- Learning Network
Challenges · Food Security · Resilience
Eastern Uttar Pradesh lies between 23°51′ N to 28°30′ N and 81°31′ E to 84°39′ E, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). The eastern UP, segmented into 18 districts, borders Nepal in the North, Bihar in the East, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh in the South, and many other districts of UP in the West. The climate of UP is generally defined as humid subtropical with a dry winter, although parts of eastern UP are semi arid. Predominantly rainfed, the agriculture in eastern UP is characterized by small and marginal land holdings and is prone to frequent flooding, droughts, and soil salinity. Rice-wheat is the major cropping system. In the wet season (July-October), the farmers grow rice, pigeon peas, mung beans, and maize. During the winter season (November-February), the farmers grow wheat, barley, chickpeas, peas, rapeseed, and mustard.
Born and brought up in a farmer’s family, I received my master’s degree and Ph.D. (Germany) in genetics and plant breeding. I worked several positions within this field, including: Professor of genetics at Haryana Agriculture University Hissar (India); Director of research at ND University of Agriculture and Technology Faizabad (India); and Representative and Programme Coordinator of International Rice Research Institute (Philippines) in Delhi. After about 40 years of service, I retired in 2004 and started NEFORD to work with the farmers of eastern UP. Throughout my service career, I remained in touch with the people in my village (which is located within eastern UP) and the area around. Once retired, I resolved to devote my remaining period of life with the people of eastern UP and share my experiences to improve their agriculture and overall livelihood.Dr. Ram Kathin Singh Director, Nand Educational Foundation for Rural Development (NEFORD)
The Nand Educational Foundation for Rural Development (NEFORD) received seeds of Swarna Sub1 from IRRI (Philippines) in 2008, a flood year. 42 farmers planted this variety in their fields and submerged their crop twice at 12-day intervals. After the water receded, the variety recovered, while other varieties in the area succumbed to flooding. Swarna Sub1 produced an average yield of 3.2 ton/ha. The story spread like fire, and several farmers' groups, media members, and government officials visited farmers' fields and reported the story eloquently. Against the set procedure, this variety was released by the state government in 2009 and by the central government in 2010 based on only one year of field data from NEFORD and on-station data from NDUAT, Faizabad. This was followed by large-scale seed production of this variety to cover most of flood prone areas in eastern UP. Soon, the variety was included in the mini-kit program of India's Ministry of Agriculture, which hastened the spread of this variety. Spread of Swarna Sub1 is considered even faster than green revolution technology.
The whole landscape of the eastern UP is divided into flood-prone, drought-prone, and salt-affected sub landscapes. All of these sub landscapes cover areas across district boundaries. Much of the connectivity among stakeholders is based around these specific sub landscapes beyond the district level.
NEFORD has initiated a District Agriculture Development Forum comprised of intellectuals, advocates, officials, news and media representatives, and farmers. This forum meets quarterly to discuss new agricultural technologies, policies, success stories, and climatic adversities. The outcomes of these discussions are spread through personal efforts, press, and other forms of media.
In addition, NEFORD has prioritized farmer stakeholders within the landscape. Prior to the start of a new project, Focus Group Discussions are conducted to understand farmers' perceptions of related problems and solutions. This is followed by an Orientation Training to brief farmers about project objectives, their roles, and expected gains. An appropriate number of farmers are selected to conduct field trials and demonstrations, including field days or "Seeing is Believing" trips.
Farmers also interact with other stakeholders at Farmers' Fairs. These fairs, one each before the wet and winter seasons, are where farmers buy seeds, farm machinery, pesticides, and fertilizers. Agricultural experts also update them on new technologies and government schemes at these fairs. Around 5000 farmers, scientists, policy makers, seed companies, and traders participate.