No. 1495 2 December 2011

At the World Ag Forum 2011 in Brussels
ICRISAT shares solutions to better feed the world, leads session on South-South collaboration

At the WAF 2011 Congress: (L to R) DG William Dar; Governing Board Chair Nigel Poole; ICAR Deputy Director General for Education, Arvind Kumar; Said Silim; and Peter Ninnes.

As demand for food grows across the world, so do opportunities for business expansion: how then should we re-think agricultural production? The 2011 Congress of the World Agricultural Forum (WAF) with the theme “Re-thinking agriculture to sustain a growing global population” held from 28 November to 1 December in Brussels addressed new ways of feeding the growing global population, and provoked the generation of ideas to solve real problems within a particular political environment.

At the WAF 2011 Congress this week, ICRISAT has been actively engaged in the deliberations on re-thinking the global agricultural systems to better serve the growing global population.

The only CGIAR Center invited to the Congress, ICRISAT also organized and led one of the breakout sessions on the theme “The Role of South-South Partnerships” held in the afternoon of 30 November. The session was moderated by Director General William Dar, with the support of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Deputy Director General for Education, Arvind Kumar. Governing Board Chair Nigel Poole, along with Peter Ninnes, Said Silim and Alina Paul also represented ICRISAT at the Congress.

At the WAF breakout session on “The Role of South-South Partnerships.”

A number of key issues raised during the breakout session were particularly relevant to the overall theme of the Congress. At the plenary session, Dr Dar also stimulated some very interesting and lively discussions on the role of smallholder agriculture in producing food to sustain a growing population that will exceed 9 billion people, requiring a 70% increase in food production over the next 40 years. The plenary session concluded that with appropriate technologies and supportive policies that link farmers to markets, food production targets will be met.

(L to R) Dr Dar; WAF Communication Consultant Evie Soames; 2011 Congress Organization Committee Chairman, Kenneth Baker; Gundumala Thippeswamy, Member of Legislative Council, Anantapur; Maddala Rajesh Kumar, Member of Legislative Assembly, Andhra Pradesh; and N Poole.

The critical role of agricultural research in underpinning productivity gains and environmental sustainability was highlighted repeatedly by a range of panelists. The dictum that agriculture in developing countries must be profitable for smallholder farmers and their families was supported by a number of speakers and there was considerable interest in the ICRISAT model of Inclusive Market- Oriented Development (IMOD).

In addition to the formal sessions of the Congress, ICRISAT was very active in engaging with CEOs and senior staff of a number of large multinational companies. Sandra Peterson, CEO of Bayer CropScience, singled out ICRISAT for further discussions on the subject of research collaboration and other joint activities. Ms Peterson also delivered the keynote address at the opening of the Congress and provided some very compelling reasons to support smallholder agriculture. A number of follow-up action items for further development with companies such as Bayer CropScience, BASF, Monsanto, Novozymes, Syngenta, and others, have been identified and will be pursued by senior management in the coming weeks.

With Andhra Pradesh Principal Secretary of Agriculture, Mr Naggi Reddy (2nd from left) and Prof Aldas Janaiah of ANGRAU (2nd from right).
Dr Dar with the CEO of Bayer CropScience, Sandra Peterson.

Dr Dar, in his presentation at the plenary session, also announced the launch of a fellowship program that will facilitate learning and knowledge exchanges between the private sector and ICRISAT. The concept will be further developed in a few weeks but has already been enthusiastically received by a number of executives in the private sector.

The next WAF will be held in 2013 and the State of Andhra Pradesh has expressed a strong interest in hosting the event. This week’s meeting in Brussels is the first time it has been held outside the USA.

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Agro-biodiversity for climate change resilience
CODE-WA project evaluation workshop held in Mali

Safia Sena (extreme right) and other farmer participants during a field visit in sorghum demonstration plots at Mali.

Thirty-two-year-old Safia Sena, a confident woman farmer from Ghana and a mother of five sees a better future for herself as a leader in her community, thanks to the CODE-WA (Community management of agrobiodiversity to improve resilience, yield stability and income generation in the West African climate change) project. “The project enabled us to test improved seed varieties adapted to our climate. Also, I can now confidently share my thoughts while attending meetings with men,” she says.

Safia was speaking at the CODE-WA project partners’ final evaluation workshop on 21-25 November in Mali, where 26 participants (researchers, graduate students and representatives from farmer organizations) from Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana participated.

Thanking the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) for funding the project within the initiative “Adaptation of African Agriculture to Climate Change,” WCA Director Farid Waliyar said, “Our role as researchers is to understand and explore how to enrich the portfolio of tools for farmers with more options for managing genetic and natural resources.”

The CODE-WA project has helped improve understanding of local climate variability and change in West Africa. It has characterized farmers’ agro-biodiversity management across heterogeneous communities and regions. It has also promoted new integrated genetic and natural resource management (IGNRM) options for enhanced and sustainable production systems diversification; modeling tools to improve varietal adaptation maps; and enhanced researcher-farmer and farmer-farmer linkages and knowledge exchange.

Among the project’s innovations are the development of diagnostic climate charts for project sites; use of satellite images to map and understand farmer diversity management; opposite pyramid approach for the efficient introduction of new diversification options; and wood-ash microdosing and seed soaking as simple, farmer-affordable means to achieve better early-season plant establishment.

Ali Maman Aminou of Fuma Gaskiya, a farmer organization in Niger said CODE-WA had enabled them to meet other farmer organizations in Mali, Fuma and Ghana, exposing them to new technologies and crops. “We have learned about processing methods like soja from the Ghana farmer organization. Our own farmer organization, on the other hand, has created a community radio which is now used to share information about agricultural innovations,” he said.

The participants thanked ICRISAT and project coordinator Dr Ludger Herrmann, University of Hohenheim