No. 1426 6 Aug 2010

Stakeholders Meet on Mega Program for Dryland Cereals

mega program Participants of the MP3 stakeholders meeting in Nairobi with Dr William Dar.

The dryland cereal crops, sorghum, millets and barley, are vital for the food security and well-being of the poor people living in the drylands. With its heart in helping to eradicate poverty and hunger, ICRISAT chose dryland cereals as one of its strategic research thrusts, which is also one of the CGIAR mega programs (MP3 - Dryland Cereals).

MP3 aims at increasing the productivity of cereals such as barley, sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye). ICRISAT is developing a comprehensive proposal on MP3 for submission to the CGIAR Consortium.

mega program A brainstorming session in progress.

Along with this, ICRISAT hosted a stakeholders’ meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on 2 and 3 August with the participants pledging to produce a winning proposal.

About 30 participants representing CGIAR Centers (ICRISAT, ICARDA, CIMMYT, ILRI) and national agricultural research systems attended the meeting. Policymakers from various countries including Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Kenya, Morocco, Tanzania and Uganda were also present at the meeting. Likewise, members of the private sector, African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA), farmer organizations, NGOs, Sorghum and Millet Research Support Program (INTSORMIL), and development investors also participated.

Megaprogram Jurgen Hausmann (partially seen in extreme left) during an informal chat with the participants.

DDG-R Dave Hoisington welcomed the participants. In his inaugural address, Director General William Dar explained the process of change taking place in the CGIAR and the concept of Mega Programs (MPs). He revealed that stakeholder meetings held during GCARD (Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development) meeting in March this year had supported the development of 15 MPs, with those on rice, wheat, maize and climate change having been fast-tracked. The MP on rice has been endorsed by the Consortium Board to the Fund Council, which is expected to make long term financial commitments to other MPs in its next meeting.

Dr Dar pointed out that with climate change at hand, the need of the hour is to develop new mechanisms that would synergize the strengths of different partners and tap the power of science. He said such a synergy is essential to help feed the global population, which is likely to reach 9.5 billion by 2050. He also urged all partners to come together and develop a strong Mega Program to benefit the poor smallholders in the drylands.

Said Silim, Director ICRISAT-ESA, who is coordinating this entire exercise, made a presentation on MP3 Dryland Cereals: Food Security for the World’s Most Vulnerable Poor and briefed the participants about the rationale, objectives and challenges of the program. Stakeholders held discussions to define the conceptual framework of the program, design important strategies and pathways, clarify the contribution of different partners and discuss expected outputs.

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ICRISAT and University of Delaware strengthen collaboration

A six-member delegation from the University of Delaware comprising Associate Professor Shreeram Inamdar, Associate Dean and Professor J Tom Sims, Associate Professor Titus Awokuse, and students Shilpa Choudhari, Katy Zook and Rachael Vaicunas visited Patancheru from 27 to 30 July.

Delaware delegation Dr Dar with the University of Delaware delegation.

The visit was aimed at presenting the progress of the collaborative work between the university and ICRISAT. Under a program supported by the United States Department of Agriculture, ICRISAT and the University of Delaware are working together to develop training modules based on ICRISAT publications, particularly focusing on the case study of the Adarsha Watershed in Kothapally. Four students covering different areas, such as soil and water conservation, livelihoods approach, policies and markets have developed training modules. Their modules will be developed further to create an online training course offered by the University of Delaware.

The delegates met Director General Dar and appreciated ICRISAT’s top class publications on watershed management. This literature helped the students as well as the faculty of the University of Delaware in developing training modules and an online training course. The delegates also expressed the desire to strengthen the collaboration with ICRISAT and suggested further strategic research on watershed management as well as its synergy with the Agri-Business Incubator (ABI) at ICRISAT. They were also keen to use the Village Level Studies data for further analysis and development of policy guidelines.

