23rd March, 2011
Mr. Bill Gates and Mrs. Melinda Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visited to review the research activities of CSISA Projects and Stress Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) project being implemented in association of ICAR in Patna, Bihar. They interacted with farmers, ICAR scientists, CSISA team, CG partners and state Govt. officials on issues relating to increasing agriculture productivity, mechanization, new innovations, climate resilient agriculture practices, and the benefits.
The interaction was focused on the new rice varieties introduced in flood affected districts of Bihar, namely Sitamarhi, Darbhanga and Madhubani. The farmers informed the dignitaries that Swarna Sub-1, a submergence tolerant variety, has great potential to withstand submergence up to 12-15 days. Target has been set that by 2011, this variety will reach to 1 million farmers. They also shared their views on market-linkages, storage facilities, employment opportunities and role of women in rice farming etc.
During the visit to platform research plot of CSISA project, Mr. and Mrs. Gates were impressed with the work being conducted by ICAR and IRRI on Resource Conservation Technologies (RCTs) in rice-wheat, rice-maize-potato, rice-wheat-mung bean and rice-wheat-cowpea cropping systems, site specific integrated nutrient management, carbon sequestration, residue management etc. Ranjan Laik, CSISA Research Platform Co-ordinator; S.S. Singh, Md. Idris and A.R.Khan from ICAR-RCER, Patna explained the research activities to the dignitaries.
The farmers who had come from different districts of Bihar and West Bengal, where ICAR interventions under CSISA project are being done, shared their experiences and explained the benefits they derived from conservation agriculture. Challenges in accessing farm equipment were also discussed.
Discussion during the interaction with public and private partners including Haryali Kisan Bazzar, Rajendra Agricultural University, KVKs, Bayer Crop Science, Grameen Development Services, etc. was focused on dissemination of new technologies through extensive interaction with farmers, researchers, and various other agriculture organizations. Key issues such as rate of adoption of new technologies, income management, labor availability, and some policy issues were also discussed. The long-term business-model involving public and private partners and different aspects of scaling out these technologies were also explained to the visitors.