Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
Agricultural extension officers, farmers, policymakers and service providers will be trained in conservation agriculture practices at the new facility. Australian Consul-General in Kolkata Rowan Ainsworth said, “Through the Sustainable Development Investment portfolio, supported by ACIAR and the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the country has contributed US$36423 to the centre.” She added, “Australia and India share an interest in conservation agriculture. The centre will contribute to sustainable agriculture practices for resilient and inclusive farming systems in eastern India.”
The centre is aimed at helping extension officers share the most up to date information so that more smallholder farmers can learn about current labour-saving and production-boosting practices that support sustainable agricultural intensification. Vice-chancellor Dr Swarup Kumar Chakraborti said that the North Bengal Agriculture University was proud to be home to the ‘Centre of Excellence, which would provide support for conservation agriculture practices in the wider northeast of India.
ACIAR research programme manager for crops Dr Eric Huttner said that the research projects in the Eastern Gangetic Plains had demonstrated the benefits of conservation agriculture practices in the region. These practices include establishing crops with minimum or zero tillage, retaining the previous crop residue (straw) on the ground as mulch, and rotating crops on the cultivated plot.
The Centre of Excellence will be the training centre for conservation agriculture for sustainable intensification catering to India and neighbouring countries. The curriculum and training materials, which will be delivered by the North Bengal Agriculture University and supported through the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), are based on the research findings from the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio.