No. 1421 2 July 2010

ICRISAT holds UNCCD Workshop at Patancheru

UNCCD  workshop Participants of the UNCCD workshop with Director General Dar.

ICRISAT conducted a workshop for the fourth UNCCD National Reporting Cycle - Reporting of the Performance Indicators 2010 from 28 June to 2 July at its headquarters in Patancheru. The five-day workshop was funded by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). ICRISAT is the South Asia Reference Centre for the UNCCD-PRAIS (Performance Review and Assessment of Implementation System) process. This means that it is responsible for training staff at UNCCD National Focal Points (NFPs) from nine countries in the region (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) in the UNCCD-PRAIS reporting process.

Fourteen participants from seven South Asian countries took part in the workshop. They were welcomed by Dr Peter Craufurd, Global Theme Leader, Agro-Ecosystems and by Dr Sanjay Kumar, consultant with Global Theme Agro-Ecosystems (AES), who led the workshop.

Director General Dr William Dar gave the inaugural address. “Thanks to climate change, temperatures are going to be harsher and we will see more droughts and storms, all of which can send the poor right back to the bottom of the development ladder. Burgeoning population and poverty will just increase the intensity of this perfect storm, and the suffering that it causes,” he said.

Dr Dar emphasized the relevance of scientists’ work and recommendations to influence decision-making bodies. He encouraged the participants to build synergies with institutes and stakeholders involved in preserving environment and combating land degradation. To get desired results, he said, monitoring and evaluation of the programs meant to tackle desertification are important.

UNCCD workshopGTL-AES Peter Craufurd makes a point.

“Soil is precious and water is life, and we have no other option but to preserve them to feed 9.3 billion people by 2025,” he stated. Recall that Dr Dar had acted as the Chair of the UNCCD Committee on Science and Technology from 2007 to 2009.

ICRISAT, as the regional center for South Asia, will support UNCCD NFPs throughout the process of reporting for the 4th UNCCD Reporting round by providing advice on sources of information and advice on using the online PRAIS portal.

Ritu Singh, consultant with the Indian Ministry of Environment, and a participant at the workshop expressed pressing challenges faced by NFP staff across the south Asian region. “Information is usually not readily available, as at the national, regional and local level; the gathering of information can prove to be a mammoth task,” she said.

Especially useful is the discussion on where to find information and what information is required to complete the report, said Dr Craufurd. “Participants learn from each other. Besides, ICRISAT provides applicable advice,” he added.

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New Pigeonpea Breeder


As mentioned earlier, Dr Maria Isabel Vales, a Spanish national with American permanent residency, has joined ICRISAT (at Patancheru) to take up her new position as Principal Scientist-Pigeonpea Breeding, in Global Theme-Crop Improvement. The institute is proud to have improved the gender balance among its scientists besides gaining a professional of her cadre.

Isabel obtained her PhD in Biology from the Universidad de Vigo, Spain in 1996, and her last position was as Associate Professor (Potato Breeder and Geneticist), Department of Crop and Soil Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, USA. Her plant breeding experience includes identification and evaluation of parental clones, crossing, multi-year and multi-environment selection and testing, plant variety protection, and generation of foundation seed. She has worked on several crops species, including maize, oats, barley and wheat in areas ranging from molecular genetics to applied breeding.

Team ICRISAT warmly welcomes Isabel and wishes her, her husband Oscar and their two delightful children, daughter Estela and son Ansur, all success and many happy times with the ICRISAT family. Isabel’s office is in Room 127 in Building 305. She can be reached on telephone Extn 2596.

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Workshop on improving fertility of sandy soils in Niger

Niger Participants of the soil fertility improvement workshop in Niamey.

ICRISAT-Niamey in Niger was host to a workshop from 23 to 24 June as part of a project on improving the fertility of sandy soils in the Sahel region. The project is jointly undertaken by Japan International Research Centre for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) and ICRISAT. Twenty four scientists from collaborating institutes of Niger and Japan attended the workshop. Dr Andre Bationo, Director of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)-West Africa was a guest commentator. The end-of-project workshop aimed to review the achievements made in the last eight years and pave the way for the future course of action.

Jupiter Ndjeunga, Assistant Director of ICRISAT-WCA and Project Leader Satoshi Tobita gave the welcome address on behalf of Dr Farid Waliyar, Director, ICRISAT-WCA. Opening remarks were made by Dr Balmo, representative of the National Research Institute for Food and Nutrition (INRAN).

