No. 1422 9 July 2010

DG Meets New Philippine Secretary of Agriculture

William Dar Director General William Dar with new Philippine Secretary of Agriculture, Proceso Alcala (in striped shirt), and other top agriculture officials.

Director General William Dar met with the new Philippine Secretary of Agriculture, Proceso Alcala, this week. Secretary Alcala is part of the newly installed cabinet of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III who assumed office on 30 June.

Dr Dar congratulated the new official and expressed confidence that Alcala’s leadership will bring in a fresh outlook at the Department of Agriculture (DA) of the Philippines and renew confidence among Filipino farmers and fisherfolk.

Also, Dr Dar emphasized that agriculture plays a pivotal role in reducing poverty and improving the livelihoods of the poor throughout the developing world. He spoke about the brewing ‘perfect storm’, a confluence of challenges, such as booming population, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, desertification and climate change. “This perfect storm threatens the food security of the world,” Dr Dar pointed out.

“Being an agricultural country, the Philippines will surely face these daunting challenges. As this happens, the hardest hit will be the upland and rainfed areas where the poorest of the poor live,” underscored Dr Dar.

Secretary Alcala highlighted his plan to make the Philippines self-sufficient in rice and his pursuit of a pro-farmer and pro-poor agricultural development strategy, guided by an inclusive market-oriented development pathway.

In response, Dr Dar said, “We are confident that through your stewardship, the Philippines can at last attain our long cherished goal of attaining national food security and prosperity among our farmers and fisherfolk. We believe that the Philippines can be self-sufficient in rice and at the same time pursue economic opportunities in high value agriculture.”

Dr Dar also asked for Secretary Alcala’s support towards the creation of a Philippine Dryland Research Institute (PhilDRI). He mentioned a law that was earlier proposed and filed in the Philippine Congress for the creation of PhilDRI. He said, “PhilDRI will be the country’s first line of defense against drought and climate change, and will substantially contribute to improving the livelihoods of poor communities in the rainfed and upland areas.” Additionally, Dr Dar assured Secretary Alcala of technical advice and of ICRISAT’s active partnership in all important endeavors at DA.

Secretary Alcala was quite enthusiastic about strengthening the partnership between ICRISAT and DA and welcomed the technical advice coming directly from the Director General of ICRISAT. He also agreed to mainstream policy support and higher investment in the rainfed and upland areas of the Philippines.

Dr Dar is in Manila from 7 to 9 July to take part in the Investment Forum for Food Security in Asia and the Pacific organized by the Asian Development Bank, International Fund for Agriculture Development and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. He himself was the Philippine Secretary of Agriculture from 1998 to 2000. The rank of a Cabinet Secretary in the Philippines is equivalent to that of a Minister in the Government of India.

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HOPE field day in Tanzania

Hope field day Mary Mgonja showing the farmers finger millet varieties under evaluation.

ICRISAT-Nairobi organized a field day in Moshi town, Tanzania on 2 July. A total of 235 people (124 men and 111 women) attended. Among them were farmers from the surrounding villages of Moshi Rural district, religious and local business communities, seed companies, and extension and research staff from the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, and local food processors.

The event started with a visit to ICRISAT research fields at Miwaleni research site where participants saw a lush and outstanding crop of improved sorghum varieties (Macia, Gadam Hamam, KARI Mtama 1, Sima and Tegemeo), high performing sorghum hybrids, pearl millet (Okoa and Shibe) and blast-resistant varieties of finger millet (U15 and P224). Despite the severe dry spell in the area, crops including maize, sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet demonstrated their resilience to terminal drought.

The participants also visited sorghum farmers’ fields in the Kilacha ward. They were impressed by the performance of sorghum and millets in the dry season as compared to maize. Later, the District Commissioner of Moshi, Honorable Alhaj Musa Samizi and Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) ICRISAT-representative, Mary Mgonja, addressed the gathering at the Kilacha training center. In her welcome speech, Mgonja pointed out that ICRISAT and its partners are committed to improving crop productivity and adaptation to drought so that farmers could soon access improved varieties of crops such as sorghum, pearl and finger millet.

Hope field day Alhaj Musa Samizi and a group of farmers listen as Joseph Kibuka of ICRISAT explains about juice extraction from sweet sorghum.

She also indicated that ICRISAT through the HOPE project is exploring market links and options for sorghum and millet farmers, which will allow them to sell their surplus grain or crop residue. The Tanzanian government buys sorghum through the Strategic Grain Reserves and World Food Program (Purchase for Progress). She made assurances that ICRISAT will continue to strengthen research capacity in the region for sustenance. ICRISAT is in fact supporting the training of post-graduate students, including Separatus Kamutu, Phyllis Muturi and Justin Ringo, who were present at the field day. She appealed to the district officials to consider improving facilities at Miwaleni research site since this site can be a center of excellence for dry land research.

In his address, Alhaj Musa Samizi indicated that the three districts of Same, Mwanga and Moshi Rural are already experiencing the impact of climate change such as the combination of droughts and floods similar to the conditions in 2009, which caused food shortages in over 45,000 households. He stressed that drought resistant crops such as sorghum and millet are better able to cope with climate change and need to be grown by farmers to mitigate hunger. The District Commissioner told the farmers and councilors that they can start producing enough food as improved varieties are now available. He also declared that the government will not distribute relief food starting 2011. Samizi encouraged farmers to follow good agronomic practices including water harvesting. In his closing remarks, he thanked ICRISAT for choosing Tanzania as one of the countries for implementing the HOPE project and also revitalizing activities in the Miwaleni site for dry land research.

Hope field day Farmers admire the lush sorghum field.

The attendees had an opportunity to see commercial products displayed by the local processors and taste different foods made with sorghum and millet. Forty-three farmers have been contracted by a seed company to produce 40 tons of sorghum variety Macia, which will be further used to scale up the production of improved varieties. This change was brought about by a single Participatory Variety Selection (PVS) process established in 2009 by the Moshi District Agricultural and Livestock Development office.

ICRISAT expects even better impact as the HOPE project helps to further increase the distribution of PVS crops.

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Sesame project reviewed in Uganda

Sesame project A farmer-preferred sesame variety (Sesim 2 x 5181)-2-2-1.

ICRISAT-Nairobi, the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), and the Ugandan NARS jointly organized the first annual review of the project Sesame improves livelihoods of farmers in Northern Uganda in Soroti, Uganda, from 28 June to 1 July.

Eighteen stakeholders representing ICRISAT-Nairobi; AIT-Vienna; National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute−Serere (NaSSARI), Uganda; African Innovations Institute, Kampala, Uganda; Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Ngetta, Uganda; Uganda Oil Seed Producers and Processors Association-Kampala; Ministry of Agriculture, Naseco Seeds as well as progressive farmers participated in the meeting.

Ganga Rao represented ICRISAT at the meeting. Josef Schmidt and Fluch Silvia represented the donor country research organization, AIT-Vienna. Walter O Anyanga, sesame breeder from NaSSARI and William Otim Nape, Plant Pathologist/Adaptive research specialist, key persons for project implementation in Uganda, were also present.

Sesame project Participants of the sesame project review.

The participants discussed the eight project outputs with respect to progress made over the last year and in terms of developing a work plan for Year 2. Substantial progress has been made in all the activities planned under various project outputs, especially in terms of germplasm collection and conducting baseline surveys and farmer participatory evaluation of new varieties, as well as developing promising agronomic, pest and disease management practices.

On 29 June the participants visited on-farm trials to look at varietal evaluation and crop management practices in Bata, Kangai and Kaberamaido. The group also noted the feedback from farmers who participated in on-farm experimentation. Farmers expressed satisfaction about production potentials of new varieties under evaluation and stressed the need for fast tracking of varietal release and ensuring seed availability.

On 30 June the participants visited NaSARRI to see on-station experiments of new breeding populations/varieties, phenotyping of germplasm collections and quality seed production. All the stakeholders expressed great satisfaction about on-going research that can meet the future needs of sesame farmers, traders and consumers.

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NAIP National Director visits Patancheru

NAIP Peter Ninnes welcomes Dr Bangali Baboo to ICRISAT.

Dr Bangali Baboo, National Director, National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) - Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, visited ICRISAT-Patancheru on 6 July.

NAIP is a World Bank-aided project of ICAR that provides technological support to farmers by developing new strategies, technologies and innovative solutions. ICAR through NAIP aims to develop Research and Development (R&D) systems and create new ways of doing business in agriculture and allied fields. It also aims to increase crop productivity, alleviate poverty and raise nutritional, livelihood and income security. It promotes more than 188 projects involving approximately 600 institutions and $300 million. ICRISAT is looking after three main projects and three sub-projects of NAIP worth $7 million.

The National Director’s visit was facilitated by our Management Group, OIC DG’s Office Peter Ninnes and Director-Finance Rajesh Agrawal, and was coordinated by Agri-Business Incubator-ICRISAT.

NAIP Dr Bangali Baboo with Team ICRISAT at Patancheru

Rajesh Agrawal welcomed Dr Baboo and Manager Visitors and Travel Service, MM Sharma talked about ICRISAT activities. The dignitary showed keen interest in the ongoing NAIP projects at ICRISAT.

SM Karuppanchetty and S Aravazhi gave a detailed presentation on Handholding and Mentoring of Business Processing and Development (BPD) projects. Belum Reddy along with A Ashok Kumar and Ch Ravinder Reddy discussed the Sweet Sorghum Ethanol Value Chain project. Dr Bangali Baboo appreciated the overall performance and impact of NAIP projects at ICRISAT.

On behalf of the Institute, Peter Ninnes felicitated the National Director with a memento and assured him of ICRISAT’s continued support.

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Farmers undergo training on pigeonpea hybrid in Jharkhand

Jharkhand Farmers, KVK and Zonal Research Station workers at the training program in Ranchi.

The Birsa Agricultural University (BAU) at Ranchi in Jharkhand state has been promoting ICRISAT-developed pigeonpea hybrid technology since 2008 under an International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) project.

BN Singh, Director of Research, BAU and team had noted the improved yields of hybrid ICPH 2671 in on-farm trials conducted in the state in 2008, a trend that continued in 2009, which encouraged farmers to grow hybrids. At the request of BAU, ICRISAT conducted a training program for farmers as well as the workers of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra and Zonal Research Station on 17 June at the university in Ranchi. This training program was conducted by R Vijaya Kumar, Lead Scientific Officer.

Pigeonpea Hybrid pigeonpea, the star of the training program..

The farmers’ group represented nine districts of Jharkhand - Dhumka, Dhanbad, Hazaribagh, Gumla, Gadwar, Lathehar, Palamu, Chatra and Ranchi. These farmers had grown ICPH 2671 in 2009 and had recorded yields of over 3000 kg ha-1. The farmers were therefore enthusiastic about taking up a seed production program also. They were given training in row ratio, spacing, bee activity for cross pollination, and other management precautions at the training program.

Hybrid seeds of ICPH 2671 weighing 1000 kg (purchased directly from the National Seed Corporation, Secunderabad) were distributed among farmers for the conduct of on-farm trials in their respective locations. The seed production will be taken up in 20 hectares this season.

BAU requested ICRISAT to continue its support in monitoring the significant hybrid seed production program.

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