This project focuses on the Eastern Gangetic Plains (EGP) of Bangladesh, India and Nepal, home to 300 million people, with the world’s highest concentration of rural poverty and a strong dependence on agriculture for food security and livelihoods. The EGP has the potential to become a major contributor to South Asian regional food security, but rice and wheat productivity remain low and diversification is limited because of poorly developed markets, sparse agricultural knowledge and service networks, and inadequate development of available water resources and sustainable production practices. Labour shortages are becoming more acute.
The project addresses two research questions: would farm management practices based on the principles of conservation agriculture and the efficient use of water resources provide a foundation for increasing smallholder crop productivity and resilience; and would institutional innovations that strengthen adaptive capacity and link farmers to markets and support services enable both women and men farmers to continue to innovate in the face of climate and economic change. The research targets rice-based systems in eight districts across the three countries of the EGP.
The SRFSI is a regional four-years project (May 2014 - June 2018) managed by CIMMYT with ACIAR funding. The aim is to reduce poverty in the Eastern Gangetic Plains by improving productivity, profitability and sustainability of small farmers while safeguarding environment.
This report covers the period from May 1, 2015 through to April 30, 2016 and presents results of 2014-15 rabi/winter and Kharif/summar 2015 seasons. During this period, the project conducted 986 rabi and kharif seasons trials that include long-term (276 for Rabi, 360 Kharif) trials to address the regional issues, 135 cropping systems optimization and 215 opportunity/demonstration trials that includes intercropping (62) - meant to address local (district/scommunity) level issues. In monsoon (Kharif) season, only long-term trials (360) on rice were maintained.
Project trained 2,881 farmers (22% female) on various topics (e.g. Conservation agriculture based system intensification practices, raising seedling for mechanical rice transplanters, value chain and market development, entrepreneurial skills development, seed systems, etc.); 1,753 farmers (20% female) participated in exposure/exchange visits; 5,237 (42.5% female) farmers attended FGD/Consultation meeting; 6,827 farmers (32% female) attended field days, 655 (6% female) service providers; 1,744 scientists/technicians (29% female) received local/regional/international level training imparted by different organizations on various dates and topics. In addition, as can be seen from the sections like achievements, capacity building, trial summary results, etc. that have started creating a huge interest in adopting the SRFSI validated, demonstrated, and promotted Conservation agriculture based system intensification (CASI) practices that eventually help in changing the face of agriculture in project locations through variety change (new seeds), systems intensification and diversification, introduction of new crops like maize, wheat, legumes, etc. in certain locations, intercropping vegetables and legumes with maize and of course with the introduction of mechanization based agriculture and capacity building. CASI technologies particularly Zero till (ZT) wheat and maize in India and Nepal, and Strip till (ST) maize and wheat in Bangladesh consistently showing higher yield performance with reduced production costs that has resulted higher profitability generally - depending on crop and location ranged bwteen AUD653 and AUD2051 ha-1, and with maize + vegetable intercropping as high as AUD 2,282 ha-1 (maize+greenpea), thus creating a huge interest among participating farmers and their fellow neighbours. That has helped to cover 194.6 ha with CASI technologies and expected to have higher rate of technology adoption in the future. With the convergence with national partenrs’ plans/missions more than 10,000 ha have been covered by CASI practices (personal communication)1. At least 7, 616 farmers (31% female) have been benefitted with one or more of CASI technologies through convergence.
SRFSI is trying to mainstream female farmers’ participation in order to reduce their drudgery and gender gaps to improve adoption of technologies and innovations. Of the total beneficiaries (26,400), country-level managed (18,784) and centrally organized events (568), and through convergence (7,616) the female farmers’ engagement was 31.6%, 11.4%, and 31% respectively; which considering the socio-political and cultural settings of the region this level of participation is quite encouraging, although the latter needs more improvement. The proportionately lower participation of female in regiona/central level events is manly due to less number of employees in the participating institutions. Additionally, SRFSI is not only focusing for numbers, it is rather working to offer more benefit to female farmers by enhancing their skills, which beside reducing drudgery, to some extent - will increase the productivity of their efforts thereby empowering them. The minimum required equipment support has been provided to partners so as to smooth implementation of field activities. This shows the project is on right track to achieve its envisioned objectives.
The 1st Steering Committee (SC) meeting was organised on 23 May 2016, CIMMYT Office, Delhi.
Political turmoil in Nepal and frequent change in personnel in NARES had to be postoponed the implemented of few activities (e.g. Local Service Providers training) and the central level monitoring was affected.