No. 1443 3 December 2010

Bhoochetana: Improving livelihoods through IMOD

Bhoochetana meeting (L) Dr Dar with Karnataka Minister of Agriculture Mr Umesh Katti, (R) SP Wani speaks at the meeting.

The ICRISAT-supported Bhoochetana, a flagship project of the Government of Karnataka (GoK), held its review and planning meeting at Patancheru from 27 to 29 November. Bhoochetana aims at improving the lives of 3.6 million smallholder farm families in four years covering 71 million hectares in 25 rainfed districts of Karnataka (in southern India).

Sixty-three participants from GoK, led by the Hon. Minister of Agriculture Mr Umesh Katti, and including Dr KV Raju, Economic Advisor to the Chief Minister of Karnataka; Dr Baburao Mudbi, Commissioner, Department of Agriculture; Dr KV Sarvesh, Director of Agriculture, GoK participated in the meeting.

Bhoochetana meeting participants
Participants of the Bhoochetana review and planning meeting at Patancheru.

In his address, Director General William Dar congratulated the GoK for taking a big step forward through a science-led holistic approach for improving the productivity and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in rainfed areas of Karnataka. He also stressed the need to bring in the change of institutional governance, increased investments in rainfed areas, and the need to address the issues of forward and backward linkages with the help of public private partnerships. Dr Dar appreciated the political will of the government as well as the support from the Department of Agriculture, which has shown remarkable results during the last two years.

He also spoke about ICRISAT’s new strategy of inclusive market-oriented development (IMOD), which has evolved through our efforts of increasing productivity and improving livelihoods. This is attainable only with the help of the market as smallholder farmers can get the benefit of increased productivity only if they are linked with the markets, he added.

Dr Raju highlighted the importance of human interventions, a critical factor for the success of Bhoochetana, and called for change in the mindset and innovations to reach millions of small farm facilitators.

Giving an overview of the program, SP Wani highlighted novelties of the Bhoochetana program, such as the adoption of a science-led holistic approach through convergence, consortium and capacity building for increasing productivity in rainfed areas. He said that current farmers’ yields in Karnataka, as evident from the yield gap analysis by ICRISAT, are lower by two to three folds than the achievable yields.

Results during the first two years on vast areas in 15 districts have demonstrated the possibilities of doubling the agricultural productivity using increased water use efficiency with improved cultivars, soil and water management practices and soil test-based nutrient recommendations.

Dr Wani also identified the learnings from the last two years and suggested the way forward, mainly in the area of institutional governance, and ways to overcome the bottlenecks to ensure timely supply of inputs and capacity building for millions of smallholder farmers. He suggested alternative service providers through public private partnerships to bridge the gap in capacity building and the input supply chain.

In a separate meeting between the Minister of Agriculture Mr Umesh Katti and Director General William Dar, the Government of Karnataka requested ICRISAT’s help for convergence of activities of the watershed department, animal husbandry and horticulture departments with agriculture for improving the livelihoods of farmers.

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BNI meeting at ICRISAT

BNI meeting
Dr Dar and SP Wani with Dr Osamu Ito and other Japanese visitors.

A collaborative project between Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) and ICRISAT on Development of sustainable soil fertility management for sorghum and sweet sorghum through effective use of biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) is being implemented at ICRISAT since 2009. A team of scientists from Japan led by Dr Osamu Ito (former ICRISAT Governing Board member), T Ishikawa, G Subbarao, H Uchino and T Kurai met with ICRISAT scientists at Patancheru on 1 December. The BNI team reviewed the progress and future work plans for the project in the coming years.

Dr Ito and team also called on Director General William Dar and appreciated the support of ICRISAT for the BNI project, which has strengthened the collaboration between JIRCAS and ICRISAT. They thanked ICRISAT and the watershed team for all the help and excellent support for the BNI program.

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Seed fair for farmers in southern Tanzania

District Commissioner Ms Fatma Ally and others inspect the displayed seeds

Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) organized a rural seed fair in Nanyumbu district, southern Tanzania on 20 November providing a unique opportunity of raising awareness among the rural communities to a wider variety of released seed and farmer-preferred varieties. Farmers were given a rare opportunity to access alternative sources of seeds bred from research institutions, seed companies and farmers’ own seeds.

Through collaborative research work in groundnuts between ICRISAT and the Department of Research and Development, Tanzania, five ICRISAT-bred groundnut varieties were released in Tanzania last year. The seed fair gave the farmers access to new varieties such as Mnanje 2009 and Nachingwea 2009.

