On 13 March 2013, a social learning exercise was organized jointly by Birsa Agricultural University (BAU) and CIMMYT under the aegis of an IFAD supported “Sustainable Intensification of Maizelivestock Farming Systems in Hill Areas of South Asia” project. Multi-stakeholders gathered at a conservation agriculture (CA) based platform at a BAU research farm. AK Singh (Government of Jharkhand principal agriculture secretary) graced the event as the chief guest, and MP Pandey (BAU vice-chancellor) chaired the meeting. Other key participants included JS Chaudhary (State Agricultural Management and Extension Training Institute (SAMETI) director), Ranjit Singh (Soil Conservation director, Government of Jharkhand), DK Singh Drone (BAU research director), and other officials, scientists, Jharkhand Government development agents, representatives from BAU, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (district level extension and training centers), NGOs, and private sector, seed-fertilizer dealers, and 62 selected innovative farmers from Ranchi, Gumla, and Khunti districts. All participants joined the event to share their experiences with CA-based crop management technologies in rainfed smallholder systems of Jharkhand.
Posts Tagged ‘Conservation Agriculture’
“Today Embu farmers are reaping benefits associated with conservation agriculture, where SIMLESA started activities in 2010,” said Charles Wanjau, District Agricultural Officer, Embu East. “We hope that through CASFESA, the benefits that accrued from the SIMLESA project will spread to many more farmers in Embu and beyond for improved food security.”
Wanjau was referring to the project “Conservation Agriculture and Smallholder Farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa,” that begun in June 2012 in Ethiopia and January 2013 in Kenya, with EU-IFAD funding for a period of two and half years. The project will leverage institutional innovations and policies for sustainable intensification and food security in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Malawi, and demonstrate conservation agriculture as a sustainable and profitable farming practice in randomly selected villages. The effort is also meant to assess the effects of markets and institutions on adoption and impacts, through baseline and impact studies in both treatment and counterfactual (control) villages. In Kenya, activities are under way in 15 villages mainly in Embu-West and Embu-East Districts to establish researcher/farmer managed demonstration plots on the farms of two volunteer farmers per village. The demo plots are planted with farmer’s preferred maize and bean varieties using locally recommended seed rates and fertility inputs.
With funding from MAIZE and WHEAT CRPs, the Global Conservation Agriculture Program acquired a new remote sensing system consisting of a multispectral and a thermal camera, software, and methods allowing for semi-automated image processing. The two cameras were delivered in February by Pablo J. Zarco- Tejada, director of QuantaLab remote sensing laboratory, Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible (IAS), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Córdoba, Spain. Zarco-Tejada along with three technicians spent several days at CIMMYT-Obregón to train a pilot and CIMMYT staff on the equipment use.
On 6 February 2013, the Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA) in Ladowal, Punjab, India, received a delegation consisting of eight members of the German Parliament —Harald Ebner, Alexander Süßmair, Max Lehmer, Heinz Paula, Alois Gerig, Eric Schweickert, Mechthild Heil, and Gabriele Groneberg— and Sabine Raddatz (counselor for Food, Agriculture, and Consumer Affairs, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, India). The first ever high-level foreign delegation was welcomed by the CIMMYT-BISA team including Raj Gupta, ML Jat, HS Sidhu, Christian Böber, Tek Sapkota, and other BISA staff.
Applying advanced technologies and reconciling dramatic growth in funding, staffing, and complex partnerships with the need to speed farmers’ access to options for better food security and incomes were the themes of discussion among more than 60 specialists in maize breeding, agronomy, socioeconomics, and diverse related disciplines who met in Kathmandu, Nepal, during 28-31 January 2013. “This was a great opportunity for old and new staff to get acquainted and help launch the vibrant evolution of our Program to meet clients and stakeholders’ needs,” said GMP director B.M. Prasanna. “The participation of colleagues from other programs and organizations was crucial, allowing us to identify and address logjams and potential synergies and continue our journey toward being an institution, rather than a mere collection of isolated projects.”
This article is cross-posted from the Feed the Future blog. Feed the Future is the United States Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. It supports country-driven approaches to address the root causes of hunger and poverty and forge long-term solutions to chronic food insecurity and undernutrition. Drawing upon resources and expertise of agencies across the U.S. Government, this Presidential Initiative is helping countries transform their own agriculture sectors to sustainably grow enough food to feed their people.
Feed the Future strategies for food security are designed not only to accelerate agriculture-led growth and reduce undernutrition, but also to encourage sustainable and equitable management of land, water, fisheries, and other resources. Feed the Future Intern Christopher Chapman asked CIMMYT’s conservation agriculture expert Bruno Gerard (pictured left) how climate change relates to agricultural development.
