fragile environment  cope or avoid   stresses with  age old management  practices  (known as  indigenous technologies)  which involves  traditional   varieties, establishment  period adjustment and  other agronomic manipulation.  Resulting  low productivity and  negative impact on livelihood.   Agriculture is sustainable when current and future  food demands  are met with out unnecessarily compromising  economic,ecological and social/political needs.  Recent  genetical  manipulation  in rice for stress tolerance  increased  sustainability of production  with utilizing  minimum   natural  resources and  social and political  destabilization.

Farmers   often  adopt  risk prone  unsustainable  agriculture  for  economic  improvement  , classic  example  is  high input  and resource  consuming  potato  and boro (dry season)rice  cropping  in West Bengal.  A  ten  year time  period  data revealed   production of both the crops  registered  less than average in half the years .   But higher productivity and  market  price   supports   livelihood improvement reflected by rapid increase in Potato area and Boro rice coverage in irrigated area.

The present study   concludes that  new generation  genetically  manipulated  rice bestowed  rice agriculture more  sustainable   with higher production and profitability in fragile environment  replacing indigenous  technologies.