No. 1475 15 July 2011

Surmounting a changing climate CCAFS maps out climate
change policy direction for Ghana and Mali


No single research institution can address the daunting challenges of climate change,especially on agriculture and food security. The CGIAR through its Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) addresses these through a strategic partnership between the Consortium of Centers and other thematic Research Programs.

CCAFS primarily aims to identify research needs and priorities at the national level by assessing and testing pro-poor adaptation and mitigation practices, technologies and policies for food systems, adaptive capacity and rural livelihoods.

Toward this end, CCAFS held two policy workshops in Ghana (21 June) and Mali (23 June) to map out research needs and priorities for a climate change action plan. The workshop in Mali was held at ICRISAT’s regional hub in Samanko. The meeting was based on a comprehensive climate change action plan model, which combines mitigation and adaptation actions and low carbon development pathways.

The meeting shared information on the CRP, benchmark site profiles and regional strategy for West Africa, CCAFS’ current research outputs, and preliminary results of the two-round consultations. Moreover, this activity also developed priority research needs for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

CCAFS’ regional approach will initially focus on East Africa (EA), West Africa (WA) and the Indo-Gangetic Plains to ensure complementarity of thematic research and facilitate a strong network of implementing partners. The regional teams will spearhead achievement of outcomes and impacts at national and regional levels.

ICRISAT-Niamey is hosting Dr Robert Zougmoré, CCAFS regional program leader for West Africa since November 2010.

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HOPE for dryland farmers
Sorghum and finger millet field days held in Tanzania

Field day Participants of the sorghum and finger millet field day.

ICRISAT in collaboration with NARS partners implementing the HOPE project in Tanzania, held a sorghum and finger millet field day in Miwaleni Research Station on 30 June. The field day exposed stakeholders along the sorghum value chain and income enhancing strategies. The event was attended by 25 project coordinators and scientists from partner institutions from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Southern Sudan and Eritrea;50 farmers and 20 extension staff from five HOPE districts of Rombo, Kondoa, Singida, Iramba and Kishapu; and representatives from beer (East African Malt Ltd and Tanzania Breweries Ltd), food processing (Nyirefam), and seed (SEED Co and Namburi) industries.

Inaugurating the field day, chief guest G Kirenga, Director for Crop Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), complimented the project for using the value chain approach and challenged national partners to incorporate project activities into local programs such as MAFS’ “Kilimo Kwanza” (Agriculture First). M Samizi, District Commissioner of Moshi, promised to assist in sharing information on improved sorghum and finger millet technologies with the six districts in the larger Kilimanjaro region and added that food relief interventions (sorghum grain) in schools had improved student performance.

Field day A member of JAGEF Women’s Group showcasing processed wine and other products from sorghum.

Also present was Professor Lewis Mughogho, Chairman, HOPE Project Advisory Board who commended ICRISAT and its national partners for the project’s strong food security focus, involvement of public-private partnerships, the participatory varietal selection (PVS) approach and the choice of indigenous crops. He emphasized the need to develop and promote ways of enhancing household level utilization of the crops to enhance their demand. F Muhhuku, Tanzania’s Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) representative was also present.

The activity also gave farmers an opportunity to air their problems such as bird damage to sorghum and unreliable sorghum grain prices. Nyirefam from the food processing sector, also raised the poor quality of grain delivered to their plant by farmers and suggested that grain quality be improved by using better postharvest handling technologies such as motorized sorghum threshers, an area that the HOPE project is already pursuing.


In unity there is strength

Tanzania Breweries Ltd (TBLs) makes Eagle beer from white sorghum grain. This grain is being bought at Tshs (Tanzania shillings) 400 (US$0.30) per kg from individual farmers through a contract. However, TBL’s conditions for contract for grain purchase includes that it be white grain sorghum, and that the company will only pick up a minimum of 100 tons per contract. TBL also helps to link farmers to credit to finance production in order to meet the minimum requirement of 100 tons per contract. This demonstrates how farmers can benefit immensely through collective marketing.


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West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program
World Bank partners with ICRISAT in capacity building

World bank (Left to right) Mr Amadou Alhassane (World Bank Niger), Mr Zinsou Kouassi (World Bank Washington), and Dr Osman Gyasi (Accra) during the meeting.

The West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAP), with a strong component dedicated to animal production, has now turned its attention to increasing the agricultural productivity of farmers in Niger. In connection with this, World Bank officials Mr Germain Zinsou Kouassi (Operations Officer, Washington) and Dr Osman Gyasi (Agricultural Economist, Accra) visited ICRISAT-Niamey on 5 July to explore the possibility of a partnership with ICRISAT beyond its current status as a member of the steering committee to monitor WAAP’s implementation.