Dr Dar indicated that there are vast opportunities to strengthen the collaboration for the benefit of the poor in the semi-arid tropics. He also stressed the need to expand the collaboration to other areas.

The delegates visited ICRISAT on-station watersheds, Adarsha Watershed in Kothapally, and ABI. They held discussions with the Institutions, Markets, Policy and Impacts group and the Agro-Ecosystems team members. The delegates also met DDG-R Dave Hoisington. It is proposed that the collaboration between the University of Delaware and ICRISAT be further strengthened with the help of a Memorandum of Understanding.

The current collaborative work is being led by Shreeram Inamdar and SP Wani

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Chickpea excels in the drylands of the Philippines

Chickpea in Philippines Scientists inspecting chickpea fields in the Philippine highlands.

Launched on 11 December 2007 by Director General William Dar, the research project on Introduction and promotion of chickpea in the highlands of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) has proven that chickpea could thrive well in the Philippines. Recent studies have shown comparable chickpea yields both in the low as well as the highlands of the Philippines.

Jointly supported by ICRISAT and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), the research project was implemented by the Benguet State University (BSU). Chickpea is widely consumed in the Philippines and the demand is met only through import.

As part of the project, ICRISAT chickpea cultivars were tested in five different studies: growth and yield affected by planting distance; response of chickpea to different sources of organic fertilizer; response of chickpea to different levels of inorganic fertilizer; growth and yield of chickpea affected by weed duration; and chickpea yield affected by the frequency of irrigation. Each of these studies was conducted in the highlands at about 1,235 mean average sea level (MASL) and in the lowland areas at 300-450 MASL.

Results of the studies conducted by Fernando Gonzales, the national coordinator of the chickpea project in the Philippines, have shown that chickpea production has the potential to increase in both the highlands and lowlands of the Philippines. Chickpea productivity in the Philippines is more than the global average of 700-800 kg/ha.

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Workshop on sweet sorghum enterprise

A five-day free entrepreneurial development workshop on Establishing and Managing a Commercial Sweet Sorghum Syrup Enterprise for Food Applications will be organized by NutriPlus, Agri-Science Park @ ICRISAT and the sweet sorghum team of GT-CI from 27 September to 1 October at Patancheru.

The workshop will demonstrate the applications of sweet sorghum syrup in various food items and present micro and small business opportunities to interested entrepreneurs. The workshop will also highlight the harvesting of sweet sorghum and the processing of sweet sorghum juice into syrup, setting-up of sweet sorghum processing units, technology and quality control. It will also provide a business perspective.

There will be no participation fee, but participants will be selected by a panel of experts. ICRISAT staff members are requested to inform potential participants to register for the workshop by sending their detailed bio-data to (Phone: 04030713784, Mobile: 09492828965) along with a written statement on “Why I want to be a food product entrepreneur” The last date for registering is 26 August. The selection committee will shortlist 25 candidates only.

The minimum qualification for participants is graduation in any discipline and the maximum age limit is 35 years. ICRISAT welcomes and encourages women entrepreneurs to come forward and participate in the program.

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South Asia consultation meeting on water scarcity

Workshop participants Stakeholders of South Asia at the CRP5 meet in New Delhi.

The Consortium Research Program-5 (CRP-5) meeting on Durable solutions for water scarcity and land and ecosystem degradation has embarked on a South Asian consultation to get valuable inputs from various stakeholders on the concept note. ICRISAT hosted the consultation meeting on 1 August at the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), New Delhi.

Participants, totaling 25, represented India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, national agricultural research systems and CG Centers. Development partners, donor agencies and policy makers also participated in the consultation meeting.

SP Wani and Peter Craufurd successfully organized the meeting along with a facilitator. Best bets for South Asia were identified at the meeting. The importance of rainfed agriculture, groundwater management and revitalizing irrigation in reducing poverty and vulnerability and raising productivity was also highlighted.

