IMPACT OF CROPPING SYSTEMS PROGRAM
AT SUKCHAINA, Nepal )
B.K. SINGH AND K.D. SAYRE2)
1) Contribution from Farming Systems Program, Nepal, sponsored jointly
by HMG/USAID with technical assistance from Winrock International.
2) Agronomist and Senior Cropping Systems Research Agronomist, respectively,
1 This paper attempts to document some of the changes since 1977 that have
2 occurred in Sukchaina Village, through the efforts of the Cropping Systems
4 The seven years that the Cropping Systems Program has spent in Sukchaina
5 is divided into two broad periods : 1977 1980 Research Phase and
6 1980 to the Present Research and Extension Phase. Throughout this
7 time various surveys have been conducted to determine what changes have
8 been taking place. This paper complies and briefly summarizes the
9 results of these surveys, emphasizing those conducted in 1981 and 1984.
10 The main criteria that have been used in this paper to illustrate changes in
crop production strategies that have occurred at Sukchaina involve changes
11 in rice varieties, fertilizer application to rice, rice yields, cropping
12 patterns and Cropping Intensity measured by Land Utilization Index
13 (LUI) and Multiple Cropping Index (MCI),
14 Additional Index Words : Cropping Systems, rice varieties, fertilizer
15 application to rice, rice yields and land use.
16 If you study a map of Parsa District in Nepal, you will find Sukchaina,
17 a village of approximately 100 households and 150 ha of cultivated land,
18 surrounded by a network of irrigation channels. However, these channels
19 are useless to the farmers of Sukchaina because they are designed to
20 deliver irrigation water to other adjoining areas. Sukchaina, because
21 of its location and topography has been by-passed; left as an island of
22 rainfed agriculture. It is representative, however, of thousands of
23 hectares of rainfed, rice-growing lands in Nepal's Terai area. In 1977',
24 the Cropping Systems Program selected Sukchaina Village, one of a network
25 of Cropping Systems Research sites in Nepal, as an appropriate location
26 to test new crop-production technologies for the rainfed areas of the
28 The Cropping Systems Program has implemented a novel approach to identify
29 useful, improved crop-production technologies in several well-defined
30 socio-agro-climatic situations in Nepal. The approach strives to bring
31 together biological scientists, social scientists and farmers to work
32 together as a team in farmers' fields to identify improved practices to
33 increase crop production and economic well-being, After developing a
34 thorough understanding of the conditions that exist within the area
35 encompassed by the Cropping Systems Research site, research trials are
36 designed and implemented with full participation of carefully selected
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37 farmers to test new innovations and to evaluate their utility.
38 The Cropping Systems Approach seeks to elevate farm income by increasing
39 total crop production of farms though identification of innovations that
40 are compatible with the agronomic and climatic conditions, the farm
41 resources base (capital, labor, power and management capability) and
42 the existing cropping systems. This differs to some extent from more
43 traditional commodity-based research and production approaches that
44 focus on increasing yield of a single crop such as rice, wheat, maize etc.
45 The Cropping Systems Approach strives to increase total crop production
46 per year of farms by improving the crop performances in the predominant,
47 existing cropping patterns or by increasing the intensity of land use by
48 adding additional, relevant crops to the existing patterns or by a
49 combination of both approaches.
50 The biological scientists are aware of the most recent technological
51 advances available from the various commodity programs and research
53 The social scientists assist these scientists in deciding which technologies
54 to try by developing a "screen" to shift out the relevant technologies
55 worthy for test, based on their knowledge, developed through observation,
56 surveys and interviews within the site, of the prevailing conditions.
57 The selected farmers agree to try these technologies in their fields in
58 cropping patterns and component technology trials and pass judgement on
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the feasibility of the innovations. Once useful new technologies are
identified, they are extended to the farmers within the site and to farmers
in other similar areas.
This approach has been followed at Sukchaina and other Cropping Systems
Research sites. This report attempts to document the success that the
Cropping Systems Program and the Sukchaina farmers have achieved in
improving crop production at Sukchaina.
The reader is directed to the International Rice Research Institute
(IRRI) publication entitled "A Methodology for On-Farm Cropping
Systems Research" by H.G. Zandstra et al for a thorough
presentation of the research methodologies that have been followed.
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66 The seven years that the Cropping Systems Program has spent in Sukchaina
67 can be divided into two broad periods : 1977 1980 Research Phase
68 and 1980 to the present Research and Extension Phase. Throughout
69 this time, various surveys have been conducted to determine what changes
70 have been taking place.
