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Harnessing Dividends from Drylands: Innovative Scaling up with Soil Nutrients

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The livelihoods of millions of people in developing countries, which depend on dryland agriculture to ensure their food security and their well-being, could be improved measurably by gains in agricultural crop yields. This book describes lessons learnt from an innovative scheme in India that improved crop yields in drylands. It shows how the scheme can be scaled up for other dryland regions of the world. The scheme uses localized soil nutrient analyses to create an integrated, climate smart fertilizer and planting plan that maximises yields for farmers. This book describes how a partnership between a global scientific organization (such as International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, ICRISAT) and state and non-state actors can provide a route to equitable growth, specifically for small and marginal farmers, and how this approach can be replicated worldwide to enhance rural livelihoods. This strategic collaboration and its conceptual and functional design is fully outlined, as well as the scheme's implementation and the effective monitoring and learning process that has been created.

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12 Chapters

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1: Drylands for Food Security: A Macro Perspective

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Drylands for Food Security:

A Macro Perspective

1

K.V. Raju* and Suhas P. Wani

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid

Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, India

1.1  Introduction

Across the planet earth, livelihoods are dependent on farming in drylands and such farmers have to face the challenges this presents1 particularly in the tropics, which are densely populated. Harsh climatic conditions laced with low crop productivity increase vulnerability. Over the decades, the world has realized that using drylands for food production is a challenging task. This is in spite of enormous research nurtured on drylands by leading organizations and implemented by public and private agencies across several countries. Some 6.5 million km2 in over 55 countries are classified as dryland tropics (Fig. 1.1). More than 2 billion people currently live in the drylands, with 600 million considered to be poor.2 In practice, reducing land degradation and improving dryland resilience is based on the premise that land is the resource base that sustains the livelihoods of most poor dryland inhabitants; any variation in weather, climate and economic circumstances strongly affects their well-being.

 

2: Evolution of Bhoochetana

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Evolution of Bhoochetana

2

Suhas P. Wani*

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid

Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, India

2.1  Introduction

Long-term experiments at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) campus since 1976 as well as a number of studies in different countries (Rockström et al., 2007; Wani et al., 2008) clearly showed that current farmers’ field yields were lower than their potential yields by two- to fivefold. These studies also demonstrated that there exists a large potential to increase farmers’ crop yields by adopting available technologies. However, large yield gaps are largely due to lack of knowledge about the improved management practices for increasing productivity for the farmers and not due to lack of technologies (Wani et al., 2008). If we can bridge the knowledge gap and make the necessary inputs needed for implementing improved management practices (seeds, fertilizers, credit, etc.) on farmers’ fields, productivity can be substantially increased by bridging the yield gaps. With this knowledge and pilot studies in Adarsha Watershed, Kothapally, India, as well as other watersheds in different parts of the country, it was demonstrated that yields from farmers’ fields can be substantially increased by up to 240%, providing farmers have the right information and inputs at the right time at the right price. By adopting a holistic approach, yield gaps even on small farmers’ fields were successfully bridged and farmers benefited with increased productivity and profitability with the help

 

3: Soil Nutrient Mapping for On-farm Fertility Management

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Soil Nutrient Mapping for On-farm

Fertility Management

3

K.L. Sahrawat,† Suhas P. Wani, Girish Chander,*

G. Pardhasaradhi and K. Krishnappa

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid

Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, India

3.1  Introduction

Feeding the projected population of 9.1 billion globally and 1.6 billion in India by 2050 is one of the greatest challenges of the century, and in this endeavour to ensure future food security, efficient soil nutrient management is crucial (Wani et al., 2003; Sahrawat et al.,

2010; Chander et al., 2013). Since the era of the Green Revolution in

India in the late 1960s, the focus has been on only three macronutrients, namely nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), and this has brought nutrient imbalances and widespread deficiencies of micro and secondary nutrients such as sulfur (S), boron (B) and zinc

(Zn) in addition to macronutrients (Wani et al., 2009; Sahrawat and

 

4: Human Capacity Development to Adopt Best Practices

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Human Capacity Development to Adopt Best Practices

4

K.H. Anantha,* Suhas P. Wani, Girish Chander and Gajanan Sawargaonkar

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

(ICRISAT), Patancheru, India

4.1  Introduction

The concept of capacity development, which emerged during the 1980s, gained prominence in the 1990s and currently has wide usage in community development (Eade, 1997; UNDP, 1998; Bolger, 2000). The term capacity development is usually discussed as an approach to development and cooperation. Capacity development encompasses human resource development as an essential part of development (FAO, 1998).

