No. 1397 15 January 2010

Strategic Planning Retreat Kicks off at Patancheru

Asia in-house retreat in Patancheru Participants of the first Asia in-house retreat in Patancheru.

ICRISAT kicked off its regional in-house strategic planning retreats with a meeting at Patancheru from 11 to 13 January. The regional retreats are part of a series of activities planned this year to develop ICRISAT’s new strategic plan to 2020. The mapping out of a new strategic plan is an offshoot of the recommendations of the successful sixth External Program and Management Review (EPMR) conducted last year.

Participants at the Asian retreat included key scientists, the Management Group (MG) and Research Committee (RC). Spearheaded by the Office of the DDG-R with the MG, the hectic three-day schedule included understanding the trends of agriculture in the semi-arid tropics (SAT) and their strategic implications to ICRISAT’s research, pinpointing major challenges, prioritizing ICRISAT’s thrusts and identifying critical changes required to make ICRISAT more relevant to improve SAT agriculture.The main objectives of the workshop were to:

  • Build a common understanding and buy-in of the process of strategic planning
  • Understand trends in SAT agriculture and their implications on ICRISAT’s research
  • Analyze lessons and experiences and their implications for ICRISAT’s future
  • Identify priorities to be addressed by ICRISAT in Asia
  • Elaborate future institutional arrangements and ways of working with partners
  • Map out steps in moving the strategic planning process forward
Dave Hoisington DDG-R Dave Hoisington addressing the retreat.

In his opening remarks, DDG-R Dave Hoisington said that the exercise will be an excellent opportunity to discuss ICRISAT’s challenges and help define the Institute’s research focus in the future. He emphasized, “We look at what has changed, what we succeeded in doing, what we will be doing, what we like to do and what we can do.” He then encouraged active participation by participants through open and constructive discussions.

Major activities of the retreat were presentations and discussions on trends in the SAT identifying strategic implications, issues and priorities, and mapping out possible changes needed for a new ICRISAT.

Summing up the deliberations, Dr Hoisington said that the three day retreat has been very productive. “During the retreat, we have identified grand challenges affecting the SAT farmer and we are in the process of identifying priority areas,” he added. Elaborating on the planning roadmap, he said that the outcome of the three regional retreats and the expert consultancy retreat in February will help in coming up with the main ingredients for a new strategic plan.

Asia in-house retreat   Asia in-house retreat
Groups deliberating on issues.   Getting down to the brass tacks.

He also commended the strong commitment exhibited by all participants. He assured that this is not the end but only the first step in many such activities where the scientists will have a say in shaping the ICRISAT of the future.

Participants also appreciated the participative and collegial mode of the retreat, although some opined that the groups should have been smaller.

The retreat was facilitated by Jürgen Hagmann, and Judith Odhiambo of the Institute for People, Innovation and Change in Organizations (PICO). Mr Hagmann was very candid in confessing that he never saw disciplined participants like Team ICRISAT in any workshop that he has organized.

The next activities are the WCA in-house retreat, which will take place in Niamey from 26 to 28 January and the ESA in-house retreat in Nairobi, Kenya from 1 to 3 February. The expert consultancy retreat will be held in Hyderabad from 23 to 25 February.

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Asia in-house retreat   Asia in-house retreat
Asia in-house retreat   Asia in-house retreat
Asia in-house retreat   Asia in-house retreat
Asia in-house retreat   Asia in-house retreat

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Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh farmers visit ICRISAT

Fifty five farmers and site coordinators involved in the project on Enhancing Chickpea production in rainfed rice fallow lands (RRFL) of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh states of India following improved pulse production and protection technologies funded by National Food Security Mission-Pulses, Government of India, visited Patancheru on 7 and 8 January.

training program for farmers from Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh
Participants of the training program for farmers from Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

CLL Gowda, Global Theme Leader-Crop Improvement, welcomed the participants, and explained the importance of pulses in the cropping systems, given the ever increasing demand for pulses in India. He also talked about ICRISAT’s commitment to extending improved technologies to the rainfed rice fallow lands to help increase returns from pulse production. A flyer in Hindi on chickpea cultivation in RRFL was also released on this occasion.

Suresh Pande, Principal Scientist, Pathology, reiterated that learning is a mutual process and one must be open to new technologies and contribute to new developments. He elaborated on the objective of the two-day training program for trainers. At least one farmer from each of the participating villages of eight districts – Jabalpur, Damoh, Rewa and Satna of Madhya Pradesh and Raipur, Durg, Kabirdham and Rajnandgaon of Chhattisgarh – were given hands-on training in the improved chickpea production technologies. The farmers designated as trainers will in turn impart training to other farmers in their respective villages this year. SB Agarwal representing Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Jabalpur was also present at the program.

Suresh Pande speaks to the farmers
Suresh Pande speaks to the farmers during the field visit. .

The trainees were also exposed to different components of the project: Disease Management (session conducted by Mamta Sharma), Insect Pest Management (Hari Sharma), Integrated Pest Management (GV Ranga Rao), Seed Production (Shailesh Tripathi), Village Level Seed System and Entrepreneurship (Karuppan Chetty and S Aravazhi) and other cultivation activities at ICRISAT (MM Sharma).

