Smallholder farmers in the Eastern Gangetic Plain region of Nepal, Bangladesh and India will benefit from a new research initiative aiming to make agriculture more productive, profitable and sustainable.The region is home to 300 million people and has the world’s highest concentration of rural poverty.
Launched in Dhulikhel, Nepal, on 4 July 2014, the five-year AU$7.3 million regional research initiative “Sustainable and Resilient Farming Systems Intensification in the Eastern Gangetic Plains”, will tap the agricultural potential of the area, and target 7,000 farmers to test and adopt appropriate new technology and farming approaches.
The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) program being led by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) will operate in eight districts: two in north-west Bangladesh, two in the eastern Terai of Nepal, and two each in the Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal.
“This initiative will help to raise agricultural productivity in a region which has the potential to become one of Asia’s great food bowls,” Australian Ambassador to Nepal, HE Glenn White told the gathering of scientists and development practitioners from Australia, Bangladesh, India and Nepal at the inception of the program.
The Eastern Gangetic Plains is dominated by small farms with many female farmers who have little access to credit, quality seeds, fertilisers, irrigation, or formal extension services. They also have to contend with climate-related risks and extreme events such as floods, drought and cold snaps.
“This program will allow farmers to test a range of innovations to help them boost food production, including conservation agriculture and efficient use of water resources, while strengthening their ability to adapt and link to markets and support services,” Mr White said.
“Our aim is to enable at least 130,000 farmers to adopt these technologies within the next ten years,” he said.
The SRFSI program involves a large number of complementary research and development partners including national and state research institutions, extension services, non-government organisations and private sector partners across the three countries and in Australia (listed below).
Australian government funded agriculture research program launched Australian Embassy in Nepal media release
International agricultural research centres
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT)
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).