The participants actively discussed areas for further research. Important research issues were identified beyond the lifetime of the current project and technology dissemination options were discussed.

Dr Osamu Ito, Director, JIRCAS and former ICRISAT Governing Board member, made the closing remarks. His sincere thanks went to ICRISAT for its support, and to scientists and staff members of the collaborating institutes in the project.

An editorial committee was set up that will be responsible for putting together the workshop recommendations and proceedings. A co-publication by JIRCAS and ICRISAT with several peer-reviewed papers will be developed.

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The lead story in last week’s Happenings incorrectly reported a review of the HOPE dryland cereals project including pearl millet and sorghum. Please be informed that the review was confined to sorghum alone, and that the yield gains reported apply only to sorghum in South Asia.

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Discussions on IP Management to be held

Sean Butler Dr Sean Butler.

Dr Sean Butler, Fellow and Director of Studies in Law, St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge, who is also the Central Advisory Service on Intellectual Property (CAS-IP) point of contact for ICRISAT, will visit ICRISAT-Patancheru from 5 to 7 July. The visit will cover key discussions on matters pertaining to IP management, Agri-Science Park @ ICRISAT, Agri-Business Incubator (ABI) and Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops.

Dr Butler will also address a seminar on Non-Disclosure Agreements - Negotiation and Implementation and another on Intellectual Property for New Scientists.

One-on-one meetings with scientists dealing with Material Transfer Agreements are also in the pipeline.

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Skills Training in Pigeonpea Production and Processing held in the Philippines

Philippines - pigeonpea production training Farmers from Ilocos Norte at the pigeonpea training course held by MMSU, Philippines.

The Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), Batac City, Ilocos Norte conducted a training to share the first skills in pigeonpea production and processing. This workshop was conducted as part of the project ‘Strengthening the Pigeonpea Production and Utilization Programme in North Luzon, Philippines’, a three year project with funding from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD). The objective of the training was to showcase the economic and nutritional benefits of the crop, share knowledge and skills in the production and processing technology and to maximize the utilization of marginal areas for the production of pigeonpea.

Topics discussed were:
a) economic importance and uses of pigeonpea b) why pigeonpea is grown in the Philippines c) updates on pigeonpea production in the Philippines d) status of the pigeonpea project at MMSU e) pigeonpea production technology and f) product development with emphasis on the processing of pigeonpea.

The training was conducted through a combination of lectures and hands-on demonstrations.

The training was attended by 60 farmers (21 women and 39 men) from the 21 municipalities and two cities of Ilocos Norte and was held at the University’s Training Center on 29 June 2010. The activity was graced by Dr Marivic Alimbuyoguen, Director of the Extension Services of the University on behalf of the University President Dr Miriam E Pascua. The rationale of the training was presented by Dr Floramante Pastor, Officer-In-Charge of the R&D directorate while the lecturers were Mr Fernando P Sugui, Pigeonpea Project Leader and Dr Marilyn Domingo, Study Leader, Product Development.

Trainers expect 80 percent of the participants to produce their own seeds and process their own nutritious food for their families. Ten participants acquired 20 kgs of ICPL 88039 seeds to produce quality seeds. Also, 60 grams of pigeonpea seeds were distributed to each participant so that they could sow them in their respective areas.

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ABI gives JNTU students insights into successful agri-businesses

JNTU students Potential entrepreneurs from JNTU, Hyderabad, pay attention to G Ravi Kumar at the Visitor’s Center.

On 29 June ABI-ICRISAT gave potential entrepreneurs from the Entrepreneurship Development Cell (EDC), Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU), Hyderabad, an orientation to potential agribusiness ventures.

G Ravi Kumar, Senior Visitors Services Officer, briefed the participants about ICRISAT’s activities and took them on a tour of the institute’s facilities.

Seventeen participants from Engineering, Sciences and Management streams gained valuable insights into setting up agri-business enterprises. SM Karuppanchetty and S Aravazhi apprised the participants of ABI activities that promote innovative ideas. They also talked about the incubation support available to prospective entrepreneurs. Examples of enterprises promoted by ABI were discussed.

Rami Reddy B, Managing Director, BR Cooking Sprays Pvt. Ltd, an ABI-supported incubatee shared his experiences and travails of managing his enterprise successfully.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University is organizing a 4-Week Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) sponsored by the National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board, New Delhi from 14 June to 10 July. The students’ visit to ABI was part of this program.

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