Posts Tagged ‘Training’

Partnering with Government Propels CSISA’s Efforts in Odisha

Posted on India-news, News - Homepage, News & Announcements, April 18, 2017

The Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), led by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and implemented jointly with International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), has recently collaborated with the Institute on Management of Agricultural Extension (IMAGE) to strengthen the capacity of extension officers in the state of Odisha. IMAGE is an autonomous body founded by the Government of Odisha in 1997 with a mandate to build capacity of agricultural functionaries across the state’s 30 districts. This partnership reflects a key shift in CSISA’s approach in its third phase to mainstream and support the dissemination of proven sustainable intensification technologies through creation of internal expertise within the national agricultural research and extension system. While IMAGE has the resources – training budget, infrastructure, network of skilled personnel – and a well-planned annual training mandate, CSISA supports as a technical partner facilitating resource persons and demonstrations. This complementary partnership will ensure that the strong momentum created by CSISA is carried forward beyond the project lifecycle.

As part of this partnership, a series of trainings of trainers (ToTs) were organized for government partners to out-scale sustainable intensification technologies in Odisha. The master trainers created through this exercise are expected to help create additional trainers within the governmental extension system. The two- to three-day ToTs were conducted both in and out of the classroom. Classroom exercises focused on mutual learning through frequent and open discussion, presentations, videos, print material and data-based evidence gathered by the project. Demonstrations on equipment/machinery, operation, calibration, and best-bet agronomic practices were arranged in real-world situations that involved all participants through practical exercises. The trainings covered mutually agreed upon topics such as using seed-cum-fertilizer drills for direct seeded rice and maize, best practices on nursery management, and cultivation of rabi (winter) season pulses and oilseeds to avoid rice fallows, among others.

“These topics were selected keeping in mind some of the biggest challenges faced by agricultural extension agencies in the state. The training on integrated weed management and herbicide spraying techniques, for example, was especially relevant,” said B. N. Dash, Director, IMAGE. As per the initial agreement, five trainings have been conducted for a total of 157 participants, some of whom have already either conducted further trainings of their own or incorporated the learnings into their existing work plans. “The knowledge gained by our staff will surely be shared in all our future programs at various levels. We have already imparted a training on improved, safer herbicide spraying techniques for farmers,” added Dash.

Feedback from the trainings has been encouraging with IMAGE suggesting additional training topics, including on communication and research platform management skills, and requesting a repeat of the series of ToTs during the next two months to train additional personnel. For future trainings, CSISA also hopes to incorporate more instructional videos on different components and prepare modules and presentations in Odia, the local language. Tracking mechanisms are also being developed to measure the practical impact of the ToTs.

The collaboration with IMAGE is only one of many collaborations planned over the next few years as CSISA looks to align with the Government’s efforts through an overarching partnership with the Odisha Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment. As a result of various strategic discussions, four thematic areas have been identified where the scope for synergy and potential impact is greatest. These are: Developing the maize value-chain in the plateau region, rice-fallows intensification, increasing scale-appropriate mechanization, and building capacity on data collection to improve feedback into state planning processes.

CSISA now plans to conduct similar trainings in 11 districts over the course of this year in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Regional Institutions on Training and Extension, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, NGOs and private companies to build an extensive network of master trainers on sustainable intensification technologies throughout the state.

This article is authored by Ashok Kumar, CSISA Odisha Hub Coordinator, IRRI and Ashwamegh Banerjee, Assistant Communications Specialist, CIMMYT-India.

Building National Capacity on Conservation Agriculture in India

Posted on India-news, News - Homepage, News & Announcements, October 5, 2015

Estimates show that as of 2013, nearly 1.5 million hectares of arable cropland in India have been brought under conservation agriculture (CA)-based practices. Outside of northwest India, however, the concept remains relatively unfamiliar to farmers and extension personnel. Against that backdrop, the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) conducted an intensive training program on CA from 2-11 September for researchers from the national agricultural research and extension system (NARES).

Organized at the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI) in Karnal, Haryana, the training focused on developing resilient systems through CA-based management practices. The objective was to train researchers to accelerate farming system adaptation to climate risks through CA-based best-bet management practices that reduce vulnerability. A total of 18 researchers participated in the training, which was inaugurated by Gurbachan Singh, Chairman, Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB), New Delhi.

Participants received hands-on-training on CA technologies and visited various participatory and strategic trials during the program.

Participants received hands-on-training on CA technologies and visited various participatory and strategic trials during the program.

