System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method of cultivation has acquired a new dimension in ragi. So new that SRI may well be called System of Ragi Intensification, for it has proved as successful as it had in rice.
SRI, for the uninitiated, is the method of cultivation in which seedlings raised in a nursery are transplanted in such a way that there exists adequate gap between two seedlings to ensure good growth. SRI in paddy proved so good that after seeing the results, the State Government’s Agriculture Department vigorously advocated the cultivation method.
In Erode, hundreds of hectares of paddy were cultivated under SRI and produced very good results in that the yield per hectare was at least 1,500 kg more.
Following the results, the MYRADA Krishi Vigyan Kendra (farm science centre) tried cultivating ragi under SRI. Project Officer, MYRADA KVK, P. Alagesan, says the organisation wanted to replicate the success achieved in paddy in ragi and so decided to experiment in Thalavady, Bargur and Kadambur hills, where the millet is cultivated traditionally.
At various locations in the hills, the KVK taught SRI to farmers, who experimented it on a portion of their land.
Farmer C. Madhaiyan of Thattakarai, Bargur, says ragi cultivated under SRI yielded much more than the millet cultivated under ordinary conditions.
Farmer Nagaraju of Thalavady also says the same. He raised ragi seedlings and transplanted them after 15 days by giving .75 foot between two plants. This, the farmer says, resulted in decreased use of ragi seeds.
“Under traditional method, I would use 10 to 15 kg a hectare, whereas under SRI I used only two kg,” he says.
The increased spacing meant that the tillers were more and their girth was better than those plants cultivated under the traditional method.
Mr. Alagesan says at all the experimental plots, the results have been encouraging. “In the next sowing season, the organisation will reach out to the farmers to encourage them to adopt SRI in ragi,” he says and adds that once the farmers embrace SRI it will go a long way in encouraging them as ragi is their staple food.