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Laying the foundation for CSISA knowledge hubs

A new project designed to decrease hunger and increase food and income security for resource-poor farm families in South Asia will officially launch next month. This project, the Cereal System Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), is led by the International Rice Research Institute and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the USAID. It will use timely development and wide-spread dissemination of new varieties, sustainable management technologies, and policies to accelerate regional cereal production.

On 31 March to 2 April, over 50 CSISA stakeholder representatives met in India at the Extension Education Institute in Nilokheri, Karnal to create a local forum for the Karnal “hub.” A hub is location that serves as a connection point for project partners and where information for rapid adoption and intensification of improved cereal seed and crop management practices can be delivered to farmers. The CSISA project is initially focusing on eight hubs in various areas of Bangladesh, India, and Nepal.

At the meeting, participants discussed the management principles for Karnal knowledge hub and built consensus on technologies and knowledge-sharing processes for cereal farmers. Lively group discussions resulted in three new cropping system recommendations for farmers; other talking points were the use of laser leveling, residue management, and systems diversification.

One emphasis was to quickly identify what information would be distributed to farmers and project partners for the upcoming cropping season. As part of this effort, participants assembled basic technical information to be transformed into farmer-friendly extension materials. The workshop also included preliminary discussions on different stakeholders’ roles and their potential demands for knowledge bank materials, as well as discussion about the role of the India Rice Knowledge Management Portal and its potential interaction with the CSISA knowledge hubs. It was agreed that the differences in the demands for technology and knowledge between small-scale farmers and “champion farmers,”—medium to large-scale farmers who traditionally have received attention from international centers—should be recognized and addressed.