12) IFAD program to improve agricultural productivity in rainfed Asia holds annual meeting

Vientiane, Laos PDR (15 May 2013) – Increasing the productivity of rainfed agriculture, which still supplies some 60 percent of the world's food, would make a significant impact on global food production.

This highlights the importance of the annual meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) grant program “Sustainable Management of Crop-based Production Systems for Raising Agricultural Productivity in Rainfed Asia”is being organized at Vientiane, Laos PDR on 16-18 May 2013. The program led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) aims to improve the well-being of poor rural women and men engaged in rainfed agriculture in India, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nepal and Vietnam through sustainable, enhanced productivity and diversified income-generating opportunities.

The annual meeting seeks to bring together partners from the participating countries to discuss and deliberate on how, through the program, new technologies, improved crops and innovative management practices can help rainfed agricultural communities achieve food security and improved livelihoods.Lao PDR’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Vice-Minister, His Excellency Dr Phet Phomphephak will deliver a message at the meeting’s opening session.

The IFAD grant program started in 2012 for a four-year implementation, combining both research and developmental activities primarily to transform existing low-productivity rainfed cropping systems in the target regions of partner countries into resilient, productive cropping systems by deploying appropriate farmer-friendly agricultural technological innovations.

The outputs of this program are expected to enhance the overall productivity of rainfed agriculture in the target regionsby 20-25% and to substantially reduce variation in yield stability, resulting in a 15-20% increase in net returns from rainfed agriculture. At least 40,000 farmers in each project area are envisioned to benefit directly through adopting project innovations. Enhanced availability of legumes will add to the food and nutritional security of smallholder farm families. Increased availability of protein-rich legume fodder will enhance livestock productivity. The cumulative gains from program outputs will have a significant impact on improving the livelihoods of poor farmers engaged in rainfed agriculture.

The IFAD grant program focuses on pro-poor research addressing emerging challenges that increase risks and vulnerability of smallholder farmers, particularly in the semi-arid tropics (SAT).  Of the 1.4 billion people living in the SAT region worldwide, 560 million (40%) are classified as poor and 70% of the poor reside in rural areas. To be eliminated, it is imperative to improve overall productivity and sustainability of rainfed agriculture.

IFAD-supported grant projects implemented by ICRISAT in the past have generated new or improved agricultural technologies suitable to semi-arid areas. These include: drought-tolerant crop varieties; low-cost production technologies; introduction of new cropping seasons; and introduction of new crops; and new cropping systems that have been enthusiastically adopted and scaled up by partner non-government organizations (NGOs) and farmers.

The IFAD grant program target group consists of poor and marginal farmers engaged in rainfed agriculture in India (Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan), the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (northern and southern areas), Nepal (western mid-level hills region) and Vietnam (Ha Tinh and Cao Bang provinces).

Program activities are being implemented by the Jharkhand Tribal Development Society (JTDS) and Birsa Agricultural University (BAU) in Jharkhand, India; Rajamata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya (RVSKVV) in Madhya Pradesh, India; State Project Management Unit of Mitigating Poverty in Western Rajasthan (MPOWER), in Rajasthan, India; Sustainable Natural Resource Management and Productivity Enhancement Project (SNRMPEP) in Laos; Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) in Nepal; and by Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS) in Vietnam.

For media enquiries, contact: Showkat Nabi Rather, Media Liaison Officer, +91 40 3071 3187, R(dot)Showkat(at)cgiar(dot)org. or Cristina P Bejosano, Head, Media Relations and Science Writing, Tel: +91 40 30713236, C(dot)Bejosano(at)cgiar(dot)org
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