It is a process by which individuals, groups, organizations and societies enhance their abilities to identify and meet development challenges in a sustainable manner (UNDP, 1998). It is human resource development, which is a process of equipping individuals with the understanding of access to information, knowledge, training and skills that enables them to perform effectively. There is a direct relationship between capacity building and agricultural education.

 

5: Digital Technologies for Agricultural Extension

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Digital Technologies for

Agricultural Extension

5

Mukund D. Patil,* K.H. Anantha and

Suhas P. Wani

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

(ICRISAT), Patancheru, India

5.1  Introduction

Ensuring global food security for the 9 billion people by 2050 and improving livelihoods sustainably with scarce and finite land and water is a challenging task (UNDP, 2009). The quantity of neither available water nor land has increased but water and land availability per capita has declined significantly due to the increase in human population. Eighty per cent of the world’s cultivable area which contributes to feeding 60% of the total world population is rainfed. In developing countries in general, and India in particular, the growing population and shrinking landholding has increased pressure on natural resources to produce more. Although agriculture contributes a major share to the gross domestic product (GDP), the growth rate of the agricultural sector has reduced over recent years for various reasons. As per the latest estimates released by the Central Statistical Office of India the share of agriculture and allied sectors in GDP of India was 51.9% in 1950/51 and has declined to 13.7% in 2012/13 (GoI, 2013). At the same time, productivity has been stagnant or less than the potential (Singh et al.,

 

6: Institutional Arrangements and Innovations

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Institutional Arrangements and

Innovations

6

K. Krishnappa,* K.H. Anantha, Suhas P. Wani and K.V. Raju

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid

Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, India

6.1  Introduction

Modernization of agriculture is a key element in the overall development of developing countries like India. The agriculture sector employs on an average about 55% of the population in India and has significant forward and backward linkages to the rest of the economy. Raising agricultural productivity is the key factor in making agriculture more competitive in rapidly liberalizing world markets as well as increasing the incomes of rural populations. Agriculture is receiving increasing attention as an instrument for growth and in which institutional innovations are seen as key to achieve not only agricultural growth, but also to include poor smallholders in this growth (World Bank, 2008). These institutional innovations are expected to be able to overcome various market failures, including missing or incomplete input and output markets. The World Development Report – 2008 sees a particularly important role for the communities, collective action and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in overcoming some of the market and state failures (World Bank, 2008). Reducing hunger through increasing agricultural production to keep up with population growth while increasing access to food for marginalized populations requires a better understanding of the dynamic and complex relationships between the socio-political, economic, scientific and environmental factors that

 

7: Climate Variability and Agriculture

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Climate Variability and

Agriculture

7

A.V.R. Kesava Rao,* Suhas P. Wani and K. Srinivas

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

(ICRISAT), Patancheru, India

7.1  Introduction

Evidence over the past few decades has shown that significant changes in climate are taking place all over the world as a result of enhanced human activities in deforestation, emission of various greenhouse gases and indiscriminate use of fossil fuels. The results of climate change research indicate that climate variability and change may lead to more frequent weather-related disasters in the form of floods, droughts, landslides and sea level rise. Many countries, including India, are making efforts to undertake adaptation measures as well as to mitigate the challenges posed by global warming and climate change. There is an urgent need to develop a climate change network for Indian agriculture that will go a long way to build the resilience of the community to cope with the impacts of climate change, particularly in rainfed areas

 

8: Crop Yield Estimation Strategy

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Crop Yield Estimation Strategy

8

V. Nageswara Rao* and G. Pardhasaradhi

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid

Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, India

8.1  Introduction

The Indian economy mainly depends on agriculture, which is the major source of rural employment, supporting the livelihoods of 52% of the population and contributing 14% of gross domestic product. Indian agriculture is predominantly rainfed and constitutes 56% of the total cultivated area, exposed to vagaries of weather, including abiotic factors such as droughts, floods and hailstorms, and also biotic factors like pests and diseases, which play their role during the crop growth stages. Accurate estimation of crop yields has never been an easy task in India and other developing countries, and is more challenging in the context of smallholders producing a wide range of diverse crops in rainfed farming systems. Challenges that may occur include among others: (i) absence of cadastral information on land use; (ii) non-uniform plots which cover a wide range of sizes; (iii) occurrence of bimodal rainfall; (iv) rainfed fallowing; (v) intercropping, relay and sequential cropping; and (vi) significant postharvest losses.

