No. 1466 13 May 2011

Pursuing partnerships with purpose
ICRISAT and Swedish partners SEI, SIDA strengthen partnership on watershed management

Swedish partners DG Dar presenting the ICRISAT information folder to Dr Anders Granlund of SIDA, with Drs Johan Rockström and Mats Lannerstad of SEI.

When the road to attaining food security and poverty alleviation is riddled with challenges, the importance of working together cannot be overemphasized.

With a shared mission of unlocking the potential of rainfed agriculture, particularly in Asia and Africa, ICRISAT and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) - Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) renewed their commitment to work as partners in the area of rainwater management, resilience, improving livelihoods and adaptation strategies for farmers through integrated watershed management in the semi-arid tropics.

Swedish partners DG Dar and SP Wani interacting with SEI senior staff.

In a visit by DG William Dar and Suhas P Wani to SEI, Stockholm and to the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) on 9-10 May, plans were drawn to strengthen the ongoing collaboration between ICRISAT and the Swedish partners. SEI Director Dr Johan Rockström expressed great appreciation of the ICRISAT watershed team’s work in the area of resilience, tipping point and improving livelihoods. He also stressed the importance of the watershed framework in Asia in scaling-up benefits and operationalizing the watershed management approach in Africa.

Swedish partners DG Dar, SP Wani, and SEI staff with Dr Falkenmark (3rd from left) of SIWI at the SRC Stockholm University.

In a meeting with Dr Anders Granlund, Head of Research, Department of International Cooperation, SIDA, DG Dar thanked SIDA for its continuing support to ICRISAT and stressed the enormous potential of working together in improving livelihoods in priority rainfed areas of Asia and Africa. Dr Granlund, on the other hand, expressed Sweden’s commitment to the CGIAR reform process and to increasing funding support. He indicated the potential of a bilateral project mechanism to enhance research for development as well as an SEI-ICRISAT collaborative research framework on rainfed agriculture through an ecosystem-based adaptation program in the two continents.

Swedish partners SP Wani during his seminar at SEI.

Meanwhile, SIDA and other donors expressed commitment to support a new ICRISAT-SEI integrated platform to address the complex challenges in rainfed areas through integrated watershed management. During the visit, Dr Wani delivered a seminar at SEI-SRC on the topic “A new paradigm for improving livelihoods in rainfed tropical areas.”

Dr Dar also met with Dr Malin Falkenmark, renowned expert on water management from the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), and with Dr Maria Schultz, Director, Resilience and Development Program (Swed-Bio) to identify potential areas for collaboration.

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AVRDC appoints new head of South Asia office


South Asia’s small-scale vegetable farmers have a new advocate in Dr Warwick Easdown, who has been appointed by AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center to lead its operations for South Asia in Hyderabad, India.

As Regional Director, Dr Easdown will collaborate with donors and partners, develop new projects and extend the research, development and capacity building work of the Center through networks to benefit farmers and consumers all along the region’s vegetable value chain. He assumed his new position on 1 May.

Dr Easdown’s areas of expertise include agronomy, communications and rural internet applications. He has more than 30 years of experience in extension, administration, teaching and research.

He joined the Center in 2006 as Head of Communications, and previously held a similar position at the World Agroforestry Center in Kenya. A native of Australia, Dr Easdown managed extension training and research at the University of Queensland and worked in extension agronomy in subtropical Australia. He holds a PhD from the University of Illinois, USA.

Dr Easdown replaces Dr ML Chadha, who retired after serving the Center for 17 years in various management capacities.

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Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) team visits ICRISAT

SAI team The SAI team during the discussion with the ICRISAT watershed team.

A five-member team representing Nestle, Hindustan Unilever and Coca-cola led by Dr Carlo Galli, representative from the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI), visited ICRISAT-Patancheru on 6 May to discuss the ongoing collaborative project between ICRISAT and SAI on “Tools and practices for enhancing rainfall and irrigation water-use efficiency in North-West India.”

SAI is a platform created by the food industry to communicate and actively support the development of sustainable agriculture involving stakeholders of the food chain.

Dr SP Wani briefed the team about ICRISAT activities on natural resources management as well as the Institute’s model watersheds in different states of India. Progress of the ongoing project was reviewed and suggestions were provided.

Through the project, Water Impact Calculator (WIC), an excel-based decision tool, is being developed for scheduling irrigation using strategic research data from water-use efficiency (WUE) trials conducted at ICRISAT-Patancheru. The WIC is being tested and validated through on-farm farmer participatory trials at benchmark watersheds in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Simple and basic information has to be provided by farmers into the WIC to find out how much and when water needs to be applied during a cropping season. Such information on irrigation scheduling will aid in efficiently managing water resources using scientific data at local, farm and watershed scales in arid/semi-arid tropics, where water is a limiting factor, in place of calendar-based irrigation scheduling resulting in low water-use efficiency.

The SAI team visited experimental trials on WUE at the ICRISAT campus as well as in the Adarsha watershed, Kothapally. The team interacted with farmers in Kothapally on the various water intervention activities and processes involved in community development.

