No. 1457 11 March 2011

NIABI 2011 concludes, creates opportunities for agri-preneurs

NIABI ICAR DG S Ayyappan (extreme left), NAIP-ICAR National Director
B Baboo (second from left) along with Dr Dar and other scientists inaugurate the NIABI 2011 conference.

The two-day NIABI 2011: Global Agri-Business Incubation Conference hosted by ICRISAT-Patancheru successfully concluded on Wednesday, 09 March 2011. As affirmed by over 170 participants from India and other countries, the conference strengthened the capacities of agri-business incubators by networking with policymakers and funding agencies for policy and financial support.

Co-sponsored by the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and ICRISAT, NIABI 2011 aimed to create global awareness, build competencies on agribusiness incubation among entrepreneurs, and establish global partnerships. The conference included 10 sessions, 45 speakers from 10 countries, and an agri-exhibition of 10 Business Planning and Development (BPD) units under the NIABI, along with 6 other startup ventures.

NIABI Dr Dar addresses the NIABI conference participants during the opening of the event.

Opening the event at the Ralph Cummings Auditorium, Director General William Dar expressed the urgent need to address major challenges currently facing agriculture. According to him, the surge in food prices, climate change, shrinking farm holdings, rising production costs, and political turmoil in oil-producing countries are converging to create a “perfect storm,” which is once again placing the world on the verge of crisis. Dr Dar stressed that innovative products, processes and concepts by entrepreneurs and their integration into existing agricultural systems is the pathway to true inclusive agricultural growth.

In his inaugural address, Dr S Ayyappan, Director General of ICAR, touched on various issues facing agriculture, and called for “bringing a ‘profit-prestige partnership’ model to farming through innovation and entrepreneurship to encourage the youth to venture into agriculture.” He added that ICAR would create an agri-innovation foundation by the end of this year to provide a platform to enable faster spread of innovations and connectivity to markets.

NIABI ICAR DG S Ayyappan delivers his inaugural address.

In commemoration of the 100th International Women’s Day, a special interactive session for women agri-preneurs was held on March 09. The session focused on success stories and entrepreneurial opportunities for women in agriculture and allied sectors.

Speaking at the valedictory session, the Honorable Minister for Revenue, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Shri N Raghuveera Reddy stressed the importance of the “agribusiness approach as a new step in promoting agriculture.” He added that though India is self-sustainable in agriculture now, the country may again have to face the challenge of food security due to shrinking land holdings and climate change, as well as people moving out of agriculture. “Agribusiness can be the answer to this issue,” he emphasized.

NIABI participants Participants of the NIABI 2011 conference held at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

The Business Planning and Development (BPD) unit of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU-BPD) was awarded the Best Agribusiness Incubator Award for successfully facilitating a research program with Bioseed Research India Pvt Ltd. The Best Agribusiness Incubatee Award was given to Mr Rajkumar of M/S Emral Tune Line Systems. Mr Rajkumar, an electrical engineer, has ventured into developing a mobile-based irrigation system. This invention enables the user to operate an irrigation pump using a mobile phone from any part of the country.

The conference also marked the launching of the Global Agribusiness Incubation Network (GABI), spearheaded by ICRISAT and ICAR.


1. Viewing of the agri-exhibition by the Minister and Dr Dar.

2.Anuradha Acharya, founder and CEO of Ocimum Biosolutions, India, shares her success story during the session on women entrepreneurship in agriculture.
3.Minister for Revenue Raghuveera Reddy delivers his valedictory address stressing the importance of the “agribusiness approach as a new step in promoting agriculture.”
4.The Minister along with Dr Dar, present the Best Agribusiness Incubator Award to TNAU-BPD.

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SeedCo top executives visit Nigeria

SeedCo Chief Executive Morgan Nzwere examines WASA seed during the visit.

As part of the West Africa Seed Alliance (WASA) Seed Project’s broad objective to promote sustainable private sector-led seed industry in West Africa, the Chief Executives of SeedCo Limited of Zimbabwe visited Nigeria from 01 March to 6 March 2011. The Chief Executives include Group Chief Executive Morgan Nzwere, Group Technical Services Executive Rob Jarvis, Group Marketing Manager Clive Mugadza, and Group Breeding Systems Manager Elliot Tembo.

The visit primarily aimed to facilitate meetings and forge partnerships with stakeholders in the Nigeria seed industry. The executives were particularly interested in policy and regulatory organizations, research and development, seed production, and seed marketing and promotion.

The group met with various stakeholders like the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), and USAID-Bridge to MARKETS II Project, all in Abuja. They also visited the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Abuja; Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria; International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Kano; and the Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority. Likewise, they met with private seed companies such as the Premier Seed Nigeria Limited, Zaria; Da-allgreen/Alheri Seed Nig. Ltd, Zaria; Seed Project Nig. Ltd, Kano; Maina Seed Nig. Ltd; and Kano and Maslaha Seed Nig. Ltd, Gusau.

