No. 1430 3 September 2010

Israel and ICRISAT to Strengthen Collaboration

Dr Avri Zur with William Dar Dr Avri Bar Zur (center) with Drs William Dar and Dave Hoisington.

With more than half of its land being a desert and only a small portion of it being naturally arable, Israel is looking forward to extend its ongoing collaboration with ICRISAT for watershed management and development of drought resistant crops.

Dr Avri Bar Zur, Counsellor, International Cooperation, (Mashav) Science & Agriculture, Embassy of Israel, New Delhi, who was on a two-day visit to Patancheru on 1 and 2 September, expressed his country’s wish to harness water management techniques from ICRISAT.

Dr Bar Zur is a scientist in the field of agriculture and worked for seed companies in his country. He is a corn breeder and has been working for linking Israel with the agricultural research institutions and universities of India as envisaged by the bilateral agreement of 2007.

Kothapally Avri Bar Zur with a farmer in Kothapally.

Meeting with Director General William Dar and other senior scientists of ICRISAT, Dr Bar Zur noted that the solutions he was looking for in the field of water management are all available at ICRISAT. “My only interest is to find out how ICRISAT takes the knowledge to the doorsteps of the farmer. I am interested in the transfer of technology to the poor, not to the universities or the institutes,” he added.

Dr Dar, appraising the progress of collaborative research between Israel and ICRISAT, assured the Counsellor that development of plants that can withstand extreme temperatures, and upscaling the fruits of watershed management in the drylands of the world, are very close to the heart of ICRISAT. Dr Dar also said that he would facilitate any such partnership with Israel, which would result in increased crop productivity.

On 2 September, Dr Bar Zur visited the Adarsha watershed at Kothapally. During the later part of the day, he visited crop improvement facilities of ICRISAT’s crops and held discussions with scientists.

ICRISAT and Israel share common goals of helping alleviate poverty, sustaining agricultural production and protecting the environment in the drylands. The ICRISAT-Israel collaboration was further enhanced when Israel joined the CGIAR and Dr David Cohen was appointed as the Israeli liaison to ICRISAT. With the support of Prof Dan Levanon (Chief Scientist, Ministry of Agriculture, Israel), ICRISAT and Israel scientists began working together in mid-2006 on projects of mutual interest.

back to top Back to top

Tropical Legumes I meeting held in Madrid

Madrid Participants of TL-I annual review meeting in Madrid.

The Third Annual Review Meeting of Tropical legumes I (TL-I) Phase I and First Planning Meeting of TL-I Phase II were convened by the Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) in Madrid, Spain from 22 to 24 August. The TL-I project, coordinated by GCP and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has the strong participation of ICRISAT in Objective 1 – Groundnut (Principal Investigator: Vincent Vadez), Objective 4- Chickpea (PI: Rajeev Varshney) and Objective 5 (Co-PIs: Vincent Vadez and Trushar Shah). In addition to these two legume crops, TL-I is undertaking research on cowpea (led by Jeff Ehlers, UC-Riverside) and common bean (led by Matthew Blair, CIAT).

The three-day event included the review of work done in Phase I of TL-I (2007-2010) and detailed discussions on transferring outputs of Phase I to the work plan of Phase II. David Bergvinson, Program Officer, Gates Foundation and Jean-Marcel Ribaut, Director GCP, expressed their satisfaction over the generation of significant amounts of genomic resources in the so-called ‘orphan’ legume crops.

The meeting was attended by about 50 participants including Pooran Gaur, Tsedeke Abate, Emmanuel Monyo, Bonny Ntare, L Krishnamurthy, NVPR Ganga Rao, Mahendar Thudi, Falalou Hamidou and PVNS Prasad from ICRISAT.

ICRISAT is collaborating with several NARS partners from many countries of sub-Saharan Africa. The TL-I has provided a total amount of $2.9 million in Phase I (2007-2010) and has approved $3.35 million for Phase II (2010-2014).

back to top Back to top

TL-II regional review and planning meeting held in Nairobi

Nairobi Participants of TL-II regional review and planning meeting in Nairobi.

The annual review and planning meeting of the Tropical Legumes II (TL-II) was held at Brackenhurst Hotel - Limuru on the outskirts of Nairobi on 30 and 31 August. The meeting dealt with progress made and work plans for the 2010-11 season in Objective 2 (groundnut), Objective 5 (chickpea), Objective 6 (pigeonpea), and Objective 8.2- seed systems for the ESA.

