No. 1436 15 October 2010

ICRISAT’s New Strategy Expounded at Agro-Biodiversity Symposium

The delegates at the symposium.                                            Dr Dar gives the Opening Address.

Continuing the International Year of Biodiversity celebrations this year, the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) helped organize an International Symposium on Sustainable Agricultural Development and Use of Agrobiodiversity in the Asia-Pacific Region, from 13 to 15 October at Suwon, Republic of Korea.

The event served as a venue for major stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific region to review, identify and redefine the role and directions of agricultural R&D especially in the context of conservation through use of valuable agro-biodiversity for sustainable agricultural development. Moreover, the symposium assessed the status of conservation and utilization of genetic resources for sustainable agricultural development in the region.

The event also strengthened partnerships to ensure access and benefit sharing of agro-biodiversity for improved livelihoods in the region.

Director General William Dar and CLL Gowda with other participants of the Asia-Pacific Agro-Biodiversity symposium.

Addressing the symposium as Chief Guest, Director General William Dar emphasized the central role of agriculture in helping the rural poor. He said that since most of the poor people of the world live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for a living, we needed to look at agricultural solutions. He recalled how in the 1960s, famine in South Asia had been avoided through the Green Revolution, one of humanity’s greatest success stories.

Dr Dar remarked that the narrow diets of the rural poor today lacked the protein, minerals and vitamins needed for good health and led to malnutrition, especially among women and children. Remembering how elders prized certain landrace crop varieties for their specific traits, he said that many of these landraces had vanished, and with them their nutritional benefits and adaptation traits that could have helped a world facing climate change.

Dr Dar also spoke about ICRISAT’s new Strategic Plan to 2020 anchored on the concept of inclusive market-oriented development that aims at harnessing markets to work for the poor, getting them out of poverty for good.

In the First Technical session, CLL Gowda presented a paper (co-authored by HD Upadhyaya and Shivali Sharma) on Conservation and use of agro-biodiversity in semi-arid tropic regions, which was appreciated by many participants as an excellent example of how IARCs can enhance not just conservation but also efficient use of genetic resources.

Attended by about 100 delegates, the symposium was organized by APAARI in partnership with RDA of the Republic of Korea, Bioversity International, GFAR and other international organizations such as AVRDC, CIMMYT, FAO, ICARDA, ICRISAT, ILRI and IRRI.

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HOPE training on variety testing held in southern Sudan

The HOPE project in southern Sudan focuses on testing and evaluation of sorghum varieties with the long term aim of improving sorghum productivity and food security in Central and Eastern Equatoria States.

A training workshop on variety testing, selection and technology delivery was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Sudan in collaboration with ICRISAT-ESA in Torit, Eastern Equatoria in southern Sudan from 30 September to 2 October. In attendance were 26 participants from research, extension, innovative farmers and community based farmer groups from Central and Eastern Equatoria.

Inaugurating the workshop, the Eastern Equatoria State Director General of Research, Dr Otika Lawrence, noted that southern Sudan is currently dependant on its neighbors for food, and that the time had come for her to sustain herself. The workshop was, therefore, timely as it would empower the stakeholders in basic tools for increased sorghum production.

Plenary and focus group discussions during the first two days of the workshop discussed:

  1. The mandate of HOPE project in ESA and southern Sudan
  2. Status and challenges of sorghum production in southern Sudan
  3. Criteria for zoning Central and Eastern Equatoria of southern Sudan for targeted sorghum variety testing and selection
  4. Prioritization of sorghum production problems in the three defined zones
  5. Sorghum variety testing and evaluation
  6. Technology delivery mechanisms
  7. Integrated Striga management
  8. Recommendations on future activities.
Participants of the HOPE training program in southern Sudan.

On the third day of the workshop, the participants visited on-station sorghum trials located about 10 km from Torit town to view, discuss and select promising sorghum varieties. About eight promising sorghum varieties were selected by the participants.

At the end of the workshop, the participants made the following recommendations:

  • Future research interventions should target the three defined zones – high, medium and low rainfall areas
  • Data collection, harvesting and reporting on HOPE sorghum trials be completed
  • 4-8 sorghum varieties be selected from the current station trials for on-farm PVS
  • Encourage more women and farmer groups in PVS
  • More crops (pigeonpea, groundnuts, sesame and finger millet) be included in future on-station and on-farm PVS trials
  • Carry out crop adaptation trials to capture the variation on length of growing seasons in the three defined production zones
  • Empower specific farmer groups to produce, distribute and market quality seed through training
  • More training on PVS to be conducted in southern Sudan.

