No. 1474 8 July 2011

Improving food security and nutrition in southern Africa
New Groundnut and Pigeonpea Varieties Released in Mozambique

Mozambique Prelude to a successful release: (left) A groundnut field day and farmer participatory varietal evaluation of pigeonpea varieties in progress in Mozambique.

“The new groundnut varieties offer various benefits to farmers, traders and consumers. Smallholder farmers will be the primary beneficiaries, as they will produce more groundnuts. They will have more to eat and this will improve their food security and nutrition. They will also get to sell more to raise incomes and improve their livelihoods.”

This is how Dr Manuel Amane, Deputy Director General, Institute of Agricultural Research for Mozambique (IIAM) and leader of grain legumes research, described the six new groundnut varieties released in Mozambique, along with four pigeonpea varieties at a ceremony on 3 June at the IIAM headquarters in Maputo. The legume varieties released were selected from material provided by ICRISAT.

The groundnut varieties released include five Spanish types, namely ICGV-SM 01513, ICGV-SM 01514, ICGV-SM 99541, ICGV-SM 99568, JL 24 and a Virginia type, ICGV-SM 83708 which were chosen after they performed better than local varieties in multi-location trials. The varieties were developed from the breeding program at ICRISAT-Malawi and ICRISAT-Patancheru.

With good market traits (tan color with round kernels) and taste, the new varieties yielded higher than their local counterparts under short and medium-duration environments in several locations in Mozambique. Likewise, varieties ICGV-SM 01513, ICGV-SM 01514 and ICGV-SM 99568 are resistant to rosette disease. Maturing in less than 100 days, they are suitable for areas with erratic and short rainy season.

“These groundnuts are early maturing, high yielding, tolerant to drought and low soil fertility, resistant to many diseases and with good market demand. They are more productive and will help farmers raise their yields so that Mozambique can produce more groundnuts for domestic and regional markets,” asserted Dr Amane.

The new pigeonpeas include two long-duration varieties (ICEAP 00020 and ICEAP 00040) already grown by farmers, and two new medium-duration varieties (ICEAP 00554 and ICEAP 00557), developed in ICRISAT-Kenya and ICRISAT-Malawi.

These varieties mature earlier than local cultivars but retain the profuse branching and indeterminate characteristics of long-duration types. Their bigger, cream-colored seeds are suitable for processing into dhal. All the four varieties are resistant to fusarium wilt.

Dr Amane sought ICRISAT’s sustained support to Mozambique through the supply of germplasm.

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SPEAR Project Launched in Malawi

The Seed Policy Enhancement in African Regions (SPEAR) project was launched in Lilongwe, Malawi, on 29 June. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) through Iowa State University (ISU), the project’s main objective is to increase the productivity of small farms in Malawi, Zambia and Nigeria by implementing policy changes that will promote basic seed production of released varieties of different crops.

The project also proposes the development of a mechanism for genetics access and transfer that will provide basic seed to emerging seed companies on a timely and equitable basis. Regional, national, and international public and private genetics providers will engage with existing seed companies of the three countries to increase the production and availability of improved varieties to smallholder farmers. This will be the project’s first step towards creating an efficient formal seed system.

Malawi Participants at the SPEAR project launch: Taking the first step towards creating an efficient formal seed system.

Twenty two participants representing breeders from the department of agricultural research services, seed companies, Farmers Union of Malawi, the National Association of Smallholder Farmers of Malawi (NASFAM), and ICRISAT attended the launch. Opening the meeting, Mrs Erica Maganga, Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security commended ICRISAT’s commitment to the seed policy harmonization process in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. 

The project started with a two-day training on germplasm licensing conducted by Iowa State University and attended by around 15 participants from the private and public sectors. Julie Minot and James Aketch of ISU led the sessions which focused on issues of transfer of germplasm from one sector to another. “There was a lot of dialogue generated around these issues,” Minot said. “By bringing everyone together we were able to answer each other’s questions.” Similar sessions have already been held in Nigeria and Zambia.

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Latest Developments on the CGIAR Research Programs

CGIAR meeting Participants at the CRP 3.5 meeting in Dubai.

As lead center for the proposed CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) 3.5 (Grain Legumes) and 3.6 (Dryland Cereals), ICRISAT along with its partners held meetings in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently to gear up the submission of revised proposals to the Consortium Board (CB) by 8 August.

The CRP 3.5 meeting from 29 June to 1 July was attended by DDG-R Dave Hoisington, CLL Gowda, Mark Winslow, PM Gaur, Dave Harris, P Parthasarathy Rao, N Jupiter and Franklin Simtowe (ICRISAT); Steve Beebe, R Buruchara, Andy Farrows and B Creamer (CIAT); M Baum and M Imtiaz (ICARDA); D Chikoye, H Tefera and Arega Alene (IITA), apart from Irvin Widders, Director, Dry Grain Pulse CRSP, Michigan State University, who attended upon ICRISAT’s invitation.

