No. 1395 31 December 2009

ICRISAT and University of Florida conduct training on watersheds

watershed development training program Participants of watershed development training program.

ICRISAT and University of Florida jointly organized a capacity building program for senior government officers from different states of India. The program on Integrated Watershed Development was held at Patancheru from 21 to 27 December. In all, 25 senior watershed development officials and scientists from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) participated in the program.

The objectives of the course were: To increase awareness about the new integrated watershed development program and the common guidelines formulated in 2008 and to identify the issues that come up while implementing the common guidelines.

During the inaugural session on 21 December, V Balaji welcomed the participants and talked about the training programs conducted by ICRISAT and the University of Florida. Mylavarapu Rao, Associate Professor, University of Florida explained the concepts of watershed management. SP Wani described watershed as a growth engine that has helped develop rainfed agriculture and the livelihoods of dryland farmers in India. Highlighting the evolution of watershed initiatives in India, he said that watersheds have come a long way from the initial soil and water conservation stage to increasing crop productivity and finally to the improvement in livelihoods.

Besides explaining the common guidelines, the capacity building program also shed light on the prioritization and delineation of watersheds, institutional arrangement in a watershed program, integrated genetic and natural resource management for enhancing crop productivity, crop livestock integration, soil water conservation measures, use of Information and Communications Technology as a tool for outreach, impact assessment of watersheds, basin management activities, sustainability of watersheds, processing of fruits and vegetables as micro enterprises and agribusiness integration in watershed programs. Representatives of the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation, Central Food Technological Research Institute, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development and the National Institute of Agriculture Extension Management led the program sessions along with ICRISAT scientists and Mylavarapu Rao.

The participants also visited on-station crop demonstrations, watershed experiments and the gene bank and the Charles Renard Analytical Laboratory. They also visited Adarsha Watershed in Kothapally and the bio-diesel plantation, which has been established on common degraded lands at Velchal and is managed by the rural community.

During the concluding session on 26 December, certificates were distributed to the participants. Participants highly appreciated the contents of the course, the faculty as well as the logistical arrangements and indicated that they learned quite a lot through the field visits, including the visit to Adarsha Watershed, Kothapally on 27 December. They also appreciated the availability of the literature and the PowerPoint presentations on watershed management along with the other course materials.

The program was sponsored by the Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India. The course directors of the program were SP Wani, GT-Agroecosystems and Mylavarapu Rao. The program was coordinated by V Balaji, Head of Knowledge Management and sharing.

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Training on marker-assisted plant breeding

ICRISAT-Nairobi recently organized a training workshop for the national agricultural research systems (NARS) on the applications of integrated decision support system for marker-assisted plant breeding (iMAS). The workshop was held on 18 and 19 December at the International Livestock Research Institute in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. Twenty one researchers from seven countries, including Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda attended the workshop.

iMAS training program in Nairobi
Participants of the iMAS training program in Nairobi.

iMAS is an open-source and free software developed at ICRISAT. The system frees the user from the painful, time-consuming and error-prone manual preparation of input data files required by a host of software that are used in the computational process of marker-assisted selection. The iMAS workshop aimed to give the researchers both hands-on and theoretical training in analyzing experimental data from the field and the laboratory and to interpret the results.

Richard Jones, Deputy Director - ESA, inaugurated the program and talked about the importance of biometrical data analyses and use of genomics tools in modern plant breeding. He also mentioned that the participants from Africa would greatly benefit from the workshop.

The participants acquired skills in generating and analyzing the experimental designs using single and multi environment data sets, constructing linkage maps by mapping populations and quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for traits. They were instructed in interpreting the results from various modules of iMAS. Participants appreciated the user-friendly, simple and online iMAS.

Abhishek Rathore, T Nepolean, G Mallikarjun and Anil K Vemula served as resource persons at the training program and Dan Kiambi facilitated the events.


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Farmers from Maharashtra visit ICRISAT

Two groups of 25 farmers and extension officials from Washim and Akola districts of Maharashtra visited ICRISAT on 23 and 29 December, respectively. The visits were effectively training programs, which were organized as part of the on-going Tropical Legumes II project [Enhancing pigeonpea productivity and production in drought–prone areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, (Objective 6); and ICRISAT pigeonpea seed production and delivery strategy: South Asia, or Objective 8.5].

Farmers and extension officers from Maharashtra
Farmers and extension officers from Maharashtra during a field visit.

Rakesh Srivastava and his team conducted interactive training sessions on the field. A presentation on seed production of pure-line varieties and hybrids was well received by the participants.

Tropical Legumes-II is a joint initiative of three international agricultural research centers, namely ICRISAT (chickpea, groundnut and pigeonpea), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture or IITA (cowpea & soybean), and International Center for Tropical Agriculture or CIAT (common bean). The initiative aims to increase the production of legumes and the income of poor farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia by 15%. In the next 10 years, it aims to cover 30% of the total area cultivated by some 57 million poor farmers with improved varieties. It is likely to result in an additional value gain of more than US$300 million during that period.

The project’s strategy is to conduct fast track tests so that farmers can adopt existing varieties and advanced breeding lines. The project also intends to generate new varieties and hybrids preferred by the farmers and the market for their desirable traits (high yields, tolerance to moisture stress, and resistance to pests and diseases). Establishing decentralized, pro-poor seed production and delivery systems is yet another objective.

All activities have been carried out in full partnership with NARS of nine countries, including Mali, Niger and Nigeria in Western and Central Africa; Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania in Eastern and Southern Africa and India in South Asia.


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