No. 1491 4 November 2011

Pursuing purposeful partnership
Mali Minister of Agriculture affirms support to ICRISAT

(L to R) ICRISAT Regional Director for WCA Farid Waliyar with Mali’s Minister of Agriculture, Dr Agathan Ag Alhassane and Deputy Director of IER, Dr Boureima Dembele during their meeting in Mali.

“Technology transfer will remain crucial to Mali’s sustainable and inclusive agricultural growth. Along this, we expect ICRISAT to continue its support to smallholder farmers and agro-dealers within the region, particularly in terms of introducing innovative solutions to agricultural production and marketing,” said Mali’s Minister of Agriculture, Dr Agathan Ag Alhassane, in a meeting with Regional Director for West and Central Africa (WCA) Farid Waliyar at the Cité Administrative du Mali on 28 October.

Discussions during the meeting, which was also attended by Dr Boureima Dembele, Deputy Director of the Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER), one of ICRISAT’s key partners in Mali, focused on agricultural research programs and climate change adaptation measures in WCA, particularly in Mali.

Explaining the Institute’s plans for Niger, Mali and Nigeria, F Waliyar took the opportunity to describe ICRISAT’s inclusive market-oriented development (IMOD) strategy and how its benefits would enable smallholder farmers in Africa and their families to go beyond subsistence farming to produce surpluses that can be stored and sold to markets. He also spelled out how ICRISAT’s systems and partnership approaches would ensure better livelihoods for the poor in the region.

F Waliyar explains the concept of IMOD as the Minister takes a look at ICRISAT’s Strategic Plan 2020.

Since WCA has the highest proportion of subsistence-oriented smallholder farm households has been placing relatively heavier emphasis in helping farmers in this region improve their natural resource base, achieve food security, improve their access to inexpensive inputs (especially fertilizer and seed) and form initial market connections.

Moreover, ICRISAT aligns its programs closely with regional priorities and works in concert with major regional initiatives, in order to mainstream the Institute’s research-for-development outputs through their delivery mechanism systems.

Also discussed were the potential of the country’s agricultural sector and impacts expected from work being done by research institutes in the country. Emphasizing Mali’s dynamic agriculture sector, the Minister affirmed his Government’s support, and particularly the Department of Agriculture’s commitment to ICRISAT’s regional hub in Mali.

Focusing on climate change issues, F Waliyar discussed the Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and Seeing is Believing West Africa (SIBWA) programs, as part of the Institute’s efforts to provide farmers with accurate information. “We support and encourage ICRISAT’s research programs on adaptation to climate change,” said the Minister, promising to meet with ICRISAT’s remote sensing and geographic information systems scientists to explore partnership opportunities related to climate change.

back to top Back to top

ABI shares PPP models at agribusiness incubation seminar

Karuppanchetty (2nd from right) at the DRR seminar.

ICRISAT shared its models on engaging the private sector to accelerate the adoption and impact of research innovations at a seminar on Agribusiness Incubation on 28 October, organized by the Directorate of Rice Research (DRR), Rajendranagar, Hyderabad.

ICRISAT was represented by Karuppanchetty, COO, Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program of AIP, whose presentation highlighted ABI’s incubation models, partnership opportunities through co-business incubation, and seed business incubation activities. ABI client B Rami Reddy of B R Cooking Sprays shared his experiences as an incubatee.

The program was chaired by Project Director BC Viraktamath and Crop Improvement Principal Scientist N Shobha Rani. The seminar was attended by more than 40 scientists, heads of departments and technology management team.

back to top Back to top

ICRISAT Mali holds Open Field Days

(Left) Sorghum varieties on display during the open field day. (Right) Exhibits of ICRISAT partners.

October 26 and 27 were Open Field Days at ICRISAT-Mali, wherein doors were opened to partners, farmers and sister institutes AVRDC, ICRAF and ILRI to showcase their respective innovative technologies. It was also during the event that Samanko was formally introduced as the new regional hub for West and Central Africa (WCA) region.

