No. 1433 24 September 2010

Governing Board’s Arusha Declaration

The ICRISAT Governing Board at its 63rd meeting in Arusha, Tanzania.

The Governing Board has approved ICRISAT’s strategy for the next decade. Responsive to the rapidly changing world, this exciting strategy (and how it will be implemented) will be unveiled during the next few months.

Anchored on the principle that people must determine their own destiny, the new strategy challenges the widespread pessimistic belief that the drylands of the developing countries will constantly depend on external aid for economic growth.
We will never accept this view!

There are many examples of how ICRISAT with its partners in the public and private sector have vastly improved people’s lives, and how its new strategy will enable them to have much more.

For instance, in seven short years, the lives of many smallholder farmers in the Babati District of Tanzania have prospered beyond imagination. ICRISAT’s improved pigeonpea varieties have allowed them to establish a thriving export business to India and invest the profits to replace their houses, buy household appliances and build a new school.

Towards this, the Board would like to express our belief in our ICRISAT colleagues as reflected in the motto “Credo quia impossibile est” (I believe it because it is impossible).

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Governing Board approves ICRISAT’s new Strategic Plan

ICRISAT’s new Strategic Plan for the next 10 years was approved by the Governing Board (GB) during its 63rd meeting this week at Arusha, Tanzania. With GB Chair Nigel Poole at the helm, the meeting was attended by most of the members, with Dr Debora Delmer (USA) an incoming GB member, as an observer. The Management Group (MG) members led by Director General William Dar, and senior ICRISAT- ESA staff members led by Director Said Silim, also participated in the meeting.

gb meeting
The Governing Board and Management Group members at the meeting.

Surrounded by some of sub-Saharan Africa’s most famous landscapes and national parks, Arusha is a major international diplomatic hub. The city is regarded as the de facto capital of the East African community.

The first day (Monday) was devoted to the GB retreat and meeting of the Executive Committee. The GB retreat was mainly devoted to the discussions of the new Strategic Plan with all members actively engaged in giving inputs. The accompanying Business Plan was also presented towards the end of the activity. During the Executive Committee meeting, updates of the situation in Niger and WCA, state of the Banjara Hills property lease, investment advisory, gender and diversity policy, financials in 2010 and the budget for 2011 were taken up.

On Tuesday, the group was split into two for visits at the Babati District (for pigeonpea) and the Miwaleni Research Station (for sorghum and millet) and the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) African hub with the Audit Committee meeting in the evening. During the visits, GB and MG members saw how pigeonpea, sorghum and millet have made farmers prosperous in the region. In fact, the GB was quite impressed with the impact of pigeonpea and came up with the ‘Arusha Declaration.’ Likewise, success in the whole sorghum value chain (from breeding to brewing beer) was also seen. In the evening after the field tour, the Audit Committee reviewed the audit reports since the previous meeting in March 2010.

On Wednesday morning there was a meeting with partners. The Program Committee and Nominations Committee held a meeting in the afternoon. During the meeting with partners, collaboration with public institutions such as the Tanzania NARS and AVRDC and private organizations such as Zanobia Seeds and Kamal Agro were presented.

The Program Committee later held further discussions to endorse the new Strategic Plan and deliberated on the accompanying Business Plan. The committee proposed refinements to the Business Plan and tasked the ICRISAT management to come up with an enhanced draft by the end of October.

On Thursday, the plenary meeting was held where the GB approved the following:
1. The new Strategic Plan to 2020
2. Process to further enhance the Business Plan
3. Gender and diversity policy
4. Budget of US$ 52.0 million for 2010
5. Budget of US$ 53.5 million for 2011
Today (Friday) the group will have a tour to the world famous Ngorongoro crater.
The next GB meeting will be held in New Delhi, India from 21 to 24 March, 2011.

