On 09 August, the government of Bihar State, India, announced a 25% subsidy for the purchase of zero-tillage seeders, bed planters, and maize threshers. According to Raj Gupta, facilitator of the Rice-Wheat Consortium (RWC) for the Indo-Gangetic Plains, the decision emerged in part from a meeting in March 2005 that involved the Chief Minister of Bihar, the Minister of Agriculture, the DG of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and other relevant actors.
“I also participated,” says Gupta. “Among other things, we discussed the promotion of quality protein maize and resource-conserving technologies as a strategy for transforming agriculture in Bihar. Now they have also decided to replace some of the winter wheat area with winter maize, whose productivity is nearly double that of wheat.”
With a population of 100 million, Bihar is one of India’s most densely populated and disadvantaged states and has been a particular target of RWC efforts to offer viable alternatives for resource-poor farmers in the eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains. Land-use studies by Parvesh Chandna, CIMMYT affiliate scientist and expert in geographic information systems and remote sensing, have also contributed. This outcome shows the effectiveness of concerted, science-based efforts to influence policy.