16 March, Guwahati, Assam-Initiating next steps for the World Bank funded project ‘Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation’ (APART), the state government of Assam entered into an agreement with partner organizations: International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), International Potato Centre, World Vegetable Centre, International Livestock Research Institute, WorldFish, and Wageningen University.
The project, which aims to add value and improve resilience of agriculture value chains in the state, focuses on smallholder farmers and agro-entrepreneurs in 16 districts of Assam for improving food and livelihood security. By increasing access to updated knowledge and technologies, the project will empower farmers for better decision-making, such that yield gaps are reduced, leading to an increase in farmer income and improved sustainability of rice-based agrifood systems.
Speaking at the event, Smt. T.Y. Das, IAS, Chief Secretary of Government of Assam highlighted climate change, flooding and drought, as a rising concern for the state. The current project, she said, will be important to devise climate resilient solutions.
A key partner in the project, IRRI will provide technical support for improving rice production systems and management practices by promoting climate resilient technologies, encouraging adoption on field, and facilitating market linkages. Mr. AJ Poncin, IRRI Head of Portfolio Management Office, said, “IRRI’s mission to improve livelihoods and nutrition, abolish poverty, hunger, and malnutrition for those depending on rice-based agri-food systems, aligns with the impact the APART project is set to bring about in Assam by way of increasing productivity and profitability of small and marginal farmers”. Thanking the Assam government on behalf of IRRI’s Director General, Dr. Matthew Morrel, he said, “IRRI is excited to intensify its work in Assam where agriculture accounts for more than a third of the income generated and employs 70% of the workforce.” Dr. U.S. Singh, Director for IRRI South Asia Regional Center (Varanasi) and Dr. Sudhanshu Singh, Senior Scientist & IRRI team leader for the Assam project, were also present for the signing.
Highlighting the collaborative expertise the project brings forth from partner organizations, Dr. Siddharth Singh, IAS, State Project Director for Assam Rural Infrastructure and Agricultural Services Society (ARIAS), the implementing partner for the project, said, “This project indeed holds potential to catalyze and bring about long term impact for agriculture in Assam.”
The seven-year project poised to start in April, was launched in January of 2018 by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal. More than 500,000 farming households are set to benefit from this project, particularly youth and women-led enterprises. The project is expected to supplement the state government’s initiatives, particularly the Chief Minister's program Samagra Gramya Unnayan Yojna (CMSGUY), aimed at doubling farmers’ income in Assam by 2022