Smallholder farmers in Mali were introduced in groups to Climate Smart Agriculture techniques. Photo: H.Holmes/RTB
11
Dec

Making smallholder farmers more secure: ICRISAT’s contribution to climate research

Smallholder farmers in Mali were introduced in groups to Climate Smart Agriculture techniques. Photo: H.Holmes/RTB

Smallholder farmers in Mali were introduced in groups to Climate Smart Agriculture techniques. Photo: H.Holmes/RTB

As nations from around the globe debate the impacts of climate change and discuss sustainable solutions to mitigating them at COP24, we take a look at just a few of ICRISAT’s recent initiatives that helped alleviate some challenges from changing climate worldwide, especially in the drylands:

    • In 2016, a ‘Sowing App’ was unveiled for farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India. Equipped with a Personalized Village Advisory Dashboard, this app aids farmers achieve optimal harvests by helping them make critical decisions such as when to prepare the field, when to sow and even what to sow. This is done with the help of an interface between artificial intelligence, weather forecasting models and extensive weather and agricultural data including rainfall over the last several decades for the region. This has been made possible through a partnership between ICRISAT, Microsoft and the Andhra Pradesh government.
    • Over 1300 smallholder farmers in Mali took home climate-smart agriculture (CSA) techniques to increase farm productivity sustainably when they attended a series of training sessions. They would go on to train more farmers across the region, spreading the knowledge in a cascading fashion. The training included practical demonstrations of CSA techniques such as making Zaï pits (shallow ridged pits dug around plants to trap rainwater) and demi lunes (semi-circular pits with contour bunds to prevent rainwater runoff); preparing organic compost using crop residues; applying biofertilizers by microdosing method; intercropping cereals with legumes (cowpea, groundnut); integrated Striga management and so on. Additionally, Climate Information Groups were set up in 30 villages for dissemination of climate information (via a platform called Sènèkèla) such as daily rainfall forecast, good agricultural practices, price of cereals in the local market, and crop planting date. These sessions were part of a capacity-building initiative of the project BRACED-X Waati Yèlèma Labenw in partnership with ICRISAT.
    • A new variety of chickpea, which is heat tolerant, resistant to Botrytis grey mold (BGM) and also high yielding, was released as BARI Chola-10 in Bangladesh in April 2017. Bangladesh is often cited as one of the most vulnerable countries with respect to climate change impacts. Farmers here mainly grow rice and follow the rice crop with chickpea. If rice harvest is delayed, chickpea sowing is also delayed, leading to high heat stress during the crop’s reproductive phase. This frequently causes low yields and even crop failure. BARI Chola-10, based on ICRISAT variety ICCV 92944, is expected to provide some relief to these farmers.
    Rameswari Devi, a farmer from Andhra Pradesh is one of the beneficiaries of the sowing app. Photo: S Punna, ICRISAT

    Rameswari Devi, a farmer from Andhra Pradesh is one of the beneficiaries of the sowing app. Photo: S Punna, ICRISAT

    COP 24 – the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – is currently going on in Katowice, Poland (3-14 December 2018). The Polish Presidency had distilled the key messages this year into three main components:

    Technology: Modern technology creating climate-friendly, sustainable solutions for health development

    Human: People driving change in lifestyles, regions and industries

    Nature: Highlighting forests as a great greenhouse gas sink; and to transform climate, biodiversity and desertification.

    With its policy of demand-driven innovation for smallholder farmers, ICRISAT works to make a difference to build adaptability to climate change among smallholder farmers, one technology, one improved variety at a time.

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