No. 1446 24 December 2010

Ag Secy and GB Member PK Basu Visits ICRISAT

Bamako Annual Day Director General William Dar presents a copy of ICRISAT’s Strategic Plan to 2020 to Agriculture Secretary and Governing Board member PK Basu.

Mr PK Basu, IAS, Secretary, Agriculture, Government of India, and Member of ICRISAT’s Governing Board, visited ICRISAT on 12 December. He was received by Director General Dr William Dar, DDG-R Dr Dave Hoisington, members of the Management Group, and Principal Scientists. This is his first visit to ICRISAT after becoming a Board member.

Mr Basu was accompanied by Mr Mukesh Khullar, Joint Secretary (Crops) and Mission Director, National Food Security Mission (NFSM); Dr P Raghava Reddy, Vice-Chancellor, ANGRAU and officials of the Government of Andhra Pradesh.

On the occasion, Dave Hoisington made a presentation on ICRISAT’s Strategic Plan to 2020 and explained the philosophy behind Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) and systems approaches to eliminating hunger in the drylands of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Pooran Gaur made a well received presentation on the research highlights and achievements of various grain legumes projects funded by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperatives (DOAC), Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India under ISOPOM and NFSM. These include two projects each on chickpea and pigeonpea and one each on groundnut and seed systems. Mr Basu showed keen interest in the activities of these projects and the DG, DDG-R, KB Saxena and Suresh Pande supplemented the presentation with additional information.

After lunch, Mr Basu was briefed about the agricultural situation in the State and the various projects being undertaken by the Government of Andhra Pradesh to increase pulses and oilseeds production. The Secretary was also briefed about the damage caused to cotton and rice crops due to recent heavy rains in some parts of the State.

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Annual Day at ICRISAT-ESA

ICRISAT’s Nairobi office celebrated its Annual Day with great fervour on 3 December. Staff were joined by a number of guests. Among them was Kwame Akuffo-Akoto, a former ICRISAT staff member and now Chief Operating Officer of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

The celebrations started with a staff meeting, where Said Silim, Director-ESA, elaborated on changes taking place within the CGIAR and ICRISAT. He took staff through the process of the development of the Strategic Plan, Business Plan, Medium Term Plan (MTP) and CGIAR Research Programs. The event was followed by a luncheon at FOGO Gaucho, a Brazilian Steak House in Nairobi, where staff enjoyed the unique experience of Nyama Choma (barbecued meat), the Brazilian way. This was an opportunity for staff to interact, bond and unwind.

Nairobi Annual Day
Nairobi Annual Day
Nairobi Annual Day

It was a day of saying “thank you for your loyalty”, plenty of camaraderie and feasting on Nyama Choma.

Nairobi Annual Day
(Left) Charity Mutegi receives a gift on behalf of Caroline Mwongera’s new born babies and Dan Kiambi is presented with a farewell gift.

The group bid farewell to Dan Kiambi and presented him with a gift in appreciation of his contribution to the Institute. Dan will be joining the African Biodiversity Conservation and Innovations Centre based in Nairobi as Executive Director. In his remarks, Dan appreciated
the freedom he had enjoyed while working at the Institute and said he was leaving the place with fond memories.

The Annual Day was an occasion to look back on a successful year, and to honor staff who have served the Institute for several years. Three staff members were presented with Loyalty Awards - Dr KPC Rao (20 years), Anthony Mutuku (5 years), and Santi deVilliers (5 years). A wedding gift was presented to Vincent Njung’e and his wife Evelyn, who got married this year. Joseph Mwangi and Caroline Mwongera were each presented with gifts for their new born babies. Said Silim gave the vote of thanks and wished everyone happy holidays.

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ICRISAT-WCA celebrates its Annual Day

ICRISAT-Niamey celebrated its 38th anniversary on 15 December. This year’s celebrations were unique. You could call it a dual celebration! The first part took place at the ICRISAT Sahelian Training center (TVC) in Niamey, where a grand ceremony of appointment of Houses took place, with all the rooms being named after countries in West and Central Africa. The conference room was named Nairobi and the apartment has been named Patancheru.

Among the dignitaries present were the ambassadors of Benin, India, Mali and Chad, national and international partners, the Director General of INRAN, ACMAD, and representatives of AGRHYMET and the Faculty of Agronomy.

ICRISAT-WCA Annual day Farid Waliyar addresses staff and guests.

The second part of the celebration was a feast organized at Sadoré. In his address, Farid Waliyar, Director-WCA, spoke at length about ICRISAT’s achievements and change
in perspective. The occasion was a great opportunity for officials from ICRISAT and others researchers to visit the trees planted during the festival last year, and for new employees to do their bit for the green cause.

Later on, card games, scrabble, belotte, piece on the plate, ball in the tire, and other games had staff totally engrossed. And what’s a festival without shakin a leg? At the end of a dance contest organized on the ocassion, a beaming Laura Anthony, senior associate (Accounts), received her prize. As always, 13 officers of ICRISAT-Niamey were honored with Loyalty Awards.

