No. 1423 16 July 2010

Farmers Select Improved Pigeonpea Varieties in Kenya

Pigeonpea inKenya Farmer participant in one the pigeonpea fields in Kenya.

When it comes to sustainable agriculture, farmers have the last word. In recent field days held at the Makueni and Mbeere districts in eastern Kenya, farmers selected three medium-duration and three long-duration pigeonpea varieties developed by ICRISAT-ESA. Farmers preferred the medium-duration varieties because of their earliness, drought tolerance and high yield, while long-duration varieties were appreciated because of their high biomass and grain color.

When asked to rank the varieties, farmers ranked ICEAP 00850 as the best, followed by ICEAP 00554 and ICEAP 00557 for medium-duration varieties. Among the long-duration varieties, they ranked ICEAP 00932 as the best, followed by ICEAP 00936 and ICEAP 00040. The local varieties in both medium and long duration types were ranked last.

ICRISAT-Nairobi together with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute at Katumani and Egerton University are evaluating three medium (ICEAPs 00554, 00557 and 00850) and three long-duration varieties (ICEAPs 00040, 00932 and 00936) on-farm in Makueni, Mbeere, Machakos, Koibatek, Kerio valley and Kabranet in Kenya under the IFAD funded Treasure legumes project.

Pigeonpea in Kenya Farmers pose for a group photo during varietal selection.

In the 2009-10 season, 79 farmer participatory varietal selection (FPVS) trials were conducted and those plantings are being evaluated by 1380 farmers representing 44 farmer groups. Each trial farmer planted one of the 3 medium or long-duration varieties alongside one local variety. Additionally, to create demonstration-cum-seed bulking sites, 117 other farmers were also given seeds of the same medium and long duration varieties. Farmers were taught seed production techniques and were closely monitored to ensure the production of quality seeds, which could be distributed among them next season.

Farmers were invited for field days held in both Makueni and Mbeere districts. In Makueni district, three field days were held at Matangi (17 June), Matithini (18 June) and Mutulani (28 June) sites where Mohamed Somo from ICRISAT-Nairobi, district agricultural officers, agricultural extension officers and 96 farmers participated. In Mbeere district, a field day was held on 24 June at Makima with 27 farmer participants.

The major activity organized on the field days was the selection of farmer preferred varieties using the PVS evaluation form developed at ICRISAT-Nairobi. Criteria used by farmers to select the most promising varieties were earliness, tolerance to pests and drought, high biomass, seed color and size, among others.

Pigeonpea is an important crop in eastern Kenya and farmers in this dry area rely heavily on this crop for food security. In recent years, farmers in the Rift Valley province have shown interest in pigeonpea as a drought-resistant crop.

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IYSC encourages harnessing of science and technology for development

IYSC MS Swaminathan with Dr William Dar and SRM University Vice-Chancellor (first from left) P Sathyanarayanan at the second Indian Youth Science Congress.

The second Indian Youth Science Congress (IYSC) organized jointly by the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and SRM University in Chennai, called upon young scientists to harness science and technology for sustainable development of the country.

Inaugurating the three-day Youth Science Congress on 26 June, Dr MS Swaminathan, Chairman MSSRF said, “For mainstreaming the concept of sustainability in our research and development work, there are six major principles that our young scientists will have to keep in mind, namely ecology, economics, equity, ethics, employment and energy.”

Director General William Dar in his PowerPoint presentation on Serving Smallholder Dryland Farmers introduced the young minds to the potential of drylands to usher in a second green revolution. Explaining ICRISAT’s capacity building efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of hungry people by 2015, Dr Dar said that the Institute has so far trained over 15,000 specialists from 48 countries, including 620 post-graduate students through partnerships.

Dr Dar then said that ICRISAT’s improved crops are important in ensuring food and nutritional security in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Sharing some of ICRISAT’s success stories before the large number of students from the science stream of the university, Dr Dar cited the downy mildew-resistant improved pearl millet, wilt-resistant high yielding pigeonpea and rosette-resistant groundnuts. He added that ICRISAT is determined to reduce poverty, hunger and environmental degradation in the dryland tropics by forging partnerships and espousing the mission of science with a human face.

KK Dwivedi, Head, National Council for Science and Technology Communication, VS Hegde, Scientific Secretary, Indian Space Research Organization, TR Pachamuthu Chancellor and P Sathyanarayanan, Vice-Chancellor of SRM University, and Ajay Parida, Executive Director, MSSRF and Vice-President of IYSC were among those who spoke on the occasion.

More than 600 delegates, including students, young researchers and scientists, and academicians from all over India took part in several sessions. They presented papers in the course of the three-day conference. The first Indian Youth Science Congress held last year was also hosted in Chennai.

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ASP urges policy makers to promote food processing

FoodCon2010 Saikat Datta Mazumdar addressing the FoodCon 2010 in Chennai.

FoodCon 2010, a conference on the latest trends in food processing and preservation technologies organized by the Tamil Nadu Technology Development and Promotion Centre of the Confederation of Indian Industry was held in Chennai on 9 July.

Saikat Datta Mazumdar, Technical Director, NutriPlus Knowledge Centre represented ICRISAT at the conference. He delivered a special inaugural address titled Challenges to Global Agriculture and Food Security: ICRISAT’s perspective. He urged the policy makers and the food industry to keep in mind the global challenges of climate change, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, food crisis, energy crisis and population explosion when planning for their future activities. In such a scenario, food processing will prove increasingly useful, Mazumdar stated.

