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Selected reprinted features on

mechanization in rice farming


Special supplement for ARF Annual Rice Forum, 22 November 2013
www.irri.org
Cambodian farmers adopted IRRIs postharvest technology package, which improved the quality of their
rice grains, increased their harvests milling output, and allowed them to save on labor, time, and money
Machines of
progress
by Lanie Reyes and Trina Leah Mendoza
A
seaof newly harvestedrice
extendstothehorizonin
BattambangProvincetherice
bowl of Cambodia. It wasonly
thethirdweek of February, just the
beginningof theharvestingseasonfor
many Asiancountries, but it seemed
likeharvest timewasalready over in
Battambang.
Aswedrovefarther alongthe
dry anddusty roadsof theprovince, a
combineharvester suddenly appeared
onthehorizon. It cut throughtherice
stalksalmost aseffortlessly asmowing
abackyardlawnwithanoperator sitting
ontopof alawnmower. Thisisastark
contrast tothetraditional backbreaking
andtediousharvestingprocess, inwhich
farmersbendtogather andslashstalks
usingrazor-sharpsickles. Somecollect
andtiethestalkswhileothersthresh, by
hittingthericeplant onapieceof wood.
Thenthefarmerswinnow thepaddy and
let thetrashblow away fromit.
Farmers chatstolet their minds
drift away fromthescorchingsunand
theharrowinglabor havebeenreplaced
by thewhirringsoundof themachine
making its way through the rice felds.
Thecombineharvester, aniconic
imageof farminginprogressive
countries, isbecomingtheusual scene
inCambodiaahint that labor shortage
duringharvest timeisbecominga
seriousproblemfor Cambodianfarmers.
A dynamo of change
WhenMartinGummert, anagricultural
engineer at theInternational Rice
ResearchInstitute(IRRI), visited
Cambodia for the frst time in 2001,
it remindedhimof Vietnaminthe
10s, when the mechanization of the
countrysagriculturewasinitsinfancy.
Itspostharvest technology wasat avery
low stage. Themillingindustry was
mismatchedandoutdated, andthere
waslimitedstoragecapacity. Though
therewasalot of poverty, I couldsense
theexcitement of peopletryingtoleave
thepast behind, grabevery opportunity,
moveon, anddevelop, recalledEngr.
Gummert.
Many years back, in 188, Harry
Nesbitt andGlennDenning, twoof
IRRIsagricultural scientists, went to
Cambodiatorebuilditsriceproduction
andtobreathelifeback intothekilling
felds, as the country was ravaged by
theKhmer Rougeunder Pol Pot. (See
Towering legacies ol. 1, No. 1 of Rice
Today.)
Sincealmost all traditional
knowledgeonricefarminghadbeen
lost, Drs. Nesbitt andDenningwere
theretobasically buildawholenew
farminginfrastructureandasystemof
agricultural researchfor Cambodiansto
carry on. In 2001, a newly established
CambodianAgricultural Research
andDevelopment Institutethentook
overpart of thesocial context of
thedynamism, whichEngr. Gummert
observed.
Wind of inspiration
Cambodiasdynamic racetodevelopment
specifcally in rice production can
beattributedtothetenacity of the
Cambodiansthemselves. Their horrid
history during the Khmer Rouge, 0
yearsback, seemstohavefadedinthe
backgroundasthey movedforward.
PysethMeas, apostharvest expert
onrice, isoneof themembersof thenew
generationunfetteredby thenations
challenginghistory. Instead, hispast
has become his inspiration. He vividly
remembersgrowinguponaricefarm
withhisfather, whowasagovernment
offcial before Pol Pots regime. When
helost hisfather duringthewar, his
mother raisedhimandhissiblingsby
selling rice. He witnessed his mothers
hard work and diffculty selling milled
ricetoconsumersandtraders. Likean
imprint onhisyoungmind, hewasdrawn
toaprofessionthat wouldeasetheplight
of thosewhodependedonrice, suchas
hismother. Thus, hepursuedacareer in
postharvest technology.
I couldseethat thiswaswhereI
couldcontributemoretomy country
knowing that 8 of the Cambodian
farmersarericefarmers, Dr. Meas
said. All of my life, Ivewantedtodo
somethingfor theCambodianpeople,
especially thefarmers, becausewerely
onriceasour staplefoodandmainsource
of income. So, whenI becameinvolvedin
aproject onpostharvest asapartner with
IRRI, I wasmorethanhappy.
In 200, the Postproduction Work
Group(PPWG) under IRRIsIrrigated
RiceResearchConsortium, fundedby
theSwissAgency for Development and
Cooperation, pooleditsresourcestogether
withtheAsianDevelopment Bank (ADB)
andtheJapanFundfor Poverty Reduction
(J FPR) tofundtheproject Improving
Poor Farmers Livelihoodsthrough
ImprovedRicePostharvest Technology. It
wasdesignedandinitially ledby Joseph
Rickman, whowasthentheheadof the
Agricultural EngineeringUnit at IRRI.
When he moved to Africa in 200, ngr.
Gummert took thelead.
Theprojectsgoal wasto
demonstratetosomevillagesin
BattambangandPrey Vengprovinces
that improvedharvesting, drying,
storage, andmillingcanhelpfarmers
increaseincomesfromriceharvestsand
improvethequality of grainandseeds
throughout thepostharvest chain.
In February 200, farmers and rice
millers needswereassessedthrough
a survey. Hearing from the farmers
themselves, theprojectteamwasable
todeterminethatthefarmersneeded
dryers, especially duringtherainy season,
whenpaddy quality wasatahighrisk
of deterioratingquickly, andcombine
harvesterstosolvethelabor shortage.
The rst line of defense
Since knowledge is the frst line of
defenseinthiscaseagainst postharvest
lossestheproject teamconducteda
trainers traininginthesameyear to
sharetheir knowledgeandexpertiseon
improvedpostharvest optionsamong
thestaff of theprovincial agricultural
extensionservicesandtheir project
counterpart inCambodia. Inthesecond
half of 200 and 200, knowledge
andskillsinpostharvest technologies
smoothly cascadedtothefarmers, as
thesetrainersvisitedatotal of eight
villages. They taught andadvised
farmersregardinggrainandseed
quality, andsafestorageoptionssuchas
harvesting, threshing, cleaning, drying,
hermetic storage, andmilling.
Labor shortage
Just likeinother countries, theyoung
generationsinrural farmingareas
move to the cities to fnd better jobs.
Withfewer hands, it isalmost next to
impossibletoholdtogether thework on
thefarm. Cultivatingahectareof land,
accordingtoDr. Meas, needsabout
100120 person-days. And, about 0
isspent onestablishingthecropand
another 0 for harvesting.
Small machine, huge eect
Thencamethemini-combineharvester,
alsoknownasamini-combineor
simply combine. It fusesfour operations
(reaping, collecting, threshing, and
cleaning) inonemachine(seeCleverly
cutting costs in Cambodia, ol. 2, No. 2
on pages - of Ripple).
39 Rice Today J uly-September 2010 Rice Today J uly-September 2010 38
C
H
R
IS
Q
U
IN
T
A
N
A
MARTIN GUMMERT, an agricultural engineer at IRRI,
advocates better postharvest management to improve
the quality of rice and reduce losses caused by
spoilage and pests. T
R
IN
A
L
E
A
H
M
E
N
D
O
Z
A
THE USE of machinery is imperative for
Cambodia to become a rice exporter, said
Dr. Pyseth Meas (above left), a Cambodian
expert on rice. Cambodian farmer Net
Kimyorn (above right) said that, with the
use of a combine harvester, he can harvest
the crop on time, with less labor, and at
less cost. Seum Kouy (left), a farmer in
Prey Stor Village, Prey Veng, said that,
with an improved granary, her grains are
protected from rain, insects, birds, and
rats.
LANIE REYES (3)
2 3
Whentheteambrought inthissmall
contraptionfromVietnam, they hadtwo
reasonsinmind: one, toreducethehigh
harvestingcost causedby alack of labor
and, two, toincreasethequality of the
grain.
After they showedhow amini-
combineworkstofarmersinboth
BattambangandPrey Vengprovinces,
combinesindifferent sizeshavebecome
abighit.
Net Kimyornof BoengPringVillage
in Battambang said, My felds are
already less prone to accidents like fre.
InCambodia, it wascommonfor
soon-to-be-harvested rice to catch fre,
causedby lit cigarettebuttsthrownin
the rice felds. Since harvest time falls
during the summer season, rice felds are
vulnerable to fres. Mr. Kimyorn recalled
a fre in his community in 1 when 8
hectares of rice felds were turned into
ashesbecauseadrunkenmancookedrice
near the felds. Lucky for Mr. Kimyorn,
his rice felds were spared.
Moreover, wecanharvest thecrop
ontime, withlesslabor, andat lesscost,
Mr. Kimyornsaid. And, wedonot rely
ontheclimateanymore. Before, it took
almost amonthtoharvest acrop. Now, it
takesonly afew days. Lesslikely for rain
tocomewhileweareharvesting.
Tomanually harvest ahectareof
rice feld, a farmer needs to hire at least
2 persons. The farmer pays each one
US per day or spends 100120 per
hectare. Asidefromit takinglonger, the
workerswouldstill needtogather the
cropfor threshing.
Hiring a combine harvester with
an operator, on the other hand, costs 0
100. Aside from the difference in cost,
grainquality isbetter, andit doesnt take
somuchtime. A largecombineharvester
withacuttingwidthof 3meters, for
example, canharvest ahectareinonly an
hour.
Now, withlesslabor requiredinthe
feld, Mr. Kimyorn and his family can
devotetheir extratimetoother income-
generating activities such as fshing and
sellingnoodles. Most of all, thefamily
canspendmorequality timewitheach
other.
Competition benets the farmers
Thereareevensomecaseswherein
farmersdonot needtodomuchafter
harvestingbecause, recently, buyers
fromVietnamandThailandhavebeen
purchasingricedirectly fromthem.
AccordingtoDr. Meas, though
thesepurchasesareinformal andare
not in good order, farmers beneft much
fromthem. Without buyerscrossing
theborder, farmersrely mostly onrice
millers to buy their paddy. However, with
competition, farmerscanask for abetter
price.
Thisdoesnot mean, however,
that dryingisnolonger needed. Some
farmersdry andstoretheir rice, then
wait until thepriceishighbeforethey
sell it. Thisiswhentheinformation
boardgreatly helpsfarmers. Theuseof
informationboards, aspart of theholistic
packageof thePPWG of IRRI, givesup-
to-datereportsonthericepricesinthe
market, allowingfarmerstoplanthebest
timetosell their rice.
Inaddition, most farmersset aside
anamount of ricefor their familysfood
until thenext harvest andsell only the
surplus. Thus, they still need the benefts
fromthemechanical dryingtechnology.
Flatbed dryers
Bringingtechnology tofarmersis
important for themtoseetheir optionsup
close. Thus, in 200, the team introduced
mechanical dryinginCambodia, by
installing the frst atbed dryer in Ballat
Village, Battambang, incollaboration
withtheirrigators association.
WhenthefarmersfromthePoChrey
community inPrey Vengheardabout
the benefts of using mechanical dryers,
they requestedtheproject teamtohelp
theminstall amechanical dryer intheir
village. Theteamassistedthecommunity
by providingablower andricehusk
furnace, while the farmers fnanced and
installedthedryingbinandtheshed.
In early 2008, two dryers were
installedinPoChrey community: one
wasinitially supportedby thePPWG
andtheother wasset upby theprivate
company ABK incooperationwiththe
community. Dryersbecamesoindemand
that, by mid-200, the number of dryers
increasedtonine. Now, thecountry
already has 11 known dryers.
Before, Koul Savoeun, just likeother
farmersinBallat Mancheay Villageof
BattambangProvince, hadnoideaabout
moisture content. He relies only on his
gut feelingindeterminingwhether the
paddy isdry or not. After learningabout
moisturecontent, henoticedthat his
grainsbecameclean, hadnobugs, and
hadbetter quality.
AccordingtoMr. Savoeun, after
milling, sun-driedriceisyellowishand
hasmorebrokengrainsthanricedried
usingthemechanical dryer. Sincethe
quality of thegrainsdriedthrougha
mechanical dryer hasimproved, theprice
has stepped up also, from 2 per bag to
2 per bag a bag contains 0 kilograms
of rice).
Mr. Savoeunaddedthat they no
longer dependontheclimatetodry their
paddy. They candry their paddy even
duringrainy days.
Storing the harvest
Evenif grainsareproperly dried, this
doesnot meanthat farmersarefreefrom
potential postharvest losses. Instorage,
lossestoinsects, rodents, andbirdsare
estimated to be 10, according to
Engr. Gummert.
Ricestoredinhomesisascommon
asaspirit housestandingineachfront
yardinCambodiabecauseaKhmer
family securesitsriceconsumptionuntil
thenext harvest. Othersstoregrainsto
sell whenthepriceisat itspeak.
SeumKouy, afarmer inPrey Stor
Village, Prey Veng, saidthat withthe
improvedgranaryatechnology also
promotedby theprojecther grainsare
protectedfromrain, insects, birds, and
rats.
And, for grainsstoredasseeds,
IRRI providesthehermetic Super Bag,
whichprotectsthegerminationability of
theseed(seeFighting Asias postharvest
problems, ol. , No. 1 of Rice Today).
hasmorepotential togoup. Asfar
asI know, Thailandisalready near its
ceiling; I dont think it hasmorespaceto
climbup, Dr. Measadded.
If thecountry will usemodern
varietiesalongwithimprovedirrigation
infrastructure, let aloneusepostharvest
technologies, thecountry may eventriple
itspresent riceproduction, Dr. Meas
confdently predicted.
