Centre of Excellence for Conservation Agriculture to scale up CASI in West Bengal

The Government of West Bengal are increasingly embracing Conservation Agriculture as promoted through the DFAT and ACIAR-funded SRFSI project. From providing support to small and marginal farmers to purchase small farm implements, as well as rural entrepreneurs to set up Custom Hiring Centres (CHC) for farm machinery, the government policies have been updated with measures that promote the use of CA based practices in CHCs. With strong evidence and encouragement from SRFSI partners Uttar Bangla Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (UBKV) and the Department of Agriculture in West Bengal, CA machinery and equipment have been made a compulsory part of the CHCs.

The use of CASI technologies is expanding every year in West Bengal, and insufficient hands-on training on CASI machineries will hinder the growth of this technology. Realizing the immediate need for skilled human resources at all levels of implementation of CASI technologies for extension functionaries, service providers, CHCs or implement hubs, farmers (especially, farm women and rural youth), a Centre of Excellence for Conservation Agriculture (CECA) is being established at UBKV.

CECA is being constructed with a broader vision to establish Agri-entrepreneurs, and will build comprehensive training packages with interactive course materials for a range of stakeholders. Construction of CECA started in December 2020, with the target to be completed by March 2021.

Involving researchers, agricultural officers, farmer producer companies and service providers, CECA though UBKV will specifically focus on capacity building by providing training to stakeholders on CASI, spreading awareness of CASI technologies, building trained human resources and imparting business advocacy.

The construction of CECA is yet another step to promote the growth of CASI. Such scaling activities highlight the more than 100,000 farmers in West Bengal now using CASI based practices each year, and acknowledge that this is just the beginning of a long lasting legacy from the SDIP investment in India.

For more information, please contact Professor Apurba Chowdhury ([email protected]) or Dr Brendan Brown ([email protected]).

Ongoing construction of CECA at UBKV (Photo Credit: Prof. Apurba Chowdhury)