In 2017, the Baramati Agricultural Development Trust, together with the Indian government, invested in a highly innovative Centre of Excellence (CoE) for vegetables, the first in India under the Indo-Dutch Joint Action Plan. This CoE demonstrates the potential of Dutch greenhouse technology, knowledge and skills for the Indian market. For example, it demonstrated a higher (and out-of-the season) production of vegetables using more sustainable production methods such as using less water, fertilizer, and chemicals. See film: CoE Baramati.
During the largest Dutch trade mission ever organized to India, from 22-25 May 2018, Ms Carola Schouten (Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality) took the opportunity to visit the Center of Excellence (CoE) for vegetable production in Baramati. Just afterwards HollandDoor was granted with a three-year program funded by the Dutch government through the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).
The project involves many Indian and Dutch research and training organizations combined with companies active in breeding, production and trade of vegetables as well necessary supplies. The Indian stakeholders are all based in Maharashtra, one of the Indian states. From the Dutch side, three Dutch Universities of Applied Sciences (VHL, HAS and Aeres) and Lentiz and Wellant College are involved. See here for more information.
Now that the CoE is up and running, it’s time to disseminate the knowledge to Indian farmers through demonstrations and training. It’s all about realizing awareness (existence), understanding (knowledge) and finally acceptance (investment willingness). There is no fixed manual regarding which technology / knowhow / investment level will work. That is completely dependent on the local climatic, socio-economic and market conditions. So it’s a challenge to find what will / will not work in India in various regions, products, markets, cultures etc. and share this information within the sector.
This above described vision and mission are evident in the set-up of the 3-year Training-of-Trainer project, which was launched together with CoE Baramati and Dutch knowledge institutes. The project has the following components:
- Training of Trainer: Screened and selected trainees, 50% from Maharashtra Knowledge institutes and 50% from businesses such as breeders, suppliers and FPO companies. Two core trainer teams were created: one team on greenhouse cultivation and one team on value chain management. They first receive extensive training and then they implement training towards various farmers groups.
- MHKIP: Initiation of a “Maharashtra Horti Knowledge and Innovation Platform”. The project aims to bring together boardroom officials from the public and private sectors to jointly discuss, prioritize and catalyze needed horti-sector innovations at the production and supply chain level.
- PMC Innovations: Research and Development of new Product-Market-Combinations with the assistance of students of Indian and Dutch knowledge institutiones.
During the summer months of 2018, a large number of potential trainees from various organizations where nominated, screened and selected. In October, a 3-day kick-off session was organized to meet all trainees and to assess and fine-tune further training sessions towards the needs of the trainees in the 2 core-trainer groups. In November, the first 5-day intensive training took place with focus on refreshment and upgrading theory and increase development of applied skills.
Also in October, the first successful meeting of the MHKIP took place, during which the current challenges in Maharashtra horticultural supply chains were discussed. A list of 15 possible interventions was compiled, and these are currently in the process of prioritization by the MHKIP members.
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