The group identified major legumes for each region/farming system and agreed to focus on eight major legumes: common bean, chickpea, cowpea, faba bean, groundnut, lentil, pigeonpea and soybean. The social scientists will prepare drafts for the section on justification. Revised objectives and outputs were formulated including an outline for writing them. Teams were also identified for revising the sections on priority setting and justification and the different objectives. Actions to be taken to address the CB’s comments were reviewed and a plan of action and timelines were agreed upon.

CGIAR meeting Gearing up for the CRP 3.6 proposal submission.

The CRP 3.6 meeting from 3-5 July was participated in by Dave Hoisington, Oscar Riera-Lizarazu, Belum S Reddy, Nareppa Nagaraj, Jupiter Ndjeunga, KN Rai, Mary Mgonja, Eva Weltzien, Tom Hash, and Alastair Orr (ICRISAT); Michael Baum and Aden Aw-Hassan (ICARDA); Michael Blummel (ILRI) and consultant Tiff Harris.

The group discussed priority farming systems for dryland cereals as well as the geographic distribution of poverty and malnutrition to define priorities for each region (WCA, ESA, CWANA, and SA) and crop (barley, finger millet, pearl millet, and sorghum). Also discussed were projections to increase productivity and adoption as a basis for defining the value proposition of dryland cereals and comments from the CB. An outline was developed for a re-structured document and working teams, action plan and a timeline to revise the document were agreed upon.

Meanwhile, CRP 1.1 (Integrated agricultural production systems for dry areas) meeting held in Nairobi last week saw Peter Craufurd, R Padmaja, KPC Rao, and P Sibiry-Traore representing ICRISAT. Efforts were on to select benchmark areas and action sites following the CRP’s conditional approval by the Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC) and CB subject to 16 ‘must haves’, of which site selection is key.

The meeting was attended by 70 participants from the CGIAR Consortium (ICARDA, ICRISAT, ILRI, ICRAF, IWMI, Bioversity, CIP and CIAT); other centres and knowledge partners (AVDRC, CIRAD, EMBRAPA, FARA and CAAS); and partners from South Asia (India, Pakistan and Afghanistan), ESA, WCA, WANA and Central Asia/Caucasus.

Key action sites for each of the two major thematic areas for CRP1 (vulnerable systems with risk reduction as the main strategy and systems with sustainable intensification as the main strategy) were identified. Current information requested by the ISPC and CB will be documented and sent back later this month.

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Sesame Project Progress Review Meeting in Lira, Uganda

Sesame Products made from sesame displayed during the meeting.

ICRISAT-Nairobi, the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), and the Ugandan NARS jointly organized a second annual review meeting of the project “Sesame improves livelihoods of farmers in Northern Uganda” in Lira, Uganda, from 22-24 June. Twenty three stakeholders representing ICRISAT-Nairobi, AIT and Ugandan representatives from the National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI), African Innovations Institute (AfrII), Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Ngetta ZARDI), Uganda Oil Seed Producers and Processors Association (UOSPA), Ministry of Agriculture, and progressive farmers participated in the meeting.

ICRISAT-ESA Director Said Silim, Ganga Rao and Munyua Bernard represented ICRISAT, while Josef Schmidt and Fluch Silvia represented AIT-Vienna, the donor country research organization. Walter Anyanga, sesame breeder and William Otim Nape, Plant Pathologist and adaptive research specialist are the key project implementation personnel in Uganda.

Sesame Participants from the Sesame Project annual review meeting.

Achievements included phenotypic and genotypic evaluation of diverse sesame germplasm lines; farmer participatory evaluation of new varieties and identification of best-bet varieties for release; and promotion of promising agronomic practices. The project has also achieved production and delivery of quality seed of Sesim-II and other promising varieties and conducted a comprehensive value chain analysis on sesame marketing in Uganda.

The meeting also mapped out workplans for the third year including the possibility of submitting a proposal for a second phase. Participants likewise visited on-farm trials on varietal evaluation (best bets for release), crop management practices (fertilizer application, planting method), on-farm seed production and pest and disease incidence in Dokolo and Kaberamaido.

Farmers taking part in on-farm experiments were pleased with the production potential of the new varieties under evaluation and stressed the need for fast tracking varietal release and seed availability.

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Exploring strategic opportunities for women in the drylands
HOPE project training on gender mainstreaming held in Nairobi

Hope HOPE gender specialist Susan Bakesha addresses participants during the gender training workshop.

One of the objectives of the HOPE project is to improve markets for sorghum and finger millet in order to stimulate the adoption of improved technologies by smallholder farmers. It also aims to involve both women and men in all stages of the project cycle – from needs identification to the implementation of the project and empower women farmers to become key decision makers from production to marketing of sorghum and finger millet.

