No. 1494 25 November 2011

Pursuing IMOD through agribusiness incubation
ICRISAT leads training program on agribusiness incubation for SSA

Participants of the training program on “Strengthening the capacity of UniBRAIN – Agribusiness Innovation Incubation Consortia (AIIC) members” at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

Agricultural entrepreneurship has a vast potential to improve the productivity and income of the farm sector, leading to improved livelihoods, enhanced food and nutritional security, and inclusive and sustainable agricultural development. The promotion of entrepreneurship through agribusiness incubation facilitates job creation and helps share technological innovations from the research and development (R&D) sector with smallholder farming communities.

Aiming to promote agribusiness ventures in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) through value-chain based agribusiness incubators, ICRISAT’s Agri- Business Incubation (ABI) program under its Agribusiness Innovation Platform (AIP) organized a training program on “Strengthening the capacity of UniBRAIN – Agribusiness Innovation Incubation Consortia (AIIC) members” on 21-24 November at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

Dr Ralph von Kaufmann, Technical Coordinator, UniBRAIN-FARA, in a discussion with Dr Dar and others.

The training program primarily aimed to strengthen the capacity of AIIC members in incubator planning and management, in view of UniBRAIN’s plan to set up an African Business Incubators Network (AFBIN) similar to the Network of Indian Agri Business Incubators (NIABI) of India. The training was focused on incubator management, planning for incubation operations, client selection, setting up systems and processes, and other key aspects of setting up successful business incubators to promote entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa.

In his keynote address, Director General William Dar highlighted the need for entrepreneurship development through small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the agricultural sector which can be addressed through agribusiness incubation. “Agribusiness incubation plays a direct role in ensuring food security and poverty reduction,” he stressed. As most agribusiness incubators operate in rural areas, there is a direct impact on creating employment opportunities and income generation for the rural poor, he added. Dr Dar also chaired the session on “Discussion on leadership and host institute integration” during the training.

Dr Dar delivering the keynote address at the inaugural session of the training program.

Twenty six participants from Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN), Pan African Agribusiness and Agro Industry Consortium (PanAAC), Agro forestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE), Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA), Conseil Ouest et Centre Africain pour la Recherche et le Développement Agricoles (CORAF) and SADC joined the training program at Patancheru, which had 30 resource persons from infoDev, ISBA, STC, Trec-STEP, Technopark, Villgro, etc. who provided and shared their vast and rich experiences in agriculture and agribusiness. The training will continue at the Business Planning and Development (BPD) units of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore and Ooty.

UniBRAIN is a program of FARA supported by the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DANIDA). It is facilitated by a team of partner institutions comprising FARA Networking Support Function for Capacity Strengthening (FARA-NSF4) and its associated sub-regional organizations – ASARECA, CORAF, Centre for Coordinating Agricultural Research and Development in Southern Africa (CCARDESA), African Network for Agriculture, ANAFE, PanAAC, and ICRISAT Agri-Business Incubator (ABI).

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Creating opportunities through partnerships
ICRISAT at the Food 360° international conference

Dr Dar lighting the inaugural lamp at the Food 360° organized by FICCI in Hyderabad.

Smallholder farmers need to be exposed to experiential learning processes that will tap into the innate entrepreneurial spirit existing in the agricultural community. Modernizing the agro-food system can be a strong engine for direct and indirect growth and poverty reduction in the drylands,” said Director General William Dar speaking at the Food 360°, a two-day international conference-cumexhibition on agribusiness and food processing. organized in Hyderabad by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Andhra Pradesh on 21-22 November.

With the theme “Feeding opportunities through partnerships,” ICRISAT was one of the knowledge partners at the event. ICRISAT also actively participated in the technical sessions and panel discussions. Kiran Sharma, CEO, Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP), served as a panelist during the session on “Pooling the talent for agribusiness and food processing industries: Challenges ahead.” He gave an overview of the mission and the activities of AIP in promoting the cause of smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs. He highlighted the need for skills development and providing handholding support to entrepreneurs in the food and agribusiness, through food and agribusiness incubators.

Dignitaries releasing the agribusiness roadmap at the conference.