71 The first survey, conducted in 1977, was a reconnaissance survey to
72 describeothe existing situation before the research phase was initiated.
73 This survey was instrumental in helping the researchers plan the initial
74 trials that were established. It also forms a baseline for measuring
75 changes that are observed in succeeding surveys. This survey indicated
76 that : 1) 95 % of the cultivated area in Sukchaina was rainfed; 2) the
77 average land holding was 0.83 ha per household; 3) over 50% of the
78 cultivated area was under a rice monocrop and 4) numerous local rice
79 varieties were being grown over 80 % of the rice area. The farm size
80 distribution was as follows :
Farm Size (ha) % of Household
0 1.5 63.8
1.5 3.0 20.2
3.0 and above 10.4
81 In 1981, coinciding with the beginning of the research and extension phase,
82 a parcel to parcel survey of 122 parcels belonging to 40 farmers was
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83 conducted. This survey sought information about cropping pattern being
84 followed, crop varieties, crop yields, fertilizer application, availability
85 of irrigation plus several other factors about each parcel. In 1984, a
86 a second survey using basically the same questionnaire was conducted with
87 the same 40 farmers concerning the same 122 parcels (one parcel, it
88 turned out, had been sold). In addition, in 1984 a Key Informant Survey
89 was conducted with five knowledgeable Sukchaina farmers concerning the
90 current, general agricultural situation in their village. This report
91 compiles and briefly summarizes the results for these three surveys,
92 emphasizing those conducted in 1981 and 1984, to document the striking
93 changes that have occurred at Sukchaina from 1977 to 1984.
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RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
94 The main criteria that has been used in this report to illustrate
95 changes in crop production strategies that have occurred at Sukchaina
96 involve changes in rice varieties, fertilizer application to rice, rice
97 yields, cropping patterns and cropping intensity is measured by Land
98 Utilization Index (LUI) and Multiple Cropping Index (MCI). Each of
99 these will be separately discussed.
A. Rice Varieties
100 The reconnaissance survey and other observations during 1977 indicated
101 that many different local varieties were being grown in Sukchaina.
102 Each local variety had defined characteristics recognized by farmers.
103 For example, Anandi had good popping quality; Basmati very fine, aromatic
104 grain and good straw yield; Kasturi had fine aromatic grain; and
105 Handiful was somewhat drought tolerant and had comparatively good grain
106 and straw yield under minimum inputs. All, however, were generally low
107 in grain yield and most were late in maturity. Farmers tended to grow
108 certain varieties in association with certain cropping patterns and
109 land types.
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110 The Cropping Systems Researchers realized at the onset that it would be
111 necessary to test and identify several improved rice varieties to adapt
112 to the existing cropping patterns and land types or for use in new
113 alternative patterns. No single improved variety would fit all situations.
114 Farmers not only considered grain yield but also maturity to fit certain
115 patterns, straw yield, threshing characteristics, grain characteristics
116 for consumption and marketing and certainly other factors. Emphasis,
117 however, was given to identify sound improved varieties that were earlier
118 than most of the locals. The strategy was to make better use of residual
119 moisture from the monsoon rain through earlier rice harvest to allow
120 planting of winter crops at the appropriate time and to spread peak labor
122 The figure 1, illustrates the changes that have occurred in use of
123 rice varieties in Sukchaina from 1977 to 1984.
124 In 1977, 80% of the area was planted to local varieties and 20% was
125 planted to the two existing improved varieties, Masuli and CH-45. By
126 1981, coinciding with the research phase, 54% of the area was planted
127 to four improved varieties versus 46% for local varieties. Bindeshwari
128 and Malika had been identified in the research as promising and spread
129 to other farmers had occurred by farmer-to-farmer seed sale or exchange.
130 The extension activities were initiated in 1980 (winter season).
131 Therefore, the period from 1980 to 1984 reflects the impact of this
132 extension effort. By 1984, 98% of the rice area in Sukchaina was planted
133 to improved varieties including a still wider spectrum of improved
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134 varieties. Of the 122 parcels that were surveyed in 1981 and 1984, only
135 3 parcels (2%) were planted to local varieties in 1984. The research
136 activities that continued during the 1981 to 1984 period has continued
137 to identify additional new varieties and both IR 8423 and Saryu-49 are
138 entering into general production. In fact, the Sukchaina farmers are
139 calling and have over 2000 kg of seed available for sale or exchange.
