CA machinery now a compulsory part of Custom Hiring Centres in West Bengal
The Government of West Bengal are active in their support of conservation agriculture based farming techniques, as evidenced in the form of funds committed, use of their agricultural extension agencies and changes to state policies on agricultural mechanization to support the scaling of CASI approaches. This support is helping drive adoption, with over 70,000 farmers using these techniques.
Farm mechanisation schemes in West Bengal support small and marginal farmers to purchase small farm implements, as well as rural entrepreneurs to set up Custom Hiring Centres (CHC) of farm machinery. The government aims to reduce reliance on scarce manual labour, reduce production costs and improve productivity through more timely practices, including utilising narrow windows between consecutive crops. These government policies have been in place since 2012 (farmers) and 2014 (CHC), but have recently been updated with measures that promote the use of CA based practices in CHCs. This is due to strong lobbying from SRFSI partners UBKV and DoA in West Bengal, and demonstration of the success of CA approaches on the ground.
For rural entrepreneurs to set up a CHC, the aim is to encourage the use of different types of machinery among small and marginal farmers through hiring of services from CHC. CHC are set up as end-to-end machinery portfolios (i.e. land development to residue management), with average coverage targeted at 10 ha/day and 300 ha per season. Now, these CHCs must include CA machinery.
A set of compulsory machinery for CHCs is designed to promote new technology and avoid environmental hazards associated with straw and stubble management. Half of the machines on the list of six are based on CA principles. The list comprises tractors that must be accompanied by a trailer or multi-crop planter, and six additional machines, of which each CHC must have four. These include (1) power tiller/power weeder; (2) combine harvester; (3) self-propelled rice transplanter; (4) ZT multi-crop planter; (5) multi-crop thresher; (6) Happy Seeder. This means that all CHC will have at least one CA machine available, and demonstrates the commitment of the Government of West Bengal in supporting CA scaling.
For more information, please contact Dr Brendan Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org).