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ICRISAT at Conference of African Economists

ICRISAT was well represented at the joint African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE) and Agricultural Economist Association of South Africa (AEASA) conference that was held from 19 to 23 September in Cape Town, South Africa. The conference was attended by 400 delegates from all over the world.

ICRISAT-Bulawayo staff members (past and present) at the conference.

Dr Kizito Mazvimavi along with Conrad Murendo and Putso Nyathi, from ICRISAT-Bulawayo, attended the conference where the Institute presented three papers (two oral and one poster presentation). The oral presentations were on the use of participatory processes in the wide-scale dissemination of microdosing and conservation agriculture in Zimbabwe as well as on the supply and demand trends for fertilizer in Zimbabwe from the 1930s to date. The poster described conservation agriculture practices and the issues surrounding the adoption of this technology package by smallholders in Zimbabwe.

The current staff members had the opportunity for a small reunion with two former ICRISAT staff members who attended the conference to present a paper. Tarisayi Pedzisa and Tinah Moyo, who are pursuing their PhDs at the University of Pretoria.

Although he did not attend the conference, Isaac J Minde, ICRISAT-Bulawayo Country Representative, also achieved notice and recognition from his peers. Dr Minde was nominated as one of the distinguished AAAE Fellows.

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Field day held at Niamey

ICRISAT–Niamey organized an Open Field Day at Sadoré Research Station in Niamey on 6 and 7 October together with its main partners in Niger – INRAN, IRD, AVRDC, CIRAD, JIRCAS, ICRAF and TSBF. The theme for this year was Agricultural Research Results for a Better Food Security in Niger.

Dr Waliyar with Mr Malick Sadelher, Colonel Soumana Djibo and other dignitaries and staff members.

Held under the chairmanship of Dr Farid Waliyar, Director, ICRISAT-WCA, the program was intended to share results/experiences on farming in the West and Central Africa region. The first day was devoted to government officials, representatives of NGOs, embassies and international organizations; and the second day was devoted to farmers, farmers’ organizations, NGO members and pilot farmers working with ICRISAT within various projects.

The high-level official delegation that participated in the opening ceremony was an indication of the interest of the Nigerien authorities in this event. The official delegation comprised Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Mr Malick Sadelher; Governor of the region of Niamey, Colonel Soumana Djibo; delegates from the National Institute of Agronomic Research of Niger (INRAN) and several guests.

Currently, millet, sorghum and groundnut occupy a prominent place in ICRISAT’s research to combat hunger and help attain food security in the region. The President of the National Cooperative of Niamey vegetable producers expressed his appreciation for the improved seed varieties provided to them in order to enhance the quality and quantity of the farmers’ production.
Dr Farid Waliyar took the opportunity to raise awareness on the aflatoxin affecting plants and against which significant progress has been made in ICRISAT’s research.

 Farmers who attended the Niamey field day.

This open program was an appropriate occasion to visit the various experimental plots and to have an overview of research activities on pearl millet, groundnut, soil fertility, mircrodosing, crop diversification with trees and vegetables and African Market Gardens. Visitors were also briefed on the integrated soil fertility management program and met with a group of women cultivating okra and Moringa oleifera on reclaimed degraded land with ICRISAT’s research support.

During the two days, about 350 participants were guided through the research fields inside the station and in Sadoré village to see the participatory experiment on bio-reclamation of degraded lands and the Sadoré women’s commercial nursery promoted by ICRISAT.

Other highlights of the event included discussions with the researchers, a visit to the germplasm bank and the exhibition stands. Meals and refreshments were provided, which contributed to making the event pleasant and memorable.

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Capacity building workshop at ICRISAT-Niamey

Participants of the capacity building workshop.

ICRISAT-Niamey is hosting a capacity building workshop on Management of Agricultural Research Stations from 4 to 20 October at the Sahelian Center. This workshop aims to strengthen the capacity of station managers and those responsible for support services to maximize the benefits from the resources available at the station.

Twenty-two station managers and support services technicians from ICRISAT-Niamey, AfricaRice, and NARS of Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal are participating in the course.

This intensive course in station management is offering theory as well as hands-on solutions for practical problems that the station manager and staff members face on a regular basis, which will enable them to deal with such situations effectively and manage the station well.
The workshop will prepare research station personnel for the important task of supporting the research process and in many ways will ensure that the investment made will be well utilized.