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Governing Board meeting in pictures

1. GB retreat.
2. Tour at AVRDC.
3. Tour in Babati District.
4. Mary Mgonja explains cereals experiments.
5. Sorghum products.
6. Opening of partnership day.
7. DG speaks at partnership day.
8. Program Committee meeting.
9. ICRISAT and partners.

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NIABI agri-business camp held at JNKVV

Karnataka and AP farmers Participants of the agri-business development camp.

The first agri-business development camp of the Network of Indian Agri-Business Incubators (NIABI) of the Agri-Business Incubator (ABI), ICRISAT was held at the Business Planning and Development (BPD) unit of the Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Viswa Vidyalaya (JNKVV), Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh on 4 September.

The event saw participants from various segments such as entrepreneurs, farmers, industrialists, scientists and students of agriculture and agri-business management. The camp was primarily aimed at promoting agri-business ventures, especially those on seed technologies, bio-fertilizers and medicinal and aromatic plants among the potential agricultural entrepreneurs or “agripreneurs” of the region through the business incubation services of the BPD at JNKVV.

NIABI aims at creating a synergy among the 10 BPDs spread across the country and looks to facilitate the commercialization of innovative agro-technologies through agri-business developments and technology transfer among the centers, thereby benefiting the farmers of the country.

The program included technical sessions on technologies ready for commercialization, interactive sessions between prospective incubatees and scientists, and an exhibition to highlight the technologies and other developments at JNKVV.

The Honorable Vice-Chancellor of JNKVV, Dr Gautam Kalloo, was the Chief Guest of the event. Dr SK Rao, Principal Investigator (PI), BPD gave a presentation on the business opportunities available at JNKVV under Seed business, Bio-fertilizers and Medicinal and Aromatic plants, which are ready for incubation. Successful agri-business entrepreneurs such as Vijay Sannata, CEO, JP Agritech Pvt Ltd and Mr Krishna of Hari OM Seeds were present at the camp and shared their experiences about the business hurdles they had to overcome to be successful entrepreneurs.

The participants were also taken to the exhibition site and were shown all the technologies discussed by JNKVV. Scientists working in different fields clarified the doubts of the agripreneurs. After the visit, the participants were segmented based on their area of interest and provided with details about the process of joining the incubator.

Fifteen agripreneurs joined the incubator, of which eight were for seed business, three each for bio-fertilizers and medicinal plants while one had joined for developing a new venture. Further discussions elaborated on the modus operandi of the incubator and tentative action plans were prepared. A certificate of registration was also given to each registered incubatee.

SM Karuppanchetty congratulated the incubatees for becoming a part of the entrepreneurial revolution. It was also heartening to note that the 15 incubatees were a mix of youth and experience. On the one hand, we had a young, agriculture graduate (who was in his final year) and on the other, we had an agripreneur from Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

The first Letter of Intent of the BPD for medicinal and aromatic plants was signed between the PI of the BPD and M/s Green House Agro Products.

Overall, the program had a total of 237 participants of which 81 were entrepreneurs, 113 were scientists, staff and media, while the rest were students of agriculture and agri-business management. The BPD collected registration fee of Rs 15,000 and membership fee for the BPD of Rs 57,500. Expected business mobilized for the BPD is Rs 200,000 ($4444.00).

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Gates Foundation officer visits ICRISAT-Nairobi

Karnataka and AP farmers Brian Love (leftmost) meets with Said Silim and other senior staff members.

Brian Love, a Program Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visited ICRISAT – Nairobi on 6 and 8 September and had discussions with ICRISAT-Nairobi staff.

On 6 September, he had a meeting with ESA Regional Director Said Silim, Assistant Director Alastair Orr, Project coordinator of Tropical Legumes- II (TL-II) Tsedeke Abate and Legumes Breeder Ganga Rao. During this meeting, Brian explained the purpose of his visit and his role at the Foundation to implement various projects such as TL- I and TL-II, wherein ICRISAT is the major collaborator. During the discussions, he sought to understand ICRISAT’s work in the region and the challenges encountered while implementing various project activities funded by the Foundation, and also linkages with other projects operating on grain legumes.

