This February, the Sustainable and Resilient Farming System Intensification (SRFSI) project showcased its field activities to a high-level External Supplementary Review Team comprised of policy, research, and development leaders, and public and private sector representatives during a three-day event in Gorumara, Jalpaiguri District, West Bengal, India. The SRFSI project is funded by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research and led by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). The project operates in four regions in three countries: northwest Bangladesh, the eastern Terai of Nepal, and the states of Bihar and West Bengal in India. Over 20 partners representing research, development and educational sectors attended. The goal of the SRFSI project is to transform the lives of its stakeholders from grassroots to national then, regional and finally, international level.
Beyond the project’s intervention, SRFSI works as a regional innovation platform bringing together over 20 partners including research, development and private sector institutions from national and international level. The project is owned by the national systems and it has created evidence of enabling a trustfully environment in communities by providing direct ownership as a partner instead of consumer. This partnership is facilitated by the large number of CASI participatory research setup in the 40 communities over three countries.
During the event, the review team spoke very high about the progress made as a result of the technological interventions around the Conservation Agriculture-based Sustainable Intensification, which is offering science based high impact technologies that improve food security and profitability of the poor and marginal farmers while reducing women drudgery and safeguarding environments.
The three-day review was designed to assess how well the project had been able to achieve its output and explore the impacts it had created so far in addressing the identified research & policy gaps. On the first day, the visitors took a field trip designed to capitalize on the ‘seeing is believing’ principle. On this trip, Prof. Timothy Reeves expressed his view of great satisfaction how proactively SRFSI has taken gender mainstreaming, food security and livelihood improvement agenda. The second day, facilitated by Chirantan Chattopadhyay, Vice-chancellor of North Bengal Agriculture University, India made room for the SRFSI partners to put together objective–wise presentations on the key outputs so far achieved on agronomic research, socio-economic studies, gender mainstreaming progress, soil monitoring, and APSIM modelling. Presentations by CIMMYT and its partners were well received by donor, external reviewers and the PSC members. The Steering Committee (SC) Meeting was held on Day 3.
Reviewers expressed that CASI in comparison to conventional methods has attractive paybacks around food, energy and water nexus. Others expressed their great satisfaction about the achievements so far made under SRFSI with the short period of time. They also emphasized that the SRFSI should focus more on communicating its success among stakeholders including policy makers. TP Tiwari, on behalf of CIMMYT/SRFSI, thanked participating farmers, external reviewers, PSC members for their high level remarks for SRFSI.