Mainly funded by the Generation Challenge Program and ICRISAT, the workshop will have the following subjects:

  • Management of the research station including planning of annual activities (maintenance of infrastructure, equipment, plots, research needs, budget)
  • Irrigation (systems, setup, uniformity of application, maintenance)
  • Research plot management (homogeneity, soil health, plot history, rotation)
  • Field equipment (maintenance, adjustment, calibration, use)
  • Relationship with research programs, communication, understanding needs
  • Plot data and history as a tool for decision making-demonstration of MARS, which is a research center and station management system.

The facilitators are Dr Hannibal Muhtar, Dr Devendra Sharma and Ms Allison Blair from AGRICON International Inc.

Participants are expected to share this knowledge with their groups and model it for their research stations.

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ICRISAT at Metropolitan Agriculture Summit

The First Global Summit on Metropolitan Agriculture was organized in Amsterdam from 28 to 30 September.

Six metropoles – Amsterdam, Chennai, London, the Detroit-Flint region, Johannesburg and São Paulo – have been selected to develop interventions in the areas of sustainable food production; innovative supply chain models; new agricultural services; effective water, energy and waste management; logistics and integrated production; food security and food safety; retail sales and economic growth; land use and blight reduction; animal welfare and disease prevention; the connection to nature, landscape and the environment.

In 2007, the United Nations announced that half the world’s population now lives in urban areas. These metropoles depend on a globalized food system that has separated agriculture from metropolitan space, also increasing their vulnerability to economic and environmental crises. Technological advances in storage and transportation allow food to be produced far away from where it is consumed, resulting in a growing “mental gap” between food “on-the-plate” and the production of food. 

Abdul Rahman Ilyas represented ICRISAT in the Chennai group and also co-chaired a session on financing MetroAg Innovations.

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ICRISAT attends Krishimela at Dharwad

ICRISAT co-sponsored a “Krishimela” (farmers day) held at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad from 2 to 5 October. About 0.74 million farmers from across Karnataka as well as the surrounding states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh participated in the mela.

Hon’ble Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Mr VH Kageri inaugurates the ICRISAT stall as other dignitaries and Dr Wani look on.

The Krishimela started on 2 October with the Awards Ceremony for progressive farmers. On 3 October, the mela was inaugurated under the chairmanship of the Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Mr Umesh Katti. Mr Jagdish Shetter, Honorable Minister of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj; Mr CM Udasi, Honorable Minister of PWD; Mr VH Kageri, Honorable Minister of Primary and Secondary Education; and other elected representatives of local institutions also participated. 

Two ICRISAT publications based on the Bhoo Chetana collaborative project between the Government of Karnataka and ICRISAT were released by the dignitaries on the dais. A seven-member ICRISAT team led by SP Wani participated and put up a stall in the agricultural exhibition section.

Inaugurating the ICRISAT stall with other dignitaries, UAS Vice-Chancellor Dr RR Hanchinal highlighted the ongoing collaboration between ICRISAT and UAS through the Bhoo Chetana initiative.

Many farmers visited the ICRISAT stall where they got practical information about the soil health of their villages along with knowledge of other improved technologies for managing rainwater, soil, crops and pests. The stall also featured a good display of our mandate crop seeds as well as a number of posters in the local language.  Several farmers registered their names at our stall for small quantities of seeds of improved cultivars of crops.

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New Country Administrator at Bulawayo

Paul Mugoni

Paul Mugoni recently joined ICRISAT-Bulawayo as Country Administrator. He has more than 30 years experience in the management of finances and administration of both private and NGO organizations, 20 years of which were spent in international co-operation projects and local NGOs.

Paul worked for the German Technical Co-operation (GTZ) in 1986 as Program Accountant and later as Senior Contracts and Finance Manager on a multi-funded regional project in Mozambique. In between, he had a brief stint as Internal Audit Manager for Hippo Valley Estates Limited. After leaving GTZ, he joined a local NGO, the Diocese of Mutare Community Programme (DOMCCP) as Finance and Administration Director and left again for the private sector after putting the local NGO on a sound financial footing and having secured donor confidence. Over the years, he has gained considerable experience in financial and administrative procedures of various donors, which include GTZ, EU, USAID, UNDP, UNHCR, UNFPA, WFP, Irish Aid, PACT, CRS, EED, WFD, ICCO, Healthlink, Tearfund UK and Tearfund Netherlands.

We welcome Paul to Team ICRISAT!

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