The group also identified important research and development areas. A lot of time was devoted to work out the impact pathways. Discussions highlighted the need for stronger and new partnerships involving the CGIAR to meet the targets of the project. The value of building partnerships as well as the need for sufficient resources (human and financial) also came to the fore. The group recommended systems for the development of different indicators that would assess the performance of the project as well as the implementing team.

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TNAU launches entrepreneurial hub

The Agri-Business Incubator’s Co-Business Incubator, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), has reached another milestone in promoting entrepreneurship in agriculture and allied sectors by launching the Business Planning and Development (BPD) Entrepreneurial hub at the Tamil Nadu Rice Research Institute (TRRI), at Aduthurai on 22 July. About 80 participants from the district attended the launch program. The entrepreneurial hub at TRRI will cater to the needs of the entrepreneurs in the central region of the state.

SM Karuppan Chetty SM Karuppan Chetty presenting the activities of BPD-TNAU.

Professor Praveen (Agronomy), TRRI, welcomed the participants and guests. In the inaugural address, T Jeyaraj, Director, TRRI, stressed on the importance of marketing in agri-business. R Ganesan, Director-Agri-Business Development and Principal Investigator, National Agricultural Innovations Project-BPD, said that farmers can be successful entrepreneurs if they are taught business management through various capacity building programs.

SM Karuppan Chetty, Senior Manager, Agri-Business Incubator at ICRISAT talked about the importance of developing entrepreneurial skills.

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Foundation stone of DCU laid in Maharashtra

One of the models of the Intergovernmental Group on Grains (represented by FAO) and the ICRISAT-Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) project on Enhanced Livelihood Opportunities of Smallholders in Asia: Linking Smallholder Sweet Sorghum Farmers with the Bioethanol Industry (CFC/FIGG/41), is to produce syrup in the Decentralized Crushing and Syrup Making Units (DCUs) and supply it to centralized distilleries. The distilleries then extract ethanol from the syrup, especially useful when fresh sweet sorghum stalks are not available for the juice.

Foundation stone laying ceremony SS Kadam, Vice-Chancellor of MAU (left of Belum Reddy), at the foundation stone laying ceremony in Parbhani.

Vice-Chancellor SS Kadam of the Marathwada Agricultural University (MAU) laid the foundation stone of the upcoming DCU in Nakheda village, Maharashtra on 27 July. The ceremony was facilitated by the farmers’ association and ICRISAT partner MAU, Parbhani, Maharashtra.

Belum VS Reddy, P Parthasarathy Rao and Ch Ravinder Reddy of ICRISAT, Director of Research GR More and principal sorghum breeder SS Ambekar of MAU were present at the ceremony. Members of the Sunpuri farmers’ association, Nankheda village head (Sarpanch) and about 50 sorghum farmers from the cluster villages where the project is underway also attended.

Vice-Chancellor Kadam reiterated the need to empower farmers. He also assured support of the University in providing the production technology and the advice of his scientists in this project.

Earlier, ST Borikar (former Director of Research, MAU) welcomed the gathering. Belum Reddy thanked the MAU authorities and also called upon the farmers’ associations, partner institutions and the working committee members to complete the construction on time and start the crushing of stalks this rainy season.

Later, a training program on the production technologies of improved sweet sorghum was conducted at MAU, Parbhani. It was attended by 45 men and 9 women farmers from cluster villages and 21 agriculture undergraduate students. Belum Reddy explained the project objectives and its approaches. To help farmers derive maximum benefits, he encouraged them to work with other partners, particularly DCU and the centralized distillery (Tata Chemicals Ltd).

He urged the farmers’ association to raise awareness about the project as a win-win solution for the farmers and the industry. ST Borikar translated Belum Reddy’s talk into Marathi.

Naresh Shindey, the chairperson of the farmers’ association of the Nankheda cluster, who had participated in the training program, assured participation of the farmers in the project. The program was planned by the project coordinator Ch Ravinder Reddy, together with project partners.

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