The widespread feeling of despair among smallholder farmers in the wake of climate change is often attributed to the persisting dominance of input-intensive modern agriculture over resilient traditional agriculture practices. Caritas India organised a 3-day workshop on innovation scouting for identifying traditional agriculture solutions to the perils posed by climate change before smallholder farming systems. The event attended by SAFBIN team members, smallholder farmers and community leaders, was held in Sagar from 22 to 24 April 2013.
The 3-day workshop also featured several rounds of community reflection and participatory analysis which were held in the targeted villages of Sagar district. SAFBIN programme, supported by European Union (EU) and Caritas Austria, is working in the rain-fed agro ecological zones of India, Bangladesh and Nepal for securing the food and nutrition security of smallholder farmers.
Mr. Sunil speaking on innovations of traditional agriculture The 3-day workshop also featured several rounds of community reflection and participatory analysis which were held in the targeted villages of Sagar district. SAFBIN programme, supported by European Union (EU) and Caritas Austria, is working in the rain-fed agro ecological zones of India, Bangladesh and Nepal for securing the food and nutrition security of smallholder farmers. Mr. Sunil Simon, South Asia programme manager of SAFBIN, in his opening address underscored the necessity of identifying sustainable and robust solutions for the agriculture challenges faced by smallholder farmers. “Climate change and its ramifications have exacerbated the woes of smallholder farmers by further weakening their precarious food and nutrition systems. Dwindling profitability and ever-increasing input costs have also contributed to the misery of smallholder farmers in India”, Mr. Sunil Simon said. He deplored the failure of mainline agriculture research in providing sustainable and affordable solutions to the challenges faced by the country’s huge population which is engaged in subsistence farming.
Fr. Shaju Devassy, director of Manav Vikas Seva Sangh (MVSS) Sagar, in his address lauded SAFBIN for campaigning for the cause of smallholder farmers and developing efficient and affordable models of small farming. He said that the results emerging from the farm trails of SAFBIN offer a fresh lease of hope for smallholder farmers.
Mr. Pranab speaking on vulnerability and innovation screening Mr. Pranab Ranjan Chawdhary, consultant of SAFBIN, helped the participants understand the significance of traditional agriculture innovations which can secure the livelihood and nutrition security of smallholder farmers. Participants, who included SAFBIN district-level teams along with community leaders, were also informed about criticality of traditional agriculture innovations in the endeavour to insulate smallholder farming systems from the vagaries of climate change. The three-day workshop was held as a preparation for the Kharif season during which SAFBIN will blend innovations of both traditional agriculture and modern agriculture practices and implement them as trial models on food crops. In the last two crop seasons, SAFBIN had helped over 200 smallholder farmers to design and implement crop trials. These trials had emerged as worthy candidate models for replication as they enabled farmers to reduce inputs costs and increase production of wheat and black gram up to two times.
Community members listing vulnerabilities of black gram During the 3-day workshop participants visited SAFBIN villages and facilitated community level reflection and analyses for screening and documenting agriculture innovations which have either been forgotten or on the verge of disappearance. So far, SAFBIN has identified 184 traditional innovations in the areas of seed selection, seed treatment, land preparation, soil nutrient management, pest management and storage. A research delegation from Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences (SHIATS) Allahabad led by Dr. Thomas Abraham attended the workshop and presented the analyses of trials conducted during the last Kharif season.