In response to the recent policy set to become a fully organic State, a one-day training was organized by the International Potato Center (CIP) through the FoodSTART+ project, in collaboration with the Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) and the IFAD-supported Livelihoods and Access to Markets Project (Megha-LAMP) implemented by the Meghalaya Basin Development Authority (MBDA). The training “Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for Organic Seed Potato Production in Meghalaya” was held on 27 April 2018 at the Central Potato Research Station (CPRS) in Upper Shillong, Meghalaya, India. It aimed to develop capacities of participants, including Farmer Business School (FBS) members and facilitators, on high yielding and late blight tolerant/resistant varieties suitable for Meghalaya, best agronomic practices for organic potato production, methods for improving quality of farmer own-saved seed through Positive/Negative selection, Diffused Light Store (DLS) technology for proper seed storage and sprouting, and post-harvest management. A total of 51 participants (33 female and 18 male) attended the training including FBS members and facilitators, staff members of MBDA/Megha-LAMP, Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI), State Bio-Control Laboratory, CIP and Department of Horticulture (DOH).
FBS members and facilitators from Nongwah, Wahlyngkien and Mawngap villages shared their experience during the event. Members feel that the seed potato they have been using for decades is not fit to produce good yield, even more under organic conditions, and they are interested to replace the seed stock with high yielding and late blight tolerant/resistant varieties. To strengthen the existing seed system in East Khasi Hills district, CIP and its partners are trying to strengthen linkages between formal (CPRI and DOH) and informal sectors (FBS members) for enhanced seed security.
In order to further support the implementation of the organic state policy in Meghalaya, CIP-FoodSTART+ has laid out potato trials in all the three pilot villages to demonstrate organic seed potato production in the region. At the same time, CIP in collaboration with the partners has organized on/off farm trainings on positive selection for improving the quality of the farmers owned saved seeds. The school members were also trained to prepare and apply organic pesticides like Bordeaux mixture at village level.
It is expected that the farming practices disseminated through these capacity building activities will facilitate better organic seed and ware potato production in Meghalaya, contributing to increasing the income of farmers, and reducing food vulnerability among the community members.
Written by Shahid Ali, Senior Potato Expert, CIP-FoodSTART+