Saikat Datta Mazumdar, COO, NutriPlus Knowledge (NPK) Program, chaired the session on “Legal framework and food safety and management systems.” During the discussion, he elucidated on the new food safety challenges and opportunities facing the Indian food and agro processing industry,
in the context of implementing the regulations of the
new Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA).

A number of aspiring entrepreneurs visited the ICRISAT exhibition stall and showed keen interest in AIP’s on-going activities. The Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program of AIP also facilitated the visit of a delegation from FARA and officials from research and educational institutions, industry and other agencies from five countries of sub-Saharan Africa to the conference with the primary aim of exploring partnerships and future collaborations with their Indian counterparts in the agribusiness incubation industry.

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South-South partnership key to overcoming poverty in the drylands

At the World Agricultural Forum (WAF) 2011 congress in Brussels on 28 November – 1 December, ICRISAT will lead representatives from world agriculture organizations in a discussion on South-South collaboration to fight poverty in the drylands tropics.

Through a session on “The Role of South-South Partnerships,” ICRISAT will address opportunities to boost collaboration between India and Africa. It will focus on finding new ways to feed the growing global population and in improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers particularly in the drylands of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

“We believe that South-South partnership is the key to solving hunger and poverty and in stimulating a greener, more productive drylands,” says Director General William Dar, moderator of the WAF session on South-South partnerships in the afternoon of 30 November.

Dr Dar adds, “We intend to explore the synergy and leverage of India and Africa working together and putting greater investment and involvement in agricultural development. Small farmers need more attention and resources to succeed.”

Dr Nigel Poole, ICRISAT Governing Board Chair and lead organizer/ panelist of the session, stresses that “South-South collaboration will build upon the already strong and successful India-Africa partnership to scale up their respective roles as driver of prosperity and economic opportunities in the dryland tropics.”

“India shares similar poverty and infrastructure issues with Africa, so when successful solutions are found they need to be transferred if we really want to implement change. Reaching out to the rural poor of India and Africa with our research and technologies is a key challenge,” adds Dr Poole.

During the session, Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General for Research, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) will speak on success and innovation in Indian agriculture that may be applied to developing countries in Africa. On the other hand, Dr Said Silim, Director of ICRISATEastern and Southern Africa (ESA) will highlight agricultural research-for-development success stories such as improved pigeonpea varieties, meeting markets for sorghum, groundnuts for export, integrated watershed management, and PPP to improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods.

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Workshop on developing water-enabled sustainable agricultural growth in Karnataka

Dr Dar addressing participants during the brainstorming workshop at Patancheru.

As a follow up to the India Economic Summit at Mumbai, a brainstorming workshop to discuss waterenabled sustainable agricultural growth of Karnataka was held on 18-19 November at ICRISAT-Patancheru. Nearly 55 participants representing the Water Resource Group (WRG) of the World Economic Forum, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Government of Karnataka, state agricultural universities, private companies, IWMI and ICRISAT scientists took part in the workshop.

Addressing the participants, Director General William Dar emphasized that while securing water for sustainable development, it is necessary to simultaneously achieve the multiple goals of food, nutrition, economic and environment security for the rural poor.“ The second Green Revolution or the Evergreen revolution, as Dr Swaminathan calls it, will be natural resource-based unlike the first one which was seed-based,” he added.

Dr KV Raju, Economic Advisor to the Chief Minister of Karnataka, lauded ICRISAT for the help it was rendering to poor dryland farmers through the Bhoochetana and Suvarna Bhoomi Yojane projects. He stressed “the need to change the way we manage our natural resources as 65% of the people in Karnataka derive their livelihood from natural resources while their contribution to the state’s GDP is merely 17%.

The two-day deliberations saw discussions on the potential public-private partnership (PPP) pilots in two command areas in Karnataka covering 100,000 hectare each, for which ICRISAT and IWMI will prepare a detailed action plan and strategies to operationalize the pilots with the help of WRG, IFC and private companies such as Jain Irrigation System, SAB Miller and others.

