Six Farmer Business Schools to improve livelihood
SHILLONG: Six villages in the state have got Farmer Business Schools for the first time in the country. The launch of the School (FBS) and the FoodSTART+ annual partners’ meeting were held at State Convention Centre on Tuesday. FBS was first initiated in South East Asian nation of Indonesia and went on to other South East Asian countries of the Philippines and Vietnam.
FoodSTART+ project coordinator Diego Naziri said FBS is for strengthening farmer entrepreneurship for enhanced livelihood and resilience. In Meghalaya, FBS has come through Meghalaya Basin Development Authority (MBDA) in collaboration with International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Six FBS pilot projects were started in the state, three each in Khasi Hills and Garo Hills. These included Wahlyngkien, Mawngap, Tyrsad in Khasi Hills and Bokchugre, Gadarugre and Dilsigre in Garo Hills.
MBDA officer on special duty E Shanpru told a section of reporters that FBS started in the state in January. “FBS is in progress. There are 30 farmers selected by the village dorbar. It consists of 7 modules and it runs for 6- 8 months,” he said.
In Khasi Hills, potato has been selected as the main crop while in Dadengre Block of West Garo Hills, the crops covered under FBS are tapioca and yam.
The farmers are guided and trained by facilitators from production to marketing of agricultural produce.
Through FBS, participating farmer groups will be able to develop market driven product innovation, establish and expand market linkages, generate additional profits, through increased volume and value of their products. Highlighting on FoodSTART+, Naziri said the project goal was to enhance food resilience among poor households in upland and coastal communities of the Asia-Pacific region through introducing Roots and Tuber Crops (RTC) innovations primarily within the framework of IFAD investments.
Stating that the opportunities for RTCs in Meghalaya come into play as the state is prone to disaster (earthquakes, floods, storms and landslides), he said there is a great diversity in RTCs produced by small holders although potato is the only RTC produced in large scale for the market.
RTC production can greatly benefit enhanced access to quality planting material of higher yielding and disease resistant varieties.
“Opportunities exist for enhanced post harvest management and marketing, including by promoting RTCs health and nutritional benefits, exploiting value adding opportunities and better integration with the livestock sector,” he said.