140 This, in fact, has been a curious side effect of the program at Sukchaina.
141 The farmers at Sukchaina have become recognized as a source of rice seed
142 of new, high-yielding varieties for rainfed conditions. Farmers from
143 other areas come to Sukchaina to buy seed of the new varieties. Appendix 1
144 presents an estimate of the amounts of seed sold in 1984 and available
145 for sale during 1985. The Key Informant Survey in 1984 indicated that
146 seed had been sold or given to farmers from other areas in Parsa District
147 and from Bara, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusha and Chitwan Districts
148 and also from India.
B. Fertilizer Application to Rice
149 The Cropping Systems Program has followed an integrated approach to
150 developing relevant fertilizer recommendations for the important
151 cropping patterns in all the Cropping Systems Research sites. The
152 approach has involved determining economically feasible fertilizer
153 rates for each crop in the patterns that considers the fertilizer
154 applications being made for other crops in the pattern and potential
155 residual effects. In Sukchaina, the findings have shown no economic
156 response to application of K on rice. Similarly, there has been no
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157 economic response to applying P to rice if P is applied to winter crops
158 at the rate of 20-30 kg/ha P205 before rice is planted.
159 These findings have guided farmers in Sukchaina to establish economic
160 priorities in buying fertilizer for their cropping patterns and have helped
161 to maximize scarce capital resources. Recommendations that have been
162 developed for Sukchaina commonly involve only N for rice but N and P and
163 where relevant, K, is applied to the succeeding winter.crops. Residual
164 effects of P and K applied to the winter crops appear to provide sufficient
165 amounts for the following rice crop, at least at the current N levels being
166 recommended for rice.
167 The figure 2 illustrates the changes that have occurred in Sukchaina
168 in N application to rice from 1981 to 1984 based on the parcel-to-parcel
169 surveys conducted in 1981 and 1984.
170 The average N application to local varieties in 1981 was 23 kg/ha. In
171 1984, out of the 122 parcels surveyed, only three parcels were planted to
172 local varieties. Average N application to these parcels was 30 kg/ha
173 (not shown in the figure) a modest increase as compared to 1981.
174 The average N application to improved varieties of rice in 1981 was
175 27.7 kg/ha. This increased to 40.2 kg/ha in 1984, an increase of 45%.
176 In 1981, 25% of the surveyed parcels (involving both local and improved
177 varieties) did not receive any chemical fertilizer. This dropped to zero
178 in the 1984 survey.
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179 It was of interest to note from the surveys that most farmers were applying
180 N as both basal and top-dress in 1984 as recommended by the Cropping
181 Systems Program, whereas in 1981 most farmers were applying N only as
182 top-dress. However, the compost application practices to rice remained
183 almost the same comparing the survey results for 1981 and 1984 (See Appendix 2
184 for a summary of compost application information from the surveys).
185 The results clearly indicate that there have been marked changes in the
186 rates of N application to rice between 1981 and 1984 at Sukchaina. This
187 has coincided with the rapid increase in the area planted to improved
188 rice varieties.
C Rice Yields
189 The surveys conducted in 1981 and 1984 questioned farmers about the rice
190 yields obtained in each survey parcel. The figure 3 illustrates the
191 average yields for both local and improved varieties in 1981 and 1984.
192 In 1981, the average yield of local varieties was 1.47 t/ha. In 1984, in
193 the three parcels in which local varieties had been planted, the average
194 yield was 1.40 t/ha, essentially the same. The situation for improved
195 varieties was strikingly different. Average yield of improved varieties
196 in 1981 was 1.73 t/ha whereas in 1984'it was 2.51 t/ha, an increase of
197 45%. this coincides with the increase in N application to rice in 1984
198 compared to 1981. (See Appendix 3 for a summary of the rice yield
199 performance of the major improved and local varieties in 1981 and 1984.)
200 Therefore, it seems clear that the adoption of improved rice varieties
201 combined with increased application has substantially increased rice yields
202 at Sukchaina.
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D. Land Use
203 The results drawn from the initial 1977 reconnaissance survey indicated
204 that approximately 50% of the cultivated land in Sukchaina was planted to
205 a rice monocrop (Rice-Fallow-Fallow cropping pattern). In the parcel
206 survey conducted in 1981, the area under Rice-Fallow-Fallow had dropped
207 to 45%. In 1984, after the influence of the extension effort by the
208 Cropping Systems Program beginning in 1981, the area planted to Rice-
209 Fallow-Fallow in the surveyed parcels was only 2%. Extensive changes in
210 the cropping patterns being followed in the surveyed parcels had occurred
211 between 1981 and 1984. Farmers shifted from Rice-Fallow-Fallow to other
212 more intensive patterns such as Rice-Mixed Crops-Fallow with lentil,
213 mustard and linseed being the major component crops in the Mixed Crops
214 situation, Rice-Mustard-Fallow and, most extensively, to Rice-Chickpea+
215 Mustard-Fallow (See Appendix 4 for a presentation of the cropping
216 patterns grown in the surveyed parcels in 1981 and 1984).
