No. 1460 1 April 2011

Niger Prime Minister visits ICRISAT exhibit on food security and nutrition

Niger Prime Minister Mahamadou Danda Niger Prime Minister Mahamadou Danda at the ICRISAT-Niamey exhibition stall.

Aiming to promote awareness and strategic partnerships in addressing food security and nutrition issues in the drylands, ICRISAT-Niamey participated in a scientific symposium held on 28-31 March at the Palais des Congres de Niamey. During the symposium, Niger Prime Minister Mahamadou Danda visited the ICRISAT exhibit stall which showcased technological and institutional solutions in attaining sustainable food security and livelihoods in the drylands.

ICRISAT’s Dr Mamadou Gandah briefed the Prime Minister on ICRISAT-Niamey’s research activities that have been providing options, opportunities and incentives to resource-poor farmers to improve production and productivity of such crops as pearl millet and sorghum. Dr Gandah also explained the progress of the institute’s research cooperation with the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRAN) of Niger.

Soledad Fuentès
Ambassador of Spain in Niger, Soledad Fuentès (right) with ICRISAT staff Lanconde Djingri at the ICRISAT-Niamey exhibition.

Ambassador of Spain in Niger, Soledad Fuentès also visited the ICRISAT exhibit stall and expressed interest in exploring opportunities for partnerships in academic and agricultural research. Mr Gabriel Villarrubia Duret, Project Manager for food security in Niger for the AECID, the Spanish Cooperation Agency, accompanied the Ambassador.

The symposium was attended by over 350 participants composed of policymakers, technical and financial partners, experts, scientists and researchers, and the agro-processing industry from the region. The Director General of INRAN, the network of Chambers of Agriculture of Niger, and officials from the World Bank also visited the ICRISAT exhibit.

During the symposiums’ scientific debate, Dr Gandah presented ICRISAT-Niamey’s programs and activities aimed to contribute to the availability and stability of food supply in Niger. Stirring awareness and interest among visitors, the exhibit has opened up several partnership and business opportunities for the institute.

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ICIS workshop at ICRISAT-Patancheru
Information System Critical to Knowledge-Intensive Crop Research

Knowledge-Intensive Crop Research
Dr Dar delivers his inaugural address at the ICIS Developers’ Workshop at Patancheru.

By providing integrated management of global information on crop improvement and management for individual crops and for farming systems, a modern information system will be an integral part of our thrusts to realize our institute’s new strategy to 2020,” said ICRISAT Director General William Dar during the opening session of the International Crop Information System (ICIS) Developers’ Workshop 2011 held on 28 March–01 April at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

In addressing the more than 60 breeders, researchers and developers, including 40 from overseas, mostly from other CGIAR Centers participating in the workshop, Dr Dar added that “by working together with partners in this endeavor, we are more confident of our efforts in developing an integrated breeding platform supported by modern data management systems.”

Warwick Easdown
Warwick Easdown, AVRDC, elucidates on the importance of information system tools and collaboration.

Explaining the importance of the ICIS workshop, Theme Leader for Crop Information Systems and Bioinformatics of the Generation Challenge Program (GCP), Graham McLaren, said that the workshop brings together a dedicated team of breeders, researchers and developers who have been building the ICIS as an open source information system for managing information of genetic resources and crop improvement for any crop. This team from CGIAR centers, ARIs and NARES has been working on the project since 1996 and meets periodically to review progress and decide on directions and priorities as the user needs and technologies change in the rapidly developing fields of molecular biology and informatics.

Warwick Easdown from The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) highlighted the importance of developing such tools through collaborative efforts with universities and national institutes. He expressed hope that the proposed tool will provide functionality on crop pedigree information, reusability and platform portability, and that the tool will be open to the changes in the market.

The workshop was organized by ICRISAT, The World Vegetable Center and the GCP, with support from the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The five-day workshop involved several sessions on topics such as: new tools for data management; web query and decision support tools; software for data capture and validation using handheld devices; genetic resources information management system; management and use of genotyping data for breeding decisions; use of controlled vocabularies and ontologies; and connecting to different databases through a common middleware and rejuvenating communication and collaboration among the participating centers/institutes.

Knowledge-Intensive Crop Research
Participants of the ICIS Developers’ Workshop at Patancheru.

ICIS is a database system that provides integrated management of global information on genetic resources, crop improvement and evaluation for genetic crops.

ICIS development is led by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento del Maiz y del Trigo (CIMMYT) Informatics team, based in the Philippines and Mexico, respectively.

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Seed production training for resource-poor farmers

Seed production training ICRISAT staff Sakile Kudita (right) during the training session.

On 22 March, ICRISAT-Bulawayo hosted farmers and Agricultural Technical and Extension (AGRITEX) staff from Chiredzi to undergo training in seed multiplication of sorghum and pearl millet. Organized by PLAN International, ICRISAT’s dryland cereals team, McDonald Jumbo, Sakile Kudita and Nkazimulo Ngwenya conducted the training for over 40 farmers and AGRITEX field staff.

Seed scarcity, especially seed of small grains and legumes that do not attract investment from commercial seed companies, is a common problem for poor farmers in Zimbabwe.

Seed production training Farmers observing sorghum crops in the ICRISAT foundation seed multiplication field.

PLAN International is currently implementing a food security project that involves community-based seed production to boost the availability of seed for resource-poor farmers. ICRISAT in Zimbabwe has been working on a foundation seed multiplication project supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations for the past three years.

The training concluded with a tour of ICRISAT’s foundation seed multiplication fields.

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One more feather in Rajeev Varshney’s cap

Rajeev Varshney Rajeev Varshney receiving the award from Dr T Ramasami, Secretary, DST and Dr Manju Sharma, former Secretary, DBT and former President of NASI. Also seen are Mr Goki Ishikwa, Director, Elsevier, Asia Pacific and Dr A Surolia, Director, National Institute of Immunology.

Rajeev Varshney received the prestigious NASI-Scopus Young Scientist Award for 2010 for his dedicated research contribution in agriculture. He was honored at an awards ceremony held at the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, on 21 March.

Rajeev was among 11 topnotch scientists who received the award in various fields namely, Agriculture, Biological Sciences, Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Earth and Oceonographic and Environmental Sciences. Each award carries a trophy, a citation and a cash prize of 50,000.

“A big congratulations to Rajeev! He has made Team ICRISAT proud,” said ICRISAT DG William Dar in his congratulatory message to Rajeev.

The annual award was instituted five years ago by the National Academy of Sciences, India, (NASI) and Scopus, the abstract and citation database of the peer-reviewed scientific literature of Elsevier, the Amsterdam-based publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. Applicants were evaluated in two stages by 48 panelists, based on criteria such as publication output, citations and other metrics based on Scopus data as well as research quality and impact.

Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, GoI, T Ramasami presented the awards and acknowledged the effort of NASI and Scopus in spotting and encouraging scientific talent in India.

Team ICRISAT congratulates Rajeev on receiving this prestigious award!

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