As part of this effort towards gender mainstreaming, integrating women into the whole value chain, raising awareness and sensitizing project staff and partners on issues of gender in agricultural research and technology dissemination, ICRISAT HOPE scientists together with National Agricultural Research & Extension Systems (NARES) partners from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, attended a gender training in Nairobi from 27-29 June. The training, part of the HOPE Project Gender Action Plan of action, is to be carried out in the three regions covered by the project – ESA, WCA and SA.

Hope (Left to right) Elijah Muange, Yosef G Kidane (ARARI, Ethiopia), Bernard Munyua, Bright Jumbo and Patrick Audi in a group discussion.

The training was conducted by Ms Susan Bakesha, a gender specialist appointed by the project, to help scientists mainstream gender in the project activities, discuss with them the Gender Mainstreaming Action Plan (GMAP) and develop plans specific for each project objective.

According to Susan, “scientists ought to use gender-sensitive approaches in all stages of the project process, and engage both women and men especially during technology selection, as different genders have different needs. If you base your design on one side, you might end up developing technologies that are not appropriate for the other side”. Pleased with the enthusiastic response from the scientists, she emphasized, “I hope the process will not end here. I want to be sure that there is going to be implementation of the GMAPs.”

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DG calls on Philippine ambassador to the US

William Dar DG William Dar called on Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L Cuisia, Jr (centre) in Washington, DC recently. Also seen is Dr Josyline Javelosa (left), Agricultural Attache of the Philippine Embassy. (Photo courtesy: Philippine Embassy, USA).

DIRECTOR GENERAL WILLIAM DAR called on Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L Cuisia, Jr recently while in Washington, DC for meetings on the US’ Feed the Future Initiative. Dr Dar took the opportunity to explain to Ambassador Cuisia ICRISAT’s work on its mandate crops, particularly that on sweet sorghum and its potential as a source of bioethanol. He also emphasized the need to focus on food, energy and water security issues on international cooperation and that enhancing human and institutional capacities in the Philippines in these areas is crucial for achieving broad-based economic development and national security.

Noting that food security is a priority of the Philippine government, Ambassador Cuisia elucidated on the improvements in the country’s agricultural infrastructure and introduction of productivity-enhancing technologies being advocated by President Benigno Aquino III.

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The CGIAR is 40!

Global Crop Diversity Trust genebank meeting

JULY 6 marked the celebration of the CGIAR’s 40th anniversary. Mr Robert B Zoellick, World Bank Group President, commemorated the CGIAR’s 40 years of significant achievements, reiterated the World Bank’s support to the CGIAR, and proposed a five-point challenge to the organization and its stakeholders. The event also saw the launch of the CGIAR Research Program MAIZE, showcasing the CGIAR’s new way of doing business. A commemorative publication “The CGIAR at 40 and Beyond: Impacts that Matter for the Poor and the Planet,” was released on the occasion.

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Global Crop Diversity Trust meets with CGIAR DDGs and Genebank Managers

Global Crop Diversity Trust genebank meeting Drs Dave Hoisington, HD Upadhyaya and Mary Mgonja from ICRISAT at the Global Crop Diversity Trust genebank meeting in Brighton.

The Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) organized a meeting with Genebank Managers and DDGs-Research of CGIAR centers at Brighton, UK on 12-17 June. Its main objective was to discuss how best to position CGIAR genebanks in the global genebank system and as part of the CGIAR reform process. Drs Dave Hoisington (DDG Research), Hari Upadhyaya (Head, Genebank) and Mary Mgonja (Principal Scientist – Breeding) participated in the meeting, held at the Jurys Inn Hotel in Brighton and at Kew Gardens, London.

Cary Fowler, GCDT Director, provided an overview of the status of the Trust fund. While significant progress has been made to acquire funding, there are still not enough funds to fully support global genebank operations, and thus efforts are required to attract additional funds. The GCDT has been providing partial support to ICRISAT for its genebank operations since 2007.

Gordon MacNeil from the Consortium Office informed the group that the funding for CGIAR genebanks for 2011 has been approved by the Fund Council. However, to institutionalize this funding, a proposal for an integrated strategy to support genebank core operations for 3 to 5 years, with a lead Center, similar to the other CGIAR Research Programs will be developed. Along with this, the Inter-Center Working Group on Plant Genetic Resources (ICWGR) formed a core committee (Tom Payne, Hari Upadhyaya, Dominique Dumet and Daniel Debouck) to work with Gordon MacNeil and the GCDT to draft the proposal.

Discussions were also held on genebanks in the new CGIAR system, critical analysis and consolidating role of genebanks, and the support they will need to perform their functions efficiently. Hari Upadhyaya made a presentation on “Utilization of germplasm in crop improvement programs”.

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