Contribution to the countrys goal
It ishopedthat postharvest technologies
will helpCambodiaattainitsgoals
tobeamajor exporter anddoubleits
production in 201. For ngr. Gummert,
therearetwowaysinwhichbetter
postharvest management cancontribute
tothecountrysgoal. First, Southeast
Asia loses 12 of grains because
of spoilageandpests. Reducingthese
losseswill contributetothecountrys
riceoutput. Theother areaisbasically
quality. Better quality directly affects
theability toexport ricebecause, to
becomeamajor exporter, explained
Engr. Gummert, thecountry needs
toproducequality consistently. And,
only by usingadvancedpostharvest
technology canthisbeattained.
Cambodia cannot defnitely rely
onmanual labor if it wantstobea
major exporter someday. Dr. Meas
explainedthat if acountry, let ussay the
Philippines, wantsricefromCambodia,
it prefersonly oneor twovarieties. The
samevariety ripensat thesametime.
If manual labor isusedtoharvest, it is
diffcult to maintain the grain quality
and, becauseof labor shortages, it is
impossibletoharvest thisvariety at
thesametime. Someplantswill beless
mature, andothersoverripe.
If thericeislessmature, it will
havelessmillingoutput; if it isoverripe,
it will havealot of breakage, Dr. Meas
explained. Therefore, useof machinery
isimperativefor Cambodiatobecomean
exporter.
Nodoubt, combineharvestersand
atbed dryers, among other postharvest
technologies, areradically transforming
how farmersfarminCambodia. It goes
without sayingthat Cambodiaismoving
toward effciency and modernity as it
strivestoincreasericeproductionand
leapfrogstobecomeamajor riceexporter
inAsia.
Plausible promise
ADB hasbeenfundinganew project,
Bringingabout aSustainableAgronomic
RevolutioninRiceProductioninAsia
by Reducing Preventable Pre and
Postharvest Losses, since 200. It builds
onthepilot activitiesof theADB-J FPR-
funded project, which ended in 2008,
andaimstoreducepostharvest lossesby
scalingout technologiesthat havebeen
proveneffective.
Withthesuccessof postharvest
technologiesinCambodia, how didthe
teamknow that thetechnologieswere
matureenoughtobereleased? I think
atechnology isnever matureenoughto
bereleased, explainedEngr. Gummert.
Itsalwaysaprocess; youhavetostart
withsomething. Wecall it aplausible
promise, whereinthetechnology hasthe
potential tosolveaproblem.
Vietnamhascommercially produced
,000 mechanical dryers, being used in
countiesintheMekongDelta. For the
team, thisisahint that thetechnology
issoundandcouldalsobeapplicablein
Cambodia. Hence, it became a starting
point tointroducethetechnology in
another country, rather thaninitiatinga
researchproject todesignanew dryer,
Engr. Gummert explained.
The combine was frst introduced as
mini or small. Itscuttingedgeof about
1 meter was just suited for small blocks
of rice felds. The reason was that it
wascheapandaffordable, saidEngr.
Gummert. Weknew that it waslimited
intermsof capacity andit isnot the
technology that cantreat all theneedsof
farmers.
Now, farmersadaptthetechnology
totheir needs. SinceCambodiahasbigger
rice areas, medium 2-meter cutting width
andlargecombineharvesters(3-meter
cuttingwidth) havebeenimportedfrom
Thailand, Vietnam, andChina.
Developing Cambodias potential
A UnitedStatesDepartment of
Agriculture report in 200 says that
Cambodiaaimstodoubleitsrice
production in 201 and become a major
exporter. AccordingtoDr. Meas, the
country already hasasurplusfor export
evenif itsaveragericeproductionis
only 2. tons per hectare and it has poor
irrigation infrastructure only 1 of
itsriceareasareirrigated). Thus, it
Rice Today J uly-September 2010 40 41 Rice Today J uly-September 2010
KOUL SAVOEUN, a Cambodian farmer, said that,
because the quality of the rice grains dried through
a mechanical dryer has improved, he can sell them at
a higher price.
RICE STORED in
homes is as common
as a spirit house in
Cambodia.
CAMBODIAN FARMERS rest under a tree
while waiting for the combine to load
rice on a truck.
L
A
N
IE
R
E
Y
E
S
(3
)
4 5
30 31 Rice Today April-J une 2012 Rice Today April-J une 2012
T
he excitement of rice
farmers in Saint-Louis,
Senegal, upon seeing an
appropriate engine-driven
small-scale thresher from Asia
in the mid-1990s could not have
been far dierenl from lhal of lhe
hrsl American residenl, George
Washington, in 1796, when he was
execling lhe hrsl horse-overed
threshing machine to arrive from
London. He described the new
machine as one of the most valuable
institutions in this country; for
nothing is more wanting and to be
wished for on our farms.
The Asian rice thresher,
which the Senegalese rice farmers
appreciated, was sent by the
International Rice Research Institute
(IRRI) upon request by the Africa
Rice Center (AfricaRice). It was
expected that this thresher could be
locally manufactured and mounted
to serve as an alternative to manual
threshing.
The making of ASI
Thanks to an innovative partnership
forged between national and
international research and extension
organizations, local artisans, farmers
organizations, and the private sector,
an improved rice thresher for the
Senegal River Valley (the principal
zone for irrigated rice in the country)
was soon developed. Based on the
IRRI prototype, it can reduce the
drudgery associated with hand
threshing and improve yield and
marketability of rice.
SubslanliaI modihcalions vere
made to the original thresher,
including doubling its capacity,
making it more robust by using
sturdier material, increasing its
processing power, and adding two
wheels to make it a four-wheel
version.
Named ASI after the three
main partnersAfricaRice, the
Senegal River Valley National
Development Agency (SAED), and the
Senegalese Institute of Agricultural
Research (ISRA)the thresher went
through several adaptations to
ensure that it met the requirements
of producers and women rice farmers
engaged in threshing activities.
ASI was commercially released
in Senegal in 1997. Since then, ASI
has become the most widely adopted
thresher in Senegal, with major
impact on the rice production chain.
A study showed that, with six
workers, ASI yields six tons of paddy
per day vis--vis one ton by manual
threshing and four tons by Votex, the
alternative small-scale thresher that
was available in the Senegal River
Valley. Moreover, with a grain-straw
separation rate of 99%, no additional
labor is required for sifting and
winnowing compared to Votex,
which could not properly separate
grains from straw after threshing.
In other words, it reduces labor
requirements, freeing up family
members, particularly women,
for other useful tasks; speeds up
the postharvest process; allows
production of a higher quality
product with lower risk of damage;
and increases the marketability of
local rice in the face of imports.
Recognizing its immense value
for the country as a technical solution
that is acceptable to everyone in the
rice-growing community, including
vomen, lhe Grand Irix du Iresidenl
de Ia ReubIique du SenegaI our
Ies Sciences (SeciaI Irize of lhe
Iresidenl of SenegaI for Scienlihc
Research) was conferred in 2003 on
the ASI thresher team. The team
included AfricaRice Deputy Director
GeneraI Marco Woereis, vho had
served as an agronomist in the Saint-
Louis Station of AfricaRice in the 90s
and was closely involved in all the
stages of ASIs development.
An impact study conducted by
AfricaRice in Senegal 12 years later
in 2009 showed that ASI continued
to be one of the most important
improved postharvest technologies
in the Senegal River Valley, helping
irrigated rice farmers to cope with
labor scarcity. For farmers, the ASI
thresher is a time- and labor-saving
device with a high grain recovery
rate.
Spreading across the region
As ASIs popularity grew among
the rice farming community and
its impact continued to ripple
outward and change the lives of
rural households, the experience in
Senegal was successfully extended
to several West African countries
(Cle d'Ivoire, urkina Iaso, Ghana,
Mali, Mauritania, etc.), where each
country further adapted the machine
lo suil ils ovn secihc condilions and
reIeased il under dierenl brands.
ASI has recently spread to
Central African countries Cameroon
and Chad. Here, the local artisans,
who were trained by AfricaRice and
partners, were inspired to develop
Africa shifts from back-
breaking operations to
almost labor-free threshing
by Savitri Mohapatra The little machine that could
a series of modihed rololyes for
various crops. In 2011, the Chad
government gave ASI high praise
at the countrys 50th anniversary
celebration, where local ASI models
were publicly displayed.
Why ASI clicked
Labor is a serious concern in sub-
Saharan African agriculture since
many labor-intensive tasks in crop
production are carried out manually.
For example, rice threshing and
cleaning are manually carried out
predominantly by women, who
spend hours on these back-breaking
oeralions. This nol onIy aecls lheir
health but also the grain quality and
rohlabiIily of rice.
Field surveys carried out in
the 90s in the Senegal River Valley
revealed that the lack of improved
practices and machinery resulted in
postharvest rice crop losses of up to
35% and poor grain quality due to
inecienl manuaI lhreshing.
The surveys also revealed other
constraints, such as the frequent
shortage of labor during rice harvest
and postharvest periods and the
unsuitability of existing systems that
were too costly, time-consuming, or
labor-intensive during peak labor
demand. Consequently, paddy may
sil in lhe heId for veeks or even
months waiting to be harvested or
threshed; quality then deteriorates
because of exposure to the elements
and shauering.
Therefore, in response to the
demand from rice stakeholders,
AfricaRice decided to adapt and
introduce ASI in the region by
creating a coalition of partners.
The partnership model made the
technology relevant. AfricaRice is
now using this model to forge a new
partnership and alliance to further
develop rice harvest and postharvest
technologies in sub-Saharan Africa.
Now, the Center is introducing
and adaling a smaII aordabIe
combine harvester in the Senegal
River Valley for timely harvesting
and threshing. The adapted
prototype combine harvester, which
is under tests, not only harvests
small farm plots more quickly, but
also provides threshed and bagged
grain of high quality, making it more
auraclive lo IocaI lraders.
Given lhe examIes of ASI
and the mini-combine harvester
introduced by AfricaRice and
its partners, a number of rice
stakeholders from sub-Saharan
Africa who met in July 2011 to
develop a road map for sustainable
mechanization of the rice sector
emphasized the value of small-
scale, locally adapted machinery
secihcaIIy largeling Iabor-inlensive
activities.
They also recommended that
governments consult research when
importing machinery to ensure its
ecacy and durabiIily under African
farming conditions, and that capacity
be built to provide after-sales support
for farm machinery. Thus, the ripples
created by ASI continue to expand.
AN ASI thresher is being
used at the Institut
d'Economie Rurale (IER),
Niono, Mali.
PARTICIPANTS AT a meeting on Boosting
agricultural mechanization in rice-based
systems in sub-Saharan Africa, under the
Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP),
inspect a mini-combine prototype designed
by a local manufacturer.
MARCO WOPEREIS, AFRICARICE
WITH SIX workers, manual
threshing yields only one ton
per day, but, using an ASI
thresher, it yields six tons
per day.
R.RAMAN, AFRICARICE (2)
6 7
A
l hrsl, lhe albed rice grain
dryer did nol lake o in
mosl counlries because of
lhe high-cosl kerosene-
fueIed burner. Ils 1-lon drying
caacily er balch vas loo big for
smaII farmers and loo smaII for lhe
commerciaI seclor.
Il vas onIy in Vielnam vhere lhe
lechnoIogy vas successfuIIy adaled,
lhanks lo a version modihed by Nong
Lam Universily (NLU). y 2005,
around 4,000 dryers vilh 4- lo 8-lon
caacily vere inslaIIed in lhe Mekong
DeIla, aII using rice husk as fueI.
Neighboring Lao IDR, Cambodia,
and Myanmar had no dryers al lhal
lime. Indonesian dryers moslIy
inslaIIed by lhe governmenl vere nol
being used. And, onIy a fev dryers
based on lhe Vielnamese design vere
used in lhe IhiIiines.
The InlernalionaI Rice Reasearch
Inslilule (IRRI) began vorking vilh
NLU, nalionaI arlners, and rivale
slakehoIders in 2006 lo inlroduce lhe
albed dryer in Soulheasl Asia.
Myanmar
Dr. Myo Aung Kyav from lhe
Iioneer Ioslharvesl DeveIomenl
Grou (IIHDG) and Mr. Tin Oo,
a manufaclurer, arlicialed in an
IRRI-organized dryer manufacluring
lraining by NLU in 2006.
Afler lhe lraining, lhey inslaIIed
lhe hrsl iIol unil in Myanmar,
vhich sarked lhe roduclion and
inslaIIalion of dryers al rice miIIs and
vilh farmers' grous. y 2012, more
lhan 70 dryers had been inslaIIed by
lhe IIHDG, 80 by Mr. Tin Oo, and
150 by olhers vho had coied lhe
design.
The Iioneer oslharvesl leam
conhrms lhal 13,700 farmers are
benehling fromlhe dryers lhal lhey
have inslaIIed, and aboul 35,000
farmers are aIready benehling from
more lhan 300 dryers in lhe counlry.
Indonesia
In lhe lidaI Iands of Soulh Sumalra,
Iov-quaIily discoIored rice vas
common because of deIays in
handIing and drying. This vas
caused by shorlages in Iabor
and oor oslharvesl faciIilies.
Then, AGRINDO, a machinery
manufaclurer in }ava, inlroduced
a kerosene-fueIed albed dryer in
Soulh Sumalra in 1995. UnforlunaleIy,
users abandoned lhe dryer because of
rising fueI cosls.
In 2003, a rice-husk-hred dryer
vilh 3.3-lon caacily vas deveIoed
by lhe Indonesian Cenler for Rice
Research in Sukamandi, and
inlroduced in Soulh Sumalra by lhe
Assessmenl Inslilule for AgricuIluraI
TechnoIogy in IaIembang. IRRI
heIed by lransferring a bigger
and more ecienl fan lo a IocaI
manufaclurer in IaIembang. Come
2010, around 200 dryers vere
inslaIIed in Soulh Sumalra, mainIy by
rice miIIers. Iour IocaI vorkshos are
nov roducing dryers lhere, vilh one
sho in IaIembang aIready making
good-quaIily dryers.
