Farmers’ views on the future prospects of aerobic rice culture in Pakistan
Awan, MI and van Oort, PAJ and Ahmad, R and Bastiaans, L and Meinke, H, Farmers' views on the future prospects of aerobic rice culture in Pakistan, Land Use Policy, 42 pp. 517-526. ISSN 0264-8377 (2015) [Refereed Article]
In parts of Pakistan, the sustainability of conventional flooded rice systems is threatened by diminishing resources, particularly – land, water, and labour. The adoption of aerobic rice system (ARS), an alternative to the conventional systems, could considerably increase resource-use efficiencies. Information on farmer perceptions is vital to identify socio-technological factors of adoption. Our aim was to under-stand and analyse farmer perceptions about ARS in regards to future adoption. We conducted our study in the Pakistani Punjab with three groups of farmers: (I) informant farmers in rice–wheat system who trialled ARS in a participatory research trial (n = 70), (II) rice farmers in rice–wheat, mixed-cropping and cotton–wheat system with no experience of ARS (n = 97), and (III) non-rice farmers in mixed-cropping and cotton–wheat system (n = 48). Data were collected using a pretested semi-structured questionnaire and analysed by using descriptive statistics and chi-square tests. More than half of respondents in groups II and III had never heard of ARS, though, 76% were open to experimenting. Across three groups, farmers perceived ARS as a means of increasing resource-use efficiency particularly for labour, net profitability, and an option for crop diversification in the mixed-cropping system. Perceived threats were weeds, diseases, poor germination, spikelet sterility, low yields, and frequent irrigation requirement. Deciding factors for repeat ARS plantings by group I were: ease of operation due to direct seeding, good income, and low input requirement. Deciding factors against repeat plantings were: unavailability of suitable fine grain basmati varieties, falling water table, weed problem, and unsuitable soil type. The results suggest that aerobic rice is an interesting alternative to traditional rice production as evident from the willingness to plant again by 73% group I demonstration households but the unavailability of well-adapted basmati varieties hampers its expansion. Farmers’ appreciation of risks and benefits can pave the way for large-scale adoption. Associated risks can be reduced by filling the identified knowledge or technological gaps through additional research and farmer awareness programmes.
resource use efficiency, farmer perceptions, aerobic rice, sustainable production system, water saving, Punjab