Major Impacts of CSISA Advancing Sustainable Innovations for a Food Secure Future in India

The Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) works to reduce hunger and increase food and income security of resource-poor farm families in South Asia through the development and inclusive adoption of new cereal varieties, sustainable agricultural technologies and policies.

Climate resilient practices gain farmers' confidence

Early wheat sowing is a non-cash input that even smallholder farmers can benefit from and is one of the most important adaptations to climate change in the eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains.

Helping farmers overcome labor shortages

Farmers in Odisha have begun adopting mechanical transplanting to address labor scarcity and the high cost of labor. To increase adoption and access to machines, CSISA links service providers with machinery dealers and helps them evaluate the profitability and business case for mechanical transplanting.

Improving food and nutritional security

Non-accessibility of a maize grain market leads to distress sales of green cobs by farmers in local markets. CSISA is working with partners to help farmers build forward market linkages with maize mills as an enabling factor for intensification and income generation.

Partnerships support expansion of conservation agriculture

“Conservation agriculture is all about savings,” said Sunderaj, a farmer in Thiruvaiyaru, a village in Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu.

To expand conservation farming methods among farmers, CSISA has developed strong strategic partnerships and built the capacity of key partners.

Big business in mechanizing small farms

By empowering service providers with technologies that have a strong business case at every step along the value chain, CSISA works to facilitate the uptake of sustainable technologies that would otherwise be beyond the reach of most smallholder farmers.

Smart tools for farmers help increase yield

CSISA has developed localized versions of both web- and mobile-based decision-making tools to provide location-specific fertilizer recommendations for farmers.

Cost-efficient planting increases farmers' profits

Research indicates that DSR is effective in reducing emission of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. For each ton of rice production with conservation agriculture practices, on average 400 kg carbon dioxide equivalent was reduced compared to conventional puddled transplanted rice.

Enhancing income among dairy farmers

The development of local service providers for straw chopping and concentrate feed production provided a new business opportunity and improved availability and access to better feed for dairy farmers.

Better access to agricultural information and training

In Odisha and Bihar, CSISA has leveraged the social capital of the many women’s self-help groups that have been formed by the government and other civil society partners. These groups have provided readymade entry points for training and social mobilization, while also providing other antecedents for innovation including access to credit.

Strategic research builds evidence base

CSISA has focused its strategic research on sustainable intensification to inform and improve labor-, energy- and water- saving conservation agriculture practices and crop diversification. These on-farm and on-station research results have significantly influenced CSISA’s outreach to farmers over the past three years.

Reducing losses, increasing productivity

Marginal farmers usually harvest and thresh manually to get full-length straw for fodder. Manual threshing involves significant drudgery, creates bottlenecks for planting the next crop and generates losses from delayed processing. CSISA worked to modify threshers to meet the farmers’ needs resulting in an increased customer base for service providers.

Influencing policies for improved agricultural growth

CSISA developed a critical mass of research needed to promote an actionable and evidence-based agenda for improving public policies to address South Asia’s cereal systems.

Developing better rice and wheat

CSISA-supported rice and wheat breeding work from 2012 to 2015 helped to produce new varieties and hybrids with high yield potential, region-specific grain quality traits, biotic and abiotic stress-tolerance and suitability for different cropping systems.

CSISA is led by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and is implemented jointly in India with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

It is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Written and edited by: Anuradha Dhar, Ashwamegh Banerjee and Cynthia Mathys. Photo credits: Ashwamegh Banerjee, Srikanth Kolari, Vinaynath Reddy, Satish Kumar, Suryakanta Khandai and Wasim Iftikar. Copyright © the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), 2015. All rights reserved. Any opinions, boundaries and names stated herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily representative of or endorsed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) or its partner organizations. Fair use of this material is encouraged. Proper citation is requested.

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