In 2012, IRRI rovided addilionaI
lraining on bIover lesling and
manufacluring of an imroved rice
husk furnace.
The Philippines
Mosl IiIiino farmers reIy on lhe
sun lo dry lheir grain, bul nov lhey
face quaIily robIems because of
unrediclabIe vealher.
In lhe asl fev years, lhe
IhiIiine Rice Research Inslilule
(IhiIRice) vorked vilh NLU lo bring
Millions of Asian farmers struggled with poor-quality sun-dried grain until a mechanical
ai|c! !rqcr a!apia||c ic inc ircpics uas !ctc|cpc! in inc Pni|ippincs in inc 1970s
by Martin Gummert and Trina Leah Mendoza
Eclipsing the sun:
albed dryers
20 Rice Today J anuary-March 2013
M
A
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of lhe dryers' adaled design, lhe
use of rice husk as fueI, as veII as lhe
faciIilalion of lechnoIogy lransfer and
suorl lo IocaI manufaclurers.
Iach counlry had IocaI
chamions vho drove lhe
lechnoIogies even beyond ro|ecl
horizons. MuIlislakehoIder Ialforms
such as Iearning aIIiances heIed
in Iinking aclors across seclors,
caluring lhe Iearning, and making il
avaiIabIe for olhers.
AII lhese vere key ingredienls
lhal heIed move albed dryers from
Vielnam across Soulheasl Asia.
Mr. Gunncri is a pcsinartcsi cxpcri
and Ms. Mendoza is a communication
specialist at IRRI.
|cr a rc|aic! ti!cc a|cui inc ai|c!
!rqcr in Can|c!ia, scc nup.//qcuiu.|c/
|!s|cKP|NO|
in lhe second-generalion albed
dryer vilh reversibIe airov from
Vielnam lo lhe IhiIiines.
IRRI suorled a arlicialory
verihcalion of lhe iniliaI unils of lhese
dryers lhrough lhe Irrigaled Rice
Research Consorlium (IRRC) and
an Asian DeveIomenl ank (AD)-
funded oslharvesl ro|ecl. And, lhe
IhiIiine Dearlmenl of AgricuIlure
funded 10 unils inslaIIed al IhiIRice
slalions.
These dryers are nov dislribuled
lo end users lhrough IhiIRice and a
oslharvesl Iearning aIIiance. olh
serve as Ialforms in vhich lhe
dryers can be evaIualed in a business
modeI conlexl vilh end users and
suorling inslilulions such as
nongovernmenl organizalions, IocaI
governmenl unils, and IRRI.
Cambodia
The need for mechanicaI dryers
in Cambodia srang from lhe
roIiferalion of combine harveslers in
lhe counlry.
Nov, vilh around 2,000
combines being used, Iarge amounls
of grain harvesled need lo be dried.
Sun drying is no Ionger suilabIe (see
Machines of progress, VoI. 9, No. 3,
ages 38 lo 41 of Rice Today). Thus,
lhe AD-IRRI ro|ecl lransferred lhe
albed dryer from Vielnam lo a IocaI
manufaclurer in Cambodia.
Irom one demonslralion unil
inslaIIed vilh a farmers' grou in
2007, Cambodia nov has hundreds of
albed dryers. The rivale seclor has
reaIized lhe benehls of mechanicaI
drying and severaI comanies have
invesled in lhe lechnoIogy. Nou Kim
Sean, a rice miIIer vho arlnered
vilh lhe ro|ecl, has nov designed a
recircuIaling balch dryerlhe nexl
IeveI of lhe lechnoIogy. In 2012, IRRI
lesled lhe dryer and assisled him in
coming u vilh an imroved second
version.
Key ingredients
Irevious auemls lo inlroduce
mechanicaI dryers for rice have faiIed
because of unsuilabIe lechnoIogies,
high fueI cosls, and markels lhal
acceled sun-dried addy vilhoul a
rice enaIly.
Hovever, increased harvesl
voIumes and markels becoming more
quaIily-conscious ushed lhe need
for mechanicaI dryers in Soulheasl
Asia over lhe Iasl decade.
Wilhin a fev years, neighboring
counlries adoled lhe dryers because
PHILIPPINE RICE Research
Institute engineers demonstrate
the reversible atbed dryer to
farmers in Agusan del Norte,
Philippines.
NOU KIM Sean (right), farmer and
chairman of the Pursat Rice Millers
Association, adopted the technology
and built a recirculating batch dryer
with 12-ton capacity.
AN IRRI technician assists in
installing a privately owned atbed
dryer with rice husk-fueled furnace
at the foot of Mt. Sierra Madre in
Cagayan Valley, Philippines.
21 Rice Today J anuary-March 2013
T
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TRINA LEAH MENDOZA MARTIN GUMMERT
8 9
28 29 Rice Today April-J une 2012 Rice Today April-J une 2012
A
number of examples in
Africa tell stories of how
farmers have successfully
adopted small-scale equipment,
which is now being manufactured
locally.
The model of adoption has
generally been the same. Once
a suilabIe machine is idenlihed,
it is tested under a range of
IocaI condilions, modihed vhen
necessary, promoted by the
government, and then linked to a
local entrepreneur.
The use of locally
manufactured mechanical
threshers in Senegal is one very
good example (see story on pages
30-31). When this equipment
imported from the International
Rice Research Institute in the
Philippines was brought to
Africa, the government, together
with the Africa Rice Center and
a local manufacturer, extended
its use to the broader farming
community. Now, more than 400
of these thresherswhich have
been adapted to local conditions
are being used in Senegal.
In Tanzania, more than
600 two-wheel tractors, which
were imported from Thailand,
are now being widely used for
rice production. Local dealers
in Dar es Salaam support these
tractors by supplying spare
parts and training operators
in using and maintaining the
equipment. In Madagascar,
locally manufactured mechanical
weeders have been adopted
widely. These weeders were
originally imported from Asia but
are now being fabricated locally.
In all of these cases, adoption
and promotion have been based
on sound business principles,
without government subsidies.
by Joseph Rickman
Small equipment:
A big hit in Africa
A
farmers life has never
been an easy one.
Before farmers can
rea lhe fuII benehl of
their harvest, they have to do many
energy-sapping tasks: plowing,
planting, irrigating, weeding,
harvesting, threshing, transporting,
and storing.
Traditionally, most activities on
small rice farms require long hours
of work, using a lot of family labor or
energy. Studies show that, for each
ton of rice produced, more than 7,000
megajoules of energy are needed,
whether provided by humans or
machines.
In physical terms, work or energy
is a function of force and distance.
The more force you need to apply or
distance you need to travel, the more
energy is required. The faster you
accomplish this, the more power you
exert. When humans or animals work
in lhe heId, lhe robIem is lhal lhey
can suIy onIy a hnile amounl of
energy at a given time. When they get
lired, eciency dros and so does lhe
quality of work.
Are machines the answer?
Although humans and animals have
limited energy over time, machines
dont get tired, and they can get the job
done much fasler vilhoul sacrihcing
quality of work.
For instance, to plow a hectare
requires 150 erson-days lo hnish,
12 days when animals are used, a
day with a 2-wheel tractor, and 12
hours with a 4-wheel tractor. The
same amount of energy of about 1,500
megajoules is required to do the job.
The dierence is in lhe lime.
Aside from time, labor cost
should also be considered. Using a
machine or hiring a contract service
provider is cheaper. The cost for
one-pass plowing using animals, a
2-wheel tractor, or a 4-wheel tractor
by Joseph Rickman and Paula Bianca Ferrer
is US$4050 per hectare depending
on the locality while manual labor
costs more than $200 per hectare,
and lhe |ob done is no beuer lhan lhe
mechanical output anyway.
In terms of harvesting, hand
harvesting and threshing cost
$100120 per hectare and hand
cuuing vilh mechanicaI lhreshing
costs about $80 per hectare, which is
similar to combine harvesting that
costs $80100 per hectare.
When a machine is introduced
into a farming system, it often brings
vilh il olher benehls. The engine can
be used as a power source for other
machines such as threshers, water
pumps, and electricity generators.
Moreover, a farmer who owns a
machine such as a 2-wheel tractor or
thresher can do contract service work
for other farmers.
Technical loopholes
Good management and
understanding of the machine
and the farming environment
are all critical and should not be
overlooked. For example, when
mechanical threshers were brought
to Mozambique from Asia, all had
broken down with mechanical
problems within 2 months. The cause
of the problem was that farmers had
always cut the straws long enough for
easy gri vhen lhey manuaIIy aiIed
them over a drum to release the
grain. However, mechanical threshers
require shorl slravs lo be ecienl.
Another problem encountered
was that the farmers normally left
lheir rice cro in lhe heId unliI lhe
moisture dropped to 1516%, which
made it easier for threshing. The
mechanical threshers, however, were
It takes sound business
principles and planning to
introduce farm equipment
in a sustainable way
designed to thresh grains at 2022%
moisture, which not only gets the
cro oul of lhe heId 34 veeks earIier
but also gives higher grain yield of a
beuer quaIily. Iarmers vho vere nol
used to managing grain with high
moisture thus faced a problem. This
resulted in a second technology, solar
grain drying, which could dry the
grain to 14% moisture for safe storage.
The biggest lesson here is that its
very important to analyze the entire
production chain before introducing
new equipment.
Gears in place
In rice-producing countries where
mechanization is at an early stage,
many nuts and bolts have to be
in place to develop a sustainable
industry. Experiences from Asia
and from some parts of Africa
indicate that farm equipment can
be introduced in a sustainable way
through sound business principles
and planning. Governments,
training institutes, international
organizalions, NGOs, hnanciaI
institutions, and the private sector all
have a role to play.
The governments main role
is in the importation and testing
of new equipment, as well as in
the development of import and tax
policies that support importers,
dealers, and local manufacturers.
Vocational training institutes need
to develop curricula that focus on
mechanization and can provide both
technical and basic business planning
and training for operators, mechanics,
and arlisans. Ixlension oces and
NGOs need training to extend and
support mechanized agriculture.
Credit institutions need to be
encouraged to structure loans to suit
farmers and contract service suppliers.
Most importantly, there must be
champions for rice mechanization
who will link to all the stakeholders
and who must be supported by the
government to drive the process
from introduction to adoption.
Mr. Rickman is an IRRI senior scientist
and regional coordinator for East and
Southern Africa.
JO
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28 Rice Today October-December 2013
W
ith her tiny frame, blunt-
cut bangs, and trendy
oulhls, 28-year-oId
Truong Thi Thanh Nhan
looks more like a school girl than
a farmer. Nhan earned her degree
in software programming from the
University of Science in Ho Chi Minh
Cily, Vielnam, in 2010. ul, afler
graduation, she agreed to her parents
wishes to oversee their family farm
in Dak Lak Province in Vietnams
Central Highlands.
In December 2011, Nhan slarled
the daunting task of managing
lheir aImosl 70 heclares of Iand. She
started planting rice twice a year on
20 heclares of lheir farm. Once a year,
Nhan also grows maize and pumpkin
on 10 heclares each. AIlhough her
familys farm is located on a steep
sIoe, bringing valer inlo lhe heId
vas easy because lhe heId vas nexl
to a water canal. It was managing the
watermaking sure that higher areas
were reachedthat was the problem.
Most of the rice plants in higher areas
die because lhey Iacked sucienl
water. She had no choice but to hire
many Iaborers lo reIanl lhe heId.
A fair for laser
In earIy 2012, Nhan chanced uon a
show on a Vietnamese TV channel
that featured rice farmer Nguyen Loi
Duc from Tri Ton Dislricl, An Giang
Province. She found herself glued to
the channel as Nguyen was sharing
his exeriences and lhe benehls
from Iaser IeveIing his 150-heclare
heId. Wilh her inleresl iqued, she
searched the Internet to learn more
about the technology.
Wilh Iaser IeveIing, a lransmiuer
Iaced al lhe side of lhe heId sends
a laser beam to a receiver, which is
auached lo a IeveIing buckel dravn
by a tractor. Then, a control panel
mounted on a tractor interprets the
signal from the receiver and opens
or closes a hydraulic valve, which
in turn raises or lowers the bucket.
The bucket then drags and drops soil
across lhe heId lo make il even.
Nhan, together with her family,
visited Nong Lam University (NLU)
in Ho Chi Minh City. They were
briefed on the technology by NLU
Laser-
guided
dreams
Truong Thi Thanh Nhan doesnt look like a typical farmer, but
she is proving to be a powerful "engine" for growth in Vietnams
farming communities
Story and photos by
Trina Leah Mendoza
29 Rice Today October-December 2013
sla member Tran Van Khanh, a
principal lecturer on agricultural
machinery, and Ihung Anh Vinh
Truong, a researcher who became
Nhan's husband in 2013 and nov
helps her manage the farm.
Ingr. Khanh emhasized
lhe benehls of lhe lechnoIogy
and assured Nhans family that
the International Rice Research
Institute (IRRI) also provides
technical support. Nhans family
was convinced and
decided to buy laser-
IeveIing equimenl
and a drag bucket
from a Saigon-based
distributor, Ideal
Farming Corporation.
Loads of benefts
They began using
laser leveling in their
rice-growing area.
Now that 9 hectares
of our rice heId have
been laser-leveled,
lhe benehls have
been tremendous,
Nanh says. We save
on water because
we dont need to
pump more water to
reach the once-high
areas. Wilh even valer coverage, lhe
crops are healthy and thrivingand
we dont need to hire laborers for
replanting.
Laser leveling their land had
olher benehls loo. IerliIizer is nov
spread evenly among the crop,
saving as much as 77 kilograms per
hectare. Pests, which used to hide in
uneven spots, can no longer do so,
resulting in less pesticide applied.
