When farmer Gopalsingh Solanki from Madhya Pradesh got up to speak, the weathered lines on his face and his traditional kurta were expected. However, when he pulled out a power- point presentation before the scientific international audience, with tables and images, he made it evident that farmers are taking to technology. Solanki and some of his peers were delegates at the Norman Borlaug Centenary Dialogue at MSSRF in Chennai in March 2014. Breaking another stereotypical image of ‘male farmer’ is Kalaivani Rajendran from Tamil Nadu with her short hair, saree and impassioned speech who voices her views on challenges that farmers face and on how small farmers can be encouraged to stop leaving this profession.
These and various challenges were part of discussions among participants of the Dialogue on ‘Take it to the Farmers’ from March 13 – 15. Over 150 delegates from across the country, including some international, participated in a series of sessions and presented trends in moving to food security. Speaking at the Concluding Session, Prof.M S Swaminathan emphasized the need to mainstream the concept of “Take it to the Farmer”by empowering farmers with knowledge and know-how to enhance their production, productivity and profitability.The detailed deliberations among farmers and academicians resulted in the following recommendations.
The International Year of Family Farming 2014 is an opportunity to improve lives of millions of smallholder farmers and indigenous communities.
- Breeding for stress tolerance has opened up opportunities for Climate Resilience Agriculture.
- Value Chain Development should receive high priority to enhance income from farming.
- Appropriate policies required to make agriculture a credible career to the youth.
- Producer Companies, Commodity Centered Associations, Womens' self help groups and others help in Conferring Power of Mass Production.
- Gender dimensions to be integrated in agricultural participatory researches, policy design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
- Greater emphasis needed for Farmers' Access and Control over natural resources.
- Investments and policies for Building Capacities to be in place for farming communities and organizations.