The first day saw visits by 15 representatives from embassies and partner institutes such as the Institut du Sahel (INSAH) and IER and the national media. The second day was reserved for partners, farmers and journalists, where about 70 persons attended.

F Waliyar addresses the visitors.

Technologies and varieties under development were displayed through leaflets, videos, stands and field presentations. The visitors appreciated the wide range of varieties and hybrids of sorghum, groundnut, pearl millet, maize, rice, cowpea, vegetables and fruit trees and technologies on display, paving the way for new collaborations and improving existing ones.


back to top
Back to top

Partner and farmer exchange visit held in Koutiala, Mali

Farmers evaluating sorghum varieties and scoring them for traits.

Farmers from sorghum growing areas in Mali and Burkina Faso participated in a farmer exchange visit in Koutiala (Mali) on 22 and 23 October to evaluate varietal and agronomy trials and exchange information on sorghum production.

The visit was organized by partner NGO Association d’Eveil au Developpement Durable (AMEDD), Institut d’Economie Rural (IER) and farmers from Oumarbougou and Nampossela as part of the HOPE and PROMISO 2 projects.

Among the participants were farmers and representatives of farmer organizations, namely Union Locale des Producteurs de Cereales (ULPC), Union des Agriculteurs de Cercle de Tominian (UACT), l’Union des Groupements pour la Commercialisation des Produits Agricoles dans la Boucle du Mouhoun (UGCPA), Burkina Faso, Association des Organisations Professionnelles des Producteurs (AOPP), Kati; representatives of Action Contre la Faim (Kita) and World Vision (Kolokani); representatives of “Yeredon”, Koutiala’s rural radio; ICRISAT and IER scientists and technicians; representatives of AMEDD; and Madame Hadiza Lamien, M&E and gender specialist for the HOPE project.

(Left) A trainer farmer from Nampossela explains about soil fertility management. (Right) Farmers engrossed in a video on intercropping in Koutiala.

Sixteen tall and 16 short-type sorghum varieties and hybrids developed by ICRISAT and IER were evaluated and scored for important traits, such as lodging, maturity date and yield potential. This was followed by videos on intercropping and composting.

The group also visited two farmer field school trials on integrated Striga and soil fertility management for sorghum. The visitors expressed interest in testing and using the sorghum varieties, hybrids and crop management practices.

Fred Rattunde, a sorghum breeder participating in the visit, encouraged the farmers to experiment with the practices and share their experiences with colleagues in their locations.

back to top Back to top

HOPE and WFP seal agreement with farmers’ cooperative in Tanzania

Stakeholders at the launch of the forward contract agreement between P4P and Kwamotoro farmers’ Sacco.

The HOPE project in partnership with the Purchase for Progress (P4P) of the World Food Program (WFP) in Tanzania, met with members of Kwamotoro farmers’ Sacco (cooperative) on 29 October in Kwamotoro Division, Kondoa District, Tanzania, to discuss modalities of initiating a forward contract agreement between them.

The agreement, expected to be signed by 27 November, entails Kwamotoro farmers’ Sacco to deliver 150 tons of white sorghum grain to WFP at a negotiated price and at a specific future time and place. Among the stakeholders participating in the meeting were committee members of the cooperative; Dominique Leclercq, P4P Tanzania Country Director representing WFP; Donald Munisi, District Agricultural and Livestock Development Office (DALDO); Peter Sulumo (Selien Agricultural Research Institute of the Department of Research Development), Tanzania; and Patrick Audi (ICRISAT-ESA). Government administrators including the Divisional Executive Director, politicians and NGOs from the local area also participated in the launch.

At the meeting chaired by the DALDO representative, participants were informed of the activities of P4P and HOPE project in Kondoa District. This was followed by focus group discussions on the current performance of the farmers’ Sacco in terms of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). The cooperative constitutes about 58 smaller farmer groups consisting of an average of 20 members each. Each group, mainly engaged in farming, small business enterprises and informal credit, is managed by a committee of officials elected every three years. The main crops cultivated are maize, sunflower, sorghum, finger millet, chickpea, green gram and pigeonpea.

