Jallowal, Punjab, November 8, 2006: PepsiCo India today shared the results of its successful trials on direct seeding for paddy cultivation. This Direct Seeding technique has shown to reduce water consumption by 40% (1000 kl/acre) and production costs by over Rs. 1000 per acre. The trial fields that were cultivated using this technique are currently in the process of being harvested.
The last leg of the trials was conducted by PepsiCo India in partnership with farmers in Jallowal on 20 acres of land. Prior to this, PepsiCo India has carried out trials to reduce water consumption during paddy cultivation at its own R&D farms at Jallowal for over three years.
Generally, paddy is grown by planting seeds in a small nursery and manually transplanting the paddy saplings after about four weeks to the main cultivation area. The saplings are then allowed to grow and the fields are kept under about 3” of water, mainly to reduce growing of weeds. This ‘puddle irrigation’ requires high consumption of water. However, the ‘direct seeding’ methodology successfully tested by PepsiCo India has been shown to substantially reduce water consumption and production cost.
Speaking on the occasion, PepsiCo India Executive Director Exports & External Affairs, Abhiram Seth, said, “Paddy cultivation is known to be very water intensive. Over a period of time, this has resulted in a decline of the water table in Punjab. In addition, farmers have been incurring high energy cost due to extensive running of the pump sets. PepsiCo India, as part of its effort to improve sustainability in Indian agriculture, started this project three years ago. PepsiCo is working to share the results of the direct seeding trials with a larger community of farmers and would like to popularize this method in order to reduce water consumption and production costs during paddy cultivation.”
PepsiCo India has been carrying out several critical agricultural activities in the State of Punjab since 1989. It has introduced various new varieties and implemented improved cultivation methods for growing tomatoes and chillies for the Punjab farmers which have resulted in substantial improvements in yields.
PepsiCo India carried out trials in their own R&D farms in Jallowal in 2004 using direct manual seeding of paddy rather than transplantation of paddy saplings. Also during the trials, puddle irrigation was avoided, but 5 times more labor was used for manual de-weeding. It was observed that the paddy grown was quite satisfactory in terms of quality. The frequency of irrigation decreased by 40%, production costs lessened by over Rs 1000 per acre and the output was higher by about 13%.
In 2005, PepsiCo India carried out trials with more paddy varieties. The irrigation frequency for direct seeding was again found to be lower by about 40% and the production costs decreased by about Rs 1000 – Rs 1200 per acre. The output in direct seeding was found to be 5-10% higher for different varieties. Local farmers, who visited PepsiCo’s R&D farm where the trials were held, were shown the crops before harvesting and the advantages of direct seeding was shared with them.
During 2006 PepsiCo India developed a Seeding Machine for paddy which can sow the seeds uniformly at a specified gap and at a uniform depth. Using this seeder, direct seeding was carried out in the fields of 12 farmers, covering about 20 acres. In these trials, PepsiCo also studied the advantage of sowing the seeds, followed by weedicide treatment and thereafter irrigation. Pre-treatment with a weedicide helped reduce de-weeding labor from five times to two times in direct seeding compared to puddle irrigation.