04 Sep 2015
No. 1691

 

 

 



 

 

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Millets and sorghum play a crucial role in interlinking agriculture, dairy and fisheries sectors

Workshop participants visit the ILRI research station at ICRISAT, India. Photos: S Punna, ICRISAT

The role of millets and sorghum in providing quality feed and minimizing input costs in dairy, poultry and fisheries sectors was emphasized at a workshop conducted for farmers of Andhra Pradesh, India. Given that for dairy farming, feed cost constitutes 70% of milk production cost, reduction of feed cost is vital and a localized fodder solution was sought by farmers who attended the meet.

Interacting with farmers, Mr SP Tucker, Special Chief Secretary, Planning Department, and Agricultural Production Commissioner, Government of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP), asked them to develop an action plan as the department is preparing a credit plan of ` 1.25 trillion (US$ 18.93 billion) for the next five years. https://youtu.be/MtNLDZRd3gc

Dr Manmohan Singh, Principal Secretary, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, said that an integrated farming systems approach needs to be promoted vigorously in all districts to face present and future fodder issues. He pointed out that the primary cost to a farmer in maintaining milk yields depends upon the type of feed and the cost of feed. https://youtu.be/kg9Q1LdeorM

The important role that fisheries play in improving livelihoods of farmers and also enhancing human health through improved nutrition was highlighted by Dr Rama Sankar Naik, Commissioner Fisheries, GoAP. He expressed concern over the quality of seed, feed and infrastructure in the state.

Key problems in the three sectors were identified by farmers and an action plan was developed based on their suggestions. Smallholder farmers urged officials to treat dairy as part of agriculture and not as a separate industry.

The role of fodder crops in changing climate scenarios was emphasized by Dr Peter Carberry, Deputy Director General - Research, ICRISAT. He said that ICRISAT’s mandate crops, millets and sorghum, play a crucial role in interlinking agriculture, dairy and fisheries sector. With increasing pressure on farmers to produce more fodder for sustaining livelihood, the government plays a key role in strengthening the white revolution in the state, he said. He also compared the Australian and Indian dairy revolution and how these countries play a vital role in the global context.

Dr Ramana Murthy, Managing Director, AP Dairy Development Cooperative Federation, expressed concern over the high production cost of milk in Andhra Pradesh compared to other states and talked about the need for enhancing efficiency of milk distribution.

Guest speakers, Mr Narender Singh, a progressive dairy farmer from Ludhiana and Mr Baljinder Singh from Faridkot, shared their experiences with fellow farmers from Andhra Pradesh.

Scientists from International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), ICRISAT and officials from line departments of GoAP explained the various techniques used to minimize costs in dairy, poultry and fisheries sector. Participating farmers were given opportunities to interact with members from the Planning Department and scientists from ICRISAT.

The two-day workshop on ‘Strategies to Minimize Input Costs in Dairy, Poultry and Fisheries Sectors’ was conducted by ICRISAT Development Center in India on 26-27 August with the support of the Planning Department, GoAP.

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Country teams release draft work plans at project launch Tropical Legumes III workshop

The TL III project builds on the lessons learnt from the TL II project. Seen above are women groundnut seed producers in Mali. File photo: ICRISAT

Work plans that aligned with country strategies; involved women and youth; recognized emerging partnerships; and built on lessons and synergies from Tropical Legumes I and II projects were released by the respective country teams at a workshop to mark the launch of the Tropical Legumes III (TL III) project.

Key project outcomes reflected in the work plans include:

  • Enabling policies for adoption and impact – especially narrowing the gender yield gap in legume systems
    by 20%.
  • Realizing productivity gains in groundnut, common bean and cowpea on an average of 10% over existing improved varieties and 20% over local varieties.
  • Realizing productivity gains in chickpea by 10% over
    local varieties in Ethiopia and 15% in Uttar Pradesh, India, where seeds of improved varieties have been released.
  • Increasing the quantity of improved seeds purchased by smallholder farmers, including women, by 10% annually in each country.
  • Improving effectiveness and efficiency of legume breeding programs and seed delivery systems of National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) partners.

The TL III project works on the premise that ‘efficient legume breeding and seed systems lead to increased productivity and income for smallholder farmers, especially women’. The project focuses on four legumes namely, groundnut, cowpea, common bean and chickpea in eight target countries: Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and India.

(L to R) Dr Jeff Ehlers, TL III Program Officer, BMGF; Dr Carberry and Dr Yilma Kebede, Senior Program Officer, BMGF at the TL III workshop. Photo: ICRISAT

The draft work plans were further refined at the Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation (MLE) workshop that followed the launch workshop.