He explained in detail ICRISAT’s work in improving the livelihoods of farmers in the semi arid tropics. ICRISAT’s innovative research that stresses on increasing food availability and reducing poverty, especially in the semi arid tropics, were also highlighted in the talk.

Mazumdar also made a presentation on the Agri Science Park @ ICRISAT (ASP) and its activities, which facilitate strategic partnerships for the development and promotion of technologies, innovations and knowledge for the benefit of farmers, and how activities of the NutriPlus Knowledge Center (part of ASP) add value to ICRISAT’s mandate crops.

India’s Minister of State for Agriculture, KV Thomas, who inaugurated the conference, appreciated the work being carried out by ICRISAT particularly in the area of value addition. He said that the Indian government is keen to pilot the Food Security Bill as soon as discussions with state governments and NGOs conclude.

Mr Thomas said a major point of discussion was whether the food security program should be limited to food grains or include other entitlements for a healthy life such as edible oil, milk, medicine and even drinking water.

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Top Asian publishers meet in Vietnam

Asian Publishing Convention Presenters share state-of-the art techniques of digital publishing at the Asian Publishing Convention

Last week, 190 top publishers representing 132 companies operating in 17 countries converged in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for the Asian Publishing Convention (APC) to share state-of-the art techniques and developments in print, mobile and online publishing. Communication Director Rex Navarro participated in this event on behalf of ICRISAT.

APC brings world-class thinking and practice in publishing management to Asia. It serves as a venue for the continuing professional development of publishing managers through face-to-face interaction and networking among participants from all over the region. It congregates senior publishing professionals from across the countries constituting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Hong Kong, India and Taiwan.

In an age of ‘Digital Darwinism’, publishers must harness cutting-edge technologies to survive in the industry. Hence, every year, APC assembles top digital talents together for publishers to test their ideas, broaden their understanding and discuss issues on the potential of digital engagement.

Through this event, Dr Navarro was able to learn new trends in publishing – especially in the creation, processing and distribution of content through digital technology and the web. Likewise, he was able to gather new ideas on social media (eg, Facebook and Twitter) for knowledge sharing, and observe how top publishers harness multimedia profitably by sharing successful digital models, formats and platforms. He also learned that nowadays, Asian consumers seem to trust the social media more than the mass media.

With 37 speakers and moderators from 13 countries and 23 exhibitors, this year’s convention was supported by Swiss Post and Synovate and co-sponsored by the Masso Group and Events Vietnam in association with various Asian publishers’ associations.

Now in its fourth year, APC was launched in 2007 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as a regional platform for magazine and online publishing. Thereafter, the event was held in 2008 in Singapore and 2009 in Manila. In 2011, it will be hosted in Bangkok, Thailand.

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Sixth ICLGG to be held in Hyderabad

ICLGG Chairs of past, present and future ICLGG in Asilomar..

ICRISAT will organize the next International Congress on Legume Genetics and Genomics (ICLGG) in 2012 in Hyderabad. This decision was announced at the 5th ICLGG in Asilomar, California, USA, which was held during 2-8 July. The announcement was made by Doug Cook, Chair of the International Organizing Committee of the congress.

Rajeev Varshney has been elected the Chair of the sixth ICLGG. He has been serving the International Organizing Committee for the last four years (that is, for the 4th and 5th ICLGG). Varshney, on behalf of ICRISAT and the local organizing committee, which is yet to be appointed, invited members to take part in the sixth ICLGG.

ICLGG meetings are organized every two years and bring together up to 400 scientists who discuss advances in legume genetics and genomics work and also the plans for the next two years.

Earlier ICLGG meetings were held in the USA (1st ICLGG Chair - Carroll Vance, 5th ICLGG Chairs - Doug Cook, Michael Udvardi, Scott Jackson), Europe (2nd ICLGG Chair - Richard Thompson, France), Australia (3rd ICLGG Chair - Peter Gresshoff) and South America (4th ICLGG Chair - Gina Hernandez, Mexico), and this will be the first time that ICLGG will be organized in Asia. Also, this will be the first time that a CGIAR Center will host the event.

Team ICRISAT congratulates Rajeev on this initiative and lauds his efforts in bringing ICLGG to Asia!

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International Workshop on Industrial Biotechnology

Workshop on Biotechnology Abdul Rahman Ilyas interacting with dignitaries on the sidelines of the conference.

An international workshop on industrial biotechnology was held at October City, Egypt on 3 and 4 July. More than 300 delegates from the industry, academe and research participated. The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Scientific Research and Higher Education, Egypt.

The workshop had a 2-day conference on various topics ranging from enzymes, food processing, bio-fuels, bio-industry partnerships and environment protection. Abdul Rahman Ilyas, COO, Agri-Science Park @ ICRISAT, chaired and moderated the sessions on bio-industry partnerships. Eminent speakers from across the world participated and presented interesting papers and models. Among the Indian participants was the Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd, whose representatives made a presentation on the opportunities that the Egyptian industry can explore to establish food parks.

Because it has an interesting name, here are some facts about the 6th of October City. It is the capital of the 6th of October Governorate in Egypt. A new cosmopolitan city, it hosts students of many nationalities who seek education at its private universities.

The city was established in 1979 by the 504th presidential decree of president Anwar El Sadat. It is 17 km from the great pyramids of Giza and 32 km from Cairo downtown. The city has a total area of 97.4 thousand feddans (400 km2) and is expected to have 3.7 million inhabitants. The city was announced as the capital of the 6th of October Governorate in April 2008.

The city’s name commemorates Egypt’s military success at the start of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The 6th of October is also Egypt’s Armed Forces Day.

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