The scientists learnt changes brought about MSSRF in farm practices

The expertise of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in using technologies for dissemination of information among farmers is set to enrich the agricultural extension services in Afghanistan.

A team of 25 scientists from Afghanistan is in the State to undertake field visits to learn first hand the changes brought about by the MSSRF in agricultural practices in improving crop diversity, yields and farm incomes and ecology preservation.

“Afghanistan as a country that passes through four seasons and has six agro-climatic zones has plenty to learn from here,” said Nesar Ahmad Kohestani from Kabul University.

However, agricultural production in that country involves less of paddy and wheat and more of fruits and maize.

According to Prof. J. Srinath, principal scientist, Jamsetji Tata National Virtual Academy, MSSRF, of particular interest to the scientists – and of relevance in Afghanistan – was the MSSRF’s use of ICT tools in delivering relevant inputs to farmers and fisherfolk. “We saw for ourselves how the use of technology was as effective as it was simple,” said Gulam Rossor Faizi, a scientist from Afghanistan, where the MSSRF is engaged in salvaging endemic germplasm after years of strife.

The visit by scientists formed part of a six-month training programme under the auspices of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute to develop the Afghanistan’s first agricultural university in Kandahar.

The team was at the MSSRF’s bio-village and village knowledge centre in Thanjavur, fisheries units in Chidambaram and the Pichavaram mangrove systems.

However, as much as sustainable agriculture, lasting peace was equally vital for the livelihood security of the people of Afghanistan, according to the scientists from the land-locked mountainous country.

“We had a flourishing agricultural legacy until the outbreak of Civil War in the 1970s but we are almost back to where we began. The gene bank we had has collapsed. We have abundant water and a strong network of dams but our enjoyment of the natural resource depends on sustained peace in the region,” said Gulam Rossor Faizi.