The millet improvement team led by Bettina Haussman received the award for best partnership with Fuma Gaskiers of Maradi. Certificates were presented to Bettina and her team members.

Annual day pictures from ICRISAT-WCA

ICRISAT-WCA Annual day
ICRISAT-WCA Annual day
ICRISAT-WCA Annual day
ICRISAT-WCA Annual day
ICRISAT-WCA Annual day

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HOPE turns into reality in Western Maharashtra

HOPE Maharashtra
The HOPE team in a farmer’s field in Western Maharashtra.

The joint efforts of ICRISAT and Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidhyapeeth (MPKV) in enhancing postrainy sorghum productivity in farmers’ fields in Western Maharashtra in India are bearing fruit the second year in a row. Together with Marathwada Agricultural University (MAU) and the Directorate of Sorghum Research (DSR), they have been partners in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) of Dryland Cereals Project for the last two years.

Thanks to the project’s interventions in 2009-10, 3500 farmers in the region have been able
to generate additional incomes of US$ 216,000 by improving on-farm grain and stover productivity of postrainy sorghum. Similar impact was observed in Marathwada region of Maharashtra.

ICRISAT’s partnership with MPKV attempts to reduce the gap between yields on station (2.5−3.0 t ha-1) and those on farms (0.58 t ha-1), ultimately increasing farm incomes and promoting food security. Three clusters − Hiwarebazar (Ahmednagar district), Borkarwadi (Pune) and Aurad (South Sholapur) − were selected for project interventions. Seed of released varieties such as Phule Vasudha, Phule Anuradha and Phule Chitra was distributed for cultivation and recommended agronomic practices were followed for each variety. Favorable weather conditions and the adoption of improved cultivars and management practices helped boost yields substantially. On average, improved varieties yielded 1.7 t ha-1 grain and 4.2 t ha-1 fodder, 54% higher grain and 30% higher fodder yield compared to the control (local check).

A beaming HOPE project farmer shows off his crop.

During the third week of December, Hope Project Global Coordinator George Okwach visited farmers’ fields in Hiwarebazar cluster to review the progress of project activities and the response of farmers to interventions. George, along with A Ashok Kumar, ST Borikar, SR Gadakh, Uttam Chavan and officials of the Department of Agriculture, interacted with farmers in the project villages and members of the Jhakhangaon Co-operative Society.

The team was overwhelmed with the farmers’ response to productivity gains made during the last season and anticipated gains in the current one. Compared to last year, more farmers have adopted the recommended spacing and timely intercultural operations. The seed replacement ratio has risen to over 50% with the introduction of new varieties. This year, over 5000 farmers have been roped in for direct interventions by the project.

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HOPE Annual Review & Planning Meeting for Pearl Millet-South Asia

HOPE-Asia Participants at the HOPE Annual Review & Planning meeting for pearl millet in South Asia.

The Annual Review – 2010 and Planning – 2011 meetings of the HOPE project for Pearl millet (South Asia region) was held on 20 December at ICRISAT. Twenty five participants, including NARS partners, representatives from the private sector, and ICRISAT scientists attended the meetings. They were organized in two sessions, progress reports – 2010 and work plan development – 2011, both chaired by OP Yadav, Project Coordinator, All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project (AICPMIP), Mandore, Rajasthan.

Oscar Riera-Lizarazu, GTL-Biotechnology, welcomed the participants and briefed them about the objectives of the meeting. SK Gupta and Rajan Sharma presented progress reports for the activities carried out during 2010 for objectives 3 and 6 respectively, followed by presentations from the NARS partners in Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat states, where the project is being implemented in India.

This was followed by discussions on activities to be undertaken in the second year of the project and the finalization of the work plan for 2011, which was done with active participation from the private sector. Govind Kelkar, Gender consultant, made a presentation on “A Gender Plan of Action for empowerment of women” to sensitize the group about gender issues in the project. In his concluding remarks, George Okwach congratulated the team for successfully accomplishing most of the tasks committed for 2010, despite difficulties encountered during the 1st year of the project. The meeting ended with a vote of thanks by Dr KN Rai.

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PROMISO 2 planning meeting held in Bamako

Mali Participants at the PROMISO 2 planning meeting.

PROMISO 2 (EU-IFAD Food Facility for WCA) held a planning meeting at ICRISAT-Bamako between 14 and 16 December, to discuss country needs, especially those of development partners, NGOs, farmers organizations, IFAD- or EU-funded development projects, rural radio networks, seed enterprises, etc. in order to firm up work plans and budgets for each partner,
as a basis for collaborative agreements between ICRISAT and NARS.

The meeting was attended by staff from implementing agencies in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Benin, and Ghana representing pearl millet and sorghum, and specialists in breeding, agronomy, monitoring & evaluation and communication.

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Show me, tell me, explain to me...

Bamako Participants of the workshop held at Bamako.