Wrapping up, farmers shared their experiences, spelt out their doubts and sought the best solutions to different problems concerning chickpea production.

The participants thanked ICRISAT for giving them a good exposure to different techniques to improve chickpea productivity.

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Pigeonpea field day in Maharashtra

CLL Gowda
CLL Gowda addressing the farmers’ field day in Kanzara.

Pigeonpea hybrid ICPH 2671 performed very well in Kanzara village of district Akola, Maharashtra. Farmers had earlier taken special interest in developing demonstration plots of this new hybrid in their village using different cropping systems.

Encouraged by the good performance in 2008, ICRISAT had introduced other promising hybrids that are medium-duration, such as ICPH 2740 and ICPH 3762 in Kanzara in 2009. Farmers are happy with the growth and bio-mass of the crop. However, some variations were observed in these hybrid on-farm trials.

Pigeonpea field day
Farmers in rapt attention.

A farmers’ day was held on 16 December 2009 to present the best farmers with shields and certificates of appreciation for their participation in on-farm trials during the 2008 crop season.

Vice-Chancellor Venkat Mayande, Director of Research SV Sarode and other scientists of Dr Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidya Peeth, Akola graced the occasion. N Nadarajan, Director of Indian Institute of Pulses Research and Shankar Lal, Advisor, National Food Security Mission also attended. CLL Gowda presided over the function. KB Saxena and Rakesh K Srivastava from ICRISAT, and Tsedeke Abate, Tropical Legumes II project manager from Ethiopia were also present on the field day. VK Chopde and RV Kumar were instrumental in organizing the event.

Pigeonpea field day
Showcasing ICRISAT’s hybrids.

As many as 285 farmers attended the field day. Mayande, in his inaugural message, urged the farmers to grow pigeonpea for better returns, and advised them to grow hybrids suitable for their soil. CLL Gowda thanked the farmers and lauded their interest in promoting pigeonpea hybrids in their village. Chopde talked about the achievements of 2008 and how they helped in planning for 2009.

The farmers were also able to interact with the scientists during the session. A field trip to promising hybrid plots was organized and farmers were happy with the vigor and growth of ICPH 2740 hybrid.

Farmers vowed to cultivate appropriate pigeonpea hybrids on more farm area in the next season.

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ABI trains women entrepreneurs in agri-business

Aravazhi Selvaraj
Aravazhi Selvaraj addressing potential women entrepreneurs.

The Agri-Business Incubator (ABI) in association with the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) conducted a training program for 20 potential women entrepreneurs on 4 January at Patancheru. The women who were attending the 6-week training program on entrepreneurship development organized by the ministry were graduates and post-graduates in agricultural biotechnology. SM Karuppan Chetty and S Aravazhi of ABI gave sessions on potential business opportunities and agricultural biotechnology business. They also explained about the incubation support available at ABI@ICRISAT.

The participants showed interest in micro propagation (tissue culture), food processing, and seed ventures. They also visited the ABI facilities, including the biotechnology laboratories, and offices of ABI’s clients. The group was led by Kiran Kumar, Assistant Director MSME and Padma Bhushan Raju, Industrial Promotion Officer at the District Industrial Center-Sangareddy, Andhra Pradesh.


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World Bank approves the new CGIAR fund

The World Bank board approved the establishment of the new CGIAR Trust Fund at its meeting on 12 January. This means that the new CGIAR Fund is legitimate for the Bank, and the Fund Office will soon start functioning. This is obviously quite an important milestone for the CGIAR reform. The Executive Directors were all very positive and highly supportive of the new CGIAR. The Switzerland ED particularly praised it as a highly inclusive and consultative reform process.

Ren Wang, Director CGIAR in a message, thanked the Transition Management Team as well as the Alliance Leadership. He especially commended Rudy Rabbinge, CGIAR Science Council Chair, for his dedicated work and inputs, which made this milestone possible.


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Farmers’ field day for pigeonpea hybrid ICPH 2671 in Medak district

Farmers’ field day for pigeonpea hybrid ICPH 2671
Farmers in the field of Janardhan Mudiraj.

ICRISAT scientists participated in the ‘Farmers’ Field day for pigeonpea hybrid ICPH 2671’ at Choutakur Village of Medak District on 11 January. The 20-acre pigeonpea farm, owned by Gongloor Janardhan Mudiraj was the venue of the Farmers’ Field day. A total of 14 acres was cultivated with ICPH 2671 and 6 acres with local cultivar LRG 41.

About 100 enthusiastic farmers graced the occasion. They observed the huge difference between the hybrid and the local cultivar in terms of biomass and number of pods.

Farmers’ field day for pigeonpea hybrid ICPH 2671
Scientists briefing farmers.

Beside farmers, J Ramchandar Rao of the Department of Agriculture, Sangareddy; Agricultural Officers of Narsapur, Jinnaram, Kowidipalli, and Hatnura sub-divisions; Myer Mula, R Ramarao and Khin Lay Kyu of ICRISAT attended the field day.

Mula presented the importance of cultivating a hybrid for higher productivity and income. He pointed out that higher production would reduce dependence on imported dal from countries such as Myanmar.

Farmers, impressed by the ICRISAT hybrid were found enquiring about the availability of the hybrid for the upcoming cropping season.

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