Nel Jayaraman has some advice for farmers struggling to grow high-yielding varieties of paddy during drought: Go organic. Having switched to growing indigenous paddy in an organic manner some 15 years ago, Mr. Jayaraman said farmers need spend only a little on input costs and can get good returns on their investment if they grew traditional varieties of paddy. Some of these rice varieties require less water compared to high-yielding varieties developed under the System of Rice Intensification (SRI).
India is home to around 100,000 varieties of indigenous paddy, but the Green Revolution wiped out everything. I have managed to revive around 150 indigenous varieties, and these crops grow very well with no fertilisers and chemicals, he said. Though the yield may be low compared to varieties such as IR-8, Mr. Jayaraman said organic farmers could earn more with less, unlike farmers now who produced higher yield but got less returns for their produce from the government.