4) Maharashtra CM Pushes for Strong Collaboration with ICRISAT (September 2001)

Describing ICRISAT as “a guide to dryland farmers”, Sri Vilas Rao Deshmukh, Honorable Chief Minister, Government of Maharashtra, emphasized the need for strong partnership between ICRISAT, the four Agricultural Universities in Maharashtra, and the Government of Maharashtra, especially in the area of water conservation.

 


The CM made a fervent plea for this collaboration during his visit to the Institute on the occasion of the Maharashtra-ICRISAT Farmers' Day on 30 September 2001. The CM was accompanied by the Agriculture Minister Sri Rohidas Patil and several other dignitaries from Maharashtra. The Maharashtra-ICRISAT Farmers' Day is part of a 3-day event dedicated to farmers of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. The Farmers' Day is being organized in partnership with each of these three states.

Delighted with the experiments on the integrated watershed technology at ICRISAT, the CM sought the Institute's help in rainwater harvesting and groundwater conservation in Maharashtra. He urged the farmers to take up the village watershed concept, explaining that water was the major constraint of Maharashtra, and that no amount of money spent on irrigation could solve the problem of dryland farming.

Raising the issue of sorghum grain mold, the CM asked researchers to find alternative uses for moldy grains, since farmers find it difficult to sell such grains. He also showed interest in collaborating with the Institute for developing bold-seeded groundnuts for export.

In his reply to the CM, ICRISAT Director General Dr. William Dar, said, “ Maharashtra is one of our key states for strengthening research collaboration.” Dr Dar mentioned that the Institute has signed an MOU with the Maharashtra Seed Corporation.

About 600 farmers from Maharashtra attended the Farmers' Day and had a first-hand view of ICRISAT's technologies on seed improvement and land and water management.

Farmers also saw products of partner seed companies who had been invited to put up stalls at ICRISAT. At the end of the program, seeds of improved varieties developed by ICRISAT and its partners were distributed to farmers.

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