New Delhi, August 31st 2017: At a time when the highly-controversial and hazardous transgenic technology is sought to be applied to Mustard, citing India’s edible oil import crisis[i], farmers from a few states came to the national capital to present from first-hand experience how rapeseed-mustard yields can be boosted substantially, deploying safe, sustainable and sovereign technologies. These farmers, from Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan presented their experience where the average yields by practising agro-ecology based System of Mustard Intensification (SMI) [also called as System of Crop Intensification (SCI) or System of Root Intensification (SRI)] were significantly higher than their conventional yields, or of other farmers’.


The best yield with SMI method in a farmer’s field (5728 kg/ha, in Umaria of Madhya Pradesh, that too in a government extension programme) during commercial cultivation of Brassica carinata significantly out-surpasses the average yields of farmers in the region or the control plots of the same farmer with conventional method of cultivation. Madhya Pradesh government’s SMI (crop-cutting-method-based) yields were reported as 4693 kgs/ha on an average from 4 villages of Umaria district. Compared to their conventional yields (baseline), farmers had experienced a 3-fold increase.


Reflecting the high potential that exists with SMI adoption, data from Gaya district of Bihar shows that in 2011-12 (initial years when the approach was piloted by a civil society organisation), the 3 highest yield farmers who got certificate from ATMA-Wazirgunj, reported yields of 4.92 MT/ha (Kamla Devi of Rupsapur village), 4.86 MT/ha (Abha Devi of Madradih village) and 4.32 MT/ha (Sabita Devi of Madradih village).


It is also important to note that SMI has been proven to be equally successful in its yield-enhancing capabilities across different species of rapeseed-mustard (B. carinata, B. rapa as well as B. juncea).


“I find two important benefits from adopting SMI practices in my mustard cultivation – one, reduction in the use of inputs and this means saving on costs. In fact, any additional costs that I incur for transplanting go as wage payments to fellow villagers. On the other hand, I also have higher yields from adopting SMI. The yields increase anywhere between 50% to 100% from what I used to get, or what other farmers get on an average. This system basically requires me to take up transplanting of rapeseed seedlings, in line using wider spacing between the seedlings. While seeds were initially supplied, this method does not require me to buy seeds from any external agency season after season as we built our own seed stocks. There is also no use of chemical fertilisers in my SMI farming, further saving costs for me”, explained FelicitaTopno, an SMI farmer from Sundargarh district, Odisha.


Explaining how the principles of System of Root Intensification (SRI) have been incorporated into mustard cultivation in different parts of the country, Soumik Banerjee, a biotechnologist from Jharkhand, and Steering Group Member of Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) shared that even line sowing increases yields significantly, while transplanting shows a higher potential. He pointed out that for resource poor farmers in different states, seed sovereignty and savings on external inputs are a critical matter. “SMI allows farmers to use local resources, that too in lesser quantities, even as it increases rapeseed-mustard yields. In B. carinata, which is of course of longer duration, consistent successful results have been obtained. In B. juncea too, recent experiences have shown the high potential. It is unclear why the government is not focusing on large scale promotion of such solutions. Instead, 100 crore rupees have been spent wastefully on a hazardous, unneeded transgenic solution in the form of herbicide tolerant transgenic mustard”, he said.


In addition to SMI farmers, a Rajasthan farmer who is also a breeder, Hukam Singh Lodha (from Bharatpur), shared information on the Sitara Sringar variety that he developed in 2010, through natural crossing (Brassica juncea or Sarson X Raphanus sativus or Sengri)[ii]. This variety gives yields of 3000 to 3500 kilos per hectare with one irrigation/watering, under line sowing (15X30 cms), and has 42% oil content. After obtaining stability of Sitara Sringar, Hukam Singh started multiplying seeds in sufficient quantities and has distributed them to farmers in Bharatpur, Dholpur, Alwar and Dausa districts of Rajasthan.


It is important to note that the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources has listed 664 varieties of rapeseed mustard in its accessions/collection having different unique quality features like biotic and abiotic stress tolerance, quality and agronomic traits including high yields, high oil content, zero erucic acid, early maturity and also CMS lines. Much can be achieved in terms of desired outcomes, including yield increases by promoting these varieties.


