In the bread and rice baskets of South Asia, cereal production has stalled. For over a decade, annual growth rates in rice and wheat production have failed to reach even one per cent, trailing far behind population growth. The results have been devastating: high food prices, increased poverty and rates of child malnutrition ranging from 40-50 per cent.
In response, four CGIAR centres have launched the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), a ten year programme that aims to transform cereal production in the region. It is no mean task, as CSISA’s CEO, M. Srinivas Rao admits. “With their small and fragmented land holding, farmers have for decades been caught in a vicious cycle of poor farming practices, poor yields, poor market orientation and poor returns,” he says. “To increase production on a meaningful scale demands that millions of farmers have access to a range of technologies, in particular high yielding seeds and conservation agriculture practices.”
Read more… (New Agriculturalist)