No. 1447 31 December 2010

Indian President’s Secretary visits ICRISAT

Visitor Dr Christy Fernandez with senior ICRISAT team members at Patancheru.

Dr Christy Fernandez, IAS, and Secretary to the President of India, visited ICRISAT headquarters at Patancheru on 30 December. GTL-Crop Improvement CLL Gowda, as OIC for Director General Dar; Rajesh Agrawal, KB Saxena, Pooran Gaur and M Prabhakar Reddy received the guest, and accompanied him at the showing of the ICRISAT video and through the SatVenture.

GTL-Biotechnology Oscar Riera-Lizarazu and colleagues explained the biotechnology work of the institute and took Dr Fernandez on a tour of the MS Swaminathan Applied Genomics Laboratory.

Dr Gowda explained about the importance of germplasm, and the vast collection at the RS Paroda Genebank. He and the genebank personnel also showed Dr Fernandez the medium and long term germplasm storage facilities.

During the farm visit, Prabhakar Reddy explained the research farm and the philosophy behind the development of the land use systems. He also briefed Dr Fernandez about rainwater management and conservation of wildlife.

KB Saxena described the improvements in pigeonpea research, including development of hybrid pigeonpea and its importance. The Hon. guest was very impressed to see the growth and performance of hybrid pigeonpea.

KL Sahrawat explained ICRISAT’s innovations in natural resource management and development of watershed based crop production systems. He and CLL Gowda also spoke about the importance of nutrient management, particularly micronutrient management, and the response to their application in farmers fields in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, explaining that this work on micronutrients conducted by ICRISAT in hundreds of farmers fields is very important for the food security of the nation.

Cynthia Bantilan explained ICRISAT’s work in socio¬economics, impacts and village level studies.

On behalf of Director General Dar, CLL Gowda and colleagues hosted a lunch for the visiting dignitary, and presented him with a copy of our Strategic Plan to 2010; the book on Biodiversity @ ICRISAT and a copy of Dr Dar’s compendium of speeches.

Before leaving, Dr Christy Fernandez commented in the visitor’s book, "It was indeed a great opportunity to learn more about rainfed farming. The discussions were very educative. We look forward to ICRISAT developing appropriate models for inclusive market-oriented development, especially taking into consideration the Indian socio- economic sectors that will benefit out of the positive aspects of corporates. I wish you all the very best".

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VDSA farmers visit Patancheru

A 100-member group of farmers from Madhya Pradesh state who are participants in the project Tracking change in rural poverty in village and household economies in South Asia, called “Village Dynamics in South Asia” (VDSA) in short, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visited ICRISAT-Patancheru from 14 to 20 December.

The participants were from Papda and Rampura Kalan villages in Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh state, and comprised respondent farmers as well as non-respondent but key participants in the project.

The aim of the project is to reduce the incidence and severity of absolute poverty in South Asia’s semi-arid and humid tropics by markedly increasing the quantity and quality of time-series district-, household-, individual-, and field-level data on rural poverty in 42 villages spread across SAT India, East India and Bangladesh, thus enabling effective evidence based decision-making.

Quality of data assumes prime importance in effective evidence based decision making. To ensure this, it is essential to sustain the interest and enthusiasm of both the respondent farmers and resident field investigators through some incentive mechanism. The farmers’ educational tour is one of the several ways to reward VLS respondents without having to pay them.

VDSA Madhya Pradesh farmers with Team ICRISAT members.

Under the encouraging guidance of Cynthia Bantilan, VR Kiresur, with support from supervisor Y Mohan Rao and two resident field investigators, N Dayanand and PR Pandey, organized the trip successfully. In addition to ICRISAT, the itinerary included visits to Krishi Vigyan kendras and agricultural research stations of state agricultural universities. The farmers also visited a number of pilgrimage centers on the way.

VR Kiresur addressed the visiting farmers and explained the importance of quality data in policy formulations and institutional innovations.

P Parthasarathy Rao also addressed the farmers on the important linkages of micro and meso databases being developed as part of the project.

The visiting farmers considered themselves extremely fortunate to have participated in the VDSA project, and they expressed their deep sense of gratitude to ICRISAT and the GT-IMPI VDSA team for having provided them with this opportunity.

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Business orientation for scientists at ICRISAT

A group of 10 scientists from Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (CCSHAU) visited ICRISAT and Agri-Business Incubator (ABI) on 17 December. Their visit was coordinated by Ms Kalpana Shastry from National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), Hyderabad.

ABI facilitated a business orienta¬tion meeting for the group in addition to six women entre¬preneurs from the Confederation of Women Entrepreneurship (COWE), Hyderabad seeking new opportunities in agri-business. Following a visit to the SatVenture facilitated by G Ravikumar, SM Karuppanchetty and Anitha facilitated their visit to ABI.

ABI Participants of the orientation program at Patancheru.

Karuppanchetty spoke about ABI and its current projects. He explained how an agri-business incubator can play a key role in technology commercialization through entrepreneurship. They also learned about how the Network of Indian Agri-Business Incubators (NIABI) plays a role in mentoring and leveraging success. The session also discussed the success stories of budding agripreneurs.

The visit also provided an opportunity for the scientists from CCSHAU to discuss and demonstrate their technologies – the Milk Urea Detection kit; processed food, such as ready to eat (RTE) parathas; and biotechnology products such as tissue culture of ornamental plants.

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