No. 1454 18 February 2011

CGIAR Consortium Board meets at ICRISAT: Approves Strategy and Results Framework

CGIAR Consortium Board Participants of the CGIAR Consortium Board meeting at ICRISAT.

The CGIAR Consortium Board (CB) led by Dr Carlos Pérez del Castillo (Chair) and Mr Lloyd le Page (CEO), held its meeting this week at ICRISAT. The CB also met with Directors General of the Consortium of CGIAR Centers. One essential outcome of the meeting was the approval of the Strategy and Results Framework (SRF) of the system.

The SRF represents a fundamental change in CGIAR’s strategy and its implementation is envisioned to increase the probability of achieving larger development impacts. Essentially, the SRF provides a coherent framework for strategic planning, management, and communication within the CGIAR. Towards this, four system-level outcomes (SLOs) have been identified to serve as the focal point of all CGIAR research activities. These are: (1) reducing rural poverty; (2) improving food security; (3) improving nutrition and health; and (4) sustainable management of natural resources. Each SLO will require special and different strategies, research competencies and research outputs and outcomes. The CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) will be the main research instrument of the CGIAR.

CGIAR Consortium Board Dr del Castillo makes a point during a board meeting, while Mr le Page and Dr Sere look on.

On approving the SRF, Chair of the Consortium Board Dr Carlos Pérez del Castillo said, ”We are very happy to have approved the Strategy and Results Framework in this Board meeting.” Appreciating the dedicated work of ICRISAT, Dr del Castillo said, ”I am very impressed with Team ICRISAT for its quality of science, quality of people and quality of work. I am really impressed with the facilities and hospitality here and I want to express my thanks for the logistical support we received.”

Expressing happiness on the outcome of the meeting, Director General William Dar said, ”It was a great opportunity to host the Consortium Board meeting at ICRISAT this week. I am extremely happy with their outcomes and success. I am happy that the Board has approved the SRF, which was one of the most important outcomes of the meeting. I would like to thank our Chair Dr Carlos Pérez del Castillo and all members of the Board for choosing ICRISAT as a venue for this year’s Consortium Board meeting, I look forward to more such occasions here.”

Acknowledging the pivotal work of ICRISAT scientists, Dr Dar added, “The pride of this Institute is our scientists, who are the backbone of any international agricultural research Center.” “As a member of this new Consortium of CGIAR Centers, we will continue to play an active role as an important part of this system,” he added.

CGIAR Consortium Board Dr del Castillo appreciates a chickpea plant during a field visit, while Dr Poole and Dr Dar explain the science behind it.

The newly appointed CEO of the CGIAR Consortium, Mr Lloyd le Page, who is on his first visit to ICRISAT said, “I am really excited to be here and spend time with wonderful Team ICRISAT. I am excited to see the living laboratories, experimental fields and farmers fields.” On the major results of the meeting, Mr le Page said, “We looked at the programs that have been developed and there is good progress being made on the development of research programs, and we are about to launch some of these in a couple of months.” “I am impressed with the bold initiatives being taken in terms of new programs like the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) and dealing with the private sector. I am also overwhelmed with the Genebank’s work on the mini-core collection,” he added.

Summing up ICRISAT’s role this week, ICRISAT Board Chair Dr Nigel Poole said, “I am always encouraged by the outstanding work of Team ICRISAT. They have shown the way during this week with the Consortium and leaders of Centers”.

Consortium Board field visit

On 16 February, the Consortium Board visited ICRISAT’s fields. They were taken through the various demonstration plots on intercropping systems, maize programs, dryland cereals and grain legumes. The Consortium Board also visited the rainout shelter, PTTC, watersheds area, ILRI, the AVRDC garden, the Genebank and the Center of Excellence in Genomics.

The Board was impressed with the work being done by ICRISAT’s scientists and acknowledged their dedication and hard work. At AVRDC’s home garden module, members of the Consortium Board got to savour delicious cherry tomatoes.

Earlier in the week on 14 February, Dr Dar hosted the Consortium Board at Konark House for a candlelight dinner and cultural evening.

