Inter-cropping with grain legumes is one of the key strategies to improve productivity and sustainability of rain-fed agriculture in four Asian countries – India, Nepal, Laos and Vietnam. Through farmer-participatory field trials, the productive inter-cropping options identified to intensify and diversify rain-fed cropping systems in these regions were:

  • Groundnut with maize in Laos, Nepal and Vietnam
  • Pigeonpea with maize in Nepal
  • Pigeonpea with soybean in Madhya Pradesh, India

Some of the other initiatives being implemented are ridge planting systems; seed treatment; Integrated Pest Management (IPM); adoption of improved crop varieties and production technologies; promoting community-based seed production groups and market linkages.

Major achievements during the year

Vietnam: Small farmers were linked with a local seed company in Cao Bang province. The farmers produced 400 tons of groundnut which was procured by a seed company. As a result the farmers obtained an additional US$ 75,000 in total income as compared to selling it in the local market on their own.

Laos: Chickpea and pigeonpea were the new legume crops introduced. Also cultivation of groundnut in the dry season led to increase in the yield of wet-season rice by up to 50% giving an additional income of about US$ 614 per household.

Nepal: Seed treatment with molybdenum (Mo) enhanced lentil yield by 25-30% and the IPM for pod borer gave up to 50% increase in chickpea yield. Twelve Community-Based Seed Production (CBSP) groups were also established.

India: Seed treatment of chickpea with Mo, enhanced yield by 22-25% in Mo-deficient soils in Madhya Pradesh. Planting of pigeonpea on ridges with a spacing of 75 cm between ridges and 30 cm between plants prevented waterlogging and gave up to 27% higher yield when compared to flat sowing in control plots.

Other activities

Pest Management: In Nepal and India, farmers were demonstrated the effects of seed treatment with Trichoderma spp and fungicides for managing seedling diseases and IPM options for controlling pod borer in chickpea and pigeonpea.

Community-based seed production groups particularly with women: In all the countries, efforts are being made to enhance adoption of improved crop varieties and production technologies by conducting demonstrations/farmers’ acceptance trials (FATs) and promoting community-based seed production groups. Self-help groups (SHGs) with good representation of women and in some regions women SHGs were formed and engaged in seed production and value addition activities. For example, during 2014-15 in Jharkhand, seed production of chickpea was undertaken by 55 SHGs, groundnut by 62 SHGs and pigeonpea by 177 SHGs.

Agribusiness ventures with women

The project encouraged farmers, particularly women, through SHGs to start small-scale local business ventures with value-added farm produce. In Jharkhand, women farmers were provided with 12 dal mills/huller machines to make dal (split gram) and flour from the legume crops they produced. The products were used for their own consumption aiding nutritional security and the surplus was sold in the local market to gain additional income.

Capacity building: Various activities (formal and informal training, field days, farmers’ fairs, exposure visit of farmers to other locations, programs in electronic media, farmer-friendly literature, etc.) are being used to improve knowledge of farmers and extension personnel on improved crop varieties, integrated crop management, seed production, seed storage and value additions.

The project

These results were highlighted at the Third Annual Review and Planning Meeting of the project – Sustainable management of crop-based production systems for raising agricultural productivity in rain-fed Asia – held from 27 to 29 May at ICRISAT-India. The four-year project started in 2012-13 is working closely with IFAD-loan projects in the aforesaid countries and aims to benefit at least 40,000 farmers in each project directly from project innovations. The target geographies of the project are Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states of India, northern and southern parts of Laos, western mid-hills of Nepal, and Ha Tinh and Cao Bang provinces of Vietnam.

Dr Vincent Darlong, Country Program Officer, IFAD Asia and Pacific Region participated in the meeting. At the closing session Director General, ICRISAT, Dr David Bergvinson emphasized on including learnings from the project in development of country strategies.  Partners made presentations of the progress made at their locations and Dr Pooran Gaur, Assistant Research Program Director, Grain Legumes, ICRISAT, and project coordinator presented the major achievements for the year 2014-15. Dr Gaur is the Coordinator for Product Line 7 “Herbicide tolerant machine‐harvestable chickpea, faba bean and lentil varieties”

Partners

India: Jharkhand Tribal Development Society, Mitigating Poverty in Western Rajasthan (MPOWER) program, Birsa Agricultural University, Rajmata Vijayeraje Scindia Krishi Vishwavidyalaya

Laos: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Sustainable Natural Resource Management and Productivity Enhancement Project, Soum Son Seun Jai (Community-based food security and economic opportunities programme)

Nepal: Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Western Uplands Poverty Alleviation Program

Vietnam: Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Programme for Improving Market Participation of the Poor, Developing Business with the Rural Poor Programme

Investor: International Fund for Agricultural Development

The activity was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

Source: Adapted from ICRISAT Happenings