No. 1490 28 October 2011

Pursuing sustainable development in the drylands
ICRISAT-Niamey participates in tripartite conference to combat desertification in SSA

His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger, being briefed by Mahamadou Gandah at the ICRISAT exhibit stall during the tripartite desertification conference in Niger.

Desertification has its greatest impact in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Frequently afflicted by severe droughts, two-thirds of the continent is desert or drylands, with extensive agricultural areas already degraded. Many SSA countries are landlocked, beset with widespread poverty and heavily depend on natural resources for subsistence.

In spite of political progress made towards sustainable development, efforts devoted to combating desertification in SSA are still insufficient. In the light of this, the Africa-Brazil-France Tripartite Conference to combat desertification in SSA was organized as an excellent opportunity to strengthen the international community’s interest to address this concern.

At the Conference held on 24-25 October at the Palais des Congrès of Niamey attended by scientists and decision-makers, ICRISAT-Niamey took the opportunity to exhibit its work and initiatives in providing science-based sustainable solutions to combating desertification in the drylands.

During his visit to the ICRISAT exhibit stall, His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger remarked, “We encourage you in the research you are doing.” Niger Prime Minister Brigi Rafini, Minister of Justice Marou Amadou, Minister of Equipment Kalla Ankouraou, and Minister of Hydraulic and Environment Issoufou Issaka also visited the stall.

The Conference was organized by the Pan African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAGGW) in Africa, the Center of Strategic Studies Management (CGEE) in Brazil, and the Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) in France, all of which share a common concern for sustainable development in the drylands with the Government of the Republic of Niger.

The objective of the Conference was to propose recommendations to promote tangible, just and equitable sustainable development of arid and semi-arid regions in the African continent, and to provide inputs for the “Declaration of Niamey.” The declaration will reflect a collective determination with social, economic, environmental, technical and political measures to improve the well-being and livelihoods of populations concerned.

The declaration will also primarily influence the agenda for Rio+20 by providing the United Nations Preparation Committee by 1 November, with information to guide the creation of global, national and local instruments to support the region’s developmental efforts.

ICRISAT was represented in the Conference by ICRISAT-Niamey country representative
Mahamadou Gandah, who also took part in the round tables.

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Saving agricultural biodiversity for future generations
ICRISAT adds 20,600 more germplasm accessions to Svalbard Global Seed Vault

(Left) HD Upadhyaya supervising the shipment of germplasm seed samples. (Above) The samples safe inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault chambers.

As part of the agreement between ICRISAT and the Nordic Genetic Resources Center (NGRC), Norway, the ICRISAT Genebank shipped off another set of seed samples of 20,600 accessions to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault this October. The seed samples have been transferred to the designated vault chambers and the passport and conservation information on these accessions were successfully uploaded to the public data portal at

This was added to the seed samples of 66,000 accessions deposited in 2008-2010. With this, the total number of ICRISAT samples deposited has increased to 86,000, representing sorghum (29,600), pearl millet (17,880), chickpea (14,005), pigeonpea (8,559), groundnut (8715), finger millet (4,440), foxtail millet (1,071), proso millet (720), little millet (421), kodo millet (600) and barnyard millet (589). In addition, 3,850 duplicate samples of these accessions have been conserved in the seed vault to monitor germination.

ICRISAT acknowledges the support from the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT), the NGRC and the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), India, in this important task of saving global agricultural biodiversity for future generations.

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ICRISAT/WASA-SP conducts training for seed producers

Seed producers keenly observe hybrid sorghum plants in the ICRISAT/WASA demonstration plot in Minjibir.

As part of the continued efforts to support the development of a sustainable private sector-led seed industry in Nigeria and West Africa, a seed production training program was conducted by ICRISAT/WASA-SP at the Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA), Kano, on 18-19 October.

The program sought to improve the technical knowledge of seed producers in Nigeria and to inform them of new trends and requirements for high quality seed production to boost the productivity and income of Nigerian farmers. A total of 42 participants attended the training, drawn from 10 private seed companies (Premier Seeds Nigeria Ltd, Manoma Seeds Ltd, Nagari Seed Nig. Ltd, Daallgreen Seeds Ltd, Maina Seeds Ltd, The Seed Project Co. Ltd, Savana Seed Nigeria Ltd, Asmau Seeds Ltd, West Africa Cotton Co. Ltd and Maslaha Seeds Limited); and 5 State Agricultural Development Programs (Kano, Kaduna, Benue, Zamfara and Federal Capital Territory); the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC); Bayero University (Kano) and Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR).

Participants of the training for seed producers.

Resource persons from research institutes, NASC, Bayero University and ICRISAT/WASA-SP delivered lectures on agronomy, seed production practices and varietal identifiers for maize, sorghum, cowpea, groundnut and soybean; seed certification and quality control requirements for major cereals and legumes; seed processing, packaging, storage and marketing; and seed industry development (policy, legislation and registration of seed companies/ enterprises in Nigeria).

Participants were taken on a field visit to sorghum, millet, maize, groundnut and cowpea demonstration plots at the ICRISAT/WASA-SP farm at Minjibir. They were shown how selections are made by breeders for desirable traits in sorghum and maize, and the difference in the potential of hybrids vs. open pollinated varieties and the general layout of experimental plots.

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AIP-ICRISAT fortifies South-South ties at EMRC AgriBusiness Forum

KK Sharma making a presentation at the EMRC AgriBusiness Forum in Johannesburg.

ICRISAT’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) explored South-South collaboration and funding opportunities to enhance the number of agribusiness incubators in Africa at the EMRC AgriBusiness Forum held on 16-19 October at Johannesburg. The event was aimed at strengthening the agri-food sector in the continent by encouraging partnerships with the private sector, and exchanging best practices and attracting investments.