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Interview with the Consortium Board Chair Dr Carlos Pérez del Castillo

Carlos Perez Dr Carlos Pérez del Castillo.

Q: How exciting and challenging is your position?

Dr del Castillo: It is a very demanding and challenging position. I think the challenges are those that the world is facing in terms of agriculture, which at this moment needs a lot of dedication, when we talk in terms of world poverty, malnutrition, food security or environmental sustainability. We are convinced that international agricultural research is part of the solution to all these problems; it is not the whole solution but it is certainly part of the solution.

Q: What kind of reforms has the CGIAR gone through in the recent past?

Dr del Castillo: In the CGIAR, we are undertaking a process of reform that was started a few years ago. The purpose of this reform is to face the new challenges of agriculture in the developing world. You do not have only the traditional challenges like poverty, food security, and environmental sustainability. Today you have climate change, financial crisis, and energy crisis with food being diverted for biofuels. As a result, the Centers have decided to act together and have a common strategy with collective action and joint programs.

Q: Please tell us about the work of CGIAR Centers?

Dr del Castillo: We have 15 international Centers, and in order to get outcomes and reach the farmer, these Centers have to enter into partnerships with international research institutions; the objective of the programs we identify and approve is to have an impact on world poverty and food security, in order to reach farmers and partnerships.

Q: What was the focus of this week’s Consortium Board meeting? How important is this meeting for the CGIAR?

Dr del Castillo: The purpose of this meeting was to agree and approve the strategy, which is the key document to CGIAR reform. Now, we have managed to have the strategy in place and at the same time ascertain the state of implementation of other projects. During the course of this year, we approved programs like the one on climate change. In the next three months, we will be able to complete the identification of 15 programs that we have.

We usually have our meeting in one of the Centers, and this year, we decided to hold it in India. It is an opportunity not only for the Consortium Board to meet but also to meet the Directors General of all the Centers.

Q: How important is ICRISAT to the CGIAR?

Dr del Castillo: ICRISAT is very important to the CGIAR. It looks at the combination of a number of objectives which are very dear to the CGIAR, like agricultural systems. ICRISAT is not dedicated to a specific crop but looks at agricultural systems, environmental sustainability and how to produce drought-resistant varieties in the dryland areas. Moreover, the programs that ICRISAT is leading on legumes, millet and sorghum are extremely important for global food security.

Q: Could you please share some success stories?

Dr del Castillo: There have been many success stories like the identification and putting in the hand of farmers improved crop varieties that are flood and drought tolerant. Farmers who used to lose their crops during the monsoon season can now leave their crops underwater for two weeks. Farmers do not need to plant their crops again, which makes a significant difference to their livelihood. We have also developed disease-resistant varieties and are working on the most efficient ways to produce more food that will be needed by 9 billion people by 2050.

Q: How important is India in terms of agricultural research?

Dr del Castillo: India certainly is an example of a developing country that in the last decade has managed to reach levels of excellence in agricultural research. India is doing a lot of research that is very complementary to what we are doing in the CGIAR. In fact, we have many common activities with India and we have a lot to learn from it in terms of achieving concrete results.

Q: What is the role of partners in the CGIAR?

Dr del Castillo: Partners are very essential; without them we cannot reach the outcomes that we are seeking. Partners can be advanced universities, inter¬national research institutions, the private sector; they can be stakeholders and farmers associations. In addition, the CGIAR has explored opportunities to involve them in areas where they have not been involved before.

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Course on Geostatistical Analysis of Environmental Data to be held at Patancheru


A short course on Geostatistical Analysis of Environmental Data being jointly offered by ICRISAT and the University of Florida will be held at Patancheru from 21 to 25 February. So far, 12 participants have registered for the course, including 2 from Libya.

Course instructor Dr Pierre Goovaerts, who is Associate Professor at the University of Florida, will introduce a package of geostatistical methods for spatial analysis of environmental data. Participants will have the opportunity to learn how to apply geostatistics to describe spatial patterns and identify scales of variability, and also about spatial interpolation and stochastic modeling of environmental attributes, creation of risk maps and their use in decision-making.

