Interaction Meet for Developing Linkages between Organic Input Buyers and Sellers
Bio/organic inputs are crucial for soil microbial diversity, nutrient recycling and improving soil health. Consumers are now orienting toward toxic-free food alternatives, even at higher prices. As these systems are new and have emerged recently, there is a lack of scientific data and evidence to quantify their impacts on soil health, greenhouse gas emissions, quantity and quality produce, crucial to food and nutritional security. There is a need to scientifically evaluate these systems and generate evidence-based data to ensure that these technologies are sustainable in food security, environmental and ecological sustainability and climate change. The quality and standards of bio/organic inputs are crucial for buyers and sellers. This interaction meeting is unique because of the agenda that has been covered.
On March 5, 2022, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, conducted a one-day Interaction Meet for developing linkages between organic input buyers and sellers. The objective of the one-day training and Interaction Meet is to understand the organic input scenario under different agriculture domains and linkage initiation between organic input produces and users, particularly farmer producer organizations (FPOs) and self-help groups (SHGs). Additionally, this training and Interaction Meet will enable identifying and establishing partnerships and collaborations among organic buyers and sellers with mutual interest.
Dr. Sudhanshu Singh, director of ISARC, highlighted the significance of soil health and its reflectance on society. He emphasized ISARC work on developing guidelines and frameworks for regenerative agriculture for attaining sustainable development goals. He also shared his concern on hidden hunger, malnutrition and soil degradation. He mentioned the importance of a healthy diet and how not the quantity, but the quality of food we are feeding ourselves is important. He expressed his thoughts on quality bio-inputs and standardization of regenerative practices. More than 50 participants from Eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar have participated. The majority of them are producers of bio-inputs, and a few of them are buyers. All the participants were warmly welcomed by Dr. Sheetal Sharma, senior scientist at IRRI. She introduced the objectives of this meeting and described the need for such interactions for empowering the farmers with quality input and catalyzing the farm produce. She explained the gaps between buyers and sellers, which need to be addressed scientifically and technically to build a robust system for regenerative agriculture. She delineated the importance of integrated farming systems for soil, plant and human health and how it is becoming the priority of the hour. She ensured that ISARC would provide possible help for the sustainable growth of farmers and buyers. She highlighted the role of gender inclusiveness in catering for the farming system productivity. Her presence boosted the meeting environment with energy and passion.
There were four invited lectures on various aspects of integrated farming solutions from diverse scientific and technical experts. The lecture session was initiated by Dr. AN Tripathi, scientist for the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (IIVR), Varanasi, UP, India. He shared his experience and knowledge on bio/organic control measures for promoting chemical-free, organic vegetable production systems. He also discussed nutritional security and the role of vegetables in eradicating malnutrition and nutrient deficiency. He brainstormed the session with indigenous bio-control techniques and keys for successful organic farming. Afterwards, Mr. Mayank Sharma, research, monitoring and evaluation manager for the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) India, interacted with participants and listened to their needs for developing a platform and how IDH can potentially leverage their expertise to address the gaps between buyers and sellers for the sustainability of the environment and improving soil health. He discussed his projects with ISARC on regenerative agriculture and its scope for improving soil health, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pathways for developing public-private partnerships.
A field visit was organized for the participants to demonstrate the trials on real-time nitrogen management, natural farming systems and regenerative agriculture. They were also introduced to the natural bio-input unit, where the quality of bio-inputs was prepared and tested before using them in natural farming systems and regenerative agriculture. This will certainly increase their awareness and knowledge of diversified bio-inputs. Afterwards, the team from Grassroots Energy demonstrated bio-liquid input, and they brought the success stories related to it from Eastern UP and Bihar. Dr. Ajay Kumar Mishra gave the last presentation on evaluating regenerative farming systems for improving soil health and system productivity. In the end, a rigorous, interactive discussion between buyers and sellers was organized to address the key issues and challenges faced by the participants. The brainstorming offered a roadmap and way forward for regenerative agriculture practices. This highly interactive and successful event was finally closed with the distribution of certificates by Mr. Abdul Mateen, chief executive officer of Grassroots Energy.