No. 1434 01 October 2010

ICRISAT bags Research Leadership Award 2010

It was a proud moment when Director General William Dar accepted the Research Leadership Award 2010 on behalf of the Institute at the Third Agriculture Leadership Summit in New Delhi on 29 September.

Informing Dr Dar about the award, Dr MJ Khan of the National Awards Committee 2010, wrote, “I am pleased to convey the decision of the National Awards Committee of the Agriculture Leadership Awards 2010 to confer upon ICRISAT the Research Leadership Award 2010 for its outstanding research achievements in agriculture.

Director General William Dar recieves the award from H.E. Shivraj Patil, Governor of Punjab, as Dr MS Swaminathan and Prabhat Kumar look on.

Speaking at the ceremony Dr Dar said, “We believe that the world’s farmlands can be the frontline for the battle to feed the one billion hungry people in the world and a projected population of 9.1 billion by 2050. This will mean that global agricultural production will need to grow by 70% by then!”

Focusing on India, Dr Dar said, “In India, smallholder farmers constitute about 80% of the farming community and hold approximately 39% of total agricultural land, feeding its population of 1.15 billion.”

Talking about the key challenges facing Indian agriculture today, Dr Dar said that innovative policies, appropriate institutional arrangements, and market-driven technologies can harness untapped opportunities to provide benefits to the farming community. He said that India could increase agricultural productivity by bringing new land into agricultural production, increasing cropping intensity, and increasing yields.

Karnataka and AP farmers Dr Dar with Dr Gavin Wall, FAO Representative in India, at the summit.

Enthusiastically informing the gathering about ICRISAT’s new strategy to 2020, he said that it hinges on inclusive market-oriented development to help the dryland poor attain a whole new level of resource access, stability, security and productivity, so that they can grow out of poverty.

Therefore, by increasing the resilience of agricultural production systems and formulating right policies, the farmer of today can hope for greater empowerment for the future.

The Agriculture Leadership Awards were instituted in 2008 for recognizing excellence and leadership roles played by individuals and organizations towards the development of Indian agriculture and bringing about rural prosperity. These awards are given annually to encourage and recognize the efforts that have made significant contributions in agriculture and positively impacted the lives of millions of farmers.

The Agricultural Leadership Awards are organized by the Agriculture Today Group. This year, Dr MS Swaminathan is the Chair of the Organizing Committee, and the jury of the National Awards Committee was headed by Dr AR Kidwai, former Governor of the States of Bihar and Haryana. This is the first time that ICRISAT has received such an award from our host country.

Congratulations to all.

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HOPE training on PVS held in Ethiopia

Participants of the HOPE training program on PVS.

The Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) of sorghum and millets in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia project in Ethiopia aims at improving the productivity of sorghum in Western Hararge and North Wollo and finger millet in Western Gojam and Central Rift Valley provinces. In order to achieve milestones 4.4.1, 6.6.1 and 6.6.4 of the HOPE Project in Ethiopia, a training on Participatory Variety Selection (PVS), use of improved management practices for sorghum and finger millet production and Participatory Technology Delivery Mechanisms was held from 16 to 18 September at Melkassa Agricultural Research Centre of Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research in Nazareth, Ethiopia.

The training workshop was organised by Taye Tadesse (HOPE project coordinator in Ethiopia) and Mekonnen (Objective 6 country coordinator) in collaboration with Mary Mgonja, Henry Ojulong and Patrick Audi of ICRISAT-Nairobi. Forty-four participants (40 men and 4 women) from research, extension and Ethiopian Seed Enterprise, all drawn from various target HOPE project provinces in Ethiopia, attended.

The first two days of the training covered group discussions and plenary presentations at the research station where the following were deliberated:

    •  Priority production and market constraints and opportunities
    •  Preferred sorghum and finger millet traits
    •  Preferred sorghum and finger millet varieties
    •  Priority constraints/gaps and opportunities in seed supply
    •  Major seed supply sources/partners in project sites
    •  Suitable new varieties and improved management information dissemination channels
    •  Integrated Striga management
    •  Integrated blast management
    •  Micro-dosing in finger millet.

On the third day of the training, the trainees joined a farmer group in Siraro consisting of about 20 members led by Jamilla Ismael to participate in selecting the most preferred finger millet varieties from their own on-farm trial. The farmers selected Tadesse and Padet as their most preferred varieties in Siraro.

For the past several years Jamilla Ismael has been getting the best farmer award because of her finger millet field. As part of the award, organized by the research institution, Jamilla features on television shows and FM radios to educate her fellow farmers on the advantages of finger millet – it has high nutritive value, is good for weaning babies and makes good quality injera (a local bread). These have led to finger millet replacing tef in the area.

