Special initiative ONE WORLD – No Hunger

Green innovation centre India


Potatoes are an important part of the Indian diet. However, many potato plants are destroyed by a fungal disease known as leaf blight. Often it is seed potatoes that are infested by the pathogens. Smallholders, who are already poor, constantly lose a large part of their crop as a result.

Most of these smallholders use oxen to farm their fields and harvest their crops by hand. In using this method, they are failing to maximise anywhere near the full potential of their farmland. The yields of tomato growers too are smaller than what they could be. Groundwater levels are falling in many places, making the irrigation of crops more and more difficult. In addition, many plants are destroyed by a pest called the tomato leaf miner. The green innovation centre in India aims to overcome these challenges with the aid of new technology.

What is so innovative?

Solar and battery-powered insect trap. The insects are lured in by the light of the trap and are killed inside.

Resisting the blight: Together with the international expert networks of AsiaBlight and EuroBlight, the green innovation centre is conducting trials to determine effective ways of preventing leaf blight infestation. Tests are also to be carried out using new, resistant varieties of potato. The International Potato Center (CIP) in India is responsible for ensuring the quality of the new planting stock and for analysing results.

Moth traps and irrigation: Farmers are using solar-powered traps to tackle the problem of the tomato leaf miner. The moths are drawn by the light of the traps where they are then killed. Water consumption is also reduced thanks to drip irrigation. By distributing water in a targeted fashion, tomato plants receive exactly the right amount of water they need, thus creating the ideal conditions for growth.

Mechanical replaces manual: Contractors are hiring ploughs, tractors as well as planting and harvesting machinery from agricultural machinery manufacturers. At the same time, the manufacturers provide them with free training on how to operate and maintain the equipment. In return for payment, the contractors then carry out certain work for the farmers. As a result, new jobs are created at the service companies and yields are increased considerably as the land is cultivated mechanically. In this way, potato farmers are not only able to cover the costs of the contractors but can also boost their own incomes at the same time.

Our objectives

  • To increase income for 75,000 smallholders by 25 per cent
  • To create 1,000 new jobs
  • To provide education and training for 90,000 smallholders

Routes to success

In order to improve their living and working conditions, farmers need to join together to create producer groups via which they can market their potatoes and tomatoes. In cooperation with the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation (DGRV), the Indian non-governmental organisation APMAS is establishing four such groups as part of the green innovation centre; these will bring together up to 4,000 farmers in total.

Most smallholders never had the opportunity to undertake agricultural training. Efficient farming, harvesting and post-harvest methods take a long time to become accepted. As a partner of the green innovation centre in India, the German organisation Welthungerhilfe is developing and expanding nine vocational training centres – otherwise known as "green colleges" – in India. In courses ranging in length between ten days and six months, participants learn about sustainable farming techniques and methods of cultivation. At the end of the course, they receive a certificate stating that they have completed a period of recognised vocational training. For example, young people attending a green college can train to become a veterinary assistant.

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