In attendance was an ICRISAT team from Malawi led by Principal Scientist Emmanuel Monyo. Dr Monyo was accompanied by Senior Scientific Officer Harvey Charlie. Dr Monyo assured the farmers of ICRISAT’s continued commitment in developing better adapted groundnut varieties that will respond to the challenges being faced by them. He also encouraged the community to strengthen the seed multiplication groups as an avenue to ensure increased adoption of the improved varieties.

The seed fair attracted senior government officials from the office of the Prime Minister, who were led by the District Commissioner Ms Fatma Ally. In her remarks, the district commissioner commended the collaboration of ICRISAT and NARI through the McKnight-funded and Tropical Legumes projects, which have led to the release of five groundnut varieties. The varieties have the potential to adapt to the drought prone areas of southern Tanzania and possess an inherent resistance to rosette disease.

The seed fair was held as a two day event in one village each in Nanyumbu and Tunduru districts. The community seed groups in the region are vibrant and provide an avenue for seed exchange among the local farmers. Seed exhibitions were set up by NARI, the Agricultural Seed Agency and community seed groups. About 700 farmers attended the fair in Nanyumbu District. Researchers displayed improved varieties of seeds, whilst farmers displayed their preferred varieties.

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ICRISAT Sahelian center celebrates Science Week

ICRISAT-Niamey celebrated Science Week in Niger from 24 to 27 November. The scientific manifestation, initiated for the first time in 2009 by the French Embassy and the Niger Ministry of Secondary and Higher Education, Research and Technology, has already become an important date on the agenda of many in Niger.

The opening ceremony chaired by the Minister of Education and the French Ambassador was held on 24 November. ICRISAT presented a video conference on 26 November on the theme of biodiversity, at Moumouni University of Niamey. The video conference co-organized with the Center for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development (CIRAD) Ile de la Reunion and Moumouni University of Niamey was attended by a large gathering of students, professors and scientists from ICRISAT and other agricultural research institutes.

Jean Philippe Deguine, the main speaker, and scientist from CIRAD based on Ile de la Reunion spoke about the need for keeping and preserving biodiversity.

Science week
Science week
A visitor in the exhibition area. Visitors interact with scientists and technicians.

On 27 November, ICRISAT held an exhibition of posters and raw materials on agricultural research products comprising mil, pearl millet, sorghum and groundnuts at the Village Scientifique (scientific village). Throughout the day, ICRISAT scientists and technicians led by Director-WCA Farid Waliyar, took time to interact with visitors at the Village Scientifique.

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TePP Innovators’ Camp held at ABI-ICRISAT

TePP oarticipants Participants of the Innovators’ camp at Patancheru.

The Agri-Business Incubator (ABI) organized a one-day camp at ICRISAT-Patancheru to identify innovators and facilitate funding for their innovative ideas through its Technopreneur Promotion Program (TePP) and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) schemes, on 25 November.

Following the advertisement released on 21 November, ABI received 80 enquiries and shortlisted 40 innovators for the camp. A panel of experts from the TePP Monitoring Committee (TMC) was invited for evaluation of the proposals. The Panel was chaired by Brig. Ganesham, VSM (Retd.), Honeybee AP, National Innovation Foundation and the members present were Dr J Durga Prasad, Vaishnavi Biopower (P) Ltd, Hyderabad; Dr Dwarkesh Parihar, Chief Scientist, Bioseed Research India Pvt. Ltd; and Dr PS Raju, Scientist from NSTEDB, Dept. of Science & Technology, Govt. of India. SM Karuppanchetty, S Aravazhi and Jonathan Philroy from ABI were also present.

Aravazhi gave a brief introduction about the committee members. Further, a video on ABI and its activities was shown to the participants. Aravazhi also spoke on eligibility criteria, funding amount and project management of the TePP and MSME programs.

The 2nd meeting of the Managing Committee of the MSME incubation scheme was also held to review and recommend on the MSME incubation scheme for the clients of ABI. The committee consisted of Rajesh Agrawal, Director-Finance, M Prabhakar Reddy, Head, FETS, Mr Choudhary from MSME, and Kiran Sharma and SM Karuppanchetty of ABI.

Kiran Sharma welcomed the members and Karuppanchetty presented the progress of incubation of the eight incubatees supported through the MSME scheme. The committee also approved the outcome and progress against the funds utilized and advised for balance funds to be released from MSME for incubated ventures.

The TMC evaluated 22 innovations and approved TePP TS funding (upto Rs 75,000) for 2 innovations, recommended 4 proposals for TPF1 (upto Rs 15 lakhs) and found 12 unsuitable for funding. Nine of the innovations that were not suitable for funding under TePP were reviewed by the Managing Committee of the MSME incubation scheme and 1 innovation was selected for the MSME scheme.

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