No. 1463 21 April 2011

Working together to pursue shared goals
ICAR-ICRISAT scientists discuss partnership schemes for CRPs


Unprecedented challenges translate to unprecedented opportunities.With the recent food and financial crises painting a grim picture for food and nutrition security in the developing world, a changing institutional landscape is forming in international agricultural research.

National research systems are becoming significant international players, as exemplified by the commitment and active involvement of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in the development of the CGIAR Research Programs (CRP) 3.5 on Grain Legumes and 3.6 on Dryland Cereals that ICRISAT is leading. The CRPs are the future mode of funding for international agricultural research and development activities of CGIAR centers and their partners, integrating their work into more compelling programs driven by their potential impact on development.

In a joint meeting held on 18-19 April at Patancheru, ICRISAT and ICAR deliberated on partnership arrangements for research and development activities in the CRPs. With ICRISAT in the lead, CRP3.5 Grain Legumes will focus on enhanced food and feed security, nutritional balance, economic growth and social health for smallholder farmers; while CRP3.6 Dryland Cereals shall target food security, better health and economic growth for the world’s most vulnerable group.

CRPs Deliberation during the ICRISAT-ICAR CRP meeting.

The meeting was an offshoot of discussions held among senior management of ICRISAT and ICAR during the Governing Board Meeting in New Delhi last 22-24 March. ICAR-DG S Ayyappan and ICRISAT-DG William Dar agreed that ICAR will be a principal partner in both CRPs.

During the joint meeting, ICAR was represented by Dr N Nadarajan, Director and Dr SK Chaturvedi, Head of Crop Improvement, Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Kanpur; Dr JB Misra, Director, Directorate of Groundnut Research, Junagadh; Dr SV Rao, Principal Scientist, representing the Directorate of Sorghum Research, Hyderabad; Dr OP Yadav, Coordinator of the All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project, Jodhpur; and Dr MV Channabyre Gowda, Coordinator of the All India Small Millets Improvement Project, Bangalore. Meanwhile, ICRISAT was represented by DDG-R Dave Hoisington, RPD-Legumes CLL Gowda, RPD-Cereals Oscar Riera-Lizarazu, SN Nigam, KB Saxena, PM Gaur, KN Rai, HD Upadhyaya, and A Ashok Kumar. Dr Ashutosh Sarker, Regional Coordinator, New Delhi office represented ICARDA.

Dave Hoisington welcomed the participants and gave a presentation on the CGIAR change process, Strategy and Results Framework (SRF) and CRP development process, while CLL Gowda and O Riera-Lizarazu provided the background, rationale, outputs and activities of the CRPs. On the other hand, the ICAR counterparts gave comprehensive presentations on the complementarity of R&D activities in their respective institutions/crops. Subsequently, group discussions were held to identify the comparative advantages, contributions and involvement of ICAR (including other national research centers and SAUs) in various CRP activities for research for development (R4D).

ICRISAT and ICAR both agreed to work together and make a strong case for the CRP proposals, and subsequently to implement the R4D activities effectively to achieve maximum impacts on smallholder farmers and the most vulnerable poor in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

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New organizational movement in ICRISAT-WCA

Mahamadou Gandah, Country Representative for Niger.

To achieve the new global research and development agenda based on the Strategic Plan 2020 and Business Plan 2011-2015, ICRISAT’s Country Office in Mali has been upgraded into a Regional Hub for the West and Central Africa (WCA) region. The WCA Director will now be based in Bamako, Mali, to head and reinforce the existing collaborative research and partnerships in the region.

Bonny N’Tare, who until recently was ICRISAT’s Country Representative in Mali, will now be Assistant Director for WCA effective 18 April. Meanwhile, Mahamadou Gandah has been appointed Country Representative for Niger. Both appointments are consecutive to the relocation of the Regional Director of WCA.

During a meeting with heads of the units in Sadoré on 18 April, WCA Director Farid Waliyar announced the appointments, and in his brief address, thanked Jupiter Ndjeunga for his contributions as Assistant Regional Director and for his work at the ICRISAT Sahelian Centre during the past years.

Team ICRISAT congratulates Bonny and Mahamadou and wishes them all the best in their new responsibilities.

