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Dr. V.T. Balasubramanian indicated that if we have to combat hunger effectively in the rice-growing developing world, we need to produce 50-60% more rice in the next 25-30 years. This additional production must come from existing or less land and water with the efficient use of all resources including purchased inputs. The three factors that could contribute to increased rice productivity are: a) developing new rice varieties including hybrids with higher yield potential; b) minimising the gap between farmers’ current yields and the economically exploitable potential yield of varieties they grow; and c) reducing the post-harvest losses to improve profitability. Both biological and socio-economic constraints limit yields. In particular, lack of access to knowledge on crop and resource management options and inadequate access to credit and other inputs are major limitations to rice farmers in many developing countries.

There is high variability in rice yields among countries and regions as well as among farmers even in homogenous domains. Profit gaps arise due to various factors, including post-harvest lossess in quantity and quality of rice grain. Biophysical, socio-economic, management, institutional, and policy factors are responsible for yield and profit gaps. Identification of problems/causes for such gaps and development of possible mitigation measures can only be considered the first of a two step process. The second and equally important step is to minimize the knowledge gap between researchers, extension staff and farmers by developing and using viable mechanisms to transfer new knowledge and techniques from researchers to farmers and collect feedback to re-orient research on issues critical to farmers.

An integrated crop management (water, soil fertility/nutrients, weeds/pests/diseases, and post-harvest technology) is vital to maximize the productivity and profitability of rice farmers. All technologies and practices should help farmers to increase and/or maintain grain yields at same or reduced cost. Improving the quality of milled rice and increasing the recovery of head-rice will enhance farmers’ profitability.

We need to train the extension staff and equip them with adequate tools so that they can educate their farmer-clients on modern rice farming techniques. Farmers need adequate training and technical support to improve their decision-making capacity and properly utilize the new techniques.

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