No. 1398 22 January 2010

Sorghum Scientists’ Field Day held at ICRISAT-Patancheru

Sorghum Scientists Field Day DDG-R Dave Hoisington with participants of the sorghum scientists’ field day.

For the first time, a postrainy field day for sorghum scientists was organized at Patancheru, on 18 January. Participated by public and private sector scientists, the event showcased a range of early generation to advanced generation progenies, advanced breeding lines, new male-sterile lines including finished and under conversion and restorer lines.

DDG-R Dave Hoisington, on behalf of Director General Dr William Dar, expressed concern over declining sorghum area in India while lauding the achievements in the sorghum improvement program, particularly for the rainy season. He called on the sorghum research community to promote the crop for postrainy season in the light of its use as a staple food for the poor, fodder for livestock and an energy crop resilient to climate change. Forecasting high market price for grain sorghum, he said that improved productivity of postrainy sorghum would attract farmers to grow the crop in the coming years.

CLL Gowda welcomed the group and Belum VS Reddy gave a brief presentation on the program.

Belum Reddy Belum VS Reddy speaks to scientists during the field visit.

The scientists were shown breeding materials planted during this season in the ICRISAT sorghum fields. Belum VS Reddy (postrainy sorghum), P Srinivasa Rao (sweet sorghum), HC Sharma (shootfly & aphids screening), Tom Hash (stay-green), HD Upadhyaya (reference set screening for drought), RP Thakur and Rajan Sharma (leaf blight screening), Vincent Vadez and L Krishnamurthy (water use efficiency) explained the on-going trials, experiments and progress of work.

Scientists also visited different fields and made selections. New male-sterile lines, Giddi Maldandi derived progenies, drought, shoot fly and aphid tolerant material and restorer lines for various candidate traits were the major attractions.

Senthilvel gave an in-house presentation on the genotyping services provided by ICRISAT.

Chairing the discussion after the field visit, CLL Gowda sought feedback and suggestions to improve postrainy sorghum.

Participants expressed satisfaction over the material and sought bold, lustrous, charcoal rot-, drought- and salinity tolerant material. The group decided to conduct multi location trials involving public and private sector materials in postrainy sorghum areas.

Belum Reddy appealed to the private sector participants to use shoot fly tolerant hybrids such as ICSA 445xICSV 702 and grain mold tolerant hybrids ICSA 101xPVK 801. In his closing remarks, CLL Gowda emphasized the need to focus on major constraints in grain productivity and thanked all the participants.

Belum Reddy and P Srinivasa Rao coordinated the program.

Sorghum field day   Sorghum field day
HC Sharma and Tom Hash with sorghum scientists in the field.

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First AMG project using artesian energy launched in Yelou-Niger

AMG project
Lush African Market Garden in Yelou-Niger.

On 4 January, Issoufou Oumarou, Governor of the Dosso region of Niger visited ICRISAT’s African Market Garden (AMG) project in Yelou village. It is the first AMG that uses so-called artesian energy.

The cost of energy to pump water and the fast amortization of water pumps are the major limiting factors for the establishment of small scale horticulture gardens in Africa. In Niger, there is a vast artesian aquifer that is hardly utilized.

In an artesian aquifer the water is under natural pressure and when one drills into it, the water rises to the surface on its own. The pressure of the Niger artesian aquifer on the ground surface ranges from 0.3-1.0 atmospheres – enough to operate the low pressure drip irrigation system that is the heart of the AMG developed by ICRISAT.

With the backing of the US African Development Foundation, ICRISAT supported the installation of four hectares of AMGs, one hectare of drip irrigated fruit tree plantation and two 375 m2 tree nurseries at Yelou. The project has 128 farmer-beneficiaries.

AMG project
Artesian well in Yelou-Niger.

ICRISAT planned the system, supervised its installation and provided training. Farmers are using fruit trees selected by ICRISAT and vegetable varieties selected by the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC).

Farmers who were initially very reluctant to construct and operate the system totally changed their attitude after they had harvested the first crop of sweet corn, which fetched high prices in the local markets.

In fact, artesian energy is not the only source of alternative energy used by ICRISAT to provide water to the AMG. Solar energy is currently being used in four projects in Niger and Benin and hydraulic energy (created by differences in elevation between the water source and the field) in three projects in Ghana.

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ASP participates in Africa Finance and Investment Forum 2009

Africa Finance and Investment Forum 2009
Abdul Rahman Ilyas at the pre-conference workshop in Amsterdam.

ICRISAT participated in the Africa Finance and Investment Forum-2009 organized in collaboration with the Netherlands Development Finance Company from 13 to 15 December at the ABN AMRO headquarters’ conference center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The forum focused on the strategic role of partnerships for growth and development. Business leaders from Africa, Europe, America and Asia representing micro-finance institutions, development and commercial banks, governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as the private sector participated in the event.

