Producing More with Less:
Promoting System of Rice Intensification, SRI and Up scaling Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative, SSI
AgSri has developed and tested SSI successfully and promoting SRI for last 7 years. Now, we wants to improvise the methods and promote them.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.
AgSri Agricultural Services Private Limited
Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages and is growing its impact on a regional or global scale)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
AgSri Agricultural Services Pvt. Ltd.
# 4-51 / L4-05
Hyderabad – 500032
Location(s) of impact
India: Solapur and Ahmednagar in Maharashtra; Zaheerabad in Telangana; Belgaum and Nanjangud in Karnataka
Kenya: Kakamega, Kisumu
Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative By Biksham Gujja presented by Millennium Alliance, FICCI.
An interview with a SSI woman farmer from Maharashtra State.
Western Kenya Sugar Company at Kakamega, Kisumu is set to introduce a new methodology of sugarcane cultivation (Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative) as it seeks to improve its sugar production.
Profuse tillering: With the SSI method of sugarcane cultivation, wide spacing of 5X2 ft between plants in the main field gives 45,000 to 55,000 millable canes because of more tillering. This wider spacing in SSI cultivation reduces the seed usage to mere 4,000 to 5,000 bud chips grown seedlings, compared to 48,000 buds in three budded setts, 32,000 buds in the two-budded setts and 16,000 buds in one-budded setts in conventional cultivation.
Removing buds from seed cane: Select healthy canes that are 7 to 9 months old. Care should be taken while removing the dry leaves from the cane. It is preferable to remove the leaves by hand as using knives would damage the buds. Bud chipping is done with the help of a machine called a Bud Chipper. The Bud Chipper comprises a handle and a cutting blade fixed on a wooden plank.
Intercropping for effective utilization of land: SSI supports intercropping within sugarcane stands with crops like wheat, potato, cow pea, french beans, chick pea, water melon, brinjal, etc., as there is wide spacing between the rows. In addition to more effective utilization of land, this practice will reduce the weed growth up to certain level and give extra income to farmers. Depending on location-specific factors, different intercrops may be tried.
Transplanting: The ideal age for transplanting young seedlings from the nursery to the main field is 25 to 35 days, as they will establish and grow better, with minimum loss due to transplantation shock. Planting should be done in such a way that the upper level of coco-pith around the plant roots should be in line with ground level.
Multi-layered production unit: A highly efficient production unit with high capacity and very short pressing times.
SSI nursery unit: The nursery area needs to be covered with a shade net to provide shade to the young plants and to create favourable conditions like warmth and wind-free environment. The soil inside the net is drenched with Chlorpyriphos 50 EC (5ml/l) to control termites and care should be taken to avoid any weed growth.
Comparison of roots of conventional and SRI crop: SRI methods achieved better nodal root development than conventional methods. Rice plants in the SRI plots had 10 times more root mass, about 5 times more root length density, and about 7 times more root volume in the top 30 cm of soil profile, compared with roots in the plots of flooded rice.
SRI crop: More than 100 panicles from a single seedling and more than 350 grains in one SRI panicle.
Weed management: Mechanical (rotary) weeding aerates the soil as well as removes weeds, thereby, improving soil oxygen status, stimulating faster decomposition of organic matter, and hence supplying N and other nutrients in better synchrony with plant demands than in the traditional rice system.
Wider spacing enables all leaves to be photosynthetically active; whereas with crowding, lower leaves do not get enough exposure to sunlight for photosynthesis. This deprives the plant - and especially the roots – of possible supply of photosynthesis.
Transplanting young seedlings: Planting at grids of 25 x 25 cm wider using a rope or roller marker to achieve precise inter-plant distances (to facilitate intercultivation).
Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?
Improving the productivity of major irrigated crops like paddy and sugarcane with less water is a major global challenge. AgSri has successfully demonstrated three things a) opportunity to improve productivity b) significantly reducing seed rate, water and inorganic fertilisers and c) creating new rural jobs particularly for women, all at the same time. AgSri also clearly established that SRI and SSI are accepted by farmers and they are willing to be change makers.
Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?
System of Rice Intensification, SRI
Farmers will save water, seed and fertilisers while improving the productivity. It also improves the soil fertility and the quality of paddy grains.
Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative, SSI
This is a game changer in sugarcane cultivation. Farmers plant between 8-10 t/ha as seed cane depending on climate soil. In SSI, per hectare about 12,500 seedlings are planted with 5X2 feet spacing which produce 8-15 productive tillers. SSI saves significantly seed cane, saves at least 25% of water applied to crop, improves productivity by 20% or more, and reduces the inorganic fertilisers.
Point of departure is to plant one-month old seedlings instead of raw seed cane buried in the ground. AgSri has developed, standardized high quality seedlings production while creating new employment for women in rural areas. Also, AgSri has tested the validity and willingness of farmers to shift to this method in all agro-climatic zones in India and few areas in Africa.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work
AgSri has trained more than 3,000 farmers on SRI methodology and practices. Also guides in establishing high quality nurseries and providing simple tools (marker and weeder) to SRI farmers.
In SSI, production of seedlings requires mid-level employees like technicians and field managers. So, there is creation of local jobs. Also, it requires daily labour. The work is relatively easy but requires certain type of skills, which are inherently advantageous to women and provides employment opportunities for local women.
SSI requires less water, so it is likely that less water is withdrawn for agriculture at a catchment level. Since less cane is used for seed, more cane can be used for more productive use. This will add to the national wealth.
The process of removing buds, allows for the excess cane to help the supply of cane to Artisanal sugar makers for making raw sugar, which is consumed locally. This increases the local employment and keeps traditional knowledge alive.
Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?
AgSri has raised initial capital from friends and families. AgSri raised human capital in kind (promoters and staff contribution). AgSri, received awards in the form of support to farmers in order to test the SSI & SRI methodologies. AgSri have specific contracts to test SSI methodology from factories in the form of local support and also creating markets.
Financial support for FY 2016-17 is 38.5% from grants, 60.5% from earned income and 1% from other.
The farmers who are cultivating sugarcane will be the clients and over period of type, like any other seed company, AgSri will be selling high quality seedlings to the farmers. As farmers are expected to save on the sugarcane crop, he would be willing to buy seedlings which are cost beneficial after including the ever rising labour costs.
Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?
AgSri is the first company in India (and in the world) to start production of seedlings on commercial basis to supply to the farmers. It is a new concept, developed by AgSri.
Until now farmers were burying large quantities of canes as seed. Planting one-month old seedlings instead of seed cane is a new and currently AgSri is the only company, which is engaged in this business. AgSri is providing an opportunity for farmers to produce more paddy and sugarcane with less inputs.
Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.
Talari Manaiah is a sugarcane farmer from Medak District in Telangana. He undertook SSI in one acre on trial and followed conventional method of cane planting in 3 acres. He used 5,000 seedlings of Co 86032 variety and planted at a distance of 5X2 ft. The tillering count recorded was an average 12 tillers in the SSI field whereas about 7 tillers in conventional per clump. There was good growth all through the crop period and each cane weighed about 1.5 to 2.2 kg in the SSI field with an average cane height of about 9.5 feet. Whereas conventional field yielded 38 tons of cane, the yield from one acre of SSI field was 62 tons.
He says, “I am very glad to have learnt this new method of cane cultivation. Just as other SSI farmers, I was able to cut down on my cultivation costs. What makes me very satisfied as a farmer is that I was able to make almost double the profit from the SSI yield."
Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?
Participated in previous CSV Prize competitions