Follow-up action plan:

  • Country teams are expected to consult at the national level and finalize their work plans within the next one month. New country plans should take cognizance of the outcome of the MLE Planning Workshop
  • The facilitators – Institute for People Innovation and Change in Organizations - Eastern Africa (PICO-EA) and Agricultural Learning and Impacts Network (ALINe) – will finalize the workshop outcome and share inputs with ICRISAT and the planning teams for the finalization of country-specific project work plans.
  • The MLE Plan will be finalized with inputs from country teams that incorporate actor-outcome mapping, clarifying how multiple actors in each country contribute to each outcome.
  • The launch workshop of the TL III project, was held at Nairobi, Kenya from 18-21 August. 
  • This project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). The work is undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

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Pulses missing from farmers’ fields and plates

A farmer with his pigeonpea crop in Jharkhand.
photo: ICRISAT

Pulses are a major source of nutritional security for poor farmer-households and can also help boost income given the high market price of pulses. Paradoxically, production continues to fall short of demand – particularly in areas of eastern India with its high poverty levels and poor nutrition statistics.

Given their high protein value, pulses are viewed by nutritionists as the ‘poor person’s meat’. Yet, poor households in these regions are neither producing nor consuming pulses as part of their regular diet. These apparent contradictions are revealed in a VDSA survey across two villages each in Bolangir and Dhenkanal districts of Odisha state and the Dumka and Ranchi districts of Jharkhand state between 2010 and 2013.

Low priority to pulses

In both the states of Odisha and Jharkhand only one-third of the farmers are growing pulses. Most farmers use their own farm-saved seeds. These crops are grown mainly in the postrainy season and are reliant on residual moisture only - with little irrigation, if any. As a result, yields are low and unstable – between 247-494 kg per ha. This discourages farmers from allocating large areas to pulse crops. Most pulse growers allocate only 0.08 to 0.2 ha of land for pulses – mainly black gram, green gram, horse gram and grass pea in Odisha and black gram, horse gram, pigeonpea and chickpea in Jharkhand.

Monthly consumption of pulses per household has declined in both the states to 2.2 kg (14.6 g per day per capita) in Jharkhand and about 4 kg (26.6 g per day per capita) in Odisha, which is significantly lower than 35 g per day per capita pulse consumption as recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research. VDSA data also reveal that home-produced pulses constitute only 15-20% of total pulses consumed in these households with the balance being purchased from the market.

Of the households surveyed, around 75% are marginal farmers with less than 1 ha of land and minimal resources. They are largely dependent on rainfall for crop cultivation. Farmers in these areas grow mainly staple cereals such as rice and maize to meet their household needs. During the postrainy season much of their land remains fallow.

Solutions to boost household income  and nutrition

Improvement in the availability and access to diverse and nutrient-dense foods like pulses is key to ending malnutrition in poverty-stricken areas of eastern India. According to Dr Ranjit Kumar, Principal Scientist, Economics, and VDSA Eastern India Coordinator, “If they have access to improved quality seeds then this will reduce the high volatility in pulse production and may trigger an interest amongst poor smallholders for allocating more acreage to these crops.”

The other area that needs to be addressed is supplemental irrigation – efforts towards rainwater-harvesting and management would significantly improve yields thus boosting productivity and leading to improved household nutrition as well as income.

 
Dwindling number of pulse growers in eastern states.
 
Per household consumption of pulses and its share in food expenditure

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Announcement

International Journal of Tropical Agriculture (IJTA) 2nd International Conference on Agriculture, Horticulture & Plant Sciences

Date: 26-27 December 2015; Venue: Shimla, India

Organized by: Academic Research Journals (India)

Deadline for abstracts/proposals: 30 October 2015

Contact person: Vijay Kumar Jha

Website: http://icahps.com/


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Readers’ Comments

Good to see ICRISAT expanding its work in cereal-legume systems, especially on sustainable intensification and productivity growth in tef-chickpea systems in Ethiopia. Tef is no longer a national commodity – it is now an internationally valuable dryland cereal with major nutritional and climate adaptation benefits for the world. This will substantially enhance the relevance and overall profile of ICRISAT in the region.

– Bekele Shiferaw, Executive Director,
Partnership for Economic Policy, Kenya

I am glad that ICRISAT has taken in its portfolio to improve tef, it is an important crop in Ethiopia, I have lived a few years in Ethiopia as the General Manager, Ethiopian Pioneer Hybrid Deed Company and realized the yield constraint. Ethiopian restaurants in USA also sell injera but shortage of tef, I am told, compels them to add sorghum flour.

– Dr Pramod K Agrawal, Managing Director,
Prasha Agri Consultants Pvt Ltd, India

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