Wednesday, December 11, 2013

India: University of Illinois joins postharvest activities with CSISA in India

Alfred Schmidley, Aanand Kumar, and 
Steve Sonka at a farmers’ pilot site where villagers 
have been introduced to open-drum threshing.
The ADM Institute for Reduction of Postharvest Loss at the University of Illinois-Champaign has joined postharvest initiatives under the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) Project.

Steve Sonka, director of the institute, toured three districts under CSISA’s Bihar Hub and visited the Bihar Agricultural University, government offices, local NGOs, and other CSISA partners who are pilot-testing improved postharvest technologies among marginal smallholder farmers and women’s groups.
“Seeing the problems firsthand and hearing from the farmers provided us valuable insights about what can be done,” Dr. Sonka said, who spent five days last week to see for himself the areas that stand to benefit from better postharvest technologies.

The ADM Postharvest Institute has committed seed money for Bangladesh partners to fund start-up ventures using improved technologies in the CSISA hubs that its faculty members and students hope to study and assess under local conditions, with the goal of expanding adoption of the most promising options.

Women villagers demonstrate newly learned 
mechanical threshing skills and now earn
Rph 180 [2.95 USD]/hour 
by offering 
contract threshing services.
“It is now harvest time for the main kharif season,” said Aanand Kumar, CSISA business model and postharvest specialist. “Among other things, we are piloting open-drum and axial-flow threshers as business models with farmers who have never before seen such mechanical options.”

In Samastipur, local NGO partners held training activities for women self-help groups to establish new business models in which women not only thresh their own rice but can start charging more money per hour as a contract service.

“Our goal is to sustainably address postharvest bottlenecks to reduce losses and drudgery while providing new income earning opportunities,” said Alfred Schmidley, value chain specialist at IRRI. “No single actor can do this alone.  It is only through working together that farmers can learn about these options and help us understand what is needed for wider adoption.”

 Members of a women’s self-help group discuss
their next steps in scaling out mechanical threshing services.

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