To create sustainable value and enhanced incomes for the small and marginal farmers of Andhra Pradesh, the state Government will partner with ICRISAT along the entire value chain of crops.
A Memorandum of Understanding to this effect was signed between the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP), Government of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP), India, and ICRISAT.
ICRISAT will undertake detailed market analysis and also provide strategic advisory support. Further, it will develop and support Innovation Platforms for technology prioritization and dissemination and innovative use of digital agriculture in the defined areas of collaboration. It will also support in capacity building of SERP staff in relevant business management practices.
GoAP through SERP is the custodian of 9 million self-help group members in rural and urban Andhra Pradesh. Through its association with the World Bank, SERP has been able to build a strong and sustainable network of federated community institutions which has, over the last 15 years, accessed credit in excess of ` 440 billion
APRIGP, under the Social Empowerment Mission, Department of Rural Development, has a strong focus on improved livelihoods through an integrated and holistic value chain approach and enterprise promotion and leveraging social capital created for improving human development outcomes and improving vulnerability support services with the innovative use of ICT.
The formal launch of APRIGP was done in the presence of Mr N Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh, senior officials of the World Bank and GoAP and private sector organizations. At the event, Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, signed the MoU and spoke on the importance of value chains in providing holistic and sustainable solutions for the small and marginal farmers of the state. He said that with the innovative use of ICT and digital agriculture, ICRISAT was well poised to add substantial value to the APRIGP with markets research, Innovation Platform and Monitoring and Evaluation.
Dr Bergvinson also participated in a panel discussion, moderated by Mr Sitaramachandra Machiraju of the World Bank on ‘Human Development and ICT’. SERP officials Mr Solomon Arokiaraj, CEO; Mr M Srinivas Baba, Director Farm Livelihoods and Ms Mrinalini Shastry, Director, Evaluation and Learning were actively engaged in structuring the MoU and the panel discussions.
At a two-day planning meeting held at ICRISAT-Nigeria for training youth and women on developing sorghum agribusinesses, the States’ Agricultural Development Projects announced that a minimum of 100 groups would be trained per state in the coming weeks.
At the meeting, technologies relevant to the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program Phase 1 (ATASP-1) Outreach project, which is the use and maintenance of small-scale equipment such as multipurpose thresher, hammer mill with cyclone, triketor, stover crusher, sewing and sealing machine were introduced by the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization. A demonstration of available small-scale machines for sorghum production and processing such as manual planters and multipurpose manual oil extraction machines was conducted by Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, Nigeria Country Representative.
The planning meeting was held to identify activities and bring out detailed plans on training of youth and women on small-scale agricultural mechanization, processing, value addition and entrepreneurship.
Mr Haruna Akwashiki, National Project Coordinator, chaired the technical sessions where presentations were made by partners and research institutes. The project objectives of ATASP-1 were presented by Mr Ben Osielume, Project Administrator, who represented Dr G Tarawali, Outreach Coordinator.
Professor DA Aba, representing the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) Zaria, presented a paper on improved sorghum varieties and hybrids available for scaling up. The Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) presented on improved postharvest technologies (sorghum drying technologies, primary processing, packaging and storage) relevant to the ATASP-1 Outreach project. Dr Omo Ohiokpehai, Nutrition Specialist and Team Leader Nigeria Sorghum Transformation Value Chain, spoke on sorghum processing and nutrition technologies for income generation among women and youth. Mr Bankole Akinyele of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Youth Agriprenuers spoke on promoting youth employment in agriculture and agribusiness.
Dr Ijantiku Ignatius Angarawai, Scientist - Sorghum Breeding (Dryland Cereals), ICRISAT, highlighted the activities conducted so far on the two agro-processing zones – Kano-Jigawa and Sokoto-Kebbi.
The training was held on 28-29 October. It had 25 participants from Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Abuja; Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria; International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA); National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization (NCAM); Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI); Agricultural Development Projects and FMARD offices of Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger states and ICRISAT.
As France gears up to welcome over 40,000 delegates, including world leaders like US President Barack Obama, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference – twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21), the livelihoods of millions of dryland farmers across Africa and India are affected by climate related problems. But there are some success stories where farmers are leading the way and are finding potential ways to fight climate change.
According to a recent study by Lanzhou University in China, the dryland area of the world continues to expand by global warming, and if global emissions continue to rise, dryland area is expected to cover 56% of the world's land surface by 2100.
In the deserts of Rajasthan, India, women farmers are adopting farming methods, which show there is hope to combat climate change impact in the drylands, the ecosystems most adversely affected, and move out of poverty.
