No. 1451 28 January 2011

IMOD: Innovate Grow Prosper

Team ICRISAT Team ICRISAT at Patancheru.

ICRISAT’s Global Annual Research Meeting (ARM) unfolded this week at headquarters in Patancheru with 158 senior scientists and managers from all locations participating.

The meeting (24 January – 4 February), begins the implementation of the new Strategic Plan to 2020 and Business Plan 2011-2015. The event has involved scientists and managers from Asia, Eastern and Southern Africa, and West and Central Africa, and will result in the formulation of the Medium Term Plan (MTP), regional research priorities, cultural change and work plans for 2011.

Addressing the gathering at the Ralph W Cummings auditorium on Monday morning, Director General William Dar warmly welcomed the participants, saying, “We have the chance at this ARM to renew and reinvigorate ICRISAT in a major way, capitalizing on the intensive deliberations in which we have participated over the past year.” Dr Dar also acknowledged ICRISAT’s stakeholders who had contributed to our Strategic Plan on a broad scale.

William Dar Dr Dar addresses ARM participants.

In his address Dr Dar remarked, “Our strategy is about harnessing markets to achieve our four Mission goals: to elevate the poor out of poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation across the dry tropics of the developing world. We call this Inclusive Market-Oriented Development, or IMOD for short. We have also added a crisp tag-line of three simple words: Innovate. Grow. Prosper.

“The word ‘Grow’ signals that our innovations contribute by helping the poor to grow into more productive agricultural livelihoods. ‘Grow’ is a dynamic word. It reflects change from one state to another in steady progress over time.

“To define our systems, we must first identify the targets that we want to reach. We must identify those impacts and outcomes that will deliver the highest payoff towards our Mission goals.

“The whole world cares about our Mission as much as we do, and counts on us to deliver on our promise. We are all servants here, and it is our privilege to serve this great Mission on behalf of the world.” Dr Dar concluded.

The much-awaited ARM

Earlier that morning DDG-R Dave Hoisington made an in-depth presentation about the purpose and objectives of the meeting, with elaborate background on key players, including the new CGIAR set-up and logistics for the next two weeks.

Overviews on the Strategic Plan, Business Plan and the Medium Term Plan were presented along with an update on the CGIAR reform and status of the CGIAR Research Programs.

Dave said that the main goal of the ARM is to discuss and prioritize research plans for the next three years, which will form the basis of our MTP, critical focus areas, team development, and will internalize cultural change. In addition, the ARM will provide opportunities to better understand IMOD for Smallholder Farmers in Tropical Drylands and the system perspective we are pursuing.

A picture speaks a thousand words

After a refreshingly different “Lunch-in-the-Field” held at the newly constructed PTTC building, the entire group gathered for the rare opportunity of being photographed and videographed in various region-wise and program-wise groups. Getting a taste of what it must be like for filmstars, everyone patiently smiled and squinted against the sun for umpteen takes and retakes. These pictures will surely be used in our publications for the next few years until the next “global” meeting of ICRISAT. Thanks to Director of Communication, Rex Navarro and crew.

Cultural change in the air

The second half of Day-1 became intriguing when Director HR, Hector Hernandez asked participants to choose a colored pipe-cleaner and a colored square of paper. These were used to group the participants and test their skills at following directions with their eyes closed. He led them into forming a paper cup with the square, showing that when working with the unknown, individuals might have a different understanding of how to reach a common target.

The groups were later given the task to come up with “cultural change” ideas on various issues and give presentations on the respective topics.

IMOD and Systems Perspective

The tone for Day-2 was set by Director of Resilient Dryland Systems, Peter Craufurd, who first invited Director of Markets, Institutions and Policies, Cynthia Bantilan to further explain IMOD. Cynthia explained our need to identify systems that will enable farmers to move from subsistence to a better state.

Peter expertly threw light on the meaning of “Systems Perspective”, which shows awareness of all factors or components, and which allows the addressing of issues in terms of overall design. He spoke about “necessary conditions” (eg, technology) versus “sufficient or enabling conditions” (eg, policies, infrastructure).

Director of Resource Planning and Marketing, Peter Ninnes, introduced the “outcomes” ICRISAT hopes to achieve using “outputs” from research.

Participants were divided into regional groups to extensively discuss the 11 condensed outcomes that the RC had formulated. These discussions carried on into Day-3.

Day-4 began with a discussion on a set of six institutional outcomes that focused on the changes in smallholder farm families that we wish to achieve. These were further discussed by each Research Program before discussing “outputs” required for each of these “outcomes”. On Friday we hope to reach an agreement on our institutional outcomes and Research Program outputs before enjoying a social evening together.

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ICRISAT’s improved chickpea varieties for Kenyan farmers

Kenya farmer Farmer Mrs Fancy Siegi with harvested chickpea seed produce in Kenya.

Kenya is one of the target countries under Tropical Legumes I and II projects of ICRISAT for improving productivity through drought tolerance, access to new varieties and quality seed of chickpea. The key partners involved in these projects are Egerton University and Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Njoro.

During the 2010-11 crop season, three kabuli chickpea varieties (ICCVs 96329, 00305 and 95423) and two desi varieties (ICCVs 00108, 97105) were evaluated in 24 Farmer participatory variety selection (FPVS) in Bomet (Chepalungu, Siongoroi, Longissa divisions) and Naivasha (Naivasha east, Gilgil and Kirima divisions) districts by KARI. Moreover, 24 demonstrations were planted with one desi and one kabuli variety to expose about 600 farmers on production technology and utilization.

ICRISAT-Nairobi in collaboration with Egerton University distributed 280 kg of seed of two recently released varieties of chickpea (kabuli - ICCVs 00305 and desi – 00108) to 50 farm families and members of the group for demonstration and seed bulking purposes in Kiplabotwa, Kapkimolwa, Kipreres, Cheboin and Siongeroi areas of Kenya.

Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS), demonstrations and seed bulking at farmers’ fields are important vehicles to disseminate improved varieties and to extract feedback from farmers, extension staff and other stakeholders involved in chickpea production, consumption and trade.

ICRISAT’s Breeder, Ganga Rao based at ICRISAT-Nairobi, visited several on-farm sites in Bomet district to monitor progress on 18 and 19 January. During his visit, farmers were asked to name the most preferred varieties in chickpea and they responded that it was kabuli varieties ICCVs 00305 and 95423 as best for preparation of stew. Among the desi types ICCVs 97105 and 00108 were selected as preferred varieties based on the domestic demand and taste preferences. Ganga Rao also shared his experiences on ways and means to utilize chickpea. and role of progressive farmers.

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ARM in pictures







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Menon moves up

TN Menon, Head, Internal Audit, has been appointed as the Associate Director (Asia) for the CGIAR Internal Audit Unit (CGIARIAU), effective 1 January 2011. While serving at the CGIARIAU, Menon will continue to be the Head of ICRISAT’s Internal Audit and will be based at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

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