The following recommendations were made during the wrap-up discussion:

    •  Complete the remaining PVS activities in all sites
    •  Organize field days during PVS
    •  Use electronic media to record and publicize field day activities, including products made from     sorghum and finger millet
    •  Identify seed sources of Tadesse variety for large field demonstrations and promotion
    •  Carry out demonstrations on micro-dosing, Striga and blast management.

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Pearl millet scientists’ field day held at Patancheru

The Global Theme on Crop Improvement (GT-CI) organized a Pearl Millet Scientists’ Field Day on 30 September and 1 October at ICRISAT-Patancheru. Twenty-five participants from the public sector, 20 from the private sector who are members of the Pearl Millet Hybrid Parents Research Consortium and 2 staff members from ICRISAT’s ESA hub participated.

Welcoming the participants, CLL Gowda, Global Theme Leader, Crop Improvement, said that the field day was to showcase improved breeding materials and parental lines of potential hybrids to pearl millet researchers, and to provide the researchers the opportunity to see tools and techniques recently developed or refined by ICRISAT scientists.

Gowda urged the participants to provide feedback on their experiences with the breeding materials selected both in the past and during the present field day. He also welcomed Dr OP Yadav, the newly appointed Coordinator of the All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project (AICPMIP).

SK Gupta spoke about the main objectives and the program of the event and led the group to various field visits. He urged participants to actively participate in the selection process.

Delivering the inaugural address on behalf of Director General William Dar, DDG-R Dave Hoisington, referring to the large number of pearl millet scientists in one place, said that he was as excited as a shop owner to have so many customers to select the goods that ICRISAT has on offer during this event. He also spoke about the recent CG changes, the appointment of a new CG CEO, the recent Governing Board meeting in Tanzania, and ICRISAT’s new perspective on improving farmers’ livelihoods and making farming profitable.

Hoisington urged the partners to help achieve the millennium development goals and said that ICRISAT’s new Strategic Plan to 2020 was all about partnerships such as our partnership with ICAR, AICPMIP, various State Agricultural Universities, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Harvest Plus, and the private seed sector.

Hoisington also spoke about the need to build on our successes in hybrid breeding in India to make them successful in Africa too. He also pointed out that diversifying the use of pearl millet into feed and fodder will increase its value and help create new and improved partnerships with ICAR and ILRI. Hoisington emphasized the need for feedback from the field day participants regarding the usefulness of materials that they select, as it helps ICRISAT scientists to redefine and reorient their research direction.

Participants of the field day in the fields at Patancheru.

At the inaugural of the Field Day (L) and in the pearl millet fields at Patancheru (R).

Following the inaugural function, the participants were taken to the field and shown the restorer parent breeding, forage lines/populations and seed parent breeding and also the downy mildew/blast nursery, screening for salinity tolerance and genetic resources. Judging from the time spent in the field examining various types of materials, participants are likely to select a large number of lines, which are yet to be collated and summarized.

At the plenary session on 1 October, Rakesh Srivastava spoke about marker-assisted breeding while Rosana Mula gave a talk on the results of a previous survey regarding the utilization of ICRISAT-bred pearl millet by the public and private sector participants, and invited their participation on providing further feedback on this subject. Following feedback from a public sector representative and a private sector representative on the organization of the field day and the potential usefulness of the materials that they saw, CLL Gowda gave the closing remarks and KN Rai proposed the vote of thanks.

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DG delivers keynote address at Norman Borlaug Memorial Conference

Director General Dar was the keynote speaker at the Dr Norman E Borlaug Memorial Conference on Problems of farming community: Reasons and Remedies, on 30 September at the Majestic Darbar Hall, Osmania University College for Women, Hyderabad.

The conference debated various issues concerning agriculture, and the theme of Dr Dar’s presentation (co-authored by CLL Gowda) was Climate Change and Agricultural Production, where he enumerated the global signs that climate change is here –deficit in rainfall, increases in rainfall, and torrential downpours – all events that worsen the food crisis. Dr Dar also spoke about the scourge of malnutrition affecting India and countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and the measures that organizations such as ICRISAT need to promote, along with their partners, to ensure nutritional security.

Dr Dar listed the impacts that climate change is having on farmers – delayed sowing, higher pest and disease incidence, droughts and less profits, to name a few. He mentioned the Copenhagen summit that took place last year, which was not able to garner the political will for binding agreements, nor plan a target for emission reductions. He also spoke about ICRISAT’s successes, and urged agricultural communities to act urgently to double food production (to meet the demands of projected 9 billion population by 2050), and prioritize adaptation and mitigation measures. He concluded by talking about ICRISAT’s new Strategic Plan to 2020, which offers a new ray of hope for agriculture.

