International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

BSF Project - Fourth Cycle

Improving pulse biodiversity in rice fallow areas of tribal belts of Central and East Indian states to bring resilience in the farming practice, provide livelihood support and enhance nutritional level of the tribal population
Overview
Where will we work?
There are 12 million hectares of rice fallows in India, 82% of which lie in the Central and East Indian states, where Protein-Energy-Malnutrition (PEM) is extremely widespread. Pulses used to be the preferred choice for cultivation after rice is harvested. Over recent years, however, farmers have lost a considerable amount of pulse genetic diversity due to a variety of pressures. Nontraditional legumes (tribal pulses) also remain underutilized due to the absence of robust seed systems in the area. Over the last 60 years, the per capita availability of pulses in India has reduced from 60g to 41.7 g per person per day contributing to serious malnutrition. This Benefit-sharing project will enhance the availability of resilient varieties of pulses and oil seeds suitable for cultivation in rice fallows in the dry season, after the rice harvest, in tribal communities in five states of Central and East India.

What will we do?
  • Enhance the availability and on-farm conservation of resilient varieties of pulses (traditional varieties, varieties procured from gene banks as well as underutilized species of pulses) and oil seeds for cultivation during the rice fallow season;
  • Diversify the local agricultural systems and enhance farmer’s resilience through farm trials of pulse varieties collected from seed banks and farmers’ fields, in order to select farmers preferred varieties based on climate resilient traits;
  • Establishment of community level seed banks;
  • Farmer’s capacity building such as trainings and field schools on conservation and sustainable use of crop biodiversity, seed quality control and multiplication of quality seed;
  • Documentation of indigenous knowledge on local varieties and seed systems, as well as knowledge produced through project activities.

What is expected to be achieved?
The project will facilitate access to germplasm of resilient varieties of pulses and build skills for sustainable and effective use of these genetic resources, thereby empowering farmers, the majority of whom are women. In this way, the project will have a sustained impact on the health and nutrition of the community. Pulses need minimal care and fertilizers and require comparatively little water for irrigation. Moreover, they are rich in protein and provide nutritional support to tribal communities. As nitrogen-fixing crops, they will also improve soil health. By enhancing crop biodiversity, the project will equally enhance the income of farming families and will strengthen climatic resilience. Re-introducing farmer’s varieties and germplasm held in national seed banks to the area will also support the scientific community which remains dependent on a rich genetic base for crop improvement. Project implementation will strongly support the development of policies in favour of conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources.

Who will benefit?
The direct beneficiaries of this project will be 1,250 vulnerable farmers, mostly women, from indigenous and tribal communities in Central and East Indian states. It is anticipated that the number of beneficiaries receiving seeds from seed banks will number 250, while a further 1,000 farmers will benefit from technical capacity building through workshops, farmer’s field school, knowledge exchange, information materials and exposure visits.
Crops
Region: Asia
Target Countries: India
Implementing institution: PAIRVI (Public Policy Initiatives for Rights and Values in India)

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