The HOPE project has increased awareness about improved sorghum varieties like Macia, Pato and Sila among a high proportion of farmers, some of whom have adopted the varieties. However, their key constraints to production are inadequate knowledge about sorghum agronomy and post-harvest handling, bird damage (especially Quelea quelea), storage pests, poor grain prices, and limited household uses of sorghum grain.

It was agreed that the HOPE project would train farmers on improved sorghum agronomy and provide the cooperative with 2000 kg of seed to benefit 500 farmers. Each farmer will receive 4 kg of seed, enough to plant one acre, on credit and will be required to pay back in kind 8 kg of grain to the project. The estimated sorghum grain output from 500 farmers is about 200 tons.

Under the contract agreement, farmers will plant sorghum in January 2012 and will deliver the grain to WFP in August 2012. Although WFP proposed a purchase price of Tshs 300 (US$0.2) per kg of sorghum grain, D Leclercq said the price in the contract would be based mainly on the production cost of sorghum grain and historical price movements with the possibility of an upward price adjustment of 10%, if grain prices for next year are abnormally higher than expected. It was also agreed that the HOPE project will link Kwamotoro farmers’ Sacco with the East African Breweries Limited (EABL) for the purchase of the remaining 50 tons produced by the farmers’ cooperative.

This year, the cooperative has already fulfilled its contract to deliver 120 tons of maize to P4P, for which they have been paid Tshs 390 (US$0.16) per kg.

back to top Back to top

Pigeonpea project launched in Uttarakhand

N Nadarajan, Director, Indian Institute of Pulses Research (4th from left), launches the project.

Cultivating pigeonpea enables sustainable development in areas that are sensitive to environmental degradation. Recognizing this potential, a three-year project titled “An assured source of income through pigeonpea smallholder farmers of Uttarakhand” was launched in Almora, Uttarakhand on 8 October.

The project funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Uttarakhand, will be run by the Department of Agriculture, Government of Uttarakhand; Vivekananda Parvatiya Krishi Anusandhan Sansthan (VPKAS), Almora; and ICRISAT.

It aims to enhance the food and nutritional security and income of poor farmers (especially women and children) and conserve the environment by controlling soil erosion in the hilly marginal and wastelands of Uttarakhand.

Project members, officials and farmer representatives during the project launch in Almora.

Inaugurating the launch,
N Nadarajan, Director, Indian Institute of Pulses Research (IIPR), Kanpur, expressed delight at the lush pigeonpea crop growing in the hills of Uttarakhand and complimented ICRISAT for introducing a new concept in hill agriculture. He also mentioned that ICAR would soon be involved in promoting extra short-duration pigeonpeas in other hilly states of India. KB Saxena and MI Vales represented ICRISAT at the launch.

JC Bhatt, Director, VPKAS (Almora), said that pigeonpea has been a surprise success and that it would greatly benefit farmers in the region. Farmer representatives from two villages revealed that the crop had yielded 300% more profit compared to paddy and about 400% more compared to finger millet.

KB Saxena interacting with farmer representatives.

Strategies to formally initiate and enhance pigeonpea seed production under the project were discussed at a follow-up meeting chaired by JC Bhatt on 9 October at the VPKAS experimental farm, Hawalbagh, attended by local and regional members of the National Seed Corporation (NSC). Gynendra Singh, Senior Scientist (Pulses) explained that under the current project, the State Agriculture Department would plant 5,000, 10,000, 25,000, 50,000 and 100,000 hectares with the improved pigeonpea variety VL Arhar-1 in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Under the project, the State Agriculture Department will request NSC to produce foundation seed of VL Arhar-1 to be used for the expansion of pigeonpea in the region, while ICRISAT and VPKAS will provide breeders’ seed. There is also interest in developing even earlier maturing pigeonpea varieties that would fit better in the region’s cropping system. Super-early materials developed by ICRISAT that flower one to two weeks earlier than the current variety are now being tested at Almora and are looking very promising.

back to top Back to top