No. 1444 10 December 2010

ICRISAT Strategic Plan to 2020: Roadmap to Prosperity in the Tropical Drylands

Strategic plan 2020 launch MS Swaminathan and Director General William Dar launch the Strategic Plan to 2020 with other dignitaries during the Annual Day celebrations at Patancheru.

“Our new Strategic Plan to 2020 serves as a blueprint to a more vibrant ICRISAT and a roadmap to prosperity in the drylands”, proclaimed Director General William Dar as he and the Chief Guest, the renowned Dr MS Swaminathan launched ICRISAT’s much awaited Plan during the Annual Day celebrations at Patancheru on 7 December.

Annual Day celebrations are always special, but this year, the 38th anniversary will be especially remembered for ushering in a new era as ICRISAT resounds with “Inclusive Market-Oriented Development, or IMOD”.


Annual Day 2010
Dr Dar presents a plaque to Dr Swaminathan as Dr Hoisington looks on.

On the previous morning, 6 December, the Annual Day celebrations were sparked off by a symposium on “Partnerships with Purpose,” a theme closely aligned with our new strategy. “We see partnerships as the foundation that is critical to success in our mission,” said Dr Dar during the opening session. “We want your advice on how we should implement this new strategy most effectively,” he continued as he addressed the invited partners from the private and public sector and other delegates at the symposium.

Dr Ganesan Balachander, Member of the CGIAR Consortium Board, chaired the symposium and encouraged participants to revitalize agriculture and be responsive to the needs of smallholder farmers. DDG-R Dave Hoisington presented the Strategic Plan, Dr Anil Gupta of IIM, Ahmedabad spoke from an NGO perspective; Dr B Venkateshwarlu of CRIDA, represented Dr Swapan Datta, the DDG-Crop Science of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research; and Dr VR Kaundinya, MD, Advanta India Ltd, spoke from the perspective of a seed company.

In addition, Mr P Vidyasagar, Chairman and MD, Vibha Seeds articulated the role of agro-enterprises; Dr KK Narayanan, MD, Metahelix Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd., spoke about the role of biotechnology R&D; Mr Ali Maman Aminou, Director of a farmers federation in Niger, gave the farmer’s perspective, and Dr Michael Blümmel of ILRI presented the ILRI-ICRISAT partnership.

The presentations were followed by Q&A sessions that offered good suggestions on how the Plan could be implemented. Dr Oscar Riera-Lizarazu, Chair of the Annual Day Symposium Sub-committee, thanked Dr Balachander and the delegates for their participation and support.


Loyalty Day celebrations took place in the afternoon of 6 December. Ms Martha B Stone, former Chairman of ICRISAT’s Governing Board, graced the occasion as Chief Guest, while 136 Patancheru-based staff members proudly received loyalty awards from their respective MG members. Among the awardees was DDG-R Dave Hoisington who has completed 5 years with ICRISAT.

Atty Hector Hernandez, Director HR, welcomed the Loyalty Awardees. Dr Dar and Ms Martha Stone addressed and congratulated the awardees. AJ Rama Rao was the Master of Ceremonies for the function.

SatVenture RENAMED

The chilly and cloudy morning of 7 December was lit up with smiles as Ms Martha Stone unveiled the “Martha B Stone SatVenture” plaque. Welcoming Ms Stone to the ceremony, Dr Dar informed the guests about the contributions of Ms Stone during her tenure as Governing Board member and her expert steering of the Board while she was its Chair. Responding to the admirable accounts and graciously accepting the honor, Ms Martha Stone thanked ICRISAT for the recognition and said she was happy to realize that she had made a difference.

The SatVenture is an exhibit area at the ICRISAT-Patancheru campus managed by the Visitors and Travel Services unit of the Communication Office. As Communication Director Rex Navarro said, it is a microcosm of the Institute and a good place for visitors to get a capsule view of ICRISAT.

Mrs Beatriz Dar and Dr MS Swaminathan also unveiled the name boards over the two glass doors of the Martha B Stone SatVenture.


The Annual Day festivities culminated in the afternoon of 7 December with the formal recognition of Science Awardees, beginning with the Doreen Mashler Award to Belum VS Reddy; followed by awards for Young Scientist to Mamta Sharma; Outstanding Scientist to Pooran Gaur; Outstanding Scientific Support Team to the ICRISAT-Niamey Pearl Millet Improvement Team; Outstanding Partnership to Fuma Gaskiya, INRAN and ICRISAT-Niamey; Outstanding Scientific Article to Rajeev Varshney and team.

Annual Day 2010
Dr Dar addresses the Annual Day gathering.

Research Partnership awards were presented to Dr MK Bhan; Dr Patricio Faylon, Executive Director-PCARRD, Philippines; Fuma Gaskiya, Niger; Department of Agricultural Research, Myanmar; BAIF Foundation, India; and University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, India.

The high point of the formal celebration was the launching of ICRISAT’s Strategic Plan to 2010. Delivering the Annual Day address, Dr Dar declared “To us at ICRISAT, change is an inspiration!” He also reminded the Institute that despite our successes of the past 38 years poverty continues to persist in dryland Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. “Reduction of poverty has now become our overarching goal.” he continued, referring to the “Inclusive Market-Oriented Development” approach we have adopted.

He expressed his belief that harnessing purposeful partnerships will compel us to meet our aspirational targets, and thanked the Governing Board, partners and staff members in all our locations for their valuable contribution to this effort.

