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Odisha Govt signs MoU with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment (DOA & FE), Government of Odisha, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today signed a MoU worth Rs 32 crore to further the objectives of improving the lives of smallholder farmers and promoting inclusive agricultural transformation in Odisha.

The MoU 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 in the presence of Hon’ble Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy.

Speaking on the occasion, CM reiterated Odisha Government’s committment for development of agriculture and allied sectors in the State. He also expected that it would bring improvement in the livelihood of small and marginal farmers.

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 the state. The MoU will allow the Govt 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 bio-fortified 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 an 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.