Weed conlroI is aIso easier. Herbicide
spraying has been reduced to one,
before the emergence of rice, unlike
before when they sprayed herbicide
twice during the season. The yield
from lhe Iaser-IeveIed heId during
the dry season, from January to
May 2013, vas higher al 6.7 lons er
heclare comared vilh 4.5 lons er
heclare for lhe unIeveIed heId.
The Iaser-IeveIing equimenl,
however, is subject to wear and tear.
Nhans husband, Truong, shares
that the usual challenges they face
with laser leveling have more to do
vilh hxing lhe equimenl vhen il
breaks down. It usually takes a week
to repair the system, and Truong,
being an agricultural engineer by
profession, does it on his own in
their workshop. However, since they
live in a rural area where power
shortages are common, repairing
broken equimenl lakes more lime
and eorl.
postharvest technologies organized
by lhe Asian DeveIomenl ank-IRRI
Postharvest Project.
A role model
AIlhough Nhan is not a typical
Vietnamese farmer, she has
managed to turn their farm into a
roduclive and ecienl business.
ul, many people are surprised
by Nanhs decision to be a farmer.
They do not understand why a
young lady like her,
with a background
in software
programming from a
prestigious university,
would want to go
back to agriculture.
For Nhan, it
was no surprise.
Her parents both
grew up on farms,
and agriculture was
part of their family
lradilion. Going back
to her roots made
her happy and she
is optimistic about
her future. She hopes
that, with a new
generation of farmers
like her, it will be
possible to change the
general perception of farming.
Nowadays, young people think
that farmers are old-fashioned, poor,
and lack social standing, and that
returning to the farm is a last option,
says Nhan. I am a smart, young,
dynamic person, and even though I
am a farmer living in an area without
many comforls and I face dicuIlies
vilh hnances and managing eoIe,
I know that I am on the right path
toward a stable income and a
sustainable future.
I am contributing to food
sustainability for my region and
country, which young people now
rareIy do. And, I have my famiIy lo
thank for helping me be the farmer
that I am now.
Ms. Mendoza is a senior communication
specialist with the Irrigated Rice Research
Consortium at IRRI.
Spreading the word
ul, overaII, Nahn's decision lo
urchase lhe equimenl is roving
lo be a very vise one. As lhe
neighboring farmers witnessed the
improvements on Nhans rice farm,
it wasnt long before they sought her
help. She already provided laser-
leveling services to one farmers
2.7-heclare rice heId in December
2012 and she has Ians lo do more.
Afler I hnish IeveIing our
20 heclares of rice farm and our
maize farm, we plan to rent out our
equimenl lo olher farmers, nol onIy
for rice but for other crops as well,
says Nhan.
Nhan is now also on a
mission. An advocale of Iaser-
leveling technology, she shares
her exeriences in adoling Iaser
leveling with representatives from
both the public and private sector
during meetings and seminars on
NHAN AND her husband Khanh are
changing farming practices and the
image of farmers in Vietnam.
12 13
16 Rice Today April-J une 2011 17 Rice Today April-J une 2011
F
ew countriesinAsiaare
familiar withprecisionland
levelingor laser landleveling,
but, inIndia, thetechnology
hasalready beenadoptedinmany
statesandit hasalmost becomean
indispensabletool inagriculture.
Throughlaser landleveling, farmers
areabletosavewater andreducetheir
irrigationcost becauselaser-leveled
felds, unlike traditionally leveled felds,
allow better water coverageandmore
effcient irrigation.
Around7,000Indianfarmersnow
own10,000laser landlevelersandclose
to1millionhectaresof landinIndiahave
beenlaser-leveled.
For traditional agricultural
practicesof therice-wheat farming
system, pumpirrigationiscommon,
saysRaj Gupta, regional facilitator of
theRice-Wheat Consortium(RWC) for
theIndo-Gangetic Plains. Electricity
consumptionfrompumpingunderground
water can reach 800 kilowatts per hectare
per year andlevelingthelandcouldhelp
saveuptoUS$65millionannually.
Laser levelingallowsustouse
more effciently water that, at times,
becomesscarce, headded. Also,
comparedwithunleveledor traditionally
leveled felds, laser-leveled felds can
save18centimetersof water. Withabout
1millionhectaresof landthat hasbeen
laser-leveled, thistranslatesto2cubic
kilometers of water savedroughly the
size of a lake that is 2 kilometers long, 1
kilometer deep, and 1 kilometer wide.
Laser levelingnot only allows
evendistributionof water sothat it can
be used more effciently but it also leads
to better nitrogen-use effciency, which
by Bianca Ferrer
helpsgiveusamuchbetter cropstand,
heconcludes.
Levelingthelandusinglaser
systemshasalsobecomeasourceof
incomefor farmersasthey rent theunits
tofellow farmersat 500rupees($1) an
hour. Sometimes, thesefarmershireout
thesystemtothreetofour other farmers
to level their felds, working in shifts.
Thelaser landlevelersgivethefarmers
anextrasourceof incomeasidefrom
helpingincreasetheir productivity, cites
Dr. Gupta.
Farmers in India enjoy benefts
similar tothoseenjoyedby farmersin
Pakistan, from where Dr. Gupta and his
colleagues from the RWC frst stumbled
uponthetechnology.
In2002, theRWC teamvisited
farmers felds in Pakistan. During the
feld trip, they saw felds that had been
laser-leveled. We got good feedback
fromthefarmers, explainsDr. Gupta.
They liked laser leveling very much
becauseit helpedthemsavewater, get
extraincomefromrentingout theunits
toother farmers, andincreasetheir
productivity. So, wedecidedtointroduce
laser landlevelinginIndia.
Inthesameyear, alaser land-
levelingunit wassuppliedby Spectra
Precision, Inc., adealer inHyderabad,
India, and was brought to a farmers feld
inHaryanafor testing. However, the
technology wasnot asuccessbecausethe
system buckled and was taken back for
further improvements. It did, however,
providetwoimportant lessons: that
theunitsautomatic hydraulic scraper
bucket should be assembled with locally
availablematerialsandthat local service
providershadtobeabletohandledefects
in their small workshops.
After the frst unsuccessful attempt,
the RWC asked Joseph Rickman, an
agricultural engineer at theInternational
RiceResearchInstitute(IRRI), to
develop a hydraulic scraper bucket for
a50- to60-horsepower tractor that was
ftted with a laser land-leveling unit. As
hehadgainedmuchexperiencefromhis
projectsinCambodiaandThailand, Mr.
Rickman developed an automatic scraper
bucket with Beri Udyod Ltd., a local
manufacturer, whichofferedhimfree
use of its workshop facilities. As a result,
they wereabletobuildthehydraulic
scraper bucket using local automobile
componentsandthey connectedit toa
tractor-drivenland-levelingunit.
Themachinewastestedonafarm
inKarnal Provinceandtheresultswere
encouraging. Thisthenledtoalarger
demonstration and a training workshop at
theIndianAgricultural ResearchInstitute
inNew Delhi, whereabout200agriculture
professionals, serviceprofessionals, and
local manufacturersattended.
Throughaninitiativetopromote
laser landlevelinginnorthernIndia,
similar toSpectraPrecision, Inc., in
southernIndia, another manufacturer
cameontothesceneandforayedinto
manufacturingunitsthat copiedthe
hydraulic scraper bucket from Beri and
usedalocally-procuredcontrol valve
mechanism. Competitivemanufacturing
wasbornwithLeicaGeosystemsand
Beri producing the same units and nine
other suppliersthat cameonboardlater.
In2005, theAtomic Energy
CommissioninIndiaalsodeveloped
aprototypeof alaser landleveler but,
althoughit wassuccessfully developed
usinglocally-availablematerials, it failed
tobemass-produced. Meanwhile, Indias
privatesector alsodevelopedprototypes
of laser landlevelersand, at thesame
time, throughcontactswithforeign
suppliers, importedother unitsfromthe
U.S. toIndia.
Many on-farmdemonstrations,
feld days, and training workshops took
place. UnitswereproducedinKarnal,
Ludhiana, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar
by 2006sothetechnology couldreach
farmers felds more effectively. One of
thefarmer-serviceproviders, Ranjeet,
together with his brother, undertook more
than 200 feld demonstrations in Bihars
12districtscoveringWest Champaranto
Purneafrom2007to2008.
Throughsubsidiesprovidedby the
stategovernmentsof Haryana, Punjab,
Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and others, farmers
Laser land leveling is
fast changing the face
of traditional farming in
South Asia
weresoonabletopurchasetheir own
units, whichthey alsorentedout to
other farmers. A cooperativeinPatna
and Samastipur districts in Bihar called
thePrimary AgricultureCredit Society,
alongwithafarmers seedvillagein
Begusarai, promoted laser land leveling
together withtheir other resource-
conservingtechnologies.
TheDepartment of Agriculture
in Bihar also bought fve units of laser
landlevelersfor demonstrationsin
2008-09. Duringthesameyears, Dr.
ApurbaChowdhury andhisteamfrom
UttarbangaAgricultureUniversity
procuredthreeunitsof laser landlevelers
in Kochbehar and Dakshin Dinazpur for
farmer participatory trials.
Moreover, Dr. Paritosh Bhattacharyya
from the West Bengal Department of
Agriculture took seven more units of laser
landlevelerstodifferentdistrictsof West
Bengal. This then became a collaborative
effortwiththeIndianCouncil of
Agricultural Research.
Theexperiencesgainedinfarmers
felds helped further improve laser land
levelers. PunjabAgricultureUniversity
also took the initiative of modifying
the hitch system for the scraper bucket,
allowingit toimproveitsturningradius
by 27%andthemaneuverability of
tractors in small felds.
Another innovationmadeonthe
machine was the addition of a quick-
releasehydraulic coupler that enabledit
tobeattachedtoor detachedfromthe
Even grounds
tractor. Thishelpedfreethetractor when
thelaser landleveler wasnot inuseand
restoredthetractor tobeingamultiutility
vehicle. Thisledtoatotal of 20unitssent
to Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab, Haryana,
andwesternUttar Pradesh.
Sincethen, moreimprovementswere
madeonthelevelingunit suchasadding
doublewheelstoit toreducetheloadon
thetractor, whichincreasedthemachines
capacity by 25%. Animprovement
that included a powered mast for fner
elevationsettingof thereceiver not only
enhancedmast-receiver control onthe
laser landlevelersbut alsoboostedfuel
and tractor effciency during leveling.
Like in India, where the technology
startedwithoneunit, but hasnow grown
to 10,000 units, farmers in Bangladesh
andNepal, wherethetechnology was
introduced in 2008, are also keen to
purchasemore, saysDr. Gupta.
Eachcountry now ownsthreeunits
andthetechnology hasbeenintroduced
intheCereal SystemsInitiativefor South
Asia, acollaborativeprojectamong
IRRI, theInternational MaizeandWheat
ImprovementCenter, theInternational
FoodPolicy ResearchInstitute, andthe
International Livestock Research Institute.
Withjoint effortsamongdifferent
organizationsandConsultativeGroup
onInternational Agricultural Research
centers, laser landlevelingcould
becomeanindispensabletool for
agriculture in Bangladesh and Nepal,
holdinglotsof promisefor farmers.
A LASER land leveler plows a eld in the
village of Matiala, western Uttar Pradesh.
R
A
J G
U
P
T
A
, R
W
C
(3
)
VILLAGERS HELP a local service provider,
who rents out a laser land leveler to
farmers, do land surveys.
USAID AGRICULTURAL advisor Robert Bertram
(right) tests a laser land-leveling unit with
Indian agronomist R.K. Naresh (left).
14 15
I
nAsia, whereabout 90%of riceis
grown, hundredsof millionsof rural
poor grow riceonlessthanahectare
of land.
Producingaffordablericefor the
poor hasbeenachallengefor thelast 50
years. Duringthe2008ricepricecrisis,
changesinriceavailability andprice
causedsocial unrest insomedeveloping
countries. TheInternational Rice
ResearchInstitute(IRRI) estimatesthat
anadditional 810milliontonsof rice
needtobeproducedeachyear tokeep
ricepricesstable.
Thechallengenow istogrow more
ricewithlessland, lesswater, andless
labor amidst climatechange.
A regional approach to food security
In1997, theSwissAgency for
Development andCooperation(SDC)
beganfundingtheIrrigatedRice
ResearchConsortium(IRRC), which
providesaplatformfor partnershipin
researchandextensionintheintensive
lowlandirrigatedrice-basedproduction
systems.
Initially, theIRRC focusedon
integratedpest management (IPM)
andnutrient management. However,
since2002, theIRRCsresearchhas
featuredwater-savingtechnologies, labor
sustainability (includingdirect seeding
andweedandrodent management),
postharvest management, crophealth
initiatives, and, recently, climatechange
in11countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia,
China, India, Indonesia, LaoPDR,
Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam,
andthePhilippines.
TheIRRC developspartnershipsto
identify theneedsof ricefarmersand
potential solutionstotheir problems,
andtofacilitatetheadoptionof suitable
technologies. It providesarangeof
technologiesfor ricefarmersandother
stakeholdersinAsiatoimprovetheir
per hectare. In2009alone,
partnersreported120,000
farmersadoptingAWD.
Theprivatesector
promotesAWD by
producingtubesthat are
usedtomonitor water
levels in the feld. lthough
thousandsof farmersare
practicingAWD inthe
country, a2010adoption
study reportedthat, with
millionsof farmersstill to
bereached, adoptionisin
itsinfancy.
Around40,000farmers
inVietnamarepracticing
AWD, andmorefarmers
areexpectedtobereachedthrougha
new IRRC-AnGiangDepartment of
AgricultureandRural Development
initiative: theOneMust Do, Five
ReductionsProgram. In2010, LaoPDR,
Indonesia, Myanmar, andThailand
startedor successfully demonstrated
AWD.
