No. 1432 17 September 2010

US Consul General Visits Patancheru

US Consul general Director General William Dar with Ms Katherine Dhanani (center), Dave Hoisington and Dr Helge Gallinger.

Ms Katherine Dhanani, the recently appointed Consul General of the US Consulate in Hyderabad, visited the International School of Hyderabad (ISH) last Tuesday, 14 September, on the ICRISAT-Patancheru campus. She came in the company of Mrs Barbara Yoder, who is the mother of Martin, one of the first high school students in Grade 10 from the consulate.

Ms Katherine Dhanani has recently replaced the former Consul General Cornelis Keur, who, we will remember, visited ICRISAT in 2008 and was also the Chief Guest at the Annual Day function that year. Ms Dhanani has been a Foreign Service Officer since 1990. Most recently she was the Deputy Chief of Mission in the US Embassy in Harare.

It was a great honor for the school to be included in her welcoming tour to Hyderabad. Ms Dhanani was impressed with the new facilities, the general atmosphere and the efforts made by ISH to provide an excellent education for students from around the world. She assured us of her continued support in areas of security and safety. She recalled the importance of a school such as ISH in the successful recruitment of consulate staff, and congratulated the school for its achievements.

Part of the tour to the ICRISAT campus and the school was a meeting with Director General William Dar, which was followed by lunch.

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Elise Perset visits ICRISAT

Ms Elise Perset, the new Manager of the CGIAR Central Advisory Service on Intellectual Property (CAS-IP), visited ICRISAT headquarters at Patancheru on 13 and 14 September.

Elise Perset   Elise Perset
Elise Perset with Dr Dar, and with Dave Hoisington and Hanumanth Rao.

Having only joined the CGIAR on 6 September, this visit allowed her to learn more about the CGIAR and how intellectual property (IP) is managed by the Centers. She visited with Director General Dar, DDG-R Dave Hoisington, other members of the Management Group, IP Office, genebank, Agri-Business Incubator and Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops.

These visits provided her a better understanding of the IP needs of ICRISAT and how CAS-IP can meet them in the new Consortium.

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Karnataka and AP farmers on educational tour

Karnataka and AP farmers Dr Dar speaks to farmers from Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh.

A group of famers from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (AP) had a pleasant and educative day when they visited ICRISAT-Patancheru under the Village Dynamics in South Asia (VDSA) project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). The project aims to contribute to the reduction of the incidence and severity of absolute poverty in South Asia’s semi-arid and humid tropics by markedly increasing the quantity and quality of availability of time-series district-, household-, individual-, and field-level data on rural poverty in 42 villages spread across semi-arid tropic (SAT) India, East India and Bangladesh, thus enabling effective evidence based decision-making.

Quality of data assumes prime importance in effective evidence-based decision making. To ensure this, it is essential to sustain the interest and enthusiasm of the respondent farmers through some incentive mechanism. In armers and key participants in the project consisting of 104 peasants from Tharati Ajjihalli and Belladamadugu villages in Tumkur district of Karnataka State visited ICRISAT-Patancheru on 14 September, and 106 farmers from Pamidipadu and JC Agraharam villages in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh visited ICRISAT on 15 September, as part of a 5-day educational trip.

Karnataka and AP FarmersFarmers visit the field at Patancheru.

Interacting with the visiting farmers, Director General William Dar reiterated that the farmers are vital partners of the VDSA project and hence their cooperation is most essential for generating quality data that is the heart of the project. The visiting farmers, who were very appreciative of the visit, assured Dr Dar that the educational tour was really useful for exploring better livelihood options.

MCS Bantilan and VR Kiresur addressed the gathering and explained the importance of quality data that they have been providing in policy formulations and institutional innovations. Senior Scientific Officers GD Nageswara Rao and Mohan Rao, with the support from the resident field investigators BL Mohana, Anil Kumar Yadav, A Siddappa and Goutham Ramesh, answered queries in the mother tongues of the farmers (Kannada and Telugu), while personnel of the Communication Office (Visitors’ Services and Photography unit) effectively facilitated the visits through video shows, visits to exhibitions and fields as well as interactive sessions with scientists.