The visitors met with ICRISAT’s Country Representative Mahamadou Gandah and scientific staff, and were accompanied by INRAN Director General Mohamed Abdoulaye. They sought ICRISAT’s help in hosting visiting scientists, organizing exchanges between the two organizations and contributing to capacity building of NARS scientists in the sub-region, following which an MoU will be signed between ICRISAT and WAAP sealing the partnership. In Niger, the WAAP program is under the Ministry of Agriculture, with the National Institute of Agronomic Research of Niger (INRAN) being the focal institution.

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Communication for Aflatoxin mitigation

Nick Quist Nathaniels Nick Quist Nathaniels during his visit to ICRISAT-Lilongwe.

Nick Quist Nathaniels, a plant pathologist whose interest has turned to communication and its practice in development, visited ICRISAT-Lilongwe last week. With McKnight funding through the Danish Management, Nick was in Malawi to facilitate project activities on Innovative Communication Media and Methods for Aflatoxin Mitigation working closely with Dr Monyo (Groundnut Breeder), and Wills Munthali and Harry Msere (Scientific Officers at ICRISAT-Lilongwe).

The project, which started this year in Tanzania and Malawi, uses a best-mix of methods to raise awareness among stakeholders in the groundnut sub-sector on the health hazards of aflatoxin and possible mitigation methods.

Communication approaches include face-to-face meetings among groundnut traders, farmers, and other stakeholders, combined with radio and video programs. The project will also assess the effectiveness of these strategies in changing the behaviour of stakeholders and forge links with the groundnut breeding and aflatoxin project as well as the post-harvest and nutrition project in 2012.

“This is not just knowledge or technology transfer. This is about people sharing experiences with others to inspire them to take action,” Nick said. The project aims to use an all-inclusive learning alliance approach with those involved in groundnut production and marketing to determine the barriers that constrain learning and technology adoption.

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Rice seed buy back in Malawi

malawi Bags of scented Kilombero rice seed waiting to be rebought and made available to rice producers under the revolving seed fund model.

CERTIFIED RICE SEED might not be as difficult to come by as it used to be, thanks to the Irish Aid- funded project in Malawi. The project uses the revolving seed fund model and has trained farmers’ associations on seed production, quality control, storage, packing and grading.

In the last week of June, a team from ICRISAT-Lilongwe travelled north to Karonga District to buy back rice seed of two Malawian varieties – the long grain scented Kilombero and short grain Faya. The growers of Hara, Wovwe, Chonanga and Chipamila together produced 60,046 kg of seed. The price paid to the farmers was MK105/kg (US$ 0.70/kg).

“This year we got more than we got last year,” Teddie Chirwa, Senior Technician (Research), said.For the past two seasons, the project has been contracting growers of various clubs/associations in Karonga to produce certified rice seed. This rice seed will be made available to other rice producers through organizations such as the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM), interested individuals and other associations.

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ABI-ICRISAT shares its co-business incubation model at ANGRAU workshop

ABI Mr Karuppanchetty shares ICRISAT’s co-business incubation model with TNAU at the stakeholders workshop on AELP at ANGRAU, Hyderabad.

AT A RECENTLY HELD WORKSHOP on Agricultural Experiential Learning Program stakeholders’ meet organized by the Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU) at Rajendranagar, ICRISAT shared its co-business incubation model with over 50 delegates from the seed, fertilizer, agricultural machinery and bio-products industries, processing companies, academia and NGOs. The workshop was meant to accelerate adoption and impact of research innovations to enhance agribusiness enterprise development and technology commercialization.

ICRISAT was represented by Karuppanchetty, Purushotham and Saikat Datta Mazumdar from the Agribusiness Innovation Platform (AIP). In his presentation on technology commercialization initiatives at ABI-ICRISAT, Karuppanchetty highlighted various incubation models, particularly the co-business incubation model with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University(TNAU).

The program was presided over by Dr Yellamanda Reddy, Dean of Agriculture, ANGRAU,who expressed interest in collaborating with ICRISAT in commercializing ANGRAU technologies through the co-business incubation model and in engaging graduate students on hands-on experience in agribusiness and technology commercialization as part of the Agricultural Experiential Learning Program.

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Pigeonpea Orissa Project now in full swing

pigeonpea Turn-over of seeds to DDA Kalahandi.

The Pigeonpea Orissa project Introduction and Expansion of Improved Pigeonpea (Arhar) Production Technology in Rainfed Upland Ecosystems of Orissa has been recently approved by the Government of Orissa through Dr RS Gopalan, IAS (Director, Agriculture and Food Production). The project will be implemented for 4 years (2011-2015) with a total funding of US$ 2.29 M.

The primary goal of the project is to enhance food and nutritional security and income generation for the underprivileged farmers of rainfed areas of Orissa. Three districts (Kalahandi, Rayagada and Nawapara) with a total of 26,000 hectares will be covered by the project. The first meeting-cum-workshop was conducted last May 30 at the Institute of Management and Agricultural Extension (IMAGE), Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, the output of which was the workplan for the 2011-2012 cropping season. The workshop was attended by NGOs; Deputy Director of Agriculture of Kalahandi, Rayagada and Nawapara; Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT); and ICRISAT staff represented by Drs KB Saxena, S Pande and MG Mula.

pigeonpea Dr Suresh Pande presenting the workplan for 2011-2012 cropping season.