ICRISAT-Bamako organized a workshop on Participatory Sorghum and Millet Improvement: Options for Increasing Impact from Varietal Selection, from 6-10 December, at the Centre Regional d’Energie Solaire, Bamako. Attended by 23 participants from Ghana, India, Nigeria and Mali, the workshop was led by Dr Eva Weltzien and Dr Kirsten vom Brocke.

In the opening session, Eva introduced the objectives of the workshop. Representatives of the countries were encouraged to describe how farmer participatory varietal selections are conducted in their respective countries. George Okwach presented a brief historical perspective of the project. The workshop comprised a practical session on varietal evaluation and selection criteria, adopting the principle of Show me, Tell me and Explain to me. The workshop covered planning varietal trials with farmers, targeting different types of impacts, organizational options for implementing farmer-managed varietal trials and linking varietal trials and seed dissemination.

The workshop was conducted in the context of Objectives 2 (Sorghum Improvement) and 6 (Technology Delivery) of the HOPE project on Productivity Enhancement of Sorghum and Millets in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia and by the Action “Food Facility EC-IFAD, ECOWAS - Food facility regional program for West Africa” with its key results area B : Increasing the production of sorghum and millet throughout the region – PROMISO 2, funded by the European Union.

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Workshop on value chain analysis in Ethiopia

value chain workshop This is the way the value chain works...

As part of the HOPE project’s market research component, a training workshop on value chain analysis was conducted by ICRISAT-Nairobi
at Melkassa Agricultural Research Center in Adama, Ethiopia, from 7 to 10 November. The training program, attended by 11 participants and conducted by Dr Christin Schipmann, will enable NARS partners to independently plan and conduct market surveys. The course targeted socio-economists from four research centers (Adet, Sirinka, Bako and Melkassa) that are collaborating in the HOPE project in Ethiopia.

Christin introduced the participants to the value chain approach and gave them an overview
of appropriate methods of data collection, analysis and reporting. The group discussions that followed helped the participants learn how to develop and use research tools like questionnaires while collecting data in markets.

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Ethiopian farmers select chickpea varieties

Ethiopia More pods per plant make this farmer from Ethiopia happy.

Ethiopia is one of the countries targeted under Tropical Legumes II (TL II) and Treasure Legumes projects for improving productivity and market opportunities for smallholder farmers producing chickpea. One of the key partners in Ethiopia for the two projects is Debre Zeit Agricultural Research Centre (DZARC) of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR).

During the 2010-11 crop season, 15 Farmer Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) trials are being evaluated in three new districts -- Dembia, Moretna-Jiru in Amhara Regional State in north-central Ethiopia and Sodo in Gurage Zone of Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region. This involves eight elite varieties, including Habru, Ejere, Shasho, Chefe, Arerti, Natoli, Mastewal, ACOS Dube, and a local control, to create awareness among farming communities about the production potential of high-yielding varieties. Five large-scale demonstrations with Arerti, Habru, Acos dube, Shasho and Ejere have been planted at each PVS site, totaling 75 demonstrations.

Since Farmers’ field days are important vehicles of eliciting feedback from farmers, extension staff and other stakeholders, two field days were organized in farmers’ fields on 21 November and 12 December 12 in Ejere and Dembia, respectively, at the podding and physiological maturity stages of chickpea.

Dr Tsedeke Abate, TL II Coordinator, attended the field day at Ejere, where 225 participants represented farmers, project implementation teams from DZARC, MoA administrators and chickpea seed growing associations. Tsedeke shared his experiences on varietal preferences and scaling up activities and called on EIAR researchers to speed up the technology dissemination process in an innovative manner.

Dr NVPR Ganga Rao, chickpea breeder based at ICRISAT-Nairobi, participated in the field day
at Dembia with 30 farmers. Farmers were asked to name the most preferred varieties and they came up with Habru, Arerti, Chefe and Natoli as their choices. Also discussed in depth were strategies to promote formal and informal seed production and delivery mechanisms to sustain quality seed availability of farmer- preferred varieties. Ganga Rao also shared his experiences on ways of utilizing chickpea and the role of progressive farmers and MoA in locally producing seed in order to reduce transaction costs.

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Open Space Discussion on cultural change

Cultural Change Hector Hernandez spelling out the rules of cultural change.

Hector V Hernandez, Director, Human Resources
& Operations, conducted an Open Space Discussion (OSD) on “Cultural Change
at ICRISAT” for IRS and SMG members at Patancheru on 17 December. Cultural change is a key component of the Institute’s new Strategic Plan to 2020. The session was attended by 20 Scientists and 15 Managers.

Welcoming the group, Hector introduced them to the concept of cultural change. Participants were then divided into 5 groups, each assigned a shared value together with a cultural change area to discuss, consolidate their views/observations/suggestions and make a brief presentation to the whole group. All the groups discussed their assigned issues seriously and came out with good suggestions on all the 5 shared values and the 5 key Cultural Change Areas. More such sessions are planned across locations.

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