Posts Tagged ‘south asia’

CIMMYT Director General Visits CSISA

Posted on Bangladesh-news, India-news, Nepal-news, News - Homepage, News & Announcements, March 28, 2016

CIMMYT DG visits Nepal

Martin Kropff, Director General, CIMMYT, visited CSISA’s programs in India, Nepal and Bangladesh during February and March. While in India, Kropff visited the CSISA Research Platform at ICAR-RCER in Patna, Bihar, and saw how CSISA focuses on closing yield gaps in different cropping systems in Bihar and Eastern UP in collaboration with government partners and local stakeholders. He also interacted directly with women farmers and service providers to better understand CSISA’s model for scaling up technologies and generating impact on the ground, as well as ensuring that gains can be sustained beyond the project lifecycle.

R.K. Malik, Senior Agronomist, CIMMYT, described to Kropff three of CSISA’s largest impacts in India: (1) the widespread adoption of early wheat sowing; (2) timely seeding or transplanting of rice, use of rice hybrids and transplanting young seedlings by machine, thus vacating the rice field early to facilitate wheat sowing; and (3) the creation of a critical mass of 2,200 service providers, who have helped spread information and CSISA-supported technologies to smallholders across our target districts.

In Nepal, Kropff met with the Minister of Agricultural Development and the Secretary of Agriculture, as well as top officials, directors and scientists at the Nepal Agricultural Research Council to discuss areas of current and future collaboration. Much of the discussion focused on how to align programming and investment with Nepal’s new Agricultural Development Strategy, which prioritizes areas of investment in the country’s agriculture sector through 2025. Kropff also visited Nuwakot, a district benefitting from CSISA’s Earthquake Recovery Support Program, and learned about the distribution of minitillers – along with attachments and spare parts – as well as storage bags, handtools, and agronomic information. His time in Nepal concluded with a visit to Bhairahawa, where he met service providers who continued to provide custom-hire services to local farmers even after project support had concluded.

In Bangladesh, Kropff visited demonstration and trial fields in Jessore and Dinajpur, discussing improved cropping systems and management practices with male and female farmers. He witnessed in CSISA-MI the power of working with the government and the private sector, particularly for the scaling of mechanization. His meetings with key officials at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council and Department of Agricultural Extension highlighted the importance of cooperation and coordination in CSISA’s work. The Minister for Agriculture, Motia Chowdhury, raised the issue of wheat diseases emerging in Bangladesh and Kropff assured support in response to this emerging concern. He also shared updates on CSISA’s work on production environments characterization using new GIS and remote sensing tools.

Cross-Learning to Strengthen Agricultural Extension in South Asia

Posted on Bangladesh-news, India-news, Nepal-news, News - Homepage, News & Announcements, July 8, 2015

MEAS Group PhotoIn June, CSISA led a 10-member delegation of senior officials from National Agriculture Research and Extension Systems (NARES) from Bangladesh, India and Nepal to Washington, DC for a meeting with the Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS), followed by a workshop entitled, ‘Strengthening Agricultural Research, Extension, and Input Markets in South Asia: Evidence from Regional and Global Practice,’ organized by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). MEAS, a USAID-funded initiative, helps to define and disseminate good practice strategies and approaches to establishing efficient, effective and financially sustainable rural extension and advisory service systems in selected countries.

The visit provided an opportunity to all the participants, working in close collaboration with National Agricultural Research Systems and International Agricultural Research Systems (IARS), to exchange ideas based on their diverse experiences of implementing extension services in different parts of the world. The theory of change model was highlighted during the deliberations for improving the performance of workforces in research-for-development in South Asia.

The workshop looked at addressing multiple questions that will help improve extension systems in South Asia. Are extension programs cost-effective in South Asia? Can new approaches empower smallholder farmers, particularly women? What performance indicators can researchers use to determine whether programs are successful? How can policies encourage farmers to adopt new technologies and practices without exhausting limited development funds?

Among a variety of other topics, participants discussed the effectiveness of subsidies to promote farmers’ adoption of agricultural inputs. Madhur Gautam, lead economist in Agriculture Global Practice at the World Bank, noted that the purported benefits only accrue under certain circumstances. Subsidies often remain in place long after their positive impacts have diminished, diverting scarce resources from other potential investments that may yield greater long-term returns, such as agricultural R&D and rural infrastructure.

In South Asia, subsidies were largely successful at addressing market failures during the early days of the Green Revolution. Yet market conditions in the region have improved considerably, and policymakers need to adapt their policies and investments accordingly.

Based on the discussions during the visit, specific issues were identified for further action and brainstorming to streamline research in the delivery process of agricultural technologies in South Asia. These issues included:

  • IFPRI workshopThe organization and structure of extension systems, as well as the constraints to their functioning, and changes needed to create improved and market-focused extension services by Krishi Vigyan Kendras (agriculture science center) in India and other extension agencies in South Asia
  • The capacity of extension agencies to conduct trainings in a participatory manner with local contextual training material
  • Ways to improve implementation monitoring and impact evaluation
  • How local service providers could be strengthened through better linkages and communication in order to provide decentralized extension services
  • How to make systems more equitable by linking gender and nutrition across extension programs and organizations.

