The Odisha Government has roped in the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to help tribals in the State manage natural resources well.

The State Government has signed an agreement with the Hyderabad-based ICRISAT to take up capacity building initiatives for the state’s ‘Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups’ that are dependent on agriculture.

ICRISAT will also help them in water harvesting, recording hydrological parameters and crop productivity. “The main objective of this collaboration is promoting sustainable integrated natural resource management through capacity building and monitoring. As many as 12 districts are covered over a period of three years,” P K Jena, Development Commissioner and Additional Chief Secretary, Odisha, said in a statement released by ICRISAT on Wednesday.

The districts covered under the programme are Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, Debagarh, Kendujhar, Angul, Nuapada, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Raygada, Gajpati, Ganjam and Malkangiri. The collaboration is part of Odisha’s Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups Empowerment and Livelihoods Improvement Programme (OPELIP), which is funded by the United Nation’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

ICRISAT will help the communities develop rainwater harvesting structures and set up gauging stations to record rainfall, run-off and other hydrological parameters in four districts where jhum or ‘shifting cultivation’ is practised.

“We will use its expertise in hydrology and its strong capabilities in remote sensing and Geographic Information System techniques. In all of ICRISAT’s partnerships, capacity development has been a vital component – across the farming community, government functionaries, and non-governmental organisations – as it is crucial for the delivery of required outputs,” Jacqueline Hughes, Director General of ICRISAT, said.