West Bengal’s Minister of Agriculture gives full support for CASI scaling

The SRFSI project team in West Bengal have received full support from the state’s Agriculture Minister and senior officials to scale Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification approaches throughout the state. At a meeting in Kolkata on the 24th July, the project team presented the results of their work and the challenges still remaining in scaling CASI to more farmers. The aim of the meeting was to raise awareness and provide initial training within the Department of Agriculture.

Mr Pradip Majumder, the Advisor to the Honourable Chief Minister for Agriculture and Allied Sectors in West Bengal, had previously visited SRFSI project field sites to observe results and interact with farmers and local entrepreneurs. He shared his experiences, highlighting the positive benefits for women farmers, and describing the involvement of women farmers in raising nursery seedlings of rice and post-harvest processing of different crops. He highly commended the role of UBKV and the Department of Agriculture in taking a lead role in “bringing smiles to the farmers practising CASI technologies” and expressed that the success of the project was beyond imagination.

Dr Ashish Banerjee, the Minister for Agriculture, appreciated the efforts made by UBKV and DOA in out scaling CASI technologies until now. He extended full support to adopt the CASI technologies in other parts of West Bengal and also assured to make required changes in policy. He requested that a policy document be prepared for wider adoption of CASI technologies in the state.

The meeting was attended by a raft of senior officials from the West Bengal Government including Dr Ashish Banerjee, the Honourable Minister for Agriculture in the Government of West Bengal; Sri Pradip Majumder, the Advisor to the Chief Minister for Agriculture and Allied Sectors; Dr Sampad Ranjan Patra, Director and Ex Officio Secretary for Agriculture; Mr Atanu Dutta Majumder, Officer on Special Duty and Additional Director of Agriculture; Mr Hrishikes Mudi, Joint Secretary for Agriculture; Mr Rajesh Singh, Joint Director of Extension; Mr Sajal Ghosh, Joint Director of Planning. The project team was supported by Dr C. Chattopadhyay, Vice Chancellor of UBKV and Dr A. Choudhury, Director of Research for UBKV, as well as Dr Pratibha Singh, Regional Manager for ACIAR.

Later, an orientation training program for all District Heads of Agriculture and Assistant Directors of Agriculture was organized. Sixteen blocks have been prioritised in four districts of West Bengal, including Coochbehar, Alipurduar, Malda and Dakshin Dinajpur as per the proposed plan for scaling out recommended CASI technologies under the SRFSI project.

It is heartening to see the great commitment and support for scale out of CASI technologies at the highest levels of government in West Bengal, and the SRFSI West Bengal team will continue to work to mainstream CASI approaches.

For more information, please contact Dr TP Tiwari (T.Tiwari@cgiar.org).

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