New Delhi: The Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment (DOA&FE), Government of Odisha, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to further the objectives of improving the lives of smallholder farmers and promoting inclusive agricultural transformation in Odisha. In the presence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. the agreement was signed by Mr Hari Ballav Mishra, Director of Agriculture and Food Production, Government of Odisha and Dr Nick Austin. Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The MoU will formalize a partnership between the State Government and the Foundation to accelerate the State’s agriculture programme and improve the lives of smallholder farmers in Odisha. The MoU will allow the Government and the Foundation to partner on agriculture projects, including a project to improve data management, analysis and use within the Department of Agriculture. Other activities may include expansion of biofortified crops in Odisha, generating evidence on policy issues pertaining to farmers’ income, land, women in agriculture, and crop diversification and developing joint programmes on soil diagnostics and agronomic inputs targeting.
The first project to be initiated under the MoU will build a data management system that supports the Department of Agriculture in using data to make evidence-based policies. The project will combine data from Government sources into a single platform to help the Department monitor and improve its work. It will support the creation of a Technical Support Unit (TSU) within the Government to develop the system and train users. The project will be governed by a Advisory Committee chaired by the Principal Secretary of the Department of Agriculture & Farmers” Empowerment, and will leverage the knowledge of local and global experts in data and agriculture.