Agri Nation Network
Bhubaneswar | 27 April 2017
The Odisha Government last week signed a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at improving lives of small farmers and promoting inclusive growth in the agri sector. Through this MoU, Foundation will partner with Odisha on various agriculture projects including a project to improve data management, analysis and use.
It will work for expansion of biofortified crops for better harvesting, crop diversification, developing joint programmes on soil diagnostics and generating evidence on policy issues pertaining to farmers’ income, land and women in agriculture.
In their first project, the foundation will build a data management system to support the agriculture department to make evidence-based policies. It will combine data from Government sources into a single platform to help monitoring. Agriculture Secretary will head the advisory committee to oversee the implementation of the project. The officials said, “According to the MoU, the Gates foundation would invest nearly Rs 32 crore for the project”.
Agriculture Director Hari Ballav Mishra and Nick Austin, Director of Agriculture Development of the Gates Foundation signed MoU in presence of chief minister Naveen Patnaik. Agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy was also present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, “The state government is committed for development of agriculture and allied sector in the state. The MoU will bring improvement on the livelihood of small and marginal farmers”.
State Agriculture Secretary Manoj Ahuja said, “Though the platform, we would be in a position to know about the variety of crop used by different districts, utilization of fertilizers, water availability, land types and production details. It would be a GIS-enabled platform. If we would get real time data on various issues, we would design policies accordingly”.
Earlier this month, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had launched ‘Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)’ a skill certification programme in agriculture and allied sectors in the state on a pilot basis involving farmers and agriculture workers in and around Bhubaneswar.
According to 2011 census, Odisha had 41.04 lakh cultivators and 67.40 lakh agricultural labourers. One in two males and two in three females are engaged in agriculture, either as a cultivator or agricultural labourer. Over 70 per cent people in Odisha depend on agriculture of which 80 per cent are small and marginal farmers.