The Thar desert, spread over an area of 320,000 sq km, covers 60% of the state. The region faces water scarcity for 9 to 11 months in a year and frequent droughts (1 in 2.5 years).
Women leaders like Ms Mani and Ms Rameshwari from the Dhirasar village in Rajasthan, have been leaders in their community and taken on many innovations such as improved crop varieties including pearl millet and other crops suited to the region; fruit trees to provide nutrition and income; constructing embankments to capture rainfall and prevent runoff and soil erosion; and planting grasses and fodder trees to provide fodder for cattle.
New institutional arrangements have been implemented to enable communities to better manage common property resources such as the common grazing lands or to form women’s self-help groups to weigh and market livestock for higher income.
This success is due to the partnership of different organizations coming together to work for a common cause. Local community and a grassroots organization GRAVIS (Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti) along with scientific expertise from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) worked closely with the local community. Funding has also been critical coming from CGIAR donors around the world under the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems.
“The strategy takes women’s needs into account by working directly with them. Women are empowered to take charge of their lives and reduce the vulnerability of the communities living in these harsh environments.” says Dr Shalander Kumar, Scientist, Research Program Resilient Dryland Systems, ICRISAT.
These efforts are part of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems, where work is underway in three states of India (Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka) to empower farmers and local institutions to build resilient and sustainable farming systems that cope with the vagaries of current and future climate.
Launching video stories of women leaders who are successfully coping with climate change in the drylands:
Story of Rameshwari Devi
This story first appeared on the Al Jazeera website
At a ‘training of trainers’ workshop held in Nigeria, participants from five states pledged to work together with the media to ensure mass mobilization of actors of the groundnut value chain and organize step-down training workshops and awareness campaigns in their different states and organizations on aflatoxin contamination and the fact that it can effectively be managed.
Dr Vabi Boboh Michael, Country Manager of the Groundnut Upscaling Project, said that the aim of the workshop was to enable the trainees to:
Awareness on aflatoxin (known in Hausa language as BorinGyada) and other mycotoxins amongst Nigerians is very low. Therefore, there is a need for enhancing the knowledge of value chain actors on the effect of aflatoxin on human nutrition and health. Promoting an aflatoxin-free groundnut market using various means and by involving the mass media is fundamental for delivery of the groundnut upscaling project.
Ensuring that farmers provide aflatoxin-free groundnut to Nigerian markets is a focus area of the Groundnut Upscaling Project. Several countries have limits for acceptable levels of total aflatoxins in foods.
The limit for the European Union in nuts, dried fruits, cereals and spices varies between 2-12 μg/kg and 4-15 μg/kg. In the United States, the limit is 20 μg/kg for all food commodities, except milk. In Australia and Canada the limit is 15 μg/kg for nuts. While the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) recognizes that there is no safe level of aflatoxin exposure, the acceptable limit for grain commodities is 4 μg/kg and 20 μg/kg for kulikuli (a local groundnut cake).
The workshop was organized as part of the implementation of the USAID-funded project ‘Increasing Productivity of Smallholder Farmers in Ghana, Mali and Nigeria’ with the goal of developing a core group of trainers to comfortably lead step-down training workshops and community discussions on aflatoxin in the groundnut value chain.
The workshop brought together a total of 36 participants comprising 16 middle-level staff of the agricultural extension service, 16 researchers and 4 media professionals. Participants were oriented on the following topics – Science of aflatoxin, The health and economic challenges of aflatoxin, Sampling techniques for aflatoxin detection, Detection of aflatoxin in groundnut and groundnut-based products, Quantification of aflatoxin in groundnut and groundnut-based products, and On-farm and storage management options of aflatoxin-producing fungi.
Using an 11-question quiz, it was seen that participants’ interest and knowledge of aflatoxin and its management increased from the first to the second day. At the start of the workshop, participants got at least three out of the 11 questions with many of them responding correctly to at least 5 out of the 11 questions. The outcome of first assessment showed that participants had previous knowledge of aflatoxin, from a media training workshop organized by ICRISAT.
The workshop was jointly conducted by the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), the Centre for Dryland Agriculture of the Bayero University, Kano (BUK), the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi (FUAM) and ICRISAT.
During the last decade, the agriculture sector in India has experienced a sharp drop in the availability of labor despite the sector contributing significantly to the overall growth of the Indian economy.
In 2013-14 the agricultural and allied sectors contributed to 13% of India’s total GDP. Yet the agricultural workforce reduced by 30.57 million with numbers dropping from 259 million in 2004-05 to 228 million in 2011-12. The drop is in large part due to increased opportunities in the non-farm rural sector with the service and manufacturing sectors wooing the shrinking labor force with higher wages and more regular incomes.
