Farmer-based experimentation network

Farmer-based experimentation network

Initial establishment of a farmer-based experimentation network in the Indo-Gangetic Plains region: Pilot project for on-farm participatory adaptation testing and visualization

Background

Climate change is likely to strongly affect the wheat crop production that accounts for 21% of the food stock and 200 million hectares of farmland worldwide. Future climate scenarios suggest that global warming may be beneficial for the wheat crop in some regions, but could reduce productivity in zones where optimal temperatures already exist. For example, by 2050, as a result of possible climatic shifts in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, which accounts for 15% of global wheat production, as much as 51% of the IGP region might be reclassified as a heat-stressed, irrigated, short-season production mega-environment. This shift would represent a significant reduction in wheat yields, threatening the food security of roughly 200 million people, unless appropriate cultivars and crop management practices are available to and adopted by local farmers. There is an urgent need to identify existing wheat genetic resources for climate change adaptation to ensure sustainable production in the IGP region. In addition, the local seed system must be strengthened to provide farmers with increased access to crop diversity for the selection of better adapted varieties to mitigate climate change risks.

Objectives

  • To set up a farmer-based experimentation network in the IGP region for on-farm participatory adaptation testing and visualization which tests the hypothesis that access to a wider range of agricultural diversity in key crops important for food security enhances the adaptive capacity of farmers in areas experiencing climate variability and change.
  • To explore means of strengthening the link between gene banks and local farmers
  • To further understand the role of seed systems in enabling adaptation under changing production constraints and the social and cultural barriers to adoption of adapted landraces and varieties.

Activities

  • Inception workshop organized at each of four project sites in IGP (Karnal, Haryana; Ludhiana, Punjab; Pusa, Bihar; and Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh) to raise awareness among farmers to build their capacity for undertaking on-farm trials.
  • Farmer’s day held in Karnal (March 26, 2011)
  • Visits of champion farmers from across different sites will be organized in order to promote knowledge-sharing and enable farmers to learn from one another’s experience in adapting to climate change; this will further strengthen the existing local seed system networks in the IGP.

Outputs

  • A large farmer-based experimentation network established in the IGP.
  • On-farm demonstration field sites established with forty farmers across four Indian sites (Karnal, Haryana; Ludhiana, Punjab; Pusa, Bihar; and Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh) to test the performance of ten wheat varieties -procured by the Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR), India- relative to four landraces.
  • Designed methodology to ensure: a) Retrieval and quantification of production data from the tested varieties, b) Collection of farmer’s local knowledge for climate change adaption, c) Farmer preferences for different varieties within the context of climate stress and climate change synthesized.
  • Recommendations regarding enhanced seed systems in order to enable accelerated adaptation at the community level in place.

Partners

Bioversity international in conjunction with numerous local partners: Directorate of Wheat Research and National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), local NGOs and staff from the State Agricultural Universities in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Timeframe

August 2010 to June 2011