Further, participants and their respective organizations from each country (Bangladesh, India and Nepal) will work with CSISA partners to focus on local research agendas in extension and innovations.

A team of seven participants from India was led by Dr. Ashok Kumar Singh, Deputy Director General (Agriculture Extension), Indian Council of Agriculture Research. Bangladesh was represented by Dr. Mohammad Zakir Hasnat, Agriculture Information Service and Sheikh Md. Nazim Uddin from Department of Agriculture Extension. From Nepal, Dr. Rajendra Adhikari, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agricultural Development, participated.

In addition, the delegation toured the US Capitol building and met with Senator Mark Warner, head of the Indian Caucus in the US Senate.

Source: Excerpts from the summary of the workshop are posted on the IFPRI website. To read the full summary of the workshop, click here.

Smart Tools for Farmers in South Asia to Help Increase Yield

Posted on Uncategorized, July 21, 2014

To produce food for more people using less land and under more difficult climatic conditions, many studies predict that the use and demand for fertilizers will continue to rise in South Asia. By 2020, fertilizer demand in India is projected to increase to about 41.6 million tons from 26.4 million tons in 2010. However, fertilizer use by farmers in India is often insufficient and applied inefficiently, leading to sub-optimal yields. As demand for fertilizers rise, it is important to ensure that they are applied at the right amounts, at the right time and in the right locations to enhance productivity and increase crop yields.

In South Asia, 90 percent of smallholder farmers who use fertilizer lack access to soil testing services. Due to blanket fertilizer recommendations provided over a wide area, the application of nutrients is often not well matched to the requirement of the soil and crop. Also, excessive, non-judicious and imbalanced use of chemical fertilizers can result in the deterioration of soil fertility. This is becoming a cause for concern for Indian agriculture. According to a study published in the Journal of the Environment, Development and Sustainability, India is losing soil 30 to 40 times faster than its natural replenishment rate. The solution lies in part in having a precise, site-specific nutrient management approach that will build sustainable and profitable agriculture sector.

The Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), in collaboration with International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and state universities and government partners, are developing localized versions of the ‘Crop Manager’ decision-making tool to provide location-specific fertilizer recommendations for farmers growing rice and maize in Odisha, and rice-wheat and maize in Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In the Cauvery Delta of Tamil Nadu, a version of ‘Rice Nutrient Manager’ has been developed by CSISA to support and complement the existing crop management advisory services of the State government. The partners are in the advanced field testing phase and are fine-tuning the tools prior to official release.

Crop Manager is an expanded version of Nutrient Manager, first conceptualized and released by IRRI in the Philippines in 2009. Crop Manager combines improved nutrient management with field-specific best-bet crop management guidelines to address three to four of the main agronomic constraints in addition to fertilizer recommendations.

Fast and Futuristic

The tool includes both web-based and mobile Android application with a simple, user-friendly interface providing personalized fertilizer guidance for small-scale farmers and extension workers. The farmer has to provide information about their fields by responding to a set of 12-15 brief questions about field location, planting method, seed variety, typical yields, choice of fertilizer, method of harvesting and other factors.

Based on these inputs, the program recommends how much fertilizers (nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K)) should

CSISA scientists sensitizing the partners and farmers on the Nutrient Manager of Rice tool in a workshop from 17-19 June in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

CSISA scientists sensitizing the partners and farmers on Nutrient Manager for Rice in a workshop from 17-19 June in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

be added at critical growth stages of the plant in order to increase yield and profit. The recommendation is given in the amount of fertilizer that farmer prefers to use and they can receive the advice instantly, if their mobile is connected to internet. The crop manager will be available in Hindi, Odiya and English. Interactive voice response (IVR) system to guide the user through this survey with a recorded questionnaire is also planned.

With mobile phone and internet penetrating fast in rural India – India has 110 million mobile internet users of which 25 million are in rural India – these ICT-based tools, especially in the future, will serve as a useful platform to take knowledge to the farmers easily and when they need it, said Sheetal Sharma, CSISA nutrient management specialist.

Aiming to increase a farmer’s income by US$100 per hectare per crop, the Rice Crop Manager was released in Bangladesh last year, as part of CSISA. Sharma further added that these ICT tools are based on strong scientific principles and show an edge over the traditional soil testing facilities, which usually take more time to give recommendations and require farmers to carry soil samples to a testing facility.

With the help of technologies like Crop Manager, CSISA hopes that farmers in South Asia will be able to replicate high-tech precision farming used in developed countries with easy-to-use and low-cost options. Farmers are able; they just need the right tools.

View the web-based Crop Manager tool, click here.

Watch Seminar on Rice Crop Manager by Roland Buresh, Principal Scientist in the Crop and Environmental Sciences Division, IRRI


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