For the 2011-2012 cropping season, a total of 60 tons of certified seed varieties (Asha and Maruti) were distributed to cover 3,000 hectares of the project sites for Improve Pigeonpea Production Technology (IPPT). Breeder seeds (280 kg) of Asha, Maruti and ICPL 88039 were also supplied to KVK Nawarangapur for seed multiplication. In addition, the Farmer’s Preferred Varietal Trials (FPVTs) were implemented with the delivery of improved cultivars (Asha, Maruti, ICP 7035, ICPH 2671 and ICPH 2740) totalling 260 kg to cover 10 sites/district (1 acre/site). As a kick-off to the initial activity on seed distribution, ICRISAT conducted last June 30 the first orientation of the project and training on seed production to 50 participants (NGOs and staff of DDA of Kalahandi, Rayagada and Nawapara). During the said training, 60 tons of Asha and Maruti were turned-over to DDA Kalahandi, Rayagada and Nawapara for distribution to farmers.

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Research-for-development pipeline
New projects approved and funded

Pursuing its Strategic Plan to 2020, ICRISAT is relentlessly pursuing a partnership-based international agricultural research-for-development approach. Mobilizing technology to reduce poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation in the dryland tropics, the Institute has in the last few months been successful in getting funding support for the following projects:

  1. Enhancing groundwater recharge and water-use efficiency in SAT region through watershed interventions
  2. This project (May 2011-April 2016) will use ICRISAT’s community watershed approach in the drought-prone Bundelkhand region in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh by implementing practices such as improved collective management of rainwater, improved crop and land management, and rainwater use efficiency for crop production, crop yields and greater incomes.

    Collaborating partners: Community-Based Organizations (CBOs)
    Donor agency: Coca-Cola India Foundation for Rural Water Infrastructure
    Grant amount: US$ 276,911

  3. Improving groundnut farmers’ incomes and nutrition through innovation and technology enhancement (I-FINITE)
  4. This project (May 2011-April 2012) aims to increase the incomes of smallholder groundnut farmers in four districts in the Eastern Province of Zambia (Chipata, Katete, Petauke, and Lundazi). This will be achieved through innovative partnerships; developing crop management strategies and seed systems to enhance productivity and link farmers to markets; developing low-cost technologies to control and determine aflatoxin contamination; and setting up systems of grades and standards to enhance traceability.

    Collaborating partners: NARS, University of Zambia, Tuskegee University (USA), and the USDA National Peanut Research Laboratory (Georgia, USA)
    Donor agency: USAID-Zambia
    Grant amount: US$ 1,000,000

  5. Biotechnological approaches to improve chickpea crop productivity for farming community and industry

    Recent advances in genomics have unravelled gene networks and genetic variation controlling valuable traits in elite breeding populations. As a prelude to this project, ICRISAT identified several hundred candidate genes for molecular breeding for drought tolerance. This project (June 2011-June 2014) will capitalize on the resources developed and expertise available at the University of Frankfurt / GenXPro in Germany and ICRISAT/ BenchBio in India.
  6. Collaborating partners: BenchBio Private Ltd. (India), Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main (Germany),GenXPro GmbH (Germany)
    Donor agency: Indo-German Science and Technology Centre (IGSTC), Govt. of India Grant amount: US$ 131,518

  7. Introduction and expansion of improved pigeonpea production technology in rainfed upland ecosystem
  8. This project (June 2011-June 2015), aimed at farmers in the rainfed upland ecosystems of Orissa’s three districts of Kalahandi, Rayagad and Nawapara, offers ample scope to expand high-yielding short- and medium-duration pigeonpea varieties in rainfed areas to ensure sustainable livelihoods. The project’s overall goal is to enhance food and nutritional security and income generation for the underprivileged farmers of rainfed Orissa.

    Collaborating partners: Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology; Directorate of Agriculture and Horticulture, Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of Orissa; NGO and Farmer Self-Help Groups
    Donor agency: Directorate of Agriculture and Food Production, Govt. of Orissa
    Grant amount: US$ 2,298,116

  9. Groundnut improvement for poor smallholder farmers in Asia
  10. This project intends to help alleviate rural poverty by raising incomes and food and nutritional security of poor smallholder groundnut farmers in Asia by ensuring regular and sustainable increases in groundnut productivity and the profitability of groundnut cultivation through genetic enhancement in partnership with NARS in Asia.

    Collaborating partners: NARS in Asia
    Donor agency: The OPEC Fund for International Development, Austria
    Grant amount: US$ 100,000

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