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HOPE Project holds annual review and planning meeting for WCA

HOPE ICRISAT scientists and representatives of HOPE project partners at Bamako station.

Renewing their commitment to the realization of the project agenda for WCA, partners of the HOPE project met on 11-14 April for the 2011 review and planning workshop for Francophone countries. Held at ICRISAT’s Samanko research station in Bamako, Mali, the four-day meet followed the discussions held in March for Nigeria – the only Anglophone country in West Africa participating in the project.

The event brought together ICRISAT, national research institutions, NGOs, farmer organizations, seed producers and processors of sorghum and millet involved in the HOPE project in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

In his welcome address, WCA Director Farid Waliyar expressed ICRISAT’s commitment to work with national and farmer institutions in carrying out the project’s mission. HOPE project coordinator George Okwach presented an overview of the project as well as the objectives and expectations from the workshop. Among the guests was Oumar Niangado of Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture in Mali, who is also a member of the Project Advisory Board.

The first three days of the meeting were spent reviewing the past year’s achievements by ICRISAT and its partners, as well as planning for the coming year in respect to the six project objectives. Good progress was reported on breeding efforts, variety and Integrated Genetic and Natural Resource Management (IGNRM) trials for objectives 2 (sorghum) and 3 (pearl millet) in the three countries, as well as farmer field school trials with ISSFM in Mali and Niger.

Some early results and future plans for objectives 1 (baseline studies) and 5 (marketing studies) were presented for Niger and Mali. Reports of project work on seed production and sales of mini-packs of improved varieties of sorghum and pearl millet (objective 6) also showed much success and popularity with farmers. However, three major challenges were identified, namely: the need to followup activities to monitor farmer performance with the use of mini-packs; ensuring timely preparation and delivery of trials, protocols and mini-packs; and modalities for increasing the participation of women in the different project activities.

The fourth day was an open forum where several non-partner farmers and projects were invited to share their operations, successes, needs and challenges with the HOPE project partners. This was held at the Sotuba station of the Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER), Mali’s main NARS institution collaborating with ICRISAT in the project.

The meeting concluded with a sense of renewed commitment to the HOPE agenda and determination by all partners to work together towards the realization of the project’s vision in WCA.

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Consumer demand for healthy food spurs market opportunities
ICRISAT to lead global meet on ‘Ready-to-Eat’ foods

Global meet

Making convenience foods better and healthier through R&D and creating market opportunities are the focus of the “Global Symposium on Ready-to-Eat (RTE) Foods: Opportunities for R&D, Entrepreneurship and Markets.” The symposium will be held on 25-27 April at the Hotel Taj Banjara, Hyderabad and is being organized by ICRISAT along with ASSOCOM India.

With shifting consumer trends and changing eating patterns worldwide, the symposium will seek to promote RTE foods to a wider market through the transfer of technologies to entrepreneurs. It will address various food challenges such as meeting the demands for innovative meal solutions for a busy lifestyle, meeting consumers’ aspiration of eating healthy foods, role of food science and biotechnology in meeting consumer demands for RTE, and quality control and packaging to ensure product quality.

The role of micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises will also be highlighted as vital in addressing issues such as improving peoples’ livelihood opportunities and increasing their participation in the agro-food industry.

Supported by the Ministry of Food Processing, GoI, and part of the activities of NutriPlus Knowledge Program, Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) of ICRISAT, the symposium is an excellent opportunity for people from the food and allied industry and the academia to learn about the latest opportunities for R&D, entrepreneurship and market potential of the RTE foods segment.

Renowned speakers from the public sector, multinational and domestic food companies, entrepreneurs, and food research and consultancy organizations will share their knowledge on a whole gamut of areas – opportunities for promoting human health through RTE foods; traditional RTE foods; R&D; trends, potential, opportunities and challenges in marketing RTE foods; the emerging role of biotechnology in their development; export of RTE foods from India; and policies and regulations to promote RTE entrepreneurship.

The symposium will also have an exhibition to highlight various RTE technologies and products currently available.

For more details and registration, contact Saikat Datta Mazumdar ( or A Poshadri (

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ICRISAT-MMSU-PAC partnership strengthens
Sweet sorghum utilization in the Philippines

Sweet sorghum ICRISAT team at the inauguration of the Sweet Sorghum and Pigeonpea Research Station at PAC.

