November 7, 2004
The Rice-Wheat Consortium for the Indo-Gangetic Plains(RWC) and its partners, including the ICAR, have been awarded this year's King Baudouin Award by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
The award is named after a Belgian king and is one of the highest scientific honours in the world for over two decades, for promoting environment-friendly practices that have benefited thousands of farmers.
Rice-Wheat Consortium for the Indo-Gangetic Plains (RWC) was set up in 1994 to address sustainability concerns arising from intensive farming of rice and wheat in the four South Asian countries irrigated by the Indo-Gangetic river systems.
The Indo-Gangetic river systems encompass one of the most productive agricultural regions of the world, feeding not only their large resident populations but many more millions outside.
ICAR director general Dr Mangla Rai received the $10,000 cash prize and citation at a ceremony in Mexico City.
The biennial award is given by CGIAR, an alliance of countries and international organisations that supported research for agricultural growth aimed at reducing poverty and protecting the environment in developing countries.
One such practice, zero-till (sowing wheat seeds directly into rice fields after rice harvest, without ploughing at all) is being used on nearly 1.2 million hectares following its promotion by the consortium and its partners.
"Zero-till practice has resulted in a saving of $100 million in land preparation costs in one season alone. It is estimated that about 75 million litres of diesel are saved in one season alone by not tilling the land," said Dr. Rai.
Zero-till farming holds great promise at a time when water scarcity is also becoming a big issue.