The group looks forward to possible collaborations with the various organizations visited, the details of which will be concluded after the group has presented their field reports and recommendations to the Board of Directors of SeedCo.

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Toward strengthening maize research and development in Asia
International Maize Improvement Consortium for Asia Launched

IMIC-Asia meeting Participants of the IMIC-Asia meeting at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

A total of 44 participants from 25 national, regional and multinational seed organizations participated in a meeting to launch the International Maize Improvement Consortium-Asia (IMIC-Asia) on 21 February 2011. The meeting was organized by the International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT-Asia) and was hosted by ICRISAT at Patancheru.

CIMMYT-Asia’s senior maize breeder BS Vivek presented a brief overview of current and forthcoming IMIC activities. This was followed by CIMMYT’s Director of Global Maize Program BM Prasanna highlighting the opportunities for strengthening maize research and development in Asia. CIMMYT-Asia’s senior physiologist PH Zaidi also coordinated a session to finalize locations for IMIC hybrid evaluations.

The meeting’s goal which was to discuss the logistics of IMIC activities, culminated in the formation of a five-member technical advisory committee, consisting of two representatives from CIMMYT, two from IMIC-Asia, and a non-partner representative.

A consortium approach has been structured and adopted to enable partnerships between CIMMYT and seed companies from the private sector to facilitate the development and testing of inbred and hybrid maize, and to train maize breeders.

Some of the underlying principles of this partnership involve research prioritization that is client determined, a more focused and demand-driven approach to germplasm development, and an engagement where partner accountability is better defined. This changed mode of operation with partners is expected to have a significant targeted impact on poverty and agricultural productivity.

Participants got to visit CIMMYT’s drought evaluation trials where Zaidi explained the procedures for implementing drought stress. It was followed by a visit to IMIC-Asia trials, consisting of hybrids from several member companies.

Members appreciated CIMMYT’s initiative and were confident that it would serve as a platform for strengthening their maize breeding programs and their product portfolios.

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Perspectives on genomics and climate change

William Dar Dr Dar shares his perspectives on genomics and climate change during the symposium.

Director General William Dar was the chief guest during the three-day symposium on Genomics and Biodiversity organized by the Association for the Promotion of DNA Fingerprinting and other DNA Technologies (ADNAT) and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad from 23 to 25 February.

Delivering a special lecture on Biodiversity, Genomics and Climate Change: Science with a Human Face Perspective, Dr Dar said, “Several crises confront agriculture today. Warming temperatures, droughts, floods, increasing land degradation and desertification, loss of biodiversity, rising food prices, zooming energy demand and population explosion are creating extreme challenges. Their confluence, if unabated, will lead to a ‘perfect storm’.”

Highlighting the trepidation of future population explosion, and the need to feed future generations, Dr Dar spoke of the importance of ICRISAT’s genebank, which is helping conserve five important dryland crops. He pointed out that the genebank holds more than 119,000 diverse land races and wild relatives collected in 144 countries. It is held in trust for all of humanity and is now being duplicated in Svalbard, Norway for backup security, Dr Dar added.

Rajeev Varshney was one of the conveners of the symposium and ADNAT meeting. Among those who spoke and chaired sessions were Dave Hoisington, CLL Gowda, Oscar Riera-Lizarazu, Hari Upadhyaya, Trushar Shah, and Abhishek Rathore. In addition, several visiting scientists of ICRISAT participated in the poster presentation during the meeting.

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ICRISAT and University of Horticulture Sciences sign MoU on R&D collaboration


A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between ICRISAT and the University of Horticulture Sciences (UHS), Bagalkot, Karnataka on 04 March at Patancheru. Director General William Dar and UHS Vice-Chancellor SB Dandin signed the MoU sealing the commitment between the two parties to develop collaboration in research for development, particularly in crop diversification involving ICRISAT mandate crops, capacity building of scientists and students, and other agreed activities complementary to the aims and objectives of the institutions.

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MS CRISTINA P BEJOSANO, a Filipino national, joined ICRISAT at Patancheru on 08 March as Head, Media Relations and Science Writing, Communication Office.

Tina received her MS degree in Development Communication in 1999 from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Philippines, and Master in Communication Management (candidate) in 1989 from the Asian Institute of Journalism (AIJ), Philippines.

Prior to joining ICRISAT, she worked as Information Officer at the Food and Fertilizer Technology Center (FFTC) for the Asian and Pacific (ASPAC) Region, Taiwan ROC for almost 7 years. She also worked at the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), Philippines; the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC), Taiwan ROC; and the Asian Institute of Journalism, Philippines.

Tina joined ICRISAT auspiciously on the 100th International Women’s Day!

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