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Farmers show the way
Producing farmer-to-farmer videos in Ghana

GhanaParticipants of the farmer-to-farmer video training.

"We have been greatly exposed to a virtually new dimension of seeing and presenting messages, issues and information more successfully. Our performance at work is going to be much better,” says Joel Aiki, one of the participants of the farmer-to-farmer training video production from Nigeria.

For the year 2011, ICRISAT has contracted Agro-Insight ( to train local video production teams and come up with a series of high-quality farmer-to-farmer training videos dealing with integrated Striga and soil fertility management. Following a two-week training course in February for Mali and Niger, a second workshop was held on 11-21 April in Tamale, northern Ghana, for participants from Ghana and Nigeria.

GhanaDemonstration of storage bag airtightness for cowpea seed.

Dr Paul Van Mele and Marcella Vrolijks (Agro-Insight), along with Josephine Rodgers (Countrywide Communication) trained staff from the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), the NGO TechnoServe, Simile Radio, the IFAD-funded Community-based Agriculture and Rural Development Programme (CBARDP) and the Kano Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA). Locally appropriate and regionally relevant training videos on crop-livestock interactions and cowpea seed storage were produced during the workshop.




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Enhancing capacity building and cultural change
RP-MIP team holds writeshop, HR orientation and team building

MIP workshop HRO Director H Hernandez addressing the participants during the team building session.

Aiming to enhance commitment, contribution, communication and cooperation within the team, MIP Director C Bantilan brought together 18 Field Investigators positioned in various remote villages in the Indian States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, to ICRISAT-Patancheru this week for an orientation-cum-team building workshop. They were joined by 3 Women Field Investigators recruited to be position at the headquarters and will be required to visit all the 18 villages and interact with women in the farming community to gleen valuable feedback, mainly on gender issues. Other participants included 23 Data Entry Operators (DEOs); 3 Senior/Lead Scientific Officers supervising the Field Investigators; Mr K Ravichand who supervises the DEOs; and Dr VR Kiresur, Senior Scientist, and overall in charge of the Village Level Studies (VLS) Project’s SAT India component.

MIP workshop Introduction to Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) Instrument.

The 45-member team underwent a two-day orientation on the technical aspects of their respective jobs, a writeshop and introduction to Computer Assisted Personal Interview Instruments (CAPI), followed by a day of spiritual orientation focused on “improved quality of work-cum-home life” at the Shanti Sarovar center of Brahmakumaris – one of the reputed lead spiritual organizations in India. Other activities that followed include health-oriented yoga classes and a two-day team building program. The team demonstrated great energy, positive attitude and inherent talents on stage at a cultural show held on the evening of 12 May.The week-long exercises greatly contributed to the empowerment of the team.

HRO Director Hector V Hernandez, chief guest during the team building training, inspired the participants with his message on “Togetherness, Excellence, Acceptance and Motivation (TEAM).” Others involved in planning and coordinating the successful event include AJ Rama Rao, VR Kiresur and the whole administration team of RP-MIP.

MIP workshop


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ABI-ICRISAT participates in Krishi-Dhan 2011

ABI-ICRISAT ICRISAT exhibition stall at the Krishna-Dhan 2011.

The ICRISAT Agri-Business Incubator (ABI) participated in the Krishi-Dhan 2011 in Mumbai from 28-30 April. Krishi-Dhan 2011 was organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a not-for-profit research organization headed by Dr RK Pachauri, a Nobel laureate. The ABI-hosted NIABI partner, the Business Planning and Development (BPD) Unit of the Central Research Institute of Cotton Technologies (CIRCOT), also participated in the activity.

Krishi-Dhan is a first of its kind initiative of the agriculture sector committed to sustainable development. It is unique from other agro-expo platforms due to its focus on transforming youth into agripreneurs, a goal shared by ABI-ICRISAT. It was formally launched by Shri Chaggan Bhujbal, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism & Public Works (Excluding Public Undertakings), Government of Maharashtra.

The central theme of the event was “Green-to-Evergreen” with the intention of introducing eco-friendly and energy-efficient concepts to ensure sustainable agriculture. The thematic areas included integration of renewable energy and energy efficiency, agri-tourism, finance consultation and modern agri-technologies. The thematic exhibition, international conference, panel discussions involving youth in agriculture, innovative special sessions, presentation competition on “Agribusiness Plan” and poster presentation on thematic areas were the highlights of Krishi-Dhan 2011. Aravazhi from ABI-ICRISAT and Dr Sham Pal of CIRCOT participated in the exhibition.

The three-day event with 200 participants saw 20 enquiries generated on farm ventures by ABI-ICRISAT and 10 enquiries by BPD-CIRCOT. Other participating organizations during the expo were those involved in providing service/products like elite germplasm, hybrid seeds, irrigation technologies, fertilizers, field inputs, postharvest technologies, food processing machinery, food technology, research organizations, incubation centers, biotech parks and food parks.

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