Friday, 22 March 2013

South Asia SAFBIN Review Concludes at Sagar

The annual review and planning of Strengthening Adaptive Farming in Bangladesh India and Nepal (SAFBIN) programme concluded with a call for intensifying advocacy efforts for safeguarding the interests of smallholder farmers. Representatives from Caritas Austria, Caritas Nepal, Caritas Bangladesh, Caritas India and associate project partners attended the five-day event that was organised in New Delhi and Sagar from 11 to 16 March 2013.

Bishop Lumen Monteiro and Fr. Paul with SAFBIN team
Dr. Manfred Aichinger, Programme Manager of Caritas Austria, in his address appreciated Caritas India for its strong resolve for promoting people-led model of agriculture development. “The high degree of people’s participation in the agriculture trials and indigenisation of agriculture inputs and practices that have been achieved by Caritas India are indeed laudable”, Dr. Aichinger said. While stressing the need of systematic analysis of successful agriculture models Dr. Aichinger exhorted the delegates to also focus on stepping up advocacy activities for protecting the food and nutrition security of smallholder farmers.

The five-day event included a multi-stakeholder review and analysis of results, field visit and planning for the next two years. After the one-day programme review that was held in New Delhi on 12 March, the participants visited 3 villages in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, to take stock of the progress of the Agriculture Research and Development (ARD) project.

Street play on organic farming by farmers' group members
Bishop Lumen Monteiro, chairman of Caritas India and Fr. Paul Moonjely had attended the opening session of the review meeting held in New Delhi on 12 March. Bishop Lumen Monteiro congratulated the SAFBIN team for achieving creditworthy achievements on the field and said that the good work of enhancing the food and nutrition security of smallholder farmers needs to be intensified further.

SAFBIN is an innovative On-Farm Agriculture Research (OFAR) that is breaking fresh grounds by assisting smallholder farmers to conduct scientifically-designed field trials of blended agriculture models. The agriculture models, which have infusion of the positives of traditional agriculture and modern agriculture practices, have been developed and implemented by farmers. SAFBIN programme, being implemented in 3 each districts in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, is supported by European Union (EU) and Caritas Austria.

Delegates interacting with leaders of farmers' groups
As part of the programme review in Sagar, the representatives visited three villages where wheat trials are underway. During the field visit, the delegates met with members of Small Holder Farmers’ Collective (SHFC) and community leaders and apprised themselves about the achievements of field trials. Community members informed the delegation about the merits of the implemented trials and expressed their keenness to scale-up the agriculture models which had achieved noteworthy success. After the visit of trials, the delegation was given a rousing reception by the district SHFC forum in a public meeting held in Bagrohi village. SHFC members staged a street play and folk songs in the cultural programme which was attended by over 150 village leaders and SHFC office-bearers.

SAFBIN team with Mr. Yogendra Sharma IAS, collector of Sagar
Earlier, Mr. Yogendra Sharma IAS, district collector of Sagar, along with senior officials of agriculture department had inaugurated the review and planning which was held in Sagar on 13 March. During the inauguration Mr. Yogendra Sharma had sought the support of Caritas India for developing an adaptive agriculture strategy for effectively addressing the climate change threats to agriculture. The collector had appreciated Caritas India for its innovative efforts to protect the food and nutrition security of smallholder farmers.

While concluding the review meeting, Mr. Sunil Simon, South Asia programme manager of SAFBIN, reiterated Caritas India’s commitment to securing food and nutrition security of smallholder farmers. He said that SAFBIN programme has succeeded in bringing farmers and agriculture scientists on a single platform for developing a synthesis of modern and traditional agriculture suiting to the local agro-climatic conditions.

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