The pilots will concentrate on approaches to enhance water use efficiency (WUE) by reducing transmission losses, crop diversification, improved seeds and balanced nutrient management practices along with productivity improvement of livestock with the help of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

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ICRISAT at the India Economic Summit

The India Economic Summit 2011 with the theme “Sustainable Growth Summit” organized by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Mumbai on 12 November provided ICRISAT with a forum to network with industries working in watershed management, leaders of industry and representatives from the International Finance Corporation and Water Resources Group (WRG). Dr SP Wani represented ICRISAT at the summit.

The plenary was attended by industry leaders from Godrej and Boyce India, Alcatel-Lucent France, Pepsico India, Intellecap, SELCO Solar Light, Jain Irrigation Systems, United Phosphorus, Shree Cement, Suzlon Energy and representatives from the Governments of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

A private session on “Implementing India’s Water Vision 2030” and a special session on Karnataka Water were also organized by WRG on the occasion. Prior to this and as part of the initiative with the Government of Karnataka, a preliminary workshop was held in Bengaluru to discuss water-enabled sustainable agricultural growth in Karnataka. These deliberations were scaled up and discussed with industry partners during the India Economic Summit.

The Minister of Water Resources Mr BS Bommai represented the Government of Karnataka along with Mr D Satya Murty, Principal Secretary, Water Resources, GoK. A follow-up of the initiatives of GoK and WRG, based on the report submitted by McKinsey, the pilot initiatives are proposed for Karnataka to manage agricultural water sustainably.

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Bayer Bioscience hands over contribution to the Pearl Millet Consortium

Satish Patil (Country Head, Bayer Bioscience, India) presents a cheque to Dr Dar. Also seen are Ms AK Jayalekha (Lead Breeder, Pearl Millet, Bayer Bioscience) and CLL Gowda.

Bayer Bioscience Pvt Ltd, a leading seed company in India and one of the 25 members (24 in India and 1 overseas) of ICRISAT’s Pearl Millet Hybrid Parents Research Consortium, made an additional voluntary contribution of Rs 500,000 (about US$ 10,000) to the consortium this year. The company has made use of ICRISAT-bred materials in developing hybrids for various agro-ecoregions, the most impressive of which is hybrid 9444.

Bayer Bioscience provides annual grants to ICRISAT’s pearl millet improvement program and participates in field evaluation of trials and nurseries and impact assessment.

Hybrid 9444 was developed on an ICRISATbred male-sterile line and is widely cultivated as a dual-purpose rainy season crop in northern India. It is the most popular hybrid for summer season cultivation in parts of Gujarat and Haryana where air temperatures during flowering can often exceed 42oC. It continues to maintain its very high level of resistance to downy mildew, despite being cultivated for over 10 years and is perhaps one of the very few hybrids also resistant to smut and less susceptible to leaf blast.

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11th Asian Maize Conference held in China

NEARLY 375 SCIENTISTS from 22 maize-growing countries worldwide participated in the 11th Asian Maize Conference (11th AMC) with the theme Addressing climate change effects and meeting maize demand for Asia held in Nanning, Guangxi Province of China, on 7-11 November. The Conference was jointly organized by the International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), and hosted by the Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GXAAS) and the Guangxi Maize Research Institute (GMRI). Research and development specialists from public and private institutions, scientists, resource persons and representatives of seed companies in Asia, and non-governmental and sub-regional institutions attended the conference.

The sessions dealt with abiotic stress tolerant and biotic stress resistance, enhancing yield potential of tropical maize, novel tools/technologies for enhancing productivity, nutritionally enriched and specialty maize, sustainable intensification, value chains and post-harvest management, seed system, and participatory plant breeding and public-private partnerships.

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ICRISAT-Philippine NARES partnership

As part of the active collaboration between ICRISAT and the Philippine national agricultural research and extension system (NARES), an 11-member delegation representing state colleges and universities and research institutions visited ICRISATPatancheru on 21-25 November (left photo). Later joined by Ms. Maria Lourdes P Orijola, Assistant Secretary for Technology Transfer, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) (right photo), the team’s primary goal was to learn from ICRISAT’s sweet sorghum research and commercialization program as a key part of making bio-energy and livelihood opportunities work for the poor, and the Institute’s agribusiness incubation program.

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