Sweet sorghum was introduced in the Philippines by ICRISAT in 2004 through the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), intended as a multi-purpose crop to be used for food, feed, forage and fuel.

ICRISAT’s Belum VS Reddy, P Srinivasa Rao and Ch Ravinder Reddy visited partner institutes and universities in the Philippines from 17-19 April, where they observed progress in the promotion of sweet sorghum as a smart biofuel crop. Poor farmers in the cooperating sites are showing interest and involving themselves in the biofuel market to boost their economic security, without compromising on food security or causing environmental damage.

The team visited and inaugurated the Sweet Sorghum and Pigeonpea Research Station of the Pampanga Agricultural College (PAC), and the Sweet Sorghum Research and Promotion Centre at the Mayors’ Action Center in Candaba, Pampanga. They also interacted with executives from the Pemdas Energy Corporation (PEC), which plans to grow sweet sorghum (SPV 422) on 5000 acres in 2011 and establish a 10 KLPD multi-feedstock distillery to produce ethanol towards improving food and fuel security in the area.

Sweet sorghum

Philippines’ demand for biofuels has increased following the passing of the Biofuels Law (RA 9367, 2007), which mandates the use of alternative and renewable energy sources to reduce the country’s dependence on imported fuel.

The Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), Batac, Philippines is the key partner in the ICRISAT-led IFAD-funded biofuel project “Linking the poor to global markets: Pro-poor development of biofuel supply chains,” with the PAC as associate partner. The project helped the introduction of improved sweet sorghum lines from ICRISAT, and in conducting adaptation trials besides screening them for biotic stresses, end-product development and utilization through entrepreneurs.

With Heraldo Layaoen as country coordinator, MMSU in partnership with other agricultural research organizations has undertaken extensive multilocation sweet sorghum trials with financial support from the Bureau of Agricultural Research of the Department of Agriculture (DA-BAR). Varieties (NTJ 2, SPV 422, ICSV 700, ICSV 93046, ICSR 93034) were supplied by ICRISAT and tested at Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, and Cagayan for sugar yield and grain yield in the main (seed) and ratoon crops. SPV 422 was found to be productive in both crops across locations. Farmers prefer to call this variety Sweet Philippine Variety (SPV).

The intensive capacity building efforts of ICRISAT led by Belum VS Reddy, Heraldo Layaoen and Jocelyn Eusebio (PCARRD) have helped train  farmers in Ilocos Norte and Pampanga and young researchers from MMSU and PAC.

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Enhancing management of farmer-owned enterprises and group lending
Training promotes market opportunities

HOPE Participants of the HOPE project training workshop on managing farmer-owned enterprises and group lending.

Egerton University and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), in cooperation with HOPE project partners in Kenya, held a training workshop on “Managing Farmer-owned Enterprises and Group Lending” for 30 participants, 16 of whom were women. Participants were from farmer groups, extension, grain processors, research, agro-input dealers and credit agencies involved in the finger millet value chain from Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western provinces of Kenya.

The activity aimed to train farmers and farmer organizations in planning agribusinesses to be able to access finance to support the purchase of surplus finger millet and sorghum. It also served as a forum to establish linkages between financial institutions and farmer organizations to access finances for input supply and marketing.

ICRISAT scientists participating were Mary Mgonja, Franklin Simtowe and Patrick Audi while Sime Mekonnen from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and Adventina Babu of the Department of Research and Development (DRD), Tanzania also attended the workshop.

In his opening address, Egerton University Director of Research emphasized the importance of the training in enabling farmers to take up farming as a commercial enterprise and in providing them with the basics of how to farm with a business bottomline.

The first three modules of the training covered the general principles and practice of business planning and records, marketing and financing. The fourth module focused on the role of collective action groups in production and marketing, group formation, group governance, dynamics and conflict resolution. It further emphasized on principles and practices of group lending and group dynamics. A number of institutions shared their experiences and presented their products at the workshop.

Through the HOPE project, similar training will be conducted in Tanzania and Ethiopia with the hope that a few of the trainees will qualify as trainers to scale out this unique knowledge to more farmers.

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