217 The figure 4 presents the average Land Utilization Indices and Multiple
218 Cropping indices determined from the surveys in 1977, 1981 and 1984.
219 (Also see Appendix 4 for definitions of LUI and MCI.)
220 The figure clearly shows the extensive changes in land use that have
221 occurred particularly from 1981 onwards.
222 Much of the increase in cropping intensity has resulted from the adoption
223 of the improved, early maturing rice varieties. This has allowed farmers
224 to spread out the peak work periods, particularly associated with rice
225 harvest and land preparation for winter crops. More importantly, however,
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226 the early maturing improved varieties like Bindeshwari, Malika, CH-45
227 and IR 8423 can be harvested early allowing timely land preparation for
228 winter crops like wheat, lentil, mustard and chickpea. This has allowed
229 a more effective use of the residual soil moisture after the monsoon
230 rains and has indirectly increased yields of the winter crops in addition
231 to the improved cultural and varietal practices that have been developed
232 for the winter crops by the Cropping Systems Research Program.
233 The Rice-Chickpea+Mustard-Fallow pattern has been a major research
234 contribution in Sukchaina. The identification of a new chickpea variety,
235 GO-332, high yielding and adapted to the Sukchaina conditions, combined
236 with possible timely planting in late October to early November after
237 early maturing rice varieties like Bindeshwari has shown dramatic economic
238 increases for farmers in Sukchaina. The obvious results that farmers
239 observed in the Rice-Chickpea-Fallow cropping pattern trials from 1981-
240 1983 was transferred into adoption in their fields with the further
241 improvement that farmer's themselves made by including mustard mix
242 cropped with the chickpea. Twenty of the surveyed parcels in 1984 were
243 planted to the Rice-Chickpea+Mustard pattern whereas no parcels were
244 planted to this pattern in 1981.
245 Appendix 5 presents a summary of the economic performances of the improved
246 versions of the cropping patterns Rice-Wheat-Fallow and Rice-Chickpea-Fallow.
247 Although both improved patterns (averaged over three years) are considerably
248 better than the farmer practice of Rice-Wheat-Fallow, economic benefits of
249 Rice-Chickpea are outstanding. This illustrates why there has been a rapid
250 adoption of the improved crop production technologies in Sukchaina as a
251 result of the Cropping Systems Program activities.
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252 The Basic Principles of Nepal's Seventh Five Year Plan (1985-1990) states,
253 "In the present state of our country, to impart dynamism to the agriculture
254 sector is a matter of paramount importance, if we really mean to increase
255 our productive need of the people". Furthermore, His Majesty the King
256 Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Deo has stated, "Let us note that any plan of
257 development directed to raise the living standards of the people can be
258 brought to frutition only with the active participation of the people
260 The changes that have occurred in increased crop production and improved
261 economic returns at Sukchaina Village since the Cropping Systems Program
262 was initiated in 1977 are a clear example of how the above directives can
263 be successfully implemented. It has been the result of hard working scientists
264 working together with interested and cooperative farmers within the frame
265 work of a well-defined research and extension methodology. The Cropping
266 Systems Approach demonstrates the need for understanding the farmers existing
267 conditions and resources, their requirements and provides opportunities to
268 design relevant improvements based on available improved technologies. It
269 means that the Scientist must begin to think as a Farmer and the Farmer must
270 begin to understand that science has something to offer. Together, as a team,
271 scientists and farmers can develop sound, purpose-specific field level
272 research to develop solutions to improve crop production.
273 It is difficult to measure the economic contribution of the Cropping
274 Systems Program at Sukchaina. The value of food available to those who
275 did not have enough is priceless. Sukchaina has changed and is a better
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276 place for its villagers to live today than it was in 1977.
277 The striking realization is that these changes have occurred in a
278 rainfed environment that many in Nepal rule out as having potential
279 for major production increases. This clearly has been shown to be wrong.
280 There are hundreds of other rainfed Terai villages in Nepal that can
281 benefit from what has been learned and put into practice at Sukchaina.
