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IRRI and Odisha government in India to collaborate on an initiative to strengthen state’s drought mitigation plan

(BHUBANESWAR, India, 31 August 2023) – The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment (DA & FE), Government of Odisha signed a bilateral Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on 29 August 2023 in Bhubaneswar to understand the dynamics of drought in Odisha and its impact and identify the mitigation options for smallholder farmers through a new pilot project launched.

The agreement was signed between Shri Prem Charan Chaudhary, Director, Agriculture and Food Production, Odisha on behalf of the DA & FE and Dr Swati Nayak, Scientist and South Asia Lead – Seed Systems and Principal Investigator of this initiative, on behalf of Director General, IRRI.

IRRI has been associated with the Government of Odisha through multiple path breaking initiatives in the past decade and continues to do so.  “Supporting the government’s vision to promote, scale climate resilient varieties and a resilient agricultural system in the state has been one of our key approaches. Participatory planning, brainstorming with leading policy makers, agriculture functionaries, think tanks and researchers in state has been IRRI’s way of work all these years.  The successful engagements with the state are envisaged to reach a new milestone with this new project focused on small and marginal farmers in drought prone and drought affected districts in Odisha,” said Nayak.

This project will engage IRRI, DA&FE and Odisha State Disaster Management Agency in a triangular partnership to support the overall drought mitigation strategy in the state. Through this project, a comprehensive research and pilot experiments will be conducted to introduce, evaluate and scale drought-resilient germplasm/varieties in the state through robust community-led models and public-private partnership in seed chain. In addition, comprehensive targeting and evaluation will be done with piloted drought-resilient village clusters by integrating varietal interventions and other climate smart technologies.

After signing the MoA, Director Agriculture, Shri Prem Charan Chaudhary while congratulating the team, stated that the new project begins a new era focusing exclusively on the state's priority for drought mitigation and IRRI will be first among several partners to initiate this effort on ground.

Bolangir, Kalahandi, and Mayurbhanj are among the drought-prone districts in Odisha as identified by the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA). The project will be piloted in these three districts.

If successful, the model(s) employed for drought mitigation in the three districts can be a template for the deployment of the model across Odisha as well as in other states that share similar sociological and agro-ecological environments.