This conundrum was revealed in recent VDSA research at ICRISAT which also revealed that farmers are struggling with having to pay higher wages to those laborers who are still working in the agricultural sector.
“The VDSA research has revealed that farmers have responded to this twin challenge in three complementary ways: by replacing human and bullock labor with machinery, increasing cultivation of less labor intensive crops and increasing the use of herbicides to control weeds,” according to Dr Uttam Deb, Principal Scientist, Economics, Markets, Institutions and Policies, ICRISAT.
One example in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra illustrates this trend – particularly in relation to the cultivation of less labor intensive crops. Farmers in this region have traditionally cultivated cotton which up until 2006-07 occupied three-fifths of the total cropped area. Now they have switched to soybean cultivation which occupies 70% of the total crop area in the rainy season. This is also supplemented by growing chickpea in 14% of the crop area.
The benefits of this shift are tangible: cotton growing requires around nine months for production and is harvested over four or more pickings. Soybean on the other hand requires only 80 to 105 days depending on the varieties used for cultivation.
The dramatic shift in cropping patterns during the period 2007-8 to 2014-15 resulted in per hectare labor use in cotton production reduced by 43% (from 153 person-days to 87 person-days). During the same period labor use in soybean production was reduced by 58% (from 55 person-days to 23 person-days) and in pigeonpea production by 52% (from 48 person-days to 23 person-days), due to the increased reliance on machinery for tillage, harvesting and threshing operations and the introduction of herbicides to control weeds.
How to reduce real prices of agricultural commodities and sustain rise in agricultural wages?
The VDSA studies have shown that an increase in agricultural wages has increased income of the labor households – improving their food security and reducing incidences of poverty. So the challenge is how to maintain these wage increases while at the same time reducing the per unit cost of production of agricultural commodities so that farmers and laborers can benefit from these increased wages.
ICRISAT has a real role to play in meeting these seemingly conflicting demands.
“Increase in agricultural productivity is the only way to achieve this challenging task. Science can assist in increasing agricultural productivity particularly for dryland farmers by developing new crop cultivars that provide higher yields with less labor and crop cultivars which can be mechanically harvested. Development of herbicide tolerant varieties (for example, ICRISAT is researching on herbicide tolerant chickpea varieties) will reduce cost of weeding by promoting less labor intensive crop husbandry practices for dryland crops,” according to Dr Deb. “These will ultimately increase production per unit (day) of labor use and also reduce per ton cost of production. Reduction in costs per ton will be reflected in the market through reduction in real price of agricultural commodities.”
Future work under the World Bank and West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP)-Nigeria project will explore setting up of more Innovation Platforms (IPs) and research support on dissemination of small and medium scale mechanization technologies to farmers through the IPs. The stakeholders are farmers, machine fabricators, agro-chemical companies, traditional and political leaders who can support farmers with starter packs, and agro-processors for markets. This was agreed during round table discussions.
Dr Abdoulaye Toure, leader of the World Bank Supervision Mission, appreciated the work in sorghum and groundnut production and dissemination in the country. He encouraged ICRISAT to facilitate the establishment of Innovation Platforms in locations where it works as an avenue of interaction involving more stakeholders. He also stressed on participation of youth in agriculture and the role ICRISAT can play in demonstrating and linking farmers to locally-fabricated farm machineries, training on value addition and processing. “The World Bank strategy is to help Africa by reducing hunger through agricultural productivity and sustainability,” he said.
Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, Country Representative, ICRISAT-Nigeria, presented ICRISAT’s activities in the sorghum and groundnut value chains and held a demonstration of the machineries that are being used by smallholder farmers for reduction in drudgery and increasing productivity and income.
The highlights of the project achievements presented by Dr Ajeigbe included the silent agricultural revolution taking place in the form of dry season groundnut production for seed, grain and fodder in Bauchi state, especially Ningi Local Government Area. “The harvest came in when demand for seed, grain and fodder for livestock was at its peak. As such, farmers’ income was greatly enhanced. Another benefit was the breaking of the cereal-cereal cycle by inclusion of a leguminous crop for soil fertility enhancement,” noted Dr Ajeigbe. He also highlighted the one-week intensive training organized by ICRISAT for 150 newly recruited extension agents of Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA) in May 2015.
Representatives of WAAPP-Nigeria Project led by Mr James Apochi, Agricultural National Project Coordinator, and the World Bank Supervision Mission led by Dr Abdoulaye Toure and Mr Obadiah Tohomdet and 14 other delegates visited ICRISAT-Nigeria on 4 November. The team’s visit to the station was with regard to the two WAAPP-Nigeria funded projects (see below).