Personalized precision farming
Most farmerslack knowledgeonthe
most effectiveuseof fertilizer. They
either apply toomuchor toolittle, or
apply it at thewrongtime. Toomuch
nitrogenfertilizer leadstoincreases
indiseasesandpests, damagetothe
environment, and lo proft. or more
thanadecade, IRRI soil scientist Roland
Buresh, leader of theIRRC Productivity
andSustainability Work Group, hasbeen
workingwithpartnersinAsiatoprovide
site-specifc nutrient management
(SSNM) practicesfor rice.
Since2003, correct fertilizer timing
andapplicationrateshavegreatly
increasedfarmers yieldscomparedwith
traditional practices. Yieldincreases
fromadoptingSSNM haveimproved
net returnsby $100to$300per hectare
per year inChina, India, Indonesia,
Vietnam, andthePhilippines. Animpact
assessment study onSSNM intheRed
River DeltainVietnamrevealeda2%
and3%increaseinnet present valuesfor
smallholder farmersinHaTay andHa
Namprovinces, respectively. Farmers
whousedSSNM reportedareduceduse
of pesticides.
EncouragingfarmerstouseSSNM
hasbeenachallengebecauseit is
knowledge-intensiveandmany factors
needtobeconsidered, suchascropyield
andtheuseof organic materials. Thishas
sloweddownfarmers adoptionof these
improvedpractices.
But, thisspeedbumpdidnot slow
downDr. Bureshandhisgroup, who
lookedfor waystomaketheir science
simpler for thefarmers. Theleaf color
chart (LCC) wasdevelopedasatool for
farmerstoassessthenitrogenneedsof
their crop. InBangladesh, anestimated
600,000farmersuseLCCs, whichhas
increased the effciency of urea fertilier
use, enablingfarmerstoharvest more
ricewithlessexpensefor purchased
fertilizer.
Farmerslearnedabout theuseof
potassiumandphosphorusfertilizers,
andgainednew knowledgeonother
micronutrients. They wereabletosave
$25per hectareinproductioncostsand
harvestedhigher yields.
In2008, SSNM principleswere
packedintoacomputer-baseddecision-
makingtool calledNutrient Manager
for Rice. A farmer or extensionworker
only needstoanswer about 15questions
and, within510minutes,
afertilizer guidelineis
provided for a feld. In 2010,
Webandmobilephone
versionsweredeveloped
inthePhilippines. Web
applicationsof theNutrient
Manager arenow available
for Guangdong, China, and
Indonesia, whileapplications
for Bangladesh, Vietnam,
southernIndia, andWest
Africaareunder way.
Saving labor and water costs
IntheIndo-Gangetic Plain,
whichcoversmost of
northernandeasternIndia,
andalmost all of Bangladesh, farmers
facerisingcosts, waningproductivity,
worseningsoil health, andlabor
shortages, asmany peoplemovetothe
cities to fnd or. armers depend on
themonsoonrains, andthey cannot plant
if therainscometoolate.
Ledby IRRI weedscientist David
Johnson, theIRRC Labor Productivity
andCommunity Ecology Work Group
promotesdirect seedingof riceasan
alternativeway toestablishacrop. In
direct seeding, pregerminatedseeds
are son directly into a nonfooded but
saturated feld, using a drum seeder.
Direct seedingallowsquicker land
preparation, andfarmerscansave20%
inlabor costsand30%inwater costs.
It takes50person-daystotransplant a
hectareof rice, but it takesonly 2person-
daystodirectly seedusingadrum
seeder.
Direct-seededricematures1015
daysearlier, allowingfarmerstoplant
other cropsearlier. Inapartnership
withIndiasRamakrishnaMissionin
2010, direct seeding(wet or dry) in90
farmers felds helped the early harvest
of autumnandwinter paddy, providing
new opportunitiesfor improvedwinter
croppingpracticesthroughearlier timing
of planting, new cultivars, andnew crops.
Anearlier winter riceharvest meant
earlier potatoplantingandalarger potato
Technologies meet farmersby Trina Leah Mendoza and Grant Singleton
Hundreds of thousands of Asian farmers are adopting a range of IRRC-facilitated
technologies because of the many impressive economic, social, and environmental benets
23 Rice Today October-December 2011 Rice Today October-December 2011 22
livelihoodsandincreasericeproduction
tomaintainfoodsecurity.
Hundredsof thousandsof Asian
farmersarenow adoptingthese
technologiesbecauseof impressive
economic, social, andenvironmental
benefts. This article eamines some of
thesesuccesses.
More rice, less water
Irrigatedlowlandriceisusually grown
under fooded conditions, and ept
fooded to help control eeds and pests.
However, researchersfoundthat rice
needs to be continuously fooded only at
the foering stage. Through alternate
wettinganddrying(AWD), awater-
saving practice, felds can be dried
for 110 days before being re-fooded.
Farmerscansave1530%of water and
still harvest thesameyields. Thewater
saved can be used to irrigate more felds,
thusincreasingoverall production. If
AWD weretobeadoptedall across
Asia, theamount of water savedinone
year wouldequal 200timesthewater
consumptionof Parisfor ayear.
TheIRRC Water-SavingWork
Groupledby IRRI water scientist Ruben
LampayanbeganstudyingAWD with
Philippinepartnersandfarmersin
several national irrigationsystemsin
2002. In2009, thePhilippinegovernment
approvedtheendorsement of AWD for
nationwideadoption. By July 2011, more
than80,000Filipinofarmershadadopted
AWD.
IntroducedinBangladeshin
2004, AWD isnow beingpromoted
by government andnongovernment
agencies. Thesecretary of theMinistry of
AgricultureendorsedAWD in2009, and
directedthegovernmentsDepartment
of AgricultureandExtension(DAE)
topromotethetechnology nationwide.
Alongwithother agencies, theDAE
promotedAWD inover 50districtsin
2010. Fieldstudiesreportedadecrease
inpumpingcost andfuel consumption,
andanincreasedincomeof US$6797
A FARMER in Myanmar directly seeds
his rice crop using a drum seeder.
D
A
V
ID
JO
H
N
S
O
N
A FARMER from Vinh Phuc Province,
Vietnam, uses the leaf color chart
to check the nitrogen needs of his
rice crop.
T.T. SON
16 17
25 Rice Today October-December 2011 Rice Today October-December 2011 24
harvest, andreducedfungicideusageand
drought risk.
Innorthwest Bangladesh, direct
seedingcombinedwithshorter duration
ricevarieties, appropriateweed
management, and crop diversifcation is
helpingtoeasemonga, aseasonal hunger.
Eachyear, farmworkerssuffer from
monga fromSeptember toNovember as
they wait for thewet-seasonharvest.
Inmonga-affecteddistrictsof
Rangpur andNilphamari, farmerswho
directly seededtheir ricegot higher net
returnsinboththewet anddry seasons.
Yieldsof directly seededcropsinthewet
seasonwerehigher by 493kilograms
per hectare, andtotal productioncosts
werelower by $47per hectarethanon
farmswithtransplantedrice. Plantingof
potato, maize, andwheat ontimeinthe
dry seasonallowedfarmerstosell their
cropsat higher prices, becausethey were
abletoharvest earlier whensupply inthe
market wasstill relatively low. On-time
plantingof thesedry-seasoncropsalso
resultedinbetter yields. Net incomes
of farmerswhodirectly seededduring
thewet anddry seasonswerehigher by
$441per hectarethanfor farmerswho
transplanted.
Withtheearlier harvest of the
directly seededricecropinthewet
season, 5559person-daysper hectare
canpotentially behiredduring
harvesting, thuseasingtheproblemof
unemployment.
Ecologically based rodent management
It isnot uncommonfor farmersto
losehalf of their entirecroptorats,
becauserat damageisusually patchy
andfamily riceplotsaresmall, says
Grant Singleton, IRRC coordinator and
rodent expert. Surprisingly, only 10%of
themany different speciesof rodentsare
pestsinagriculture. Thechallengeisto
developwaystocontrol thepestswithout
greatly affecting those that are benefcial
inour environment.
Farmersareadoptingasimple,
environment-friendly community
methodcalledecologically basedrodent
management (EBRM). WithEBRM,
farmersareencouragedtoconduct
control methodsasacommunity, suchas
plantingsynchronously andhuntingrats
together. EBRM reducesrodent damage
by 3350%, andincreasesriceyieldby
25%. It alsoreducesrodenticideuseby
6290%.
EBRM hasbeenadoptedasthe
national policy for rodent management
inVietnam, Indonesia, andMyanmar. It
alsowasrecently includedinanational
integratedcropmanagement programin
Indonesia, whichwaspromotedthrough
50,000 farmer feld schools in 2009 and
2010.
Theimpact of rodent outbreaks
indifferent partsof theworldwas
highlightedinthe2010book Rodent
outbreaks: ecology and impacts,
publishedby IRRI.
Reducing postharvest losses
Asianricefarmerslose3050%of
their earningsfromharvest tomarket.
IRRI postharvest specialist Martin
Gummert leadstheIRRC Postproduction
Work Groupintacklingproblemson
postharvest lossesby providingbest
practicesandtechnologiestofarmersand
other stakeholders. Since2005, activities
havebeenfundedby SDC andtheAsian
Development Bank.
The mechanical fat-bed dryer,
whichproducesbetter quality rice
thansundrying, wasintroducedin
Cambodia, Myanmar, andLaoPDR.
Farmers groupsandprivatecompanies
themselvesprovidefundstoinstall
moredryersindifferent provinces. As
many as35,000farmersinMyanmar
benefted from using fat-bed dryers. In
Cambodia, traderspay 20%higher for
dry paddy, andanadditional 1012%
for mechanically driedpaddy. Inthe
Philippines, third-generation fat-bed
dryersweretransferredfromVietnam,
andadaptationtrialsareongoing.
StakeholdersinCambodia,
Indonesia, Myanmar, LaoPDR, Vietnam,
andthePhilippinestestedsmall-scale
hermetic (airtight) storagesystemsfor
grainsandseeds. Local distributorswere
establishedaswell. Animpact survey
indicatedthat Cambodianfarmerswho
useIRRI Super bagsreducedtheir seed
ratesby 22kilogramsper hectare. In
Myanmar, alocally manufacturedbag
for riceseedswasdeveloped, withover
10,000bagssoldtofarmers.
Partnerssharetheir experiences
inusingthesepostharvest technologies
throughnational learningalliances
(LA) inCambodia, Vietnam, andthe
Philippines. Fiveregional LAshavebeen
establishedinVietnam.
Successes in Sulawesi
Throughcountry outreachprograms
inMyanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, and
thePhilippines, combinationsof IRRC
technologiesareshowingpositiveresults
in trials in farmers felds.
From2008to2011, anIRRC-led
project fundedby theAustralianCentre
for International Agricultural Research
focusedonraisingriceproductivity in
SouthandSoutheast Sulawesi, twomajor
rice-producingprovincesineastern
Indonesia.
Farmersinfour villagestested
AWD, integratedpest management, and
direct seeding(usingadrumseeder) with
appropriateweedmanagement. EBRM,
storingseedsusingtheIRRI Super bag,
andfertilizer management (usingasoil
test kit andthecomputer-basedNutrient
Manager) werealsobenchmarked.
Farmersobtainedasubstantial
increaseinyieldsof 0.5to2.3tonsper
hectare. Theincreaseinmeanfarmer
incomerangedfrom22%to566%,
signifcantly higher than the 10% target
of theproject.
Thenumber of farmersadopting
direct seedingalmost doubledin
Southeast Sulawesi, from26%inthe
2008wet seasonto48%inthe2010wet
season.
Noneof thefarmershadheardof the
Nutrient Manager in2008, but, in2010,
1455%of thefarmershadheardabout it
and1020%hadusedit.
Comparedwithfarmersincontrol
villages, thenumber of farmerswith
improvedknowledgeonkey insect pest
management principlesdoubled. For
water management, noneof thefarmers
hadheardof AWD in2008, but, in2010,
1980%of thefarmersintheproject
villageshadadoptedAWD.
Theprojectsadaptiveresearch
approachwasintegratedintoanational
programcalledIntegratedCrop
Management-Farmer FieldSchools.
Closing yield gaps in Southeast Asia
TheIRRC hasproventobeaneffective
platformfor deliveringnew technologies
tosmall-scalericefarmersacrossAsia.
Withover adecadeof valuablelearning
experiencesunder itsbelt, theIRRC
envisionsthat it will continuetoprovide
scientifc leadership and essential
networksfor environmentally sustainable
increasesinriceproductioninSoutheast
Asiasmainricebowls.
Theimpactshavebeenimpressive
sofar, andtheIRRC, throughits
national partnersinboththepublic and
privatesector, hasakey roletoplay in
facilitatingfoodsecurity intheregion.
Dr. Singleton is coordinator of the IRRC.
IN NORTHWEST Bangladesh, direct seeding, combined with
early-maturing varieties, appropriate weed management,
and crop diversication, is helping to ease seasonal hunger
called monga.
T
. M
E
N
D
O
Z
A
(2
)
M
. C
A
S
IM
E
R
O
MEN, WOMEN, and childrenand their
dogshunt rats together in An Giang,
Vietnam.
RAT POPULATIONS can be successfully managed if
farmers work together as a communityapplying
their control at the right time and in the right
habitats.
C
H
R
IS
Q
U
IN
T
A
N
A
CHILDREN AND their families across Asia have
more reasons to smile as the IRRC continues to
help bring rice to their tables.
G
R
A
N
T
S
IN
G
L
E
T
O
N
AFTER A SUCCESSFUL eld trial, the women in
Bone, South Sulawesi, proudly carry the seasons
bountiful rice harvest.
18 19
22 Rice Today September 2005 23 Rice Today September 2005
A
lmost 90% of the 11 million
hectares of rice that are
planted each season in
Bangladesh is transplanted
seedlings are grown in nurseries
LIen moved Lo LIe eId. L Is u
heavily labor-intensive process,
requiring nearly half-a-billion
person-duys ucross LIe counLry. n
the past, rural laborers abounded,
but increasing labor out-migration
to city areas and a shift towards
alternative rural employment has
seen a severe shortage of hands
uvuIIubIe Ior LrunspIunLIng rIce.
