More than 100 farmers in India benefited from a traveling seminar on conservation agriculture (CA) organized by CIMMYT and held in the Samastipur and Begusarai districts during 28-29 March 2009.
After opening remarks by Dr. Solanki, head of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s regional Pusa research station, farmers visited CIMMYT run experimental CA plots at Rajendra Agriculture University (RAU) and the Regional Maize Research & Seed Production Center. They observed CA wheat seed production at the Adaptive Research Station, Begusarai, and saw several farmer participatory trials planted with zero-till (ZT) wheat, ZT maize, or bed planted with sugarcane and wheat intercropping. Also at the Adaptive Research Station, assistant agronomist Ashok Mahraj discussed on-station productivity improvements due to the adoption of CA practices in 2006, and the need to make local farming economically viable despite higher input prices and farm wages.
Other presenters included Dr. M. Kumar, RAU agronomist, who discussed the present status of zero-tilled wheat in Bihar state; Dr. R. Liak and Dr. P.K. Jha who spoke about the results of long-term CA experiments in ricewheat systems in connection with soil changes; Dr. S. Chowdhury, wheat breeder and CIMMYT consultant, who described new wheat varieties; and Ravi Gopal, CA agronomist, who explained overall practices in a rice-wheat CA system.
For their part, farmers from Katihar, Purnea, Khagaria, Begusarai, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Muzafarpur, and East Champaran learned how to improve yields and cut production costs for major crops, through participatory collaboration with scientists and extension workers on targeted CA modules.