CSA team visits north east India


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A team from climate-smart agriculture project visited Assam and Meghalaya in India from 13-19 June, 2015. The purpose of the study visit was to learn and share experiences on climate –smart approach and to develop linkage of communication with NERCORMP. The visit was initiated and sponsored by the Climate-smart Agriculture project, SNV Bhutan.

The 9 member delegation comprised of selected district agriculture officers, extension officers, research officer and agriculture supervisor from CSA pilot sites, and the agriculture sector leader and project manager from SNV Bhutan. The study visits included meetings, presentations and visits to NERCORMP, IFAD project office, ICAR and selected fields and farmers groups in and around Meghalaya Khasi hills. The study visits was greatly appreciated by the members as an exposures and learning opportunity on North East Indian culture, agriculture environment and rural-urban settings.

A typical farm in west khasi hills

The establishment of grass root community self-help groups (SHGs) and the natural resource management group (NaRM) under North East Region Community Resource Management Program and their progress was presented to the team. CSA experiences from Bhutan was also presented and discussed. The farmers in khasi hills still practice shifting cultivation in some of the highlands with no other options. Alder trees are being used between terraces and bunds for nitrogen fixation in the farm land which fixes about 16 MT nitrogen per hectare. System of rice intensification (SRI) process that combined fishery could be practiced perfectly in southern parts of Bhutan. In parts of north east India, wild life encroachment was tackled by burning old cotton rags, millet husks and decayed tree stumps to produce repellent smoke.

In north east India, people use banana fibers to produce local artifacts such as hats, caps, mats, ropes etc. to generate income and the products are environment friendly and cheap. The use of pine leaves beddings control bacterial diseases in livestock while dried pine leaves mulching was advised to minimize chemical release from fresh pine needles. Further in alternating with high yielding crop varieties, it is necessary to keep track of local crop varieties so that the traditional varieties are not lost forever.

Bhutan team interacts with a NaRM group, west Khasi hills

The field visit in west khasi hills provided opportunity to see local farming system of local famers. The meetings with SHGs/NaRM-G of Mynsain Cluster and later with the Pyrda village groups provided insights to strengthen Bhutanese CsFA in CSA pilot sites.  The groups demonstrated an efficient and effective record & book keeping system. These groups were granted seed money calculated at Rs. 18,000 per member, which forms the ‘corpus fund’, that is used for group loan schemes. Visitors who interact with these groups also need to contribute at least Rs. 100o in the corpus fund. The project also undertakes the annual work plan and budgeting (AWPB) exercise involving closely the villages and these groups, which makes the process smooth and project implementation successful.

Bhutan team interacts with a NaRM group, west Khasi hills

The field visit in west khasi hills provided opportunity to see local farming system of local famers. The meetings with SHGs/NaRM-G of Mynsain Cluster and later with the Pyrda village groups provided insights to strengthen Bhutanese CsFA in CSA pilot sites.  The groups demonstrated an efficient and effective record & book keeping system. These groups were granted seed money calculated at Rs. 18,000 per member, which forms the ‘corpus fund’, that is used for group loan schemes. Visitors who interact with these groups also need to contribute at least Rs. 1000 in the corpus fund. The project also undertakes the annual work plan and budgeting (AWPB) exercise involving closely the villages and these groups, which makes the process smooth and project implementation successful.

Each team member from Bhutan had the opportunity to see agriculture farming in line with CSA which provided further ideas. The group also visited the north east ICAR agriculture farm machinery centre and post-harvest processing centre, besides visiting museums and local natural & cultural sites. In Guwahati, initial contacts were made to explore availability of cheap farm machinery such as lentil polisher and coffee grinder to introduce in CSA pilot sites, to facilitate upscaling of lentil and coffee as climate resilient crops as an alternative livelihood option.

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