During 19-23 October 2011, Birsa Agriculture University (BA7U), Jharkhand, India, hosted a short course on “Conservation Agriculture in Rainfed Small Holder Maize Farming Systems”, under the aegis of the IFAD “Sustainable Intensification of Smallholder Maize- Livestock Farming Systems in Hill Areas of South Asia” project. The course aimed to provide practical exposure on key elements of conservation agriculture (CA), including calibration and operation of planting machinery, and component technologies of CA-based crop management solutions. Over 25 participants attended, including researchers and extension agents from BAU, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), State Department of Agriculture, NGOs, private sector, and service providers from across Jharkhand.
The course was inaugurated by A. K. Sarkar, Acting Vice Chancellor, BAU, with assistance from D.K. Singh ‘Dron’, Assistant Director of Research, BAU, Ken Sayre, CA Consultant, CIMMYT, and coordination by ML Jat, Senior Cropping Systems Agronomist, GCAP, CIMMYT. The course covered the basics of CA, with particular relevance to smallholder rainfed farming systems, including the calibration and operation of CA machinery, component technologies of residue, nutrient, weed management, and diversification, and how these technologies can be adapted for the region through partnerships with stakeholders, including farmers. A range of CA machinery (manual and animal-drawn, two- and four-wheel tractors), introduced to the region by CIMMYT and particularly suited to rainfed smallholder farmers, was demonstrated. Participants also shared their experiences of IFAD CA projects undertaken so far and discussed strategies for balancing crop-livestock integration, in relation to CA, as livestock is an important factor in rainfed farming systems.
The concept of ‘Basic-Strategic Research-Delivery’ continuums within the hubs concepts of South Asia (CSISA) and Mexico (MasAgro) were explained to the participants. It was highlighted that in IFAD, a similar pattern is being followed for a value chain solution of technology packages to the farmers.