Abdul Rahman Ilyas, Chief Operating Officer, Agri-Science Park (ASP) participated in the forum. ASP partner and construction major, MARG-Chennai also participated in the forum and announced an investment of US$75 million for Africa. ASP is helping MARG in creating an agricultural science park in their ‘Swarnabhoomi’ project near Chennai.

As an outcome of this visit EMRC (earlier known as European Marketing Research Centre), Belgium is also organizing an Agricultural Economic Mission from Africa to ICRISAT and Hyderabad from 28 February to 5 March. The mission delegation will comprise ministers, businessmen and bureaucrats from various African countries. The Economic Mission aims to foster partnerships between Africa and India in the sectors of agricultural research, soil and water conservation and management, biofuels, fresh produce management, knowledge parks, seed value chain and equipment.

Africa Finance and Investment Forum 2009
Delegates interacting at the forum.

The EMRC, on its official web site, described Hyderabad as the fifth largest metropolitan area in India and home to several centers of excellence in biotech research and training, making it the ideal location to bring together the public and private sector from Africa and India.

Welcoming the initiative, Abdul Rahman Ilyas said, “In our efforts to improve the lives of the poorest in the semi-arid tropics of the world, which covers Africa and Asia (predominantly India), we are honored to jointly prepare a path to agricultural development with EMRC.”

The program will also feature one-on-one business meetings with entrepreneurs, investors and government officials from India who are interested in agricultural business collaboration and investment in Africa. The business meetings will be organized in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industries.

“Our collaboration with ICRISAT and other Indian enterprises started last year. Since then we have witnessed a growing interest from both Indian and African decision makers for collaboration. India has a lot to offer Africa in terms of knowledge, service and equipment and we look forward to creating sustainable partnerships that will contribute positively to the boosting of Africa’s agricultural sector,” said Idit Miller, vice president and managing director of EMRC.

EMRC is an autonomous non-profit International Association established in 1992 by Belgian Royal Decree. The EMRC headquarters is located in Brussels, Belgium. It is composed of a network of entrepreneurs, financiers, consultants and officials from 100 countries.

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Winner of Africa Prize for leadership visits ICRISAT

Nzamujo Godfrey
Father Nzamujo Godfrey during his visit to ASP.

Agri-Science Park @ ICRISAT facilitated the visit of Father Nzamujo Godfrey and Charlemagne Sintondji from Songhai center, Benin to Patancheru from 14 to 17 January. They were at ICRISAT to understand new technologies and practices at ICRISAT and around Hyderabad that can be integrated into his Songhai Benin Center.

Father Nzamujo, a continentally recognized achiever and winner of several high profile awards, including the Hunger Project’s Africa Prize for Leadership in 1993, is the founder and Director of Songhai Centre.

Songhai Centre is a green-tech project designed to develop new generation of agricultural entrepreneurs and foster economic sustainability. Begun in 1985 on a single hectare of land, the Songhai project has expanded to six sites in Benin and one in Nigeria with the motto of commitment to excellence. Songhai symbolizes Nzamujo’s belief that Africa’s ecological characteristics are advantages rather than impediments and what began as an experiment in small-scale sustainable development to fight poverty has since become a popular institution, and a symbol of Africa’s potential for self-determination and prosperity.

Father Nzamujo delivered a lecture on Fighting poverty through the promotion of scientific and sustainable industrial culture and had a detailed discussion with DDG-R Dave Hoisington, CLL Gowda, Suhas P Wani, and the ASP and NutriPlus team. He was given a tour of ICRISAT and ASP. Further, Rudraraju Purushotham, Manager – Operations, ASP facilitated visits to various agro processing/farm machinery equipment manufacturers, value addition centers, farms and seed processing centers.

The visit was an outcome of a recent meeting with Abdul Rahman Ilyas at the workshop on Agri Business and Agri Science Parks in Africa at Gizza, Egypt on 24 October, and at the request of United Nations Industrial Development Organization, India office.

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Suhas P Wani nominated to the boards of two foundations

Suhas P Wani, Regional Theme Coordinator (Asia), Global Theme on Agroecosystems has been nominated as a member of the Board of Trustees and Board of the Institute of Rural Research and Development for the SM Sehgal Foundation.

Nzamujo Godfrey

Suhas Wani has also been appointed as the Member of the Programme Advisory Committee for the theme of Natural Resource Management and Climate Change in MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Chennai, India.

The Sehgal Foundation supports a variety of programs designed to promote sustainable development at the village level. The Foundation’s chairman, Dr Suri Sehgal is a distinguished international agriculturalist, and is founder and past-Chairman of the Proagro group of companies, India. The Sehgal Foundation is also supporting ICRISAT for research in pearl millet, sorghum and integrated watershed management.

MSSRF is a non-profit Trust. The basic mandate of MSSRF is to impart a pro-nature, pro-poor and pro-women orientation to a job-led economic growth strategy in rural areas through harnessing science and technology for environmentally sustainable and socially equitable development.

Suhas Wani is also serving as a member of the International Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Board of the Unilever, United Kingdom.

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