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ICRISAT Empowers Global Scientists with Conservation Agriculture Practices

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Scientists from Iran, Kenya, and India recently benefited from a 21-day “International Training Course on Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification of Drylands” organized by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

02 November 2023, Hyderabad: The course, which was held at the ICRISAT Headquarters in India, trained ten delegates in modern tools and techniques implemented in conservation agriculture to promote sustainable, resilient, and profitable dryland farming.

Global agricultural productivity growth has fallen 21% over the past six decades due to the escalating climate crisis, soil degradation, and decreasing agricultural biodiversity.

Conservation agriculture, an ecosystem-based land management approach, holds the potential for sustainable agri-food systems, especially in the drylands.

“Conservation agriculture has emerged as a powerful tool, addressing the core challenge of sustainable growth. However, enabling a conducive atmosphere and granting access to knowledge, services, mechanization, inputs, and market know-how is essential for farmers’ successful transition,” said Dr ML Jat, Global Research Program Director, Resilient Farm and Food Systems, ICRISAT.

The ICRISAT-FAO training course was specifically designed to bridge knowledge gaps and offer hands-on experience to strengthen dryland farming methods.

Participants had the opportunity to engage in in-depth discussions on water management, small-scale mechanization, soil health and nutrient management, pest and weed control, genotypes and seed systems, geospatial tools, and expansion strategies.

“I am thankful to our partner researchers for nurturing shared knowledge and using science to address the impacts of climate change on agriculture and food security,” said Dr Jat.

“The ICRISAT-Government of Uttar Pradesh project sites in Bundelkhand and Jhansi, where the haveli method for water conservation is being implemented, were impressive,” recounted Dr Debadatta Sethi, Junior Scientist from the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology in Bhubaneswar.

The dynamic nature of the workshop sought to equip participants with the skills and knowledge to champion the benefits of conservation agriculture through collaborative efforts and hands-on learning. ​

Dr Jafar Jafarzadeh, a wheat breeder at the Dryland Agricultural Research Institute (DARI) in Iran, shared his experience.

He said, “Participating in the course has broadened my perspective on conservation agriculture, including mechanization and landscape management. This knowledge could guide our future agricultural practices while conserving soil and water.” ​

Participants: Dryland Agricultural Research Institute (DARI), Iran; Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT), Bhubaneswar, India; ICAR-Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute (IGFRI), Jhansi, India; and Indian Institute of Millet Research (IIMR), Hyderabad, India.

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