The 'Bhoochetana' scheme, aimed at boosting agricultural productivity with technological support from city-based ICRISAT, has helped 4.75 million farmers in Karnataka by increased agricultural productivity and incomes. According to Karnataka Minister for Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda, the 'Bhoochetana' initiative, started with 0.2 million hectares in 2009-10 in his state, has grown to cover 3.75 million hectares, with 4.75 million farming families harnessing the benefits of the scheme through increased agricultural productivity and incomes. "The estimated net economic benefits from Bhoochetana of around USD 230 million prove that the potential of dryland agriculture can be unlocked to transform peoples' lives through partnership and convergence," Gowda said at an event as part the 41st anniversary of International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), organised at its headquarters here. The scheme, which started with six districts, now covers all 30 districts of Karnataka and those who adapted the practices of Bhoochetana project, their average income was increased by 25 per cent while average agriculture productivity was increased by 30 per cent per hectare, ICRISAT principal watersheds scientist Suhas P Wani said. "Almost all crops grown in Karnataka, including sorghum, chickpea, millets, pigeon pea, groundnut, soyabean, maize have benefitted with increased crop yield," he said. ICRISAT Director-General William D Dar said: "Our partnership with Karnataka has showed the world that achieving impact lies in translating inclusiveness and convergence into action, with all partners working together for the benefit of smallholder, marginal farmers." "Based on our ongoing impact assessment studies, we are now able to show our donors and investors that the return on investment in ICRISAT is very high.
Each dollar invested in 10 of our major technologies in the last 40 years across crops, regions and technologies has yielded USD 71 in return," Dar said.