Indian National Workshop on outscaling farm innovations

Prolinnova-India attended a 3-day National Workshop on Outscaling Farm Innovation organised by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), and the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS) at the National Agriculture Science Centre Complex in New Delhi on 3-5 Sept 2013. The workshop was co-sponsored by the National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA), the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Right Authority (PPV&FRA), Haryana Kisan Ayog, Bharat Krishak Samaj and the GFAR (Global Forum on Agricultural Research).

The objective of the workshop was to identify farm innovations which have good potential of creating socio-economic impact in different agro-ecological regions. To exploit the full potential of such innovations, appropriate policy and technical support is required. The workshop enabled innovators from diverse stakeholder groups (farmers, scientists, NGOs and industry personnel from different regions) to assemble for a meaningful interface and to identify relevant innovations that need to be outscaled. Nearly 250 participants from India took part in the workshop.

Sudhir Saxena, coordinator, of the LINEX-CCA India project, attended the workshop on behalf of Prolinnova-India as well as the Prolinnova-International network. In a 15-minute timeslot in the session on Sharing Knowledge, he presented the Prolinnova network and Prolinnova-India in Hindi and English. The presentation explained the objectives of the Prolinnova network, its mode of working, its stakeholders and activities and Prolinnova-India. It then focused on the LINEX-CCA project: the objectives, the project area in India, local peoples’ perceptions on the effects of climate change, their innovative responses, the joint work by farmers and other stakeholders and the expected outcome of the project. The workshop participants discussed this presentation with great interest.

The workshop focused mainly on commercial agriculture. Large-scale farmers with market-oriented agricultural practices and considerable incomes were in a better position to take advantage of the workshop. Representation of smallholder farmers, especially smallholder mountain farmers, was negligible.

Various issues were discussed in different sessions:

1.     Sharing of knowledge on innovation and technologies for outscaling

2.     Experiences of farmers, Krishi Vigyan Kendras and state government in knowledge sharing and commercialisation of innovation

3.     Outscaling of innovation & technology and convergence models

4.     Conservation agriculture and system-based diversification

5.     Protected cultivation / micro-irrigation

6.     Energy: solar, biogas, wind, agroforestry

7.     Post-harvest technology

8.     Agricultural biodiversity

9.     Livestock: cattle, poultry, goatery, fishery

10.   Policy and institutional intervention.

A few innovations by small farmers presented in the workshop may be fruitful also in hill areas and could be adopted after validation and possibly adaptation.

One farmer from Sikar, Rajasthan, had developed new varieties from traditional ones, e.g. of onion, gram, chilli, wheat, bajra, coriander, guar and mustard. He selected disease- and drought-resistant and vigorous plants from the existing crop which were not affected by these problems. He preserved seed of those plants and multiplied them in the next season. In this way, he developed new resistant varieties of these crops.

Another farmer developed a new technique of sowing sugarcane. The present practice is to sow sugarcane pieces with 3-4 nodes. He thought that this is big waste of sugarcane, labour intensive and difficult to transport. He therefore developed a small manual machine that removes small pieces from each node of sugarcane, each piece consisting of a bud that can be sown and has the potential to germinate and give better yield than with the existing practice. The remaining sugarcane can be used to make juice and jaggery. This innovation can prevent wastage of millions of tons of sugarcane, reduce labour costs and make it easier to transport vegetative material for propagation.