Dr Borlaug is the father of the Green Revolution. The conference was organized by the Department of Botany, Osmania University College for Women. Sri D Sridhar Babu, Hon. Minister for Higher Education was the Chief Guest. Other speakers at the conference included Dr Arjula Reddy, Vice-Chancellor, Yogi Vemana University; Dr Mahatab S Bamji, INSA Fellow and Chairperson, National Task Force for Women in Science; Prof P Raghava Reddy, Vice-Chancellor, ANGRAU; and Dr B Venkateshwarlu, Director, Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture.

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NutriPlus holds sweet sorghum syrup workshop

Particpants of the entrepreneur development workshop.

The week long entrepreneur development workshop (EDW) on Establishing and managing a commercial Sweet Sorghum Syrup enterprise for Food Applications was inaugurated on 27 September at ICRISAT-Patancheru. Twenty-five prospective entrepreneurs from Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra are taking part in the workshop.

The EDW is organized by the NutriPlus Knowledge Center, Agri Science Park@ICRISAT, in collaboration with ICRISAT’s Global Theme on Crop Improvement. CLL Gowda, GTL-CI welcomed the dignitaries and the participants and gave an overview of the workshop.

Mr JC Sharma, Principal Secretary (Food Processing) to the Government of Andhra Pradesh (AP), delivered the inaugural address, and urged the participants to take advantage of the learnings from the workshop. He shared details of government policies and schemes and reiterated the support of the AP Government to the NutriPlus initiative.

Delivering the keynote address, Director General William Dar said that the EDW was being organized at the appropriate time when the Governing Board had approved ICRISAT’s new Strategic Plan to 2020. He stated that the new plan focuses on inclusive market-oriented development, which is a dynamic progression from subsistence towards market-oriented agriculture.

Dr Dar also explained the progression of ICRISAT’s research on sweet sorghum varieties, use of the crop for forage, fodder and ethanol production. He explained that the value addition by NutriPlus was the next step in exploiting the potential of this “Smart Crop”.

Dr Dar inaugurated a display of food products and a ready to serve beverage based on sweet sorghum syrup.

Saikat Datta Mazumdar, NutriPlus, gave an overview of the products developed. Belum VS Reddy, Principal Scientist, GT-CI, gave a detailed talk on sweet sorghum research at ICRISAT and the various initiatives taken to promote the use of the syrup.

Abdul Rahman Ilyas, ASP, talked about the activities of ASP. He also explained that selected participants from the present EDW will be further incubated and hand held as part of an Entrepreneurial Development Program (EDP) to enable establishment of their own sweet sorghum based enterprises.

Ravinder Reddy, Scientist, Technology Transfer, GT-CI (who coordinated the program) gave the details about the decentralized crushing unit (DCU). The participants visited the DCU at Ibrahimbad to get hands on experience on crushing and syrup making. Lectures on sweet sorghum agronomy, cultivars and productivity enhancement, and economics of sweet sorghum production were delivered by P Srinivasa Rao and P Parthasarathy Rao.

R Purushotham, ASP, led a session on business planning and simulation. Mr V Prasanna Kumar, Joint Director, Commissionerate of Industries, Government of AP spoke about the schemes and opportunities for entrepreneurs in the area of food processing in AP. The participants were also exposed to hands on food product development sessions at NutriPlus conducted by A Poshadri and Sofi Miya. Priya and Usha provided administrative support to the EDW. The organizers would also like to acknowledge the support of FETS, HFS, CO, LSU and Security in successfully conducting the workshop.

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Training on pigeonpea processing in Philippines

ABI Participants whipping up delicious snacks.

As part of the RP-ICRISAT collaborative project Accelerating Pigeonpea Adoption, Production and Utilization in Northern Luzon Philippines, the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), conducted the 5th hands-on training on the development of food products from pigeonpea in the Municipality of Dingras in Ilocos Norte on 23 September.

Twenty participants comprising 13 households and 7 Home Technology students took part in the course. The primary purpose of the training was to provide knowledge and skills on the uses and nutritional benefits of pigeonpea, and for value addition of pigeonpea by producing pigeonpea-based by-products. Mr Fernando P Sugui, National Pigeonpea Coordinator and Ms Vina May Grace Cabugon, Food Service Supervisor of MMSU were the resource persons. They demonstrated the procedures in the preparation of popular Philippine snacks such as polvoron, puto, cuchinta, maja blanca, croepoek and espasol using pigeonpea-enriched flour.

The one-day training was organized and coordinated by Ms Irene Flores, CAFSD Guidance Counselor together with Dr Genevive I Magano, Professor in Agricultural Extension and Prof Buenaflora R Asiao, Professor in Home Technology. The activity was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Laoag City, Ilocos Norte under the leadership of Hon Joven M Daynos.

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