Thursday, February 20, 2020

Equipping women farmers to drive climate-resilient sustainable farming in Odisha

Women farmers trying their hand at the production of trichocards
Increasing pest and disease incidence due to changing climatic conditions is compelling farmers to use heavy doses of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to maintain their production. The intensive agricultural practices and excessive reliance on agrochemicals adversely affect the delicate and dynamic balance of the agroecosystems, impacting agricultural sustainability, environment, and human health. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is promoting biopesticides and biofertilizers in Odisha together with Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment (DAFE) to address this challenge.

Women farmers play a central role in ensuring food security and preserving local agrobiodiversity. IRRI together with DAFE has been engaged in equipping women farmers in Odisha with cutting-edge and relevant knowledge and technologies so they can transform their farming into a resilient and remunerative enterprise. It is also promoting rural women’s entrepreneurship so that they are not only diversifying their own income sources and stabilizing their livelihoods but are able to provide inputs and services that could help other farmers and households transform their agricultural enterprises. Production of bioagents at the village level by women farmers could be one initiative in this endeavor.

On 27-29 January 2020, IRRI and the National Institute of Plant Health Management Hyderabad, with support from DAFE, organized the training programme, On Farm Production of Bioagents for Promotion of Sustainable Agriculture, under the project Increasing Productivity of Rice-based Cropping Systems and Farmer’s Income.

The training was attended by 30 women farmers from Adarsh Dharmagarh Women Farmers Service Producer Company Limited in Kalahandi District and the Society for Women in Agriculture and Rural Development (SWAD) and the NGO I Concept Initiative in Puri District.

They were provided hands-on training in the production of:
  • Biopesticides (solid and liquid formulations of Trichoderma and Pseudomonas);
  • Biofertilizers (Rhizobium, Azotobacter, Azospirillum, phosphate solubilizing bacteria, Azolla, Mycorrhizae);
  • Trichocards (which contains eggs of the parasitoid Trichogramma ); and
  • Reduviid (predatory bugs)
Visit of farmers to commercial bio fertilizer production unit

As a part of the training, the women visited a commercial bioagent production unit in Hyderabad to study large-scale production bioagents, mode of operation, and marketing and business strategies. The interaction with the production staff helped build the confidence of the women farmers and motivated them to commercially produce their own bioagents.

“We thought that the production of biopesticides and biofertilizers requires a lot of skills and huge investment,” said Ms Prabati Mishra, a participant from Puri. “Actually, the technology for the production of microbial pesticides and biofertilizers is very simple and can be produced with minimal inputs.”

The women farmers were enthusiastic about producing these bioagents locally in the coming season.

“The training was very useful for women farmers and there is immense scope to produce microbial pesticides and biofertilizers locally,” Ms. Bina Pani Mishra, secretary of SWAD, said. “The initiative can be developed into ecoenterprises led by enterprising women farmers in Odisha.”

Visit of farmers to commercial bio fertilizer production unit


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