The Chief Minister of Bihar, India, Shri Jitan Ram Manjhi, affirmed his support for the Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA) and its efforts to ensure food security, in a meeting with Thomas A. Lumpkin, director general of CIMMYT, and with government, BISA and CIMMYT representatives on 3 February. As part of this, Manjhi agreed to support development of model villages in every district of Bihar, one of the fastest-growing and developing states in India.
“Ever-increasing energy prices, declining natural resources and variable climates have left farmers with diminishing returns,” Lumpkin said. “Bihar farmers need technologies that increase their profits under changing climates and economies.”
Launched in 2011 as a collaborative effort between CIMMYT and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), BISA is a non- profit international research institute dedicated to food, nutrition, livelihood security and environmental rehabilitation in South Asia, a region that is home to more than 300 million undernourished people.
During the meeting, Lumpkin emphasized the need for the quick transfer to Bihar farmers of technologies such as direct-seeded rice and zero-tilled wheat, to reduce production costs and labor and energy use.
Direct seeding of rice eliminates the need for transplanting seedlings from bund nurseries, and sowing wheat with zero tillage allows earlier planting so the crop can mature and fill grain before pre- monsoon high temperatures.
Lumpkin highlighted BISA’s critical capacity-building role, to support farmers and extension workers who test and promote innovative agriculture technologies.
Government representatives from Bihar included Shri Amrit Lal Meena, principal secretary to the chief minister; Shri Tripurari Sharan, principal secretary of agriculture; Shri Dharmendra Singh, director of agriculture; and Shri Gopal Singh, officer on special duty to the chief minister. CIMMYT and BISA attendees included John Snape, CIMMYT board chair; Hari Shanker Gupta, BISA Director General; Nicolle Birrell, CIMMYT board member; Etienne Duveiller, CIMMYT director of research- South Asia; M.L. Jat and Raj Kumar Jat, CIMMYT cropping systems agronomists; and Kumar Ashwani Yadav, senior advisor for India country relations.