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FIGURE-1: CHANGES IN USE OF VARIETIES AT SUKCHAINA FROM 1977 TO 1984
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Ilf;lRE-2: CHANGE IN FERTILIZER APPLICATION, SUKCHAINA
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RICE YIELD PERFORMANCE, SUKCHAINA
1977 1981 1984
FLGURE-4: CHANGE IN LAND UTILIZATION INDEX (LUI) AND
MULTIPLE CROPPING INDEX (MCI), SUKCHAINA
RICE SEED SALES IN 1984 BY FARMERS IN
Variety Amount Sold (kg) Variety Amount Sold (kg)
Bindeshwari 7,300 Malika 415
IR 8423 15 UPLRI 15
Laxmi 292 Janaki 63
CH 45 500 Masuli 500
Total : 8,017 Total : 993 = 9,100
Source: Key Informant Survey, 1984.
AMOUNT OF RICE SEED AVAILABLE FOR SALE BY
FARMERS IN SUKCHAINA IN 1985-
Variety Amount (kg)
CH 45 760
Saryu 49 500
IR 8423 1,750
P 33 250
Total : 19,154
Source: Key Informant Survey, 1984.
COMPOST APPLICATION TO RICE IN SURVEYED PARCELS
AT SUKCHAINA DURING 1981 AND 1984
Average Application of Compost to those
No. of Parcel Received Compost which received ( t / ha )
which received ( t / ha )
1981 1984 1981 1984
80 72 2.05 2.03
(65.6)- (59.4)- (0.22) (0.20)
2 Standard Deviation.
RICE YIELD PERFORMANCE (T/HA) OF DIFFERENT VARIETIES
AT SUKCHAINA FROM PARCEL SURVEYS IN 1981 AND
Variety 1981 1 % Increase % Increase Over
Over 1981 Local Var. of '81
CH 45 1.67 (0.62)t 2.15 (0.60) +28.7 +46.2
wari 2.09 (0.57) 2.99 (0.37) +43.1 +79.0
Masuli 1.65 (0.49) 2.16 (0.50) +30.1 +29.3
Handiful 1.51 (0.55) 1.20 (0.00) -20.6 -28.2
(Local) 1.42 (0.50) 1.50 (.042) + 5.6 -10.2
Numbers in the parenthesis are Standard Deviations.
CROPPING PATTERNS, LAND UTILIZATION INDEX (LUI) AND MULTIPLE CROPPING
INDEX (MCI) IN SURVEYED PARCELS AT SUKCHAINA IN 1981 AND 1984
Cropping Pattern No. of Parcel LUI MCI
1981 1984 1981 1984 1981 1984
Rice-Wheat 52 60 0.71 0.71 2.0 2.0
Rice-Fallow 49 3 0.34 0.34 1.0 1.0
Rice-Mixed Crop 5 22 0.70 0.60 4.0 4.0
Rice-Barley 4 0 0.70 0 2.0 2.0
Rice-Chickpea+Mustard 0 20 0 0.73 0 3.0
Rice-Mustard 0 4 0 0.61 2.0 2.0
Rice-Lentil 8 7 0.69 0.69 2.0 2.0
Rice/Lathyrus 4 5 0.73 0.73 2.0 2.0
Weighted X 122 121 0.56 0.70 1.68 2.53
Land Utilization Index -
Multiple Cropping Index-
number of days during which
land during a year, divided
The sum of the areas planted to different crops
harvested during the year, divided by the
total cultivated areas.
Mixed Crop involves varying combinations of Mustard, Lentil, Linseed,
Broadbean, and Peas. Average of 3 crops in the mixed crop situation
has been used to calculate MCI.
ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE OF DIFFERENT IMPROVED CROPPING PATTERN AT SUKCHAINA
Total Annual Gross Total V'able"
Cropping Pattern Yield (t/ha) Returns(Rs/ Cost (Rs/ha) MBCR
A. IMPROVED PRACTICE
Rice-Chickpea-Fallow 4.57 15,012 5,249 9.27(1.57)
Rice-Wheat-Fallow 4.40 11,558 5,977 2.43(0.30)
B. FARMER'S PRACTICE
Rice-Wheat-Fallow 3.12 8,940 4,642 -
Total variable costs include input costs and labor and power costs.
I MBCR = Marginal Benefit Cost Ratio This is calculated by dividing
the difference in the Gross Returns of the Improved Practice minus the
Gross Returns of the Predominant Local Farmer's Practice by the
difference in the Total Variable Costs of the Improved Cropping Pattern
minus the Total Variable Costs of the Predominant Local Farmer Practices.
Numbers in the parenthesis are Standard Deviations.
Farmer Practice used to calculate the MBCRs of the Improved Practices.