Gori Bi, a landless widow with two kids, works on other farmers’ fields for wages in a small village in Telangana. She is thankful to an ancient water body – the Katakshapura ‘water tank’ – built during the Kakatiya dynasty’s rule in the 11th century. She credits the water in the tank as a provider of her livelihood, saying simply, “If there is no water, there is no work, no money”.
This was just one example of how efficient use of natural resources can improve lives in rural societies. Members of the TIGR2ESS (Transforming India’s Green Revolution by Research and Empowerment for Sustainable food Supplies) project came across more such instances during a recent visit to Katakshapura, Telangana. The team – a group of experts from India and UK in crop science, hydrology, policy and social science – then met at ICRISAT-India, to compare notes, define goals and explore ideas to improve Indian agriculture with technological innovations in an ecologically sustainable manner.
While the Green Revolution in the 1960s led to India’s self-sufficiency in food grains, today there are newer challenges such as a growing population, climate change and urbanization. The TIGR2ESS project, led by the University of Cambridge, UK, aims to help Indian farmers achieve higher agricultural productivity while also conserving water and preserving/improving soil quality, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
During the three-day workshop, which was held during 16-18 August 2018, discussions and brainstorming sessions helped team members familiarize themselves with each partner organization’s competences and work out strategies to combat the challenging aspects of the project. Subsequently, they will identify activities and timelines for definite outcomes, enhancing use of natural resources to improve agriculture, and to improve nutrition and health as part of Flagship Projects 1 and 6.
ICRISAT, which is one of the project partners, will be actively involved in two of TIGR2ESS’ Flagship Projects – FP 1 and FP 6:
FP 1: Defining a Second Green Revolution for India
FP 2: Crop Sciences – Water Use and Photosynthesis
FP 3: Heat and Drought Resilience in Wheat
FP 4: Water Use and Management in a Changing Monsoon Climate
FP 5: Supply Chains: Modeling Water Use for Sustainable Livelihoods
FP 6: Impacting Well-being in Rural and Urban Communities
The 3-year TIGR2ESS project is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund, which supports innovative research for solutions to challenges faced by developing countries. Led by the University of Cambridge, the project partners include ICRISAT, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), University of East Anglia, John Innes Centre, Punjab Agricultural University, Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, and others, making it a holistic, multifaceted and sustainable program whose benefits would reach beyond the duration of the project.
One hopes that this project brings much-needed relief to farmers all over India, much like Gori Bi in Telangana.