Product line 6.2. Effective systems for large-scale adoption of rice technologies in South Asia
To achieve the outcomes in productivity gains, sustainability, and livelihoods, improved rice technologies need to be adopted by large numbers of farmers. There are several challenges to this, including poor communications in the rural sector, weak extension services, and commonly large substantial institutional “gaps” between research, extension, and farmers. Such gaps are evident in South Asia due to an aging pubic-sector extension service, an emerging private sector that is weakly connected to the public research sector, and the large number of NGOs that often lack access to information on rice production and postharvest technologies. In the case of Sri Lanka, in addition, certain regions have suffered upheaval as a result of the recent civil war.
There is a need to build cohesion in the research to farmer linkages in order to support large-scale uptake of new rice technologies. Improved linkages and communication using multiple channels will help ensure household food security and national food security through the adoption of new technologies. Enabling growth of the rice sector through supporting technology delivery requires that linkages be made with large-scale or regional investments, and that there be engagement at the local level with NGOs and with national and farmer extension programs. To achieve this, international research centers must also assemble technical expertise for supporting the planning and implementation of large-scale rice-based technology delivery and development projects.
In addition, there is a need to support extension capacity development to increase competence in rice production and postharvest management working with multiple agencies and clients, including poorer farmers and women. Wide-scale delivery of information on new technologies is necessary to underpin these efforts and this will require innovative use of multiple media formats such as video and radio, Internet and mobile phone technology, and strong feedback from end-users.
Communication materials will be developed in multiple formats for direct use for extension of technologies in the intensive cereal systems and for abiotic stresses. Within large hubs in South Asia, modern communication tools will be applied to capacity development of grass-roots-level public- and private-sector partners. IRRI and CIMMYT will work with national and local partners on localized content for the Cereal Knowledge Bank in key CSISA hubs, to support multichannel communication organizations (e.g., public and private telecenters) for last-mile delivery of information to extension and farmers. Support will be provided to develop the capacity (including monitoring systems) of public and private seed networks. An innovative accreditation scheme for certified crop advisors (CCA) will be initially developed with public- and private-sector partners and the American Society of Agronomy for several states in India, and then out-scaled to other countries in the region. Women’s leadership training will be conducted and followed up with the formation of a network for women leaders that will support the enhanced capacity of grass-roots extension staff.
Through the STRASA and CSISA projects, IRRI in partnership with CIMMYT, ILRI, IFPRI, and more than 200 local partners will provide catalytic support for seed multiplication and targeted, scalable dissemination of new stress-tolerant rice varieties and management practices for resource-conserving cropping systems. Particular emphasis will be on establishing new business models for scalable, self-sustained delivery of new information and technologies, including the use of new hub communication platforms. Evidence-based information to support these activities will be made available through the private and public sector and civil society organizations for intensive cereal systems and for stress-prone environments.
6.2.1 New models for seed multiplication and targeted delivery systems
6.2.2 New platforms for delivering agronomic, postharvest, and processing innovations
6.2.3 New models for jointly building extension capacity
Partnerships will align closely with major national initiatives, such as the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) of the government of India. For delivery of new technology, there are traditional public R&D institutions along with medium- and large-scale companies (e.g., DCM Shriram Consloidated Ltd., ITC Ltd., and Tata Chemicals Ltd. in India; and Agrimall, Fauji Fertilizer Company, and SACAN in Pakistan), farmers’ organizations, NGOs (e.g., BRAC, RDRS, and Shushilan in Bangladesh; FORWARD and LI-BIRD in Nepal; and CRS and M.S. Swaminathan Foundation in India), and international companies and associations (AWhere and International Plant Nutrition Institute–IPNI, U.S.). The American Society of Agronomy will support the CCA program. For dissemination, most partners implement with their own resources but are linked for technology access and knowledge. Some strategic partnerships influence the public sector for large-scale dissemination. An example is the minikit distribution in India under NSFM, through which there is large-scale distribution of the new Sub1 varieties.
Centers will support delivery according to priorities and natures of the national systems. In India, this will focus on the emerging private sector and the public extension services, and to a more limited extent NGOs. For Bangladesh and Nepal, the uptake pathway will comprise the predominant public and NGO sectors, together with a weaker private sector. In Sri Lanka, opportunities exist for partnerships to support the rehabilitation of extension services in the northern areas. Impact pathways associated with large-scale investment opportunities will involve strong links to the government. Leadership capacity in extension will be developed through support for an accreditation program of extension agronomists and women’s leadership. This will be coupled with support for grass-roots extension capacity with intermediary institutions and farmers’ organizations. Capacity development will link directly with the online up-to-date technical knowledge of the RKBs, the hub communication platform, and innovative communication products. These components will underpin the activities of skilled extension personnel and enable them to effectively deliver new rice technologies. In addition, a grass-roots competitive fund will support innovative delivery mechanisms for NGOs and farmer associations for poorer farmers and women.
There will be strong linkages to the products emerging from themes 1, 2, 3, and 4 that also link with the IRRC and CURE. Impact pathway monitoring and evaluation will be through theme 5.
Two large regional initiatives currently provide support—CSISA and STRASA. The initial undertaking is for three years, with expected support over a 10-year period. Additional in-country funding is sought through links to the Food Security Commission in India, the NATP investment fund in Bangladesh, and large-scale national food security missions and development projects in Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. New funding is required to build up a strong, professional extension support team at IRRI to link science with development efforts on the ground. Further support is required for the development of communication approaches and information systems.