Singh highlighted the importance of the program saying that CA can improve the productivity and profitability of India’s cropping systems under aberrant weather situations in different agro-climatic zones of the country to sustain food security, while maintaining and improving the quality of the natural resource base. Globally, the positive impact of CA-based techniques on natural resources, climate change adaptation and mitigation have been widely acknowledged. In India, realizing the importance of CA, more strategic research on precise nutrient application, water, cultivars and weed management has been initiated only in the recent past.

The training highlighted first-hand experiences and insights from scientists who had implemented various aspects of CA in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP). As Andrew McDonald, CIMMYT Cropping Systems Agronomist and CSISA project leader, pointed out, “The continuous cultivation of rice-wheat cropping systems for almost five decades in the IGP has considerably degraded natural resources such as water, soil, climate and biodiversity.” According to D.K. Sharma, Director, CSSRI, “CA has the potential to check the process of resalinization of north-western IGP by reducing the evaporative losses from the soil surface and its emphasis on stopping residue burning.”

In his presentation, R.K. Malik, CIMMYT Senior Agronomist and CSISA Objective 1 leader, focused on the need to design resource use-efficient, diversified and resilient cropping systems as an alternative to intensive rice-wheat systems. He further highlighted the issues of groundwater depletion, declining soil health associated with multiple nutrient deficiencies, pest outbreaks and shift in weed flora. On the other hand, M.L. Jat, CIMMYT Senior Scientist, stressed upon how the convergence of technologies has helped make climate-smart agriculture a reality that helps safeguard farming systems from weather abnormalities.

Praising the training program, Rameshwar Singh, Project Director, Directorate of Knowledge Management, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, stated that it was a unique opportunity for the scientific community working in the area of natural resource management. The program included hands-on training on numerous technologies such as the laser land leveler, turbo seeder, multi-crop planter and mechanical transplanter. Participants further benefited from visits to participatory and strategic trials and agricultural implements’ manufacturing sites.

This article is authored by H.S. Jat, Senior Scientist, CIMMYT; P.C. Sharma, Principal Scientist, ICAR-CSSRI, Karnal; and Kiranjot Kaur, Consultant, CIMMYT.

Production to Processing: Season-Long Training Started in Tamil Nadu

Posted on India-news, December 14, 2014

Season-long trainingMechanized rice production, including mechanized drill seeding, has the potential to improve yields and reduce labor demand in Tamil Nadu. Because mechanized rice production involves a relatively knowledge-intensive set of practices, extension agents involved in providing support and information must receive proper training. Capacity building efforts for state extension agents are often insufficient and existing training programs sometimes suffer from being either too theoretical or narrowly focused on a small window of the cropping cycle.

To provide a comprehensive and hands-on training experience and to build capacity within the state extension system, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU) and CSISA are piloting a season-long training course at the Needamangalam Krishi Vigyan Kendra (farm science center) in Thiruvarur District. The training will cover all aspects of growing drill-seeded rice (DSR). Course materials have been fine-tuned and adapted to the specific conditions of Tamil Nadu in a joint workshop by TNAU and CSISA staff.

The training program covers 13 major steps for successful rice production, from crop planning to milling to processing. The course is composed of 10 training days spread across the production cycle of rice and includes classroom sessions as well as practical exercises and applications in the field.

The beginning of the curriculum includes an overview of rice ecosystems, rice morphology and the cropping calendar, followed by a field-based introduction to laser land leveling. Subsequent modules focus on land preparation, farm power and tractor operation and maintenance and are followed by exercises on crop planning, financial management and matching equipment to farm size. Students will then prepare land for DSR. The next steps include practical exercises on seed quality measurement, seed drill calibration and sowing. This will be followed by lessons and exercises on weed and water management and population maintenance. The emergence of the crop will be monitored, emerging weeds identified and the post-emergency herbicide applied. The next training day will focus on nutrient management of rice with an introduction to the nutrient requirements and deficiency symptoms of rice, site-specific nutrient management, Leaf Color Chart and Nutrient Manager. Additional lessons cover insects, rodents and diseases in rice and their control, pesticide safety, knapsack sprayer use, etc. Harvest day will see students taking yield measurements, harvesting, threshing and drying rice. Practical exercises on assessing grain quality will be done with the IRRI Rice Quality Assessment Kit. The course will culminate on 29 January 2015 with an excursion to a modern rice mill after lessons on rice storage, milling and processing as well as a practical introduction to the ‘Superbag’ and ‘Cocoon’ as hermetic storage systems.

As a next step, CSISA also plans to introduce the season-long training concept in Odisha with a focus on mechanical transplanting of rice.


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