Said Silim explained the role played by ICRISAT in promoting groundnut, pigeonpea and chickpea varieties, production technologies in the region and impacts achieved over the years in general, and through the TL-II project in particular.

Alastair spoke about base line surveys conducted in Phase-I and the need for diffusion studies in the future.

Tsedeke Abate summarized the lessons learned in Phase-I of TL-II and the way forward in the Phase-II project activities on various areas such as seed delivery, fast tracking of varietal releases and need for policy advocacy at the highest levels.

Ganga Rao appraised the visitor about achievements in varietal evaluation, varietal releases and quantity of pigeonpea and chickpea seed produced under the TL-II project.

On 8 September, Mr Love visited a field station at Kabete along with Ganga Rao. During the visit he saw demonstration plots of superior chickpea varieties both in desi and kabuli types, yield evaluation trials and nurseries, national performance trial conducted by KEPHIS for future varietal releases, selections of reference set and root studies under TL-I and crosses made. He also visited the seed multiplication plots. Brian was impressed with various activities conducted under the TL-II and TL-I projects.

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Survey Data Entry and Analysis training at Sadoré

ABI Participants of the STATA training workshop.

AGRA Micro-dosing project, HOPE and IDRC projects have teamed up to provide training on data entry and analysis for 20 NARS scientists from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.

The workshop Survey Data Entry and Analysis using STATA is taking place at the ICRISAT Training and Visitors’ Center in Niamey from 20 to 25 September. Representing the Director-WCA, Jupiter Ndjeunga inaugurated the workshop and M Gandah gave the welcoming remarks.

Participants are learning about using a data entry package CSPRO for designing survey data forms for easy entry; use of the data analysis software STATA for the analysis of baseline and socio-economic data; and access to MOODLE as a platform to exchange experiences and data storage and archiving.

The 6-day course is facilitated by Mr Ian Dale from Statistical Services Centre, University of Reading, UK, with support from J Ndjeunga and the IMPI group in WCA. Participants use baseline questionnaires from the countries to develop the data forms using CSPRO and use data entered during the training for analysis using STATA.

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UNIDO Director visits Patancheru

Mr Anthony de Sa, Mr Krishna Lall and Ms Fatou Haidara with AR Ilyas at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

Ms Fatou Haidara, Director, Special Programmes and the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group, from Vienna, Austria, Mr Anthony de Sa, Country Director, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Centre for South-South Industrial Cooperation, India and Mr Krishna Lall, National Programme Officer, New Delhi, visited ICRISAT-Patancheru on 21 September.

The aim of the visit was to discuss support to the Agri-Science Park (ASP) and other areas of collaboration. This visit was a follow-up to the proposal submitted to UNIDO for establishment and strengthening of ASP in WCA.

A scoping study was initiated by AR Ilyas in late 2008 for WCA along with Mr Anthony de Sa, UNIDO and Dov Pasternak, ICRISAT-WCA under the leadership of Farid Waliyar, Regional Director-WCA. The study involved appraisal of some of the best practices by ICRISAT in the WCA region and understanding the agri-economic scenario in countries such as Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali.

Belum VS Reddy, Parthasarathy Rao, Rosana Mula, Prabhakar Reddy, Saikat Datta Mazumdar, Purushotham, SM Karuppanchetty, MM Sharma and AR Ilyas facilitated the visit and participated in the discussions with the UNIDO Team.

Ms Haidara remarked, “Institutional innovation models like ASP should be modeled for Africa to benefit the African farmers and entrepreneurs”. She added that Mali would be an ideal location; and as she hails from Mali, she is also hopeful of involving the Government of Mali in this initiative. The meeting concluded with Ms Haidara requesting ASP to send a revised proposal immediately.

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