Project interventions stymie drought impacts
Unfavorable conditions like a 30% deficit in rainfall and severe drought failed to make a dent in the lives of over 33,000
farmers in the Marathwada and western Maharashtra regions of India thanks to HOPE project interventions like improved cultivars, crop and drought management practices and creating market linkages that brought with them greater grain and fodder yields.
Farmers growing postrainy season sorghum in Maharashtra state of India had yet another difficult year in 2012-2013, with rainfall being 30% below the normal levels in Marathwada and Western Maharashtra regions. Most farmers did not plant the crop as there was insufficient moisture in the field. Even if sown, the crop dried in most areas and there was no panicle exsertion because of severe drought.
However, there was a ray of hope in this gloomy situation. Interventions under the ICRISAT-led HOPE project helped defy drought and protect the sorghum crop in the project cluster villages. Improved cultivars and crop and drought management practices provided under the project in the last four years have helped over 33,000 sorghum farmers get on an average 40% higher grain yields and 29% higher fodder yields compared to the local cultivars and practices. Further, market linkages promoted under the project have enabled the farmers to get higher prices for their grain and fodder.
This was revealed at the Fourth Annual Review and fifth year workplan development meeting of the project held at YASHADA, Pune, in Maharashtra during 11-12 June. In this project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Marathwada Agricultural University (MAU), Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (MPKV) and Directorate of Sorghum Research (DSR) are ICRISAT’s partners in the sorghum component.
Delivering the opening
address, MPKV Vice Chancellor Dr TA More commended the efforts of ICRISAT and partner institution scientists in transferring the technologies to over 33,000 farmers and making a big difference in their lives.
Dr Stefania Grando, Director, Research Program-Dryland Cereals commended the good work done in India, the ownership of the project by partners and the impact on farmers, thereby helping them achieve large gains in productivity and incomes. She recognized the team spirit of the scientists from different organizations and suggested that the team document the results, successes and case studies for the benefit of all stakeholders.
HOPE project manager George Okwach, in his remarks, appreciated the overall progress of the project in South Asia and urged the team to identify loose ends and critical gaps based on what has been done and the lessons learnt, so that the project can address these in the extended period granted to it. He lamented that though the project had done well in postrainy season sorghum in Maharashtra, the good work had largely remained unknown as not many success stories had been written and shared widely. He revealed that the project would soon bring out a series of newsletters to share the project’s work, from the farmers’ perspective.
The progress made during the year under various project objectives was presented by Drs Belum Reddy, Nagaraj, Basavaraj and Ashok Kumar with support from SR Gadakh, SP Mehtre, Pokharkar, Sachin More and Ravi. The team also conducted a regional workshop to share the results from baseline and monitoring and early adoption studies led by Dr Nagaraj (ICRISAT) and supported by Mr Pokharkar and Mr More (MPKV).
The review meeting recognized the impressive gains made by the project, identified critical constraints, and came out with policy recommendations. The workplan for year five covering the no-cost extension period and transition phase were presented by Drs Nagaraj, Belum Reddy, Parthasarathy Rao and Ashok Kumar, which were approved after discussions.
On this occasion, Dr Belum Reddy was felicitated by MPKV Rahuri for his contribution to sorghum improvement, and for strengthening national programs by building strong partnerships to help transfer technologies to farmers, particularly under the project.
The work in this project was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on DrylandCereals.