On completion of this course, participants will be adept at importing, visualizing and analyzing their own data in a space-time information system.

For more details on this short course, please visit

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Four chickpea varieties released in Tanzania

Tanzania High yield is good news for these Tanzanian farmers with a new chickpea variety.

In a landmark release, the National Variety Release and Seed certification Committee and Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) in a meeting on 31 January and 1 February in Arusha, released two desi varieties of chickpea (ICCV 00108 and ICCV 97105) and two kabuli varieties (ICCV 00305 and ICCV 92318) for cultivation in the Lake and Northern Zones. This is the first set of officially released chickpea varieties in Tanzania.

The high-yielding, Fusarium wilt-resistant ICCV 00108 is being released as ‘Mwanza 1’ (good desi for Mwanga region). Derived from a cross between IG 9216 and ICCV 10, it matures in about 90-100 days.

The high-yielding, Fusarium wilt-resistant ICCV 97105 being released as ‘Ukiriguru 1’ (first chickpea variety at Ukiriguru), is a distinct stable and uniform variety derived from a cross between ICCV 10 and GL 769. It matures in about 110-120 days and is preferred by farmers and traders.

ICCV 00305 being released as ‘Mwanza 2’ (good kabuli for Mwanza region), is a distinct stable and uniform variety derived from a cross between ICCV 5 and ICCL 83007. It matures in about 95-110 days. It is preferred by farmers and traders both for green and dry grains.

The high-yielding, Fusarium wilt-resistant ICCV 92318 being released as ‘Mwangaza’ (something that gives light), is a distinct stable and uniform variety and derived from a cross between (ICCV 2 x Surutato-77) and ICC 7344 and matures in about 75-90 days.

Research on chickpea in Tanzania began in 2002 with seed money from the CGIAR-Canada Linkage Fund (CCLF), which allowed the evaluation of a large number of accessions and the selection of potential varieties for further testing. The Tropical Legumes-II project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave an impetus to enhance research and through on-farm, farmer participatory variety selection and demonstration, which led to the fast tracking and release of these four varieties. Most of the on-farm work and seed bulking occurred in Misungwi, Kwimba and Shinyanga districts through partnerships and teamwork between the Lake Zone Agricultural Research and Development Institute (LZARDI-Ukiriguru) and ICRISAT-Nairobi.

These varieties are well suited for growing in the cropping systems of the Lake (after maize and rice) and Northern Zones (after maize), under residual moisture. Intensification of chickpea in the rice/maize-based cropping systems permits the growing of two crops per year, where traditionally only one is grown.

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DG attends IFPRI-2020 Conference on health and nutrition

IFPRI-2020 Dr Dar and Sylvia Burwell of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation interact with Professor MS Swaminathan.

Joining hands in addressing the global issues of health and nutrition, Director General William Dar actively took part in the IFPRI-2020 Conference focusing on Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health, from 10 to 12 February at New Delhi. Organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the conference was attended by over 900 delegates and more than 150 leading figures from agriculture, nutrition, health, and other related sectors.

Inaugurating the conference, the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, urged the agriculture, health and nutrition sectors to work together.

Speaking at the conference, Dr Dar said, ‘’We have upscaled high-yielding varieties of groundnut which are tolerant to aflatoxin and developed a low-cost testing kit to strengthen local capacity for aflatoxin monitoring in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Here at this IFPRI-2020 conference, we along with our partners, join hands to eradicate global hunger and malnutrition.”

Explaining ICRISAT’s work, Dr Dar added, “Our work with the National Smallholder Farmer Association of Malawi (NASFAM) with over 108,000 members, involves providing agricultural advisory services for groundnut production and assures a market for farmers’ produce. Through NASFAM, farmers have access to improved technologies of ICRISAT by participating in on-farm trials and demonstrations.” ICRISAT’s work on aflatoxin has enabled groundnut farmers in Malawi to re-enter the world market.

Video remarks by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wole Soyinka and other dignitaries were played to the audience.

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