 

9: An Integrated Approach for Productivity Enhancement

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An Integrated Approach for

Productivity Enhancement

9

Gajanan Sawargaonkar,* Sudi

Raghavendra Rao and Suhas P. Wani

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid

Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, India

9.1  Introduction

During the past six decades, state agricultural universities (SAUs) in India, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutes and international centres have invested efforts to develop improved agricultural technologies for poor tropical and subtropical countries targeting the innovations that could yield quick benefits. However, agricultural research emphasizes mainly component- and commodity-based research involving improvement of the genetic base of potential crops in order to enhance productivity and improve resistance to pests and diseases, development of animal breeding, farm implements and machinery, fertilizer use, and other production and protection technologies. These technologies are mostly conducted in isolation and at the institute level, which enables the farmers to increase productivity, but this has led to overexploitation of natural resources, resulting in decreased factor productivity and resource use efficiency, and ultimately decreased farm productivity and profitability

 

10: Water Productivity and Income

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Water Productivity and Income

10

Kaushal K. Garg,* Suhas P. Wani,

Girish Chander, K.H. Anantha and

G. Pardhasaradhi

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid

Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, India

10.1  Introduction

Food security and reducing poverty for the ever-growing population in India is a challenging task. India’s agricultural land is 142 million ha with 135% cropping intensity (NAAS, 2009) and 60% is rainfed, which is characterized by water scarcity, land degradation, low use of inputs and low productivity. Agricultural productivity of these areas oscillates between 0.5 t/ha and 2 t/ha with an average of 1 t/ha (Rockström et al., 2010; Wani et al., 2011a, b). Of the total agricultural area, the

40% that is irrigated land contributes 55% of total food production in the country (GoI, 2012) but on the other hand it consumes almost

70% of freshwater resources and has left limited scope for further expansion of the irrigated area (Central Water Commission, 2005; CGWB,

 

11: Social and Economic Benefits

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Social and Economic Benefits

11

K.H. Anantha,* K.V. Raju, Suhas P. Wani,

G. Pardhasaradhi, K. Srinivas, Kaushal K. Garg and K. Krishnappa

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid

Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, India

11.1  Introduction

In order to meet the food demand of the growing population, agriculture has to produce more from the available land area and water through more efficient use of natural resources with minimal impact on the environment (Hobbs et al., 2008). Recent data show a general increase in global food production (FAO, 2010) and this can be attributed to both the expansion of cultivated area and technological progress, leading to increased crop yields (Lal, 2009). This yield gain has been achieved largely due to heavy reliance on fertilizers and pesticides, thereby putting pressure on the environment. It is estimated that by 2025,

India’s population is expected to reach 1.45 billion (United Nations, 2006) and the cereal grains requirement will be between 257 million t and 296 million t, depending on income growth (Kumar, 1998; Bhalla et al., 1999).

 

12: Lessons Learnt and a Way Forward

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Lessons Learnt and a Way

Forward

12

Suhas P. Wani* and K.V. Raju

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid

Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, India

12.1  Introduction

The Bhoochetana project is one of a kind – a scaling-up initiative implemented during 2009–2012 by the Department of Agriculture

­

(DoA), Government of Karnataka, India, with technical support from the consortium led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). This unique project has had a good impact as discussed in the earlier chapters (Chapters 1–11) of this book and provides an excellent opportunity for synthesizing the lessons learnt from this novel initiative by a government agency in India and

ICRISAT, an international research organization. The Bhoochetana project has achieved the impact on a large scale, spread over 5.1 million ha in 2013/14 and improved the livelihoods of 4.75 million farmers directly and another 16–18 million people indirectly in 30 districts of the state of Karnataka over 4 years.

 

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