Transcending the boundaries of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, lie the Eastern Gangetic Plains (EGP), fertile lands home to 300 million people, highly dependent on agriculture for their food security and livelihoods. The EGP area is crucial to future food security in South Asia, where production of rice, wheat and maize must respectively increase by about 1.1, 1.7 and 2.9 percent each year to meet food needs in 2050. Yet due to a lack of agricultural development, today the EGP contains the highest concentration of rural poverty found anywhere in the world.
Sub-Saharan African farmers typically apply less than 20 kilograms of fertilizer per hectare of cropland — far less than their peers in any other region of the world. In 2014, partners in the Improved Maize for African Soils (IMAS) project developed 41 Africa-adapted maize varieties that respond better to low amounts of nitrogen fertilizer and are up for release in nine African countries through 24 seed companies.
Agricultural research is changing. In order to have a greater impact, research must be relevant to a greater variety of farmers in different contexts, while being both applicable and adaptable.
Ways must also be found to solve institutional constraints, which are very often beyond the researchers’ sphere of control. Policies can be changed to allow community seed production, better connections established between maize producers and traders, extension systems strengthened or willing agro-dealers found to commercialize new seeds.
Digital Green’s idea to film and screen ‘best practice’ videos of farming techniques across villages in India has won over both farmers and the government. To date, the non-profit international development organization has produced over 2,800 videos in more than 20 languages, reaching 3,000 villages and over 330,000 farmers. The organization currently implements projects in eight states in India and in select areas in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania in Africa with over 20 partners.