The memorandum signing ceremony in progress. Photo Credit - Northeast Now

The Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Jorhat, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NBIO) following which the collaborative project on Building Climate Resilience of Smallholders between AAU and the Norwegian Government was launched on Wednesday.

The MoU was signed in the presence of the Norwegian Ambassador to India Nils Ragnar Kamsvag and Assam Agriculture Minister Atul Bora. The project will be launched in four districts each of Assam and Odisha and the project life will be for a period of four years. On behalf of the AAU, the Vice-Chancellor (VC) KM Bujarbaruah signed the MoU while from the Norwegian side, the Director, Centre for International Development of the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NBIO), Udaya Sekhar Nagothu, signed the document.

The NBIO will execute the project along with AAU in Assam and Odisha with support from Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (Bhubaneswar), International Water Management Institute (Colombo), MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (Chennai) and National Rice Research Institute (Cuttack) as partners.

In his address, Bujarbaruah said that the project aims at improving agricultural productivity, adaptive capacity and livelihoods of smallholders to climate and economic enhancements, by building resilience and strengthening the agri-product market. He further remarked that a United Nations (UN) report released on Tuesday stated that climate change was a reality and that by 2030, the overall increase in global temperature would be 1.5 degree Celsius. The launching of this project could not have come at a better time.

He also stressed on integrated farming which AAU had already been practicing to better livelihood options of the farmers in different parts of Assam. The VC said that the project will be implemented in four districts each in Assam and Odisha, where selected climate smart agriculture technologies will be demonstrated and upscaled in close cooperation with farmers and other stakeholders.

Bujarbaruah said that a climate smart agriculture technologies toolbox will be developed from the project to overcome problems faced by farmers due to rapid occurrences of climatic changes. He further stated that the project would empower women in the State as men were moving towards the cities in search of jobs leaving women to do the farming. The VC said that a model would be developed which could be given to farmers of other districts and States as well.

Bujarbaruah further stated that climate change would adversely affect small farmers who were now 86 per cent and produced 80 per cent of the food as they did not rely “too much on technology”. They should be well prepared in this regard, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, the Norwegian Ambassador said that the Norwegian Government has been giving importance to maintaining a clean environment and tackling climatic changes.  Stating that Norway as per the Paris agreement on climate changes was taking measures to reduce carbon emissions, Kamsvag said Norway has set 2050 as target to achieve carbon neutrality.

He said that climate changes across the globe was adversely impacting marginal and small farmers and so steps needed to be taken to combat the challenges emerging in the agricultural sector. The Ambassador pointed out that India and Norway was in recent times working in several projects on preserving environment and to evolve technologies to enable the small farmers to adapt to climatic changes. He hoped that the collaborative project launched will achieve complete success.

Atul Bora, in his address, hoped that the project would economically benefit the farmers in enhancing their income. The minister stated that the State Government was “keeping open its doors for foreign investment in the agricultural sector”.

Smita Bhattacharyya

Smita Bhattacharyya is Northeast Now Correspondent in Jorhat. She can be reached at: triptyaddy@gmail.com

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