21st November 2022, ISARC, Varanasi: As a part of the ongoing collaboration between IRRI and Bihar Agriculture University (BAU) under the Climate Resilient Agriculture Initiative of the Government of Bihar, a three day face to face training program centered around rice post-production practices was conducted at IRRI South Asia Regional Center (ISARC), Varanasi from 19 – 21 October 2022.
The overarching idea behind such training is to enhance the aptitude of visiting farmers so that they can adopt sustainable practices and work along the lines of train-the-trainer concept, disseminating acquired knowledge, and upskilling their fellow farmers back home, thus expanding the scope of the program beyond the classroom.
A total of 40 farmers participated in the Capacity Development Training Program where topics on post-production such as Crop Calendar and Farm Planning, Conservation Agriculture, and Selection of rice varieties were discussed. Further discussion on topics that focused on the needs of Bihar was also explored, such as Direct Seeded Rice as an Alternative Crop Establishment Method, Water Management in Rice Cultivation, and Drone Technologies: Opportunities for Farmers.
To ensure full understanding of the subjects, the farmers spent time in the field to observe the operations of latest farming technologies such as crop establishment and post-harvest technologies like the solar bubble dryer, IRRI Superbag, and drone spraying.
Special focus was laid down on rice value addition when farmers visited the Centre for Excellence in Rice Value Addition (CERVA) Laboratory where they observed how value-added products are developed so that farmers can have better income and greater market connectivity.
The three day program allowed the farmers to understand the technical aspects of post-production practices by gleaning from the insights of the scientists through active discussions where farmers raised their on-field concerns that were then addressed by the session experts.
The visit proved fruitful in inciting the community’s interest into rice-value addition, specially in the Kalanamak and Jeera-32 varieties. The active engagement from the farmers also helped the scientists draw inference about the on-ground situation concluding that there is indeed a need for customized solutions.
The three day training came to end with Dr. Arun Kumar, Vice-Chancellor, Bihar Agricultural University, Dr. Sudhanshu Singh, Director, ISARC, Mr. Gopesh Tewari, Head-IRRI Education, and Mr. Gaurav Jaiswal EdTech Specialist-IRRI Education gracing the closing ceremony.
Dr. Arun Kumar addressed the farmers, sharing that they heard out their concerns and assuring them that their inputs will be thought through and discussed with higher authorities to usher in systematic change. Farmers also gave their feedback on the training program. The closing ceremony served as a platform for bringing together important stakeholders and getting them engaged in a constructive discussion to tackle the pertinent issues that have been hampering operations in the sector.
The program was designed and implemented by IRRI Education, the capacity development, knowledge dissemination unit of ISARC, which has been playing a pivotal role in bolstering rice-based agri-food systems by developing the capacities of the ecosystem stakeholders through education, capacity development, and knowledge dissemination activities. The unit regularly collaborates with institutes seeking interventions in the areas of capacity development on climate resilient practices, climate change mitigation, climate adaption, and sustainable agri-practices.
With its strategic position in Varanasi, which is in close vicinity of institutes like Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (IIVR) and having the world class IRRI Scientists onboard, these customized programs from IRRI have the best brains coming forward to impart knowledge in a participatory manner. Collaboration with Bihar Agricultural University is one such program under its umbrella of capacity development programs.