PepsiCo reduces 30 pc water intake

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Jallowal, Jalndhar, Jun 24 (UNI) The food and beverage giant PepsiCo India today announced the success of its innovative methodology of Direct Seeding for paddy cultivation in Jallowal near here.

Speaking on the occasion, PepsiCo India General Manager (Agriculture) Sushil Sankhiyan said, ''Paddy cultivation is known to be very water intensive. PepsiCo, as a part of its effort to improve sustainability in Indian agriculture and to reduce water consumption, has introduced this unique technique of paddy cultivation through Direct Seeding.'' ''Through this unique initiative, PepsiCo has saved 30 per cent (900 KL per acre) of water in the region and has also reduced the production cost by Rs 1,250 to Rs 1,450 as compared to traditional paddy cultivation,'' he informed.

Traditionally, paddy is grown by planting seeds in a small nursery and manually transplanting the paddy saplings after about four weeks to the main cultivation area. The saplings are then allowed to grow and the fields are kept under about three to four inches of water, mainly to reduce growing of weeds, he said.

The Direct Seeding method has not only reduced water consumption in the region but has also helped farmers to refine their farming techniques and raise their farm productivity through the innovation,he added.

''We are delighted to see that the technique has been accepted extremely well by the farmers,'' he said adding that this year, PepsiCo has aimed to implement the methodology to over 1,000 acres of land nationally reaching out to about 600 farmers.

In northern part of the country, on 350 acres of land in Sangrur, Patiala, Amritsar and Jalandhar districts of Punjab, paddy had already been sown through this methodolgy, he said adding that another 50 arce in Rajasthan and 400 acre in the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, for paddy cultivation, direct seeding method would be implemented.

In the next year, the PepsiCo had planned to cultivate paddy through direct seeding method on nearly 4,000 acres of land the country,he added.

He said in 2004, PepsiCo carried out trials in their own R &D farms in Jallowal using direct manual seeding of paddy rather than transplantation of paddy saplings and in the next year, trials were carried out with more paddy varieties.

The irrigation frequency for direct seeding was reconfirmed to be lower by about 30 per cent and the production costs decreased by over Rs 1,000 per acre. The output in direct seeding was found to be marginally higher due to better seeding density. Local farmers, who visited the R &D farm where the trials were held, were shown the crops before harvesting and the advantages of direct seeding was shared with them, he said.

For this, PepsiCo had developed a Seeding Machine for paddy which could sow the seeds uniformly at a specified gap and at a uniform depth. Using this seeder, direct seeding was carried out in the fields of 12 farmers, covering about 20 acres. In these trials, PepsiCo also studied the advantage of sowing the seeds, followed by herbicide treatment and thereafter irrigation. Pre-treatment with a herbicide helped reduce de-weeding labour from five times to two times in direct seeding compared to puddle irrigation.

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