This scarcity of farm workers
is hurting Bangladeshi rice farmers
on severuI IronLs. TIe mosL obvIous
ImpucL Is un Increuse In Iubor cosLs.
Also, the optimal planting periods
for the boro (dry) and aman (wet)
seusons ure reIuLIveIy sIorL.
A lack of workers
means not all
farmers can
plant their
rIce on LIme.
Delayed
planting
leads to late-
maturing rice,
increasing
the risk of crop
losses at the tail
end of both seasons
due to hailstorms or
oodIng Irom ruIn durIng
the boro season and due to drought
during the aman seuson. TIese
factors, combined with increasing
costs of other inputs and a falling or
stagnant market price for rice, are
diminishing the economic viability
oI rIce producLIon In BungIudesI.
But a simple, inexpensive piece of
equipment has the potential to change
the face of rice farming across the
counLry. TIe drum seeder (see pIoLo,
opposite) is a lightweight device
made from high-density plastic with
a cost of around US$40 and a life of
6-8 yeurs. OrIgInuIIy desIgned by LIe
nLernuLIonuI RIce ReseurcI nsLILuLe
(RR), ImprovemenLs by reseurcIers
and manufacturers in Vietnam have
substantially reduced the weight, cost
und usubIIILy oI LIe devIce. L consIsLs
of six to eight cylindrical drums
uIong u cenLruI uxIs. EucI drum Is
studded with holes through which
pre-germinated seeds drop neatly in
rows on puddled soils as the drum
seeder Is puIIed uIong. TIe drums ure
supported by a large plastic wheel at
each end, allowing the whole system
to be easily pulled along by a single
user uL wuIkIng puce. Drum seedIng
has already had success in Vietnam
as a seed-saving strategy, but its
capacity to save labor is profound:
while it may take up to 50 person-
days to transplant 1 hectare of rice,
direct wet seeding with a drum
seeder Lukes bureIy z person-duys.
BungIudesI`s rsL drum-seedIng
trial, conducted during the 2003
aman season a collaboration
beLween RR und LIe BungIudesI
RIce ReseurcI nsLILuLe (BRR),
Iunded by LIe nLernuLIonuI und Ior
AgrIcuILuruI DeveIopmenL (AD)
- wus u compreIensIve success. n
LIe LrIuI, Ied by M. ZuInuI AbedIn,
urmIng SysLems SpecIuIIsL In
s
u
c
c
e
s
s
D
r
u
m
m
i
n
g

u
p

An improved way of planting rice
is increasing farmers incomes
and strengthening communities
in Bangladesh
Story and photography by
Leharne Fountain
A PLASIIf 0kuH Sff0fk hoIds s!x or e!ght perforated cyI!ndr!caI drums hous!ng pregerm!nated seeds that
are dropped !n rows as the seeder !s eas!Iy pushed or puIIed aIong by a s!ngIe person ~ I!ke f!I!p!no farmer
J!mmy 6onzaIes ~ at waIk!ng pace. H. 2a!nuI Abed!n (be/ow /ejt}, who Ied the drum-seed!ng tr!aI, !s !nter-
v!ewed about the technoIogy by 8angIadesh Iv fhanneI i dur!ng a eId day !n Pabna. Ihe med!a has pIayed a
cruc!aI roIe !n ra!s!ng awareness of drum seed!ng throughout 8angIadesh.
M
A
. R
O
M
IL
E
E
B
O
O
L
20
21
24 Rice Today September 2005 25 Rice Today September 2005
fAkHfk JamaI She!kh (opposite}
d!scusses h!s drum-seed!ng exper!ences
w!th fhanneI i d!rector Shykh Seraj dur!ng
the Pabna eId day. Look!ng on are State
H!n!ster H!rza fakhruI IsIam AIamg!r
(io wbite), 8kkI 0!rector of kesearch
h!Ioofar kar!m (riqbt oj mioister} and
0r. Abed!n (/ejt oj 5eroj}.
IRRIs Social Sciences Division,
and implemented by BRRI Chief
ScIenLIc OIcer MusIerruI HusuIn
und purLIcIpuLIng Iurmers, drum
seedIng resuILed In un uveruge
18% IIgIer yIeIds und 6% reduced
cosLs compured wILI LrunspIunLIng,
und drum-seeded crops muLured
un uveruge 1o duys eurIIer. WIuL`s
more, drum-seeded rIce guve un
uveruge gross reLurn z1% IIgIer
LIun Ior LrunspIunLed rIce. TIIs
LrunsIuLes Lo more LIun doubIe LIe
uveruge proL - u boosL oI uround
$1zo-1o per IecLure per crop.
AII LIose InvoIved suw LIe
LecInoIogy us cIeuper, requIrIng
Iess Iubor, producIng IIgIer yIeIds
und resuILIng In beLLer pIunL growLI.
TIe onIy ureus oI concern were
LIe poLenLIuI cosL oI ucquIrIng u
drum seeder, uncerLuInLy over
uvuIIubIIILy, und weed munugemenL.
More recenLIy, LIougI, u IoIIow-
up AD-Iunded projecL, uImIng
Lo ucceIeruLe LIe udopLIon oI LIe
LecInoIogy, Ius gIven RR und
BRR, wILI LIe ussIsLunce oI
LIe BungIudesI DepurLmenL oI
AgrIcuILuruI ExLensIon (DAE),
LIe cIunce Lo soIve some InIerenL
probIems und Ieud LIe spreud oI
drum seedIng In BungIudesI.
Dr. AbedIn deveIoped guIdeIInes
Ior LecInoIogy udopLIon usIng u
communILy purLIcIpuLory upproucI
Lo reseurcI und exLensIon. One key
Lo LIe upproucI Is u pre-udopLIon
unuIysIs LIuL Lukes InLo consIderuLIon
InsLILuLIonuI, LecInIcuI, poIIcy,
socIuI und economIc IucLors LIuL
muy IeIp or IInder udopLIon. TIIs
meuns undersLundIng un enLIre
IurmIng communILy, noL jusL
IndIvIduuI Iurmers. Muny Iurmers
grow oLIer crops In uddILIon Lo
rIce, so LIe upproucI musL consIder
Iow drum seedIng wIII uIIecL LIeIr
wIoIe IurmIng sysLem. TIe producL
oI u BungIudesII Iurm IumIIy
IImseII, Dr. AbedIn empIusIzes
LIe vuIue oI uIIowIng IurmIng
communILIes Lo muke LIeIr own
decIsIons, und Lo recognIze LIey
Iuve LIe ubIIILy Lo experImenL, Luke
cuIcuIuLed rIsks und InnovuLe.
IILy-sIx groups ucross LIe
counLry decIded Lo Lry drum seedIng
durIng LIe zooq boro season, in the
Iope LIe LecInoIogy wouId spreud
ouL Irom LIese poInLs. EsLubIIsIIng
u drum-seeded crop requIres eurIIer
IrrIguLIon LIun does LrunspIunLIng,
so owners oI Lube weIIs - eucI
oI wIIcI usuuIIy IrrIguLes severuI
rIce Iurms - were LIe rsL peopIe
conLucLed In eucI IocuLIon.
L`s useIess, suys Dr. AbedIn, Lo
geL LIe Iurmers InvoIved II LIey cun`L
IrrIguLe LIeIr crop uL LIe rIgIL LIme,
so IL wus crucIuI LIuL we IncIuded
LIe weII owners. UndersLundIng,
und workIng wILIIn, LIe exIsLIng
communILy sLrucLures Is essenLIuI.
Extraordinary pace
Now, uILer jusL LIree growIng seusons,
LIe popuIurILy oI drum seedIng Is
spreudIng uL un exLruordInury puce.
Some q,ooo BungIudesII Iurmers In
more LIun oo groups ure uIreudy
usIng LIe LecInoIogy, wILI Iundreds
more seekIng uccess Lo drum seeders.
Dr. AbedIn uLLrIbuLes LIe
successIuI udopLIon oI drum
seedIng In Iurge purL Lo LIe
projecL`s communILy purLIcIpuLory
upproucI und, crILIcuIIy, LIe eurIy
esLubIIsImenL oI reseurcI IInkuges
wILI deveIopmenL und poIIcy
mukers, enLrepreneurs und LIe
medIu. UILImuLeIy, LIougI, IL comes
down Lo LIe Iurmers LIemseIves.
L wus LIe Iurmers wIo
experImenLed wILI LIe LecInoIogy
und were condenL oI success, even
In LIe Iuce oI skepLIcIsm, Ie suys.
TIe reseurcIers were conLInuousIy
IeurnIng Irom Iurmers und InLegruLIng
LIese Iessons InLo LIe work pIun.
urmers uIso LruIned oLIer Iurmers.
WorkIng wILI groups oI Iurmers
IeIps esLubIIsI ongoIng, communILy-
IeveI monILorIng und evuIuuLIon, und
ensures LIuL drum-seedIng success
sLorIes spreud rupIdIy Lo neIgIbors.
TIe projecL ubounds wILI sLorIes
ubouL Iurmers IIke AbduI AzIz, Irom
GuzIpur dIsLrIcL norLIeusL oI LIe
cupILuI, DIuku. AzIz soIdIered on even
wIIIe neIgIborIng Iurmers scoIIed,
beIIevIng Ie wouIdn`L IurvesL uny
rIce Irom IIs drum-seeded crop. AL
bIgIu, or jusL under 8 IecLures (;
bIgIus equuI 1 IecLure), AzIz`s Iurm
Is Iurge by BungIudesII sLundurds.
He sLurLed growIng drum-seeded
rIce durIng LIe zooq-o boro seuson.
PrevIousIy, IIs enLIre crop wus
LrunspIunLed, requIrIng z Iuborers
per bIgIu. or LIe sume ureu, drum
seedIng requIred jusL u sIngIe Iuborer.
AzIz expIuIns LIuL on Lop oI
LIe Iubor suvIngs, Ie Increused IIs
yIeId by o.-o.8 Lons per IecLure,
und Ie IurvesLed 1o duys eurIIer
LIun prevIousIy wILI LrunspIunLed
rIce. He Ius more money In IIs
pockeL und Ie InLends Lo InvesL IL
ouLsIde oI rIce IurmIng, Lo Increuse
IIs eurnIng cupucILy und dIversIIy
IIs Income. Muny oI AzIz`s IeIIow
GuzIpur Iurmers ure now euger Lo
Lry drum seedIng Ior LIemseIves,
und Ie Is onIy Loo Iuppy Lo sIure IIs
knowIedge und experIence - und
IIs drum seeder - wILI LIem.
L`s u common LIeme: skepLIcuI
neIgIbors become Lrue beIIevers.
MoIummud GIIusuddIn, wIo owns
u very smuII Iurm In MymensIngI
dIsLrIcL norLI oI DIuku, Ius uIreudy
IurvesLed LIree drum-seeded crops.
AILer jusL one seuson, boLI Ie und IIs
neIgIbors, wIo Iud orIgInuIIy LIougIL
IIm mud, were convInced oI LIe
vIrLues oI drum seedIng, und Ie Loo
Ius sIured LIe LecInoIogy wILI LIem.
n LIIs wuy, Irom Iurmer Lo
Iurmer, LIe LecInoIogy Is spreudIng.
22 23
26 Rice Today September 2005
Field days, often attended by
hundreds of farmers, give drum-
seeding converts the chance to
inspire others to try the technology.
AL u eId duy In AprII zoo, LIree
farmers shared their experiences of
drum seeding with a crowd of nearly
qoo Iurmers und exLensIon workers
Irom uround Pubnu, zqo km wesL oI
DIuku. One oI LIe speukers, JumuI
SIeIkI, descrIbed LIe experImenL Ie
and some fellow farmers performed
to try and reduce both the need
for irrigation and the cost of land
preparation by adopting a zero-tillage
technique that made use of residual
moIsLure In IIs eId Irom recedIng
oodwuLers - und wIIcI, In concerL
with drum seeding, gained them
yIeIds uL IeusL zo% IIgIer LIun Ior
transplanted rice. It is this spirit
of innovation and determination
that has stirred pride in those
already drum seeding and
inspired their counterparts.
Involving Bangladeshi policy
mukers In LIe udopLIon process
provided a major boost. From an
early stage, Dr. Abedin realized
government support would be
critical (see Grain of truth on page
38). The team fostered relations
with the Bangladesh Ministry of
Agriculture and subsequently secured
governmenL IundIng oI 1o mIIIIon
BungIudesII Luku (US$16,ooo),
which was mainly used to buy
un exLru z,oo drum seeders.
The government also pledged to
subsidize the cost of drum seeders for
farmers. The media have also been
instrumental in increasing awareness
oI drum seedIng. Muny peopIe - noL
onIy rIce Iurmers - upproucIed
BRRI and DAE for information on
trying drum seeding after seeing
stories about the technology on
television or in the newspapers.
BuL LIere Is sLIII work Lo be
done. Research is still identifying
the varieties and areas
most suited to drum
seeding, particularly
LukIng InLo uccounL
land, soil and existing
cropping systems. Weed
management is also an issue,
as is the availability of the drum
seeders, and the possible need
for adaptations. And although
scarcity of labor is the primary
basis for using drum
seeding, in some areas the technology
has the potential to displace jobs.
Researchers need to be aware
of their social responsibility to see
that there is no serious effect on rural
employment, cautions Dr. Abedin.
However, the economic boost caused
by drum seeding should create jobs
elsewhere to absorb displaced labor.
IRRI, BRRI and the DAE
are currently in discussions with
Bangladeshi entrepreneurs interested
in manufacturing drum seeders
locally, and two companies have
already manufactured prototypes.
This sort of enterprise can help
the availability of drum seeders
meet the rising demand.
