Hyderabad, India │ 22 September 2016 — “We need to learn from you, as you are the master of your fields, you know the ground level issues of agriculture, and you will set the research agenda for organizations like ICRISAT,” said Professor Chandra Madramootoo, Governing Board Chair for the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), while addressing over 2,000 farmers from across India.
“If we make good use of technology, farmers like me can increase or double our farm income,” said Ms. Madhuri Nalawade who was among the farmers who had gathered to attend the National Farmers’ Day organized by ICRISAT at its headquarters on 21 September.
“Technologies such as TV, internet and mobile phones can get us timely information on sowing and other best farming practices. WhatsApp for example is one of the best means to connect and share information about farming, I have been using it for some time,” said the young, dynamic farmer and village head of Kanheri village, Satara District, Maharashtra, India. Ms Nalawade is one of the youngest female village heads in India.
“Over the last 50 years, as a result of the research done by ICRISAT and its partner institutions, Universities and research centers of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the production of cereals in India has tripled to 300,000 million tons,” said Professor Madramootoo.
The event, which coincided with ICRISAT’s Governing Board meeting, was one of the rare opportunities for Board members who are from different countries, to interact with farmers and learn from them ways to double their income in the next five years.
ICRISAT Director General David Bergvinson said, “We are here to exchange ideas for demand-driven agricultural research and see how we can use technology to not just increase crop productivity, but also profitability.”
“Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has called for doubling of farm income in the next five years; this day is our first step towards realizing the vision of the Prime Minister,” added Dr Bergvinson.
The National Farmers’ Day saw representation from seven Indian states: Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Karnataka and Gujarat. The farmers were given tours of demo fields planted with various varieties of crops including millets, pigeonpea and sorghum as well as shown different watershed and other agricultural practices that could help increase their incomes.
In his address to the farmers, Hon’ble Deputy Speaker of Karnataka Legislative Assembly Mr Shivashankar Reddy said, “Research that is being done in organizations like ICRISAT needs to be practically translated onto the farmers’ fields. Farmers will benefit when it is fully translated and research organizations and the Government need to make efforts to help farmers prosper. I think in that direction ICRISAT is doing great work.”
Highlighting the role of digital agricultural tools such as drones, Ms Nalawade said, “In some hilly areas of Maharashtra, farmers face a lot of crop loss, as it gets damaged by wild animals. If we have technologies like drones in place, farmers can monitor the movement of wild animals in the crop fields and alert wildlife authorities — this could prevent a lot of crop loss hence improving their incomes.”
The event was organized by ICRISAT Development Center (IDC) led by Dr Suhas P. Wani (Director IDC).