In addition to the ICRISAT visit, the farmers’ itinerary also included visits to Krishi Vigyan Kendras and agricultural research stations under the purview of the respective state agricultural universities.

The farmers were greatly moved by the concern shown to them by the Director General of an international organization. In turn, they invited him to visit their villages. They returned home with extra confidence written on their faces and a feeling of having learned a lot from this exposure.

Karnataka and AP farmers
Farmers from Karnataka villages with Cynthia Bantilan and the IMPI team.

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Governing Board to meet in Tanzania

Members of ICRISAT’s Governing Board and our top management will meet in Arusha, Tanzania next week for the 63rd Governing Board Retreat beginning 20 September.

We warmly welcome Chairman Nigel Poole and all the other Governing Board members to the meeting, and wish them healthy and successful discussions and a very pleasant and enjoyable stay in Tanzania.

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Entrepreneurs trained on seed business venture

ABI Participants of the SBV training program at Patancheru.

As part of its Seed Business Incubation (SBI) program, The Agri-Business Incubator at ICRISAT (ABI) together with Aakruthi Agricultural Associates of India (AAI) conducted a two-day training program for the third batch of entrepreneurs of seed business ventures (SBV) on 6 and 7 September at Patancheru.

The SBI program was developed to meet the resource needs of poor farmers through selected entrepreneurs, which would in turn facilitate the development of an integrated, cost effective and self sustainable seed business system that is capable of generating, producing and distributing improved seed varieties of ICRISAT’s mandate crops, national and state agricultural research systems (NARS & SARS) crops such as groundnut, chickpea and pigeonpea, and farmer-preferred varieties of paddy.

Among the eleven entrepreneurs, five were from the previous batch and six from the new batch.

The participants were trained by resource personnel in seed production, seed business and seed certification on groundnut, pigeonpea, chickpea and paddy crops. The resource persons were drawn from ICRISAT, Directorate of Rice Research (DRR) and AAI.

ABI Participants interact with SN Nigam, PM Gaur and Kiran Sharma.

Resource persons from ICRISAT who undertook capacity building of entrepreneurs on seed production of groundnut, pigeonpea and chickpea were Yadagiri (groundnut), KB Saxena (pigeonpea) and BV Rao (chickpea), respectively. The participants were also exposed to standing demonstration plots of groundnut comprising all the released, pre-released and check varieties.

On the second day, participants were trained on Seed production and Certification of paddy crop and suitable varieties for Rayalseema region of Andhra Pradesh, by Dr LV SubbaRao, Directorate of Rice Research (DRR-ICAR) and Sri P Narendra from Andhra Pradesh State Seed Certification Agency (APSSCA).

Sri VV Rajendra Prasad, COO-Seed systems, AAI, gave insights on the concept of ongoing seed business ventures, the role of entrepreneurs in the seed business venture, SWOT Analysis since inception, do’s and don’ts, and the need to invest intellectual and financial resources for self sustainability, towards enhanced development of the rural farming community.

The entrepreneurs also shared their experiences and views on seed business with an ICRISAT team comprising SN Nigam, PM Gaur and Kiran Sharma.

In this venture, entrepreneurs will place indents for crop and variety seeds. The area to be brought under seed production during rabi season 2010-11 was also discussed. These initiatives will be supported by AAI in facilitating the seed material with the cooperation of ICRISAT, NARS, SARS and other state seed organizations. Further, the seed certification and the processing will be facilitated for the entrepreneurs.

The entrepreneurs expressed their appreciation of the evaluation process and training, and resolved to implement the SBV program. At the end of the program, trainees were presented with SBV certificates. SM Karuppanchetty proposed a vote of thanks.

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