A total of 16 participants from ICRISAT-ESA region (5), Tanzania (6), Ethiopia (1), Malawi (3) and Mozambique (1) participated. Said Silim, Regional Director for ESA, Tsedeke Abate, Emmanuel Monyo, Ganga Rao and Solomon Asfaw represented ICRISAT. Said Silim welcomed the participants and Tsedeke Abate (TL-II coordinator) presented an overview of the project, including progress of the Phase 2 project proposal.

The major highlights reported during the meeting were the release of five groundnut varieties in Tanzania, two chickpea varieties in Kenya, one pigeonpea variety in Malawi, and one chickpea variety in Ethiopia. A good number of varieties are also identified for future release. In addition, four pigeonpea and four chickpea varieties have been in various stages of National Performance Trials.

Under the varietal development activity, a large number of new potential genotypes were identified in groundnut, pigeonpea and chickpea with tolerance to drought and resistance to various diseases.Various classes of seed produced in chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut exceeded the targets fixed under TL-II seed systems objective. Emmanuel Monyo and Ganga Rao presented the outline of Phase 2 for groundnut, chickpea and pigeonpea, and the seed systems objectives.

back to top Back to top

New entrepreneurs for seed business incubation

The Seed Business Incubation (SBI) program of the Agri-Business Incubator (ABI-ICRISAT) for promoting rural seed ventures in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu through public, private and people partnerships approach is successfully catering to around 65 entrepreneurs.

Further, a new batch of 16 entrepreneurs was selected on 28 August by experts from ICRISAT and Aakruthi Agricultural Associates of India (AAI) a partner of ABI. In all, 24 potential entrepreneurs from Anantapur, Kurnool, Mahabubnagar and Kadapa districts of Andhra Pradesh took part in the screening process.

The panel consisted of SM Karuppan Chetty and Jonathan Philroy from ABI, D Yadagiri of Groundnut Breeding and K Suresh of Chickpea Breeding, TN Reddy, External Consultant from the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management, G Subbarao and Rajendra Prasad of AAI. After due diligence and screening, the panel successfully selected 16 potential entrepreneurs.

ABI plans to induct these candidates and incubate them in its seed business incubation program before the rabi season through a structured training program. This initiative is expected to benefit the farmers in terms of quality seed material, access to markets and better prices.

back to top Back to top

Participatory R&D for enhancing pearl millet productivity

PR&D Participants of the PR&D meeting with SP Wani.

Through the HOPE (Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement) project supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the pearl millet group of ICRISAT has adopted the participatory research and development (PR&D) approach for enhancing productivity of pearl millet.

Five scientists from three partner institutions in Rajasthan, Haryana, and Gujarat states were at Patancheru from 25 to 27 August to learn the PR&D approach developed by the watershed management consortium over a decade. Addressing the participants, SP Wani highlighted the importance of the participatory approach and the different means of stakeholder participation through contractual, consultative, cooperative and collegiate modes.

Watershed team members covered various aspects of PR&D such as needs assessment, knowledge-based entry point to build rapport, participatory evaluation and selection of cultivars and management options, participatory impact assessment and building the capacity of lead farmers as master trainers in villages.

The participants visited on-station as well as on-farm PR&D experiments in Adarsha watershed, Kothapally. They also visited our state-of-the-art soil and plant analytical laboratory. The program was successfully organized by the watershed team led by SP Wani with help from Girish Chander, Gajanan Sawargaonkar, SK Gupta and R Mula.

back to top Back to top

GCP Challenge Initiatives 2010

The second phase of the Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) is focusing on seven trait-crop combinations for 2009-2013, called the ‘Challenge Initiatives’ (CIs). Through these CIs, the GCP intends to demonstrate that increasing crop productivity through molecular breeding will be beneficial in the long run. ICRISAT is playing an important role in three CIs – chickpea, sorghum and comparative genomics.

Apart from the following two large projects, two small ones were also approved by GCP, and together they have attracted funding of approximately $1.9 million over a span of 4 years.

Accelerating development of genomic resources and strengthening NARS partner capacities for enhancing adoption of molecular breeding for drought tolerance in chickpea: The Chickpea Challenge Initiative (CCI) supports the overall objectives of the Tropical Legumes-I Phase II (TL-I Phase II) project to develop and help institutionalize modern breeding of chickpea in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The Principal Investigator is Rajeev Varshney, and others from ICRISAT include Mahendar Thudi, C Siva Kumar and PM Gaur.