In Central Mexico, Conservation Agriculture, a more sustainable way of farming, has evolved from being a handful of researchers and a few innovative farmers working off of an idea to a full-fledged network, a system of support and dissemination since its beginnings in 2010. But there are no roots in the historically poor and, at times, politically volatile, Southern States; states that could greatly benefit from a farming system saving labor while ensuring higher productivity. To change this, CIMMYT decided to implement the Conservation Agriculture system in the state of Chiapas with hopes that if things go well, it can act as a gateway to the region.
Developing public-private partnerships (PPPs) to expand conservation agriculture (CA) is one of the main goals of the USAID-funded Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia in Bangladesh (CSISA-BD). A key stakeholder in CSISA-BD, CIMMYT has partnered with International Development Enterprises (iDE) to develop business models to support Solar International, a leader in the agricultural machinery sector in Bangladesh. To kick-start the PPP, Solar International recently imported 54 seeder-fertilizer drills that can be attached to the ubiquitous two-wheel hand tractors found in Bangladesh, and used for the CA strip tillage technique. Using such machinery allows for rapid precision planting of wheat, reduces the turn-around time before the rice harvest, and responds to the problem of growing labor scarcity for planting in Bangladesh. The PPP prioritizes farmer and service provider training in better-bet agronomic practices, optimum use of the seeder-fertilizer drills, and the marketing of agricultural services to small and marginal farmers at reasonable prices.
A delegation from the Government of Bangladesh led by Begum Matia Chowdhury, Minister of Agriculture, and accompanied by Tariq A Karim, High Commissioner of Bangladesh in India, Md Abdul Hamid, Additional Secretary of Agriculture, and Wais Kabir, Executive Chairman of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC), visited the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI) in Karnal, India, and CIMMYT’s projects on conservation agriculture (CA) and mechanization in Karnal on 8 November 2012.
A delegation of scientists from South Sudan, Rwanda, and Uganda —the spillover countries of the Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) initiative— visited Embu, Kenya, during 18-20 July 2012, to gain hands-on experience in implementing the program and to learn about its impact on livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
The delegation comprised of Leonidas Dusengemungu, Albert Ruhakana, and Alphonse Nyobanyire from Rwanda; Luka Atwok, Anna Itwari, and Cirino Oketayoyt from South Sudan; and Drake N. Mubiru, William Nanyenya, and Godfrey Otim from Uganda. The scientists found the visit very educative and informative. They learned about the implementation of SIMLESA in Kenya and the role of national agricultural research institutions, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in particular, in the process. They also gained insights into the innovation platform establishment and arising challenges, maize-beans intercropping and timing, challenges and coping strategies for the implementation of SIMLESA, and the level of adaptation of SIMLESA technologies in Kenya.
In his introductory remarks, Stephen Njoka, KARI-Embu Center Director, explained the Center’s mandate, activities, opportunities, and challenges in conducting agricultural research in Kenya. He noted that research programs at KARI-Embu range from food crops and crop health, natural resource management, horticultural and industrial crops, animal production and health research, outreach and partnerships, to cross-cutting programs, such as socioeconomics and applied statistics. The Center also offers advisory services, such as technical support for partners and capacity development for other service providers, including extension service providers and NGOs. Alfred Micheni, KARI Agronomist and SIMLESA Site Coordinator for eastern Kenya, explained that the western and eastern sites in Kenya had been selected because of their potential for the highest impact. This was determined by their agricultural production constraints: low soil fertility, erratic rainfall, high cost of farm inputs, high incidences of pests and diseases, high cost of credit, and small land sizes.
The scientists had a chance to interact with farmers participating in SIMLESA during a farmers’ field day in Kyeni Division, Embu County, on 20 July 2012. The field day was hosted by the Kyeni Innovation Platform and showcased various treatments under conservation agriculture (CA): maize-legume intercrop, minimum tillage, furrows and ridges, use of herbicides, residue retention, and variety selection. The scientists also had the opportunity to compare the robust crops under CA with those under conventional agricultural practices which were unable to cope with the prolonged drought in the region.
Charles Nkonge, SIMLESA National Coordinator, stressed the importance of the innovation platforms used by the program to evaluate and scale out maizelegume intensification technologies and knowledge in a participatory manner. Other strategies for scaling out include farmer exchange visits and participatory exploratory demonstrations. Nkonge stressed the importance of the participatory nature of the evaluations; through cooperation between the farmers and other collaborators, experimental designs of some of the treatments were adjusted to achieve more efficiency. For instance, the design of maize-pigeon pea intercropping trial was changed from intercropping of one pigeon-pea row between two rows of maize, giving one crop of maize and pigeon pea per season, to five rows of maize between two rows of pigeon pea and one row of common beans between two rows of maize. With the new design, two crops of maize, two crops of beans, and one crop of pigeon pea are harvested every year. This demonstration of successful practices allowed the representatives from SIMLESA Spillover countries to leave Kenya feeling optimistic about the new partnership.