Chief Guest of the day, the octogenarian and revered Dr MS Swaminathan who had witnessed the laying of ICRISAT’s foundation stone in 1972, praised ICRISAT’s new plan and commended the Institute for evolving and reorienting itself to face the modern day challenges. He also lauded the dynamic leadership that has been steering the Institute towards achieving its goals.

Three new books, 1) Groundnut and Soybean Economies in Asia: Facts, Trends and Outlook; 2) Lifting the Level of Awareness on Pigeonpea – A Global Perspective; and 3) Biodiversity@ICRISAT Patancheru, Version 2.0, were released at the function.

Cynthia Bantilan expertly executed her role as Master of Ceremonies for the formal part of the celebration, and CLL Gowda, Chairperson of the Annual Day Organizing committee proposed a vote of thanks.

Annual Day 2010
Is this colorful fortune-teller really Peter Craufurd?

The rain gods had opened up the heavens during the proceedings, reinforcing the belief in the climate change phenomenon. Nevertheless, Team ICRISAT went on to present a fine cultural program starting with a meaningful invocation by the ICRISAT Choir; followed by popular music from the International School of Hyderabad; a devotional song by Sanjeev Kumar (son of LJ Prasad of HR); and the Waka Waka song by the Learning Systems Unit. Captivating dances were performed by the students of IACD and four gazelle-like lady staff members. The skit by the Ex-Pat staff members depicting the not-so-speedy undertakings of the “Speedy Workshop” provided much hilarity.

Ms Kavita was a clear and crisp Master of Ceremonies for the cultural program, and G Pardasaradhi, co-Chairman of the Cultural sub-committee with Seetha Kannan, proposed the vote of thanks.

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Annual Day in pictures

Annual Day 2010
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Training workshop on Marker Assisted Breeding at Nairobi

MAB workshop
Participants at the MAB workshop in Nairobi.

A training workshop on use of markers and genomics in crop improvement was held at the ICRISAT BecA Laboratory, Nairobi, Kenya from 29 November to 3 December. The course was organized and coordinated by Dan Kiambi in collaboration with BecA-Hub as part of the Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) project Objective 4, Improve finger millet cultivars and management options to increase productivity and production in ESA, and it aimed at implementing the activity on ‘Capacity building, knowledge and information sharing for pursuance of finger millet crop improvement and management’.

The objective of the course was to equip participants with skills on the use of molecular markers and genomics in crop improvement with a focus on finger millet, and to demonstrate the power of Marker Assisted Breeding as a complementary tool to conventional breeding. Twenty-two participants from Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and southern Sudan attended the course. They were mainly partners and collaborators involved in the implementation of the HOPE project, and represented national agricultural research institutions and universities.

The workshop was officially opened by Said Silim, Director-ESA. In his opening address, Dr Silim underscored the importance of markers as a tool to aid and complement conventional breeding. He stressed the importance of breeders and molecular geneticists working closely in developing projects as their skills and competencies are complementary. He also encouraged the participants to apply the acquired skills in their crop improvement programs.

Resource persons included Tom Hash, Santosh Deshpande, Henry Ojulong and Dan Kiambi. The course included laboratory practicals on general molecular techniques including DNA extraction, quality and quantity tests, PCR set up, genotyping and preliminary data analysis using GeneMapper software.

The laboratory practicals were preceded by a training session on laboratory safety procedures given by Ephy Khaemba of ILRI. The participants also had practical training on molecular data analysis using PowerMarker and DARwin. They had a guided tour of the BecA facilities, which includes state-of-the-art equipment such as the 454 sequencer, modern greenhouses and a plant transformation outfit.

The workshop was officially closed by Dr Segenet Kelemu, Director of the BecA-Hub. She gave a brief overview of the activities of the hub and presented the participants and resource persons with course certificates.

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Farid Waliyar honored in Mali

Farid Waliyar
Farid Waliyar and the certificate of recognition from the Mali Government.

The Malian Minister of Agriculture, Agathan Ag Alhassane, has awarded Dr Farid Waliyar, Director ICRISAT-WCA, with a Diploma of Recognition for his contributions to agricultural development of that country. Dr Waliyar officially received the recognition on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of Mali’s agriculture and the Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER), a main partner of ICRISAT in Mali, on 29 November. The certificate reads, “This certificate is awarded at the fiftieth anniversary of Malian agriculture to Dr Farid Waliyar in recognition of his valuable contribution to agricultural development in Mali”.

Congratulations Dr Waliyar, we are proud of you!

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AGRA holds Technical Report Writing training at ICRISAT-WCA

WCA Participants of the Report Writing course at Niamey.

Members of the Microdosing Project of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) held a training course on Technical Report Writing from 29 November to 3 December at ICRISAT’s Training and Visitors’ Center in Niamey.

The workshop was attended by 12 participants from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. On behalf of ICRISAT-WCA Director, program coordinator Mahamadou Gandah inaugurated the workshop and gave the welcome remarks. Participants were mostly national coordinators of the Microdosing Project and their NGO/project partners involved in implementation of the project in the three countries mentioned above.

During their stay at ICRISAT, participants learned about the content and presentation of a research report, an annual report and a synthesis report. They were also introduced to the “do’s” and “don’ts” of technical report content.

The 5-day course was facilitated by M Abdoul Aziz Ly, a Senegalese consultant, with support from Mahamadou Gandah, and the AGRA Regional Coordination Group in WCA. Participants used their previous biannual reports and scientific articles of their countries to practice what they had learned on scientific writing.

AGRA Microdosing is a three year project, which aims to “Achieve Pro-Poor Green Revolution in Drylands of Africa by Linking Fertilizer Microdosing with Input-Output Markets to Boost Smallholder Farmers’ Livelihoods in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger”.

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