Enhancing sorghum grain yield and quality for the Sudano-Sahelian zone of West Africa using the Backcross Nested Association Mapping (BCNAM) approach: This four-year project is divided into two sub-projects with Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER) and ICRISAT leading one each. The PI is Niaba Témé of IER, and the co-PIs are Eva Weltzien from ICRISAT, and Michel Vaksmann of CIRAD-Mali.

back to top Back to top

Workshop for resident field investigators

It was a great relief for the resident field investigators of the Bill & Melinda Gates funded Village Dynamics in South Asia (VDSA) project when they moved out of their place of work (villages) and gathered at Patancheru for a 4-day Mid-Term Review Workshop-cum-Training program from 24 to 27 August. The workshop was organized by the VDSA team of the Global Theme on Institutions, Markets, Policy and Impacts (GT-IMPI).

IMPI Resident field investigators with MCS Bantilan.

As many as 19 field investigators, one each from the 18 target villages spread across five states of SAT India, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, and a lady field investigator from Patancheru actively participated in the workshop. The program aimed at reviewing the progress made by the resident field investigators during the last year and at receiving feedback on the survey work and their stay in the villages.

Addressing the field investigators, Theme Leader of GT-IMPI, Cynthia Bantilan said, “Mere data collection over years is not enough; it is important for you to publish and pursue PhD degrees using the data.” She highlighted the importance of “Village Profiles” in the project outputs. VR Kiresur, P Parthasarathy Rao and UK Deb gave a brief account of the progress achieved in the project during its first year.

The capacity building component of the workshop included sessions on qualitative data collection methods (by R Padmaja), computer assisted personal interview instruments (by GV Anupama), soil sampling method for soil analysis (by IYLN Murthy from DOR, Hyderabad), method of usage of rain gauges (by NN Srivastava from CRIDA, Hyderabad), use of anthropometric equipment (by K Mallikarjuna Rao and Sree Rama Krishna from NIN, Hyderabad).

The third day was totally devoted to a village immersion at Aurepalle village, Mahbubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh. Field investigators, supervisors and data entry operators were divided into four groups for a mock household survey organized to appreciate the effort of quality data collection at field level. The workshop ended on the fourth day with the finalization of work plans for each of the villages under all the three objectives envisaged in the project.

back to top Back to top

Stage is set for Pulses Conclave-2010

ICRISAT and AgriWatch-New Delhi are jointly organizing the Hyderabad Pulses Conclave-2010 on 4 and 5 September at the RWC Auditorium in Patancheru. The theme of the Conclave is Pulses Production, Research and Beyond. The Minister for Agriculture, N Raghuveera Reddy, Government of Andhra Pradesh will be the Chief Guest.

About 200 delegates associated with pulses improvement research and industry (government, non-government, corporate, global trade houses, millers, machinery manufacturers, research institutions, nutritionists, food experts, wholesalers and foreign trade missions) are expected to attend.

back to top Back to top

Bhoo Chetana Field Day held in Karnataka

The Government of Karnataka with technical support from ICRISAT had launched a mission called Bhoo Chetana in 2009, to increase productivity of rainfed areas through adoption of science-based interventions, and to bridge the yield gaps in 25 districts of Karnataka. More than 600 farmers attended the Field Day held on 27 August.

Godrej AgroVet Dignitaries from the Government of Karnataka at the ICRISAT stall.

The Bhoo Chetana program has adopted the principles of consortium, convergence, capacity building and collective action with the Department of Agriculture, Karnataka acting as a nodal implementing agency.

The Department of Agriculture conducted a Field Day at Chambole village of Bidar Taluk in collaboration with ICRISAT. Farmers who adopted the Bhoo Chetana package of improved management practices with black gram, soybean and green gram intercropped with pigeonpea demonstrated their crops in their fields to the farmers from surrounding non-Bhoo Chetana villages in the district.

The Agriculture Minister of Karnataka, SA Ravindranath, was the Chief Guest at the function that was presided over by Rahim Khan, Member of the Legislative Assembly, Bidar, in the presence of Ms Sangeetha Patil, President of the Zillah Panchayat, Bidar; Baburao Mudbi, IAS, Agriculture Commissioner; Mr Sarvesh, Director of Agriculture; BV Patil, Vice-Chancellor University of Agriculture Sciences Raichur, and SP Wani and K Krishnappa from ICRISAT.

The Agriculture Minister inaugurated the ICRISAT stall and asked the farmers to make use of Bhoo Chetana to improve soil health to sustain increased crop productivity. He appreciated the program as it helped the farmers in increasing the crop yields by 30-40%. Encouraging the farmers to treat farming as a business, he announced financial help from his government. Local MLA Rahim Khan, Ms Sangetha Patil and Krishnappa also addressed the farmers.

back to top Back to top