Farmer weeding maize field in Bihar, India
A farmer at work weeding in a maize field close to the Pusa site of the Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA), in the Indian state of Bihar.
BISA is a non-profit research institute dedicated to the improvement of food security and reduction of hunger in South Asia. It is a collaborative effort between the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), and the Government of India. BISA’s objective is to harness the latest technology in agriculture to improve farming productivity and sustainably meet the demands of the future. More than just a bricks-and-mortar institute, BISA is a commitment to the people of India. It is co-located in three Indian states—Punjab, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh—each of which contains varied agro-ecological zones, representing many of the environments of South Asia.
In Bihar, the current major constraints to maize production are low seed replacement rates, late sowing, and low levels of farm mechanization. Foliar blight disease is also a growing concern among Bihar’s farmers. Both hybrids and traditional maize varieties are grown throughout Bihar and maize productivity is currently 2.5 tons per hectare, higher than the national average of 1.9.
Areas of future development for BISA Pusa include the development of climate-resilient cultivars, innovative maize genotypes, diverse wheat cultivars, disease resistance, farmer information technologies, and new irrigation technologies. Initial trials have indicated that the implementation of zero tillage on 1.5 million hectares has the potential to increase soil moisture and enhance wheat production by 0.45 million tons. The promotion of quality protein maize to address malnutrition rates as well as long-term conservation agricultural trials is also a priority for the site.
For more about BISA, see: bisa.cimmyt.org/.
Photo credit: M. DeFreese/CIMMYT.