The AIP team composed of KK Sharma, SM Karuppanchetty and AR Ilyas participated in the forum along with a contingent of 15 leaders from India and Africa representing NAIP-ICAR BPDs and Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation-Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa-Agribusiness Innovation Incubator Consortia (UniBRAIN-FARA AICC).

The Indian delegation of NAIP-BPDs led by ABI-ICRISAT at the AgriBusiness Forum.

The session on Exploring opportunities for agribusiness in African agriculture and Indian Initiatives was led by KK Sharma, CEO, AIP and Bangali Baboo of NAIP-ICAR, and moderated by Ralph Kaufman of UniBRAIN. Dr Sharma spoke on ICRISAT’s Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program, the NIABI working model and its pathway towards establishing a strategic alliance to initiate a Global Agri Business Incubation Network (GABI). Dr Baboo, on the other hand, discussed various strategic interventions and synergistic areas of the Indo-Africa collaboration in incubator modality.

To strengthen South-South collaboration, delegates from NIABI, India had discussions with delegates from UniBRAIN-FARA Africa to develop a framework for engagement.

Soft-landing and technology sharing opportunities between India and Africa were explored through an exhibit on AIP and UniBRAIN. ICRISAT also facilitated about 45 meetings between NAIP officials and business delegates from Africa and agriculture ministers from Rwanda and Uganda to explore opportunities for collaboration on global agribusiness incubation. ABI-ICRISAT also facilitated visits to Furntech Incubator and Timbali Technology Incubator, Nelusprit.

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Educators and entrepreneurs’ group awards Dar

Director General William Dar was conferred the 2011 Agriculture Administrator Award for his achievement in agricultural work and leadership by the Philippine Agri-vironment Educators and Entrepreneurs, Inc (PASSAGE) at its 15th biennial conference-workshop on 20 October at San Antonio Resort, Roxas City, Philippines. Established in 1981 at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), PASSAGE is a conglomerate of investigative minds working for innovation and development.

The award lauds Dr Dar for having been “an exemplary achiever as agricultural administrator whose efforts made outstanding impacts on agricultural development toward food security.”


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Gaur delivers seminar at SAARC Agriculture Centre

Dr Sandip Pal, Deputy Director, SAARC Agriculture Centre (left) honoring Pooran Gaur.

Pooran Gaur delivered a seminar on “ICRISAT and its role in SAARC agriculture” at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Agriculture Centre in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 20 October. SAARC member countries include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

The seminar was attended by about 30 scientists from the SAARC Agriculture Centre (SAC) which promotes agricultural research and development as well as technology dissemination for sustainable agricultural development and poverty reduction in the region and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC).

ICRISAT has supplied over 810,000 samples of germplasm and breeding lines to SAARC countries, which have in turn contributed to the release of 240 varieties.

Sandip Pal, Deputy Director, SAC, stressed the need to strengthen collaboration between SAC and ICRISAT and to further facilitate dissemination of technologies developed by ICRISAT to SAARC countries.

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GB member at 21st ICID Congress and Micro Irrigation Congress in Tehran, Iran

(Left) Theib Oweis of ICARDA and Suhas Wani at the session on rainfed agriculture. (Right) ICRISAT Governing Board Member Chandra A Madramootoo delivering the Presidential address at the 62nd ICID International Executive Committee Meeting.

The 21st International Congress on Irrigation and Drainage, 8th International Micro Irrigation Congress and 62nd ICID International Executive Committee Meeting were held at Tehran, Iran,
15-23 October.

Chandra A Madramootoo, ICRISAT Governing Board Member and President of ICID delivered the presidential address and played a lead role in organizing the Congress. The activity had a number of parallel sessions covering irrigation, drainage, climate change, and Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). The highlight of this year’s congress was the inclusion of a session on rainfed agriculture jointly organized by Theib Oweis (ICARDA) and Suhas Wani (ICRISAT). Twenty-one papers were submitted for this session attended by about 90 participants.

The event’s inaugural address was delivered by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and special addresses were delivered by Minister of Water Resources, Government of Iran; Minister of Water Resources, Government of India; and the Deputy Minister of Water Resources, People’s Republic of China. Seven hundred participants representing 42 countries including 400 from Iran participated.

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Philippines’ Agriculture officials visit ICRISAT

The delegation from the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture (DA) with DG Dar and other ICRISAT senior staff.

A five-member delegation of officials and consultants from the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture (DA) visited Patancheru from 24- 28 October primarily for the opportunity to learn from and interact with ICRISAT scientists on strategic programs related to ICT for development, agribusiness innovation platform, climate change adaptation and advisory, and other initiatives with India’s national agricultural research and extension system (NARES) with similar programs.

The delegation along with ICRISAT’s Knowledge Sharing and Innovation (KSI) team visited the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) and Directorate of Rice Research (DRR) on 25 October and the Adarsha Mahila Samaikhya (AMS), Adakkal on 27 October. NRSC scientists demonstrated the role of remote sensing technology for assessing different natural resources management aspects with special emphasis on agriculture and drought assessment. The DRR officials demonstrated their Rice Knowledge Management Portal (RKMP). The visitors took keen interest and had extensive discussions with scientists from both organizations.

The delegation during their visit to the AMS Adakkal office.

The visitors also visited the Village Knowledge Centre (VKC) at AMS. An audio conference was organized between the farmers of Adakkal and ICRISAT. The scientists from KVK, Mahboobnagar were present on the occasion.

The ICT facilites being used by ICRISAT in drought preparedness and agro-advisories were also showcased. Impressed with the role women were playing in agriculture for development (A4D), the delegation gifted US$100 to the AMS as a token contribution towards micro-credit.

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