“The experience of civil society groups shows clearly that what farmers need is an effective extension system, where farmers successfully practising SMI need to motivate and teach other farmers to adopt this agro-ecological method of cultivation rapeseed mustard crop. In Umaria of Madhya Pradesh, the agriculture department of the state government did this. More research is also required within SMI. Even this requires very little investment, which the government ought to make, if it is serious about improving rapeseed – mustard production and yields in the country”, said Soumik Banerjee.


Farmers who were present in the press conference were Jagannath Kaudi (51 yrs); Filicita Topno (46 yrs) both from Sundargarh district of Odisha; Ishwar Kumar Verma (34 yrs), from Gaya district of Bihar; Hukum Singh Lodha (64 yrs) from Bharatpur of Rajasthan; Mahesh (51 yrs) from Umaria of Madhya Pradesh. The agricultural experts who addressed the media include Jacob Nellithanam of Riccharia Campaign & Bharat Beej Swaraj Manch; Shiv Prakash of PRAN; Rajesh Tripathi of ATMA, Madhya Pradesh.


For more information, contact:

Soumik Banerjee: 8294062742


Kavitha Kuruganti: 8880067772




















Organi-sation Location Variety Type Year Farmers Mean Yield-MT/ha Highest Yield-MT/ha Farmer with highest yields State Average-MT/ha
PRAN Gaya, Bihar RP-09 B carinata 2014-15 1547 2.02 3.47 Sonwa Devi, V-Iraki 1.06
RP-09, JK Seeds & Upla 91%- B carinata 2015-16 915 1.97 3.4 Madhuri Devi, V-Tarowa 1.05
RP-09 B carinata 2016-17 2228 2.16 4.27 Reena Devi, Barkana
CIRTD Sundargarh-Odisha


(Intercropped with onion, maize; or potato, radish and peas)

RP-09 B carinata 2015-16 1 3.58 Mahargi& Jagannath Kaudi,


RP-09 B carinata 2016-17 65 Not available 2.96 Felicitta Topno,


ATMA Umaria, Madhya Pradesh RP-09 & Pusa Swarnim B carinata 2012-13 8 4.69 5.73 Kalawati,


DRMR Bharatpur, Rajasthan NRCHB-101 B juncea 2013-14 3.47 Research Plot 1.2
DLRS Bankura, West Bengal Divya-55 & Punjab Bold B juncea 2016-17 2.66 Research Plot 1.1



  1. Cornell University publication (2014): The System of Crop Intensification: Agro-ecological innovations for improving agricultural production, food security and resilience to climate change.
  2. Behera, D., A.K. Chaudhury, V.K. Vutukutu, A. Gupta, S. Machiraju and P. Shah (2013). Enhancing Agricultural Livelihoods through Community Institutions in Bihar, India. South Asia Livelihoods Learning Note, Series 3, Note 1. The World Bank, New Delhi, and JEEVIKA, Patna.
  3. PRADAN’s publication (2012): Cultivating rapeseed/mustard with SRI Principles – a training manual.
  4. PRAN’s data: Organisation’s MIS data 2014-17, shared with Soumik Banerjee
  5. CIRTD’s data: Collected by Soumik Banerjee during field visit in April 2017
  6. ATMA, Department of Farmers’ Welfare and Agricultural Development, Government of Madhya Pradesh publication (2013)
  7. Directorate of Rapeseed Mustard Research (Bharatpur) Annual Report (2015)
  8. Dry Land Research Institute’s data: Personal communication, email received on 2/3/2017


[i] India imports around 70000 crore rupees worth of edible oil annually. Only 1.2% of this is of rapeseed-mustard. However, GM mustard has been developed citing the edible oil import crisis of India. What is important to note is that the average yield of DMH-11 was 2626 kg/ha, that too in a limited set of trials over only 3 seasons, whereas the evidence of SMI is from farmers’ fields, from commercial cultivation of rapeseed – mustard crop, from different states of the country. From evidence presented here, it can be seen that SMI’s highest yields are also significantly higher than DMH-11 GM mustard hybrid yield’s reported best yield (3157 kg/ha, in Navgaon in 2011-12).


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