Major shift
Drum seeding represents a major
shift from transplanting, and there
is a need to manage the change
and create an environment that
allows change nationally. Training
farmers and both government and
nongovernmenL exLensIon workers
is of paramount importance. An
RR-Ied meeLIng In June zoo,
attended by senior government
oIcIuIs und IIgI-IeveI reseurcI,
extension, nongovernmental,
media and business personnel,
esLubIIsIed u -yeur pIun Ior
transferring drum-seeding
technology. Following this, the
government has given the go ahead
I0wfL 8uSIhfSSHAh haj! Shahabudd!n (obove} approached 8kkI, eager to try drum seed!ng on h!s Iand, after see!ng the technoIogy showcased on the IocaI
teIev!s!on program 5oi/ ood moo. farmer Hohammad 6h!asudd!n (obove riqbt} stands !n front of h!s drum-seeded crop. f!II!ng drum seeders !s easy for f!I!p!no farmer
hernando 8ambo (be/ow} ~ s!mpIy open the hatch !n each drum and pour !n the pregerm!nated seeds.
M
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21 Rice Today September 2005
to the project team for an additional
investment of around 100 million
taka ($1.56 million) to continue
the work to spread drum-seeding
technology across Bangladesh.
Originally, the only planned
beneL oI drum seedIng wus LIe
cost saving from reduced labor
requirements. It was expected,
however, that this would be offset
slightly by an increased need for
weed management. As it turns
out, farmers have also experienced
improved plant growth, increased
yields and earlier plant maturity,
and they have used fewer seeds.
The latest results of drum
seeding across the country show
yield increases of up to 20% in
both boro and aman seasons,
und up Lo doubIe LIe neL proL,
translating to additional income,
over transplanted rice, of 7,000-
10,000 taka ($110-160) per hectare
per seuson, u sIgnIcunL boosL Ior
most Bangladeshi rice farmers. Drum
seeding also frees family labor, which
Ius wIde-rungIng socIuI beneLs.
Even with modest projections,
Dr. Abedin believes drum seeding
can have a profound impact. If
drum seeding works on only 4
million hectares, he explains,
a 15% yield increase equates to
3 million tons of extra rice with
very little extra investment. I
believe drum seeding has the
potential to change the landscape
of rice farming in Bangladesh.
Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service,
a participating nongovernmental
organization, sees early harvest and
increased yield as more than just a
way to reduce monga (starvation)
during the pre-harvest period in
October and November. First, early
harvesting generates employment
for landless laborers, providing them
income to buy food. Second, the early
harvest and increased production
make food available to vulnerable
farmers during the monga period.
The farmers themselves are
overjoyed by the results and are
eagerly sharing the technology with
other farmers. Dr. Abedin has also
wILnessed beneLs oI LIe LecInoIogy
that run deeper than this the spirit
of innovation and entrepreneurship
among farmers and the strengthening
of communities through working
LogeLIer ure jusL us sIgnIcunL.
Drum seeding is helping to
advance rice farming in Bangladesh.
I
n his own words, Ayub Husain is a father of
farmers. Husain was part of the rst group
of farmers to receive drum-seeding training
from BRRI. He then trained others, beginning
with ve farmers in two locations during the
2003-04 boro (dry) season. In the following
aman (monsoon) season, just two farmers used
the drum seeder. The next boro season, though,
more than 60 farmers sowed 15 hectares by drum
seeding, including almost a hectare of Husains
own land. Wanting to spread the word, he joined
forces with IRRI and BRRI to hold a farmer eld
day, which was attended by the State Minister
for Agriculture.
Inspired by the results in his own area,
Husain set out 500 km across Bangladesh, where
he led trials in the hometown of the Finance
Minister to raise government awareness of the
technology. The trials were not as successful as
hoped because of unsuitable conditions, but
neither he nor the farmers were discouraged;
these same farmers are now testing the seeder
in the aus (pre-monsoon) season.
What motivates a farmer to go to such
lengths? Husain claims his mission is simply
to help his fellow Bangladeshi farmers, as most
grow enough rice merely to feed themselves and
their families, and many struggle to produce
even that. By instilling farmers with a spirit of
innovation, he believes Bangladeshi society as
a whole can move forward. Husain has seen that
partnerships between farmers, scientists and
researchers can increase productivity, and he
wants scientists to help farmers realize that they
can take a technological approach to solving
problems and improving their farming.
While Husain travels around the country
spreading the news about drum seeding and
other technologies, his family looks after the
farm. It is more important, he feels, to dedicate
his time to benet the entire country. This self-
professed father of farmers doesnt expect any
payment for his work: parents dont expect to be
paid for being parents, he says, For Husain, it is
a reward in itself to watch his children the
farmers he has mentored growing up.
The father of farmers
Ls success so Iur conrms LIuL
simple and relatively inexpensive
technologies can be effective. It
goes much further, too. The drum-
seeding experience is proving that
working with communities in the
testing, adaptation and adoption of
appropriate technologies, and linking
policy makers, entrepreneurs and
other stakeholders early on in other
words, engaging from the beginning
LIose wIo sLund Lo beneL und LIose
who have the power to help can
have a profound and lasting impact.
kIff fAkHfk AbduI Ahad stands bes!de a
shaIIow tube weII, wh!ch !rr!gates crops on
severaI farms dur!ng the boro (dry} season.
8ecause they controI !rr!gat!on, tube weII
owners are cruc!aI to the success of drum
seed!ng, wh!ch requ!res earI!er !rr!gat!on
than does transpIant!ng.
24
25
24 Rice Today October-December 2013
D
uring the Vietnam War,
the Mekong Delta was
perhaps best known as a
CoId War bauIeground.
While the war raged, however, a
technological revolution, every bit as
profound, was underway as farmers
began adapting small engines for
valer ums and boal molors. Since
the introduction of these engines
in the early 1960s, almost every
househoId managed lo acquire one.
Mounted on a water pump, these
engines enabled farmers to irrigate
cros and doubIe lheir yieIds. Higher
yieIds ermiued olher urchases
from bicycIes and Honda molorbikes
to generators and sewing machines
(see I remember Honda rice on pages
39-44 of Rice Today VoI. 5, No. 4). As
the war escalated in the late 1960s
and the Vietnamese governments
authority deteriorated in the
countryside, a sort of fragmented
by David Biggs
modernizalion vas undervay. Afler
a reIaliveIy brief resile afler 1975,
imports of these engines have surged
since lhe 1990s.
Invasion of the small engines
Across monsoon Asia, a simiIar
smaII-engine revoIulion occurred.
Powering scooters, three-wheeled
trucks, boats, and water pumps,
Iov-horseover (h) engines
have radically altered the social
and ecoIogicaI fabric of ruraI Iife.
AImosl everyone is famiIiar vilh
lheir sounds, if nol lheir oeralion.
Rarely a moment exists in the rivers
or heIds vhen one does nol hear lhe
ercussive rauIing of a molor. Such
goods hrsl became videIy avaiIabIe
in lhe 1960s. And, since lhe 1980s,
lheir use has grovn exonenliaIIy.
The adoption of cheap internal
combustion engines to power pumps
allowed farmers to start growing
1
MoIIe I el aI. 2003. The GroundsveII of Iums: MuIliIeveI Imacls of a SiIenl RevoIulion. Iaer reared for lhe ICID-Asia Meeling, Taivan.
2
Sansom R. 1969. The Molor Ium: A Case Sludy of Innovalion and DeveIomenl. In: Oxford Iconomic Iaers, Nev Series, VoIume 21, Number 1. 109-121.
with high-yielding rice and fertilizers
lhal have become lhe norm loday.
These pumps have played a pivotal
role in what Francois Molle and
olhers caII a siIenl revoIulion.
1
Local ingenuity
AIlhough American and inlernalionaI
aid missions were usually quick to
claim the credit for winning hearts
and minds via such introductions of
nev machinery, American lechnicaI
advisers were, for the most part,
the spectators, and local farmers
lhe invenlors. Roberl Sansom, a
Rhodes scholar who studied the
rural economy of the Mekong Delta
in 1966-67, noted that an enterprising
Vietnamese dredging mechanic
adapted an impeller to build a
shrimp-tail pump (may bom duoi
tom) oul of lhe engines avaiIabIe in
1963.
2
y 1967, he soId some 80,000
pumps across the delta and made
a sizabIe forlune. Il vas onIy afler
Dr. Sansom reIaled his observalions
lo ociaIs al lhe U.S. Agency for
InlernalionaI DeveIomenl (USAID)
in Saigon lhal Roberl Komer, an
American ambassador and head of
U.S. Iresidenl Lyndon . }ohnson's
nation-building operations, considered
lhe revoIulionary imIicalions.
Farmers, working in muddy
heIds far removed from agricuIluraI
exlension oces, exerimenled vilh
engines for several years before
lhe Americans and lhe Saigon
governmenl aid any auenlion. The
ironic role reversal here was not
simply a case of the tail wagging
lhe dog, hovever. The Americans
played a supporting role in this
lakeo slory lhrough a CommerciaI
Imorl Irogram lhal romoled lhe
videsread imorlalion of American
lechnoIogy al cul-rale rices. There
were other factors, too, particularly
lhe invoIvemenl of Asian lechnicaI
advisers. In lhe same lovn vhere
the dredge mechanic improvised
the shrimp-tail pump, Taiwanese
advisers successfully introduced
lhe hrsl high-yieIding rice varielies
from lhe InlernalionaI Rice Research
Inslilule (IRRI) lhal couId roduce
more rice vhen irrigaled.
Big engines vs. small engines
To understand both the popularity of
the small engines and the challenges
faced by governments and people in
the region today, one must consider
the problems inherent with the older,
state-managed forms of large water
pumping stations and canals (big
engines). RecIamalion rograms
initiated by the French colonial
government produced an agricultural
landscape that depended on large
inuls of Iabor and funding. In lhe
Mekong Delta, this infrastructure fell
inlo disreair as }aanese miIilary
occualion (1940-45) gave vay lo
aImosl lhree decades of hghling.
Throughout this era, engineers, social
scientists, and aspiring Vietnamese
nationalists all debated the future of
valer managemenl in lhe deIla.
Afler lhe Geneva Accords vere
concIuded in 1954, lhe U.S. advisory
mission in Saigon immedialeIy
embarked on an ambitious scheme to
use its own big machines, especially
a eel of muIlimiIIion-doIIar, cuuer-
suction dredges manufactured in
aIlimore, MaryIand.
Iresidenl Ngo Dinh Diem
resenled Americans vilh ambilious
Ians lo reseuIe hundreds of
thousands of northern Vietnamese
refugees on abandoned rebel-held
Iands of lhe deIla, and Americans
responded by sending several
dredges to clear the main canals
for these grid-like projects covering
lhousands of heclares. Wilh a surge
in vioIence in 1959, communisl
insurgenls began a concerled eorl
lo auack lhe American machines.
In nev seuIemenls across lhe deIla,
Ialoons of a nev IeoIe's Liberalion
Armed Iorces scauered seuIers and
lhen oened hre nol on governmenl
lroos bul on lhe dredges. WhiIe
25 Rice Today October-December 2013
The widespread use of small engines for water pumps and boat motors gave rise to profound
changes in the Mekong Delta
Motor pump diagram
MANY ADVANCEMENTS in Vietnam's agricultural
mechanization started with small engines introduced
in the early 1960s.
M
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T
IN
G
U
M
M
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, IR
R
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26 27
26 27 Rice Today October-December 2013 Rice Today October-December 2013
the insurgents deliberately shifted
targets, the new socialist government
in Norlh Vielnam aIso favored
big-engine aroaches lo irrigalion.
Insurgenls arorialed smaII-
engine technology for immediate
tactical needs, but the general
auilude in lhe norlh vas lhal
irrigation was the responsibility of
the state, typically involving mass
labor campaigns and Russian-
designed uming slalions.
A not-so-silent revolution
The shift to an agricultural economy
dependent on small engines began
simultaneously at many sites across
lhe region in 1963. American and
Vietnamese archives suggest after
lhe Iresidenl of Soulh Vielnam, Ngo
Dinh Diem, was overthrown in 1963
the way was opened more importers
lo arliciale in American-backed
rograms. Iour years Ialer, in 1967,
American ociaIs hrsl noliced lhe
demand for this equipment, and
they began promoting motorized
equipment in their overall nation-
buiIding slralegy. Among IngIish-
language sources, the best known
account of the shrimp-tail pumps
deveIomenl comes from Dr.
Sansom's 1967-69 research.
A severe droughl in 1962
prompted farmers around the town of
My Tho to start major canal projects
lo save lheir harvesl. One roserous
farmer in a nearby village bought a
diesel-powered centrifugal pump
for roughIy US$600. Anolher farmer
vilnessed hov lhe um eecliveIy
lifted water into that landowners
heIds and quickIy grased lhe vaIue
of molorized irrigalion. This man
had worked on French dredges as a
mechanic in the 1940s, so he set to
devise an impeller similar to suction
dredges in use afler 1945. Afler
several unsuccessful trials with a
Irench bicycIe molor and a }aanese
4-h engine, he urchased a 4.5-h
Clinton engine, and within months
lurned a rohl by renling oul lhis
imrovised um. In 1964, deaIers
improvised their own impellers
and lin sIeeves. Across Asia, saIes
of similarly made motor pumps
increased sleadiIy. In each Iace,
locals circulated their own stories of
invenlion.
IRRI's high-yieIding rice aIso
played an important supporting
roIe in lhe smaII-engine revoIulion.
Privately owned water pumps
allowed farmers to more reliably
irrigale heIds Ianled vilh one of
the early high-yielding varieties,
IR8, inlroduced in 1966. This variely
required about 30 fewer days to
mature than most varieties, and
it was extremely responsive to
nitrogen fertilizers, but it required
steady irrigation for maximum
roduclivily.
y 1967, 80,000 shrim-laiI
pumps were in use based on
an American eslimale ciling
imorl slalislics for 4-h engines.
Wilh Dr. Sansom's reveIalions
lo coIIeagues al USAID and
successfuI IR8 lriaIs, American aid
ociaIs vere avare lhal a kind
of agroeconomic revolution was
undervay. MeanvhiIe, var-reIaled
violence escalated and the canal
infraslruclure delerioraled furlher.
By 1974, a Dutch advisory team
estimated that more than a million
pumps were being used across the
deIla for irrigalion and ood conlroI.
Inefciency and insurgency
AIlhough American advisers and
Vielnamese ociaIs in Saigon
generally supported modernization,
their reactions to the improvised
pumps and shrimp-tail motors
ranged from concerns about
ineciency lo oulrighl oosilion.
American advisers, in memos and
promotional literature, favored
lhe more ecienl singIe-urose
centrifugal pumps while ignoring
the importance of the shrimp-tail
as a lvin-use um/molor. LocaI
government representatives often
refused to publicize the shrimp-tail
um because il vas onIy 540% as
ecienl as lhe cenlrifugaI ums.
In keeing vilh lhe USAID Iine on
ineciency, Vielnamese ubIicalions
on motorized water pumps excluded
lhe shrim-laiI from lhe Iineu.
The Soulh Vielnamese resonse
ranged from obstructionist to
concerns over miIilary securily. One
of lhe biggesl bouIenecks lo lhe raid
sale of engines in the 1960s was not
supply or even hard currency, but
the arcane process in which only
farmers lucky enough to acquire a
Iicense vere ermiued lo buy an
engine. Navigaling governmenl
and insurgent checkpoints also
slowed the transport of equipment
from Saigon docks lo lhe deIla vilh
bribes and taxes, thus raising the end
rice. Governmenl bans aIso aimed
to prevent the sale of boat motors
lo insurgenl-conlroIIed areas. y
restricting the sale of engines and
even rice seed in government-held
areas, the end result was to spur rice
roduclion in Iiberaled zones.
Thus, the shrimp-tail revolution
became an integral part of the
Vielnamese revoIulion, loo. An
American reorl in 1970 noled
that government bans on the sale
of equipment had resulted in the
rapid movement of equipment
inlo lerrilory heId by lhe NalionaI
Liberalion Ironl (NLI). Wilh rice
prices at all-time highs in 1970, much
of the rice was then being sold in
government-controlled markets to
generale cash.

Postwar epilogue
AIlhough academics have exlensiveIy
examined mechanization, the
ruraI cash economy, and lhe Green
RevoIulion in mosl of monsoon Asia,
the role of small engines has been
IargeIy ignored.
The rapid adoption of these
engines raises important questions
about the states role in managing
valer resources. This is an
increasingIy dicuIl lask even in
countries such as Vietnam that
advocate a form of state-managed
cailaIism.
The oslvar governmenl in 1975
hrsl suorled a modeI of cenlraIized
state control over irrigation with
large irrigation stations and mass-
Iabor ubIic vorks camaigns. Afler
1986, vilh Vielnam's IiberaIizalion
policy, imports in boat motors,
motorized pumps, and other
equipment surged as the state
reduced ils obIigalions. This smaII-
engine revolution produced a kind
of ecopolitical impasse in which
states and their constituencies were
at odds over measures to divide
u increasingIy scarce resources.
This resulted in some notable
disaslers such as a 2002 foresl hre
lhal consumed much of lhe U Minh
Forest, a freshwater area with cajuput
trees that once protected a large rear
base for lhe NLI. The uming of
groundwater on surrounding farms
lowered the water table in the forest
and dried out the layer of peat, which
fueIed lhe hre.
Advances in smaII lechnoIogy
since the 1960s, the not-so-silent
revolution, have literally empowered
millions of individuals to improve
crop yields and to survive ecological
challenges brought by natural
and sociaI changes. Hovever,
to the extent they contribute to
groundwater depletion and other
problems, they point to a present-
day predicament for states trying
to manage increasingly scarce
valer resources. The lurn lovards
everyday technology since the 1960s
has produced a middle ground
on which farmers and states alike
must navigate landscapes shaped
both by small-engine technology
and aging networks of levees,
canaIs, and oIder vorks. Slales
have, for the most part, been left
in the dust and engine exhaust of
the small-motor revolution, and it
remains a challenge for experts and
intellectuals to catch up and respond
lo lhis lrend.
Dr. Biggs is an associate professor of
history at the University of California at
|itcrsi!c. His rcscarcn rcccis inicrcsis
in Southeast Asia, environmental
issues, and agriculture. His most recent
book is Quagmire: Nalion-uiIding
and Nalure in lhe Mekong DeIla
(University of Washington Press, 2011).
This article is an edited excerpt from
an essay by the same author. See SmaII
Machines in lhe Garden: Iveryday
Technology and Revolution in the
Mekong Delta on pages 47-70, Vol.
46, No. 1 of Modern Asian Sludies.
This is reprinted with permission from
Cambridge University Press.
VIETNAM'S GREEN Revolution
started when farmers in the
Mekong Delta adopted IR8,
IRRI's rst high-yielding rice.
IR
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40 Rice Today October-December 2013
f the searing heat wasnt
enough, the thick, dark
smoke that engulfed the area
surrounding the furnace made
the workers want to give up. The
smoke vasn'l conhned onIy lo lhe
immediale vicinily, bul il aecled
neighboring areas as veII. This
smoke machine was the inclined-
grate design of a rice hull furnace
used lo rovide heal lo a albed
dryer lhal is used lo dry rice.
The vorkers couIdn'l slay Iong
near lhe furnace because il vas loo
hol, says }ose GageIonia, a albed
dryer oeralor in lhe rovince of
Nueva Ici|a, IhiIiines, aboul lhe
oId furnace of his dryer. The smoke
and ash coming from it irritated our
neighbors, vho said lhal lhey ended
u smeIIing Iike smoked hsh.
The furnace, a key comonenl
in albed dryers, grealIy aecls lhe
quaIily of lhe seeds and grains dried
in it. Rice farmers and seed producers
vho came lo Mr. GageIonia lo have
their produce dried often ended up
vilh grains lhal vere unevenIy dried
and reeked of smoke. Because of this,
lhey oled lo have lheir grains sun
dried.
Cleaner heat
Now, thanks to the new semi-
automated downdraft rice furnace
(dRHI) designed by exerls al lhe
International Rice Research Institute
(IRRI), farmers and seed producers
have a beuer choice.
In the old updraft furnaces,
ashes were sucked from the top of
lhe burning husk, eseciaIIy vhen
lhe griII bed vas slirred or fed vilh
rice hull. The new dRHF allows hot
air lo go dovn inlo lhe chamber and
bIover (dovndrafl) inslead of being
bIovn uvard and oulvard. This
roduces cIean hol air because lhe
burning husk on lhe combuslion griII
hIlers lhe ashes.
The dRHF has an automatic
feeding mechanism that controls the
amounl and frequency of lhe rice
huIIs fed inlo lhe combuslion griII
using a rogrammabIe eIeclronic
timer connected to a motor. This
roduces a cIean and sleady
combuslion, resuIling in a conslanl
drying air lemeralure.
The cIeaner combuslion grealIy
reduces machine oeralors' exosure
lo heal and smoke because lhey need
lo check on lhe nev furnace onIy
every haIf hour (inslead of lhe oId
raclice of every 5 minules) during an
8-hour operation.
Perseverance and perfection
The dRHI vas hrsl deveIoed
lhrough coIIaboralion belveen
IRRI and Hohenheim Universily
in Germany, in lhe 1990s. Il vas
inlended lo be used for drying
syslems vilh smaII energy
requirements. However, the concept
vas nol successfuIIy inlroduced
to its target market in Southeast
Asia, seuing back lhe lesling of lhe
furnaces design.
IorlunaleIy, Nong Lam
Universily in Ho Chi Minh Cily,
Vielnam, an IRRI coIIaboralor,
continued working on the design
of the dRHF. Its improved design
s m a r t e r,
c l e a n e r
by Rona Nia Mae Rojas-Azucena
A new de sign of a rice hu ll furnace ha s not onlyi mproved
gr ain quality,b ut ha s also made dr yi ngc leaner ande asier
IS
A
G
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I S
E
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, IR
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41 Rice Today October-December 2013
was tested for commercial use in
lhree 4-lon-caacily albed dryers
in Vielnam before IRRI adaled il
for further testing at Philippine pilot
sites.
Although the development of the
dRHI vas arlIy suorled by lhe
Irrigaled Rice Research Consorlium
lhrough lhe IRRI Ioslharvesl Unila
lack of funds and ideal test sites for
adaptive research in the Philippines
roved lo be a chaIIenge. The soIulion
arrived in 2010 vhen Generoso
aulisla, an agricuIluraI engineer by
education and a commercial airline
iIol by rofession vho had |usl
acquired a rice farm in the province
of alangas, became inleresled in
albed dryers.
I vanled lo buiId a more
ecienl albed dryer for my ovn
rice farm, exIains Cal. aulisla.
Then I came across an online Rice
Today article, Machines of progress,
which featured IRRIs postharvest
lechnoIogy ackage and ils imacl
on the lives of farmers (see pages
38-41, VoI. 9, No. 3 of Rice Today). He
conlacled Marlin Gummerl, head of
IRRIs Postharvest Unit, who referred
him to Pat Borlagdan, the engineer in
charge of the testing of the dRHF in
the Philippines.
On his farm in alangas, Cal.
Bautista and Engr. Borlagdan
spent hours going over the design
and discussing the parts that
needed lveaking. I hnanced lhe
construction of the furnace, while Pat
rovided lechnicaI assislance, says
Cal. aulisla.
Afler 2 years of hard vork, Cal.
Bautista is now the proud owner of a
rice huII furnace vilh aerodynamic
fan bIades.
We couId safeIy vork around
lhe nev furnace vilhoul vorrying
aboul lhe heal and smoke, says farm
manager Luis SoIiban, }r.
Other benefciaries
In Kidaavan, Norlh Colabalo, lhe
NalionaI Iood Aulhorily, one of lhe
hrsl reciienls of lhe dRHI, suered
from high cosls of drying and grain
quaIily Iosses unliI lhe nev furnace
was installed in its warehouse.
In IeabIanca, Cagayan VaIIey,
Don Lisler, an enlrereneur, vanled
lo Iearn more aboul rice oslharvesl
losses. While searching the Internet,
he read a slory aboul mechanicaI
dryers using rice husk furnaces. He
wasted no time in contacting Engr.
Borlagdan, who sent him diagrams of
lhe albed dryer, bIover, and dRHI.
After months of coordination, the
6-lon-caacily albed dryer vilh lhe
dRHI vas hnaIIy Iaunched in March
2012.
If lhe famiIy can harvesl rice,
lhal's good, says Mr. Lisler. ul, if
we can help other farmers save their
harvesl, lhal's even beuer.
Interest in the furnace has
conlinued lo sread. IarIy lechnoIogy
adolers beIieve lhal lhe dRHI
is a simIe lechnoIogy lhal lhe
government should support and
disseminate.
Marketable technology
Mr. GageIonia runs a semi-aulomaled
dRHF and he manufactures made-to-
order furnaces afler he and 19 olhers
auended lraining rovided by IRRI
on rice husk furnace manufacturing.
AII maleriaIs used for fabricalion
are sourced IocaIIy, making lhem
more aordabIe. He has aIready soId
12 rice huII furnaces lo farmer grous
and seed growers from all over
the Philippines. He has also made
smaIIer furnaces lo hl dryers vilh
Iover caacily.
Cal. aulisla, on lhe olher hand,
still wants to continue improving
the machine and he is now in the
rocess of deveIoing anolher lye of
furnace. In fact, an all-steel furnace
sits in a shed on his farm, waiting to
be laken lo anolher farm for furlher
testing.
Other training participants have
also started making and marketing
their own machines. Mr. Eugene
ManaIo from Laguna and Mr. Anlonio
CasiIIo from Norlh Colabalo have
manufactured and sold the dRHF in
their respective provinces.
Partnership forged in heat
Engr. Borlagdan, though no longer
with IRRI, still provides technical
assislance and shares his exeriences
to help improve the operation
and maintenance of the furnace.
He credils lhe ubIic-rivale
Dr. Pat Borlagdan
JOSE GAGELONIA is an early adopter
and manufacturer of the downdraft
rice hull furnace.
30 31
42 Rice Today October-December 2013
arlnershis lhal had been formed
for the successful adoption of the
dRHI lechnoIogy.
Partnering with the private
seclor during lhe earIy lesling
slages became a vaIuabIe reference
oinl vhen lechnoIogicaI lriaIs by
government agencies failed, Engr.
orIagdan exIains. Il vas easier
to show that the dRHF works, and
The old updraft furnace with inclined grate (A) carried y ashes into the dryer and manual rice hull feeding resulted in uneven temperature. With the
new downdraft furnace (B), the automatic feeding device and downward airow produced clean, hot air and constant temperature for the atbed dryer.
A B
is acluaIIy being used by lhe rivale
sector.
The IRRI postharvest team,
in coIIaboralion vilh lhe Asian
Development Bank, has now taken
sles lo lransfer lhe dRHI lechnoIogy
lo olher counlries such as Cambodia
and Indonesia.
Iarmers shouId be avare
lhal lhe lechnoIogy is avaiIabIe lo
lhem, adds Cal. aulisla. Wilh
suorl from bolh lhe rivale and
ubIic seclor, lechnoIogies such as
lhe dRHI couId go a Iong vay in
imroving lhe quaIily of rice and
Iifeof farmers.
Ms. Rojas-Azucena is a public relations
specialist at IRRI.
LUIS SOLIBAN Jr, a farm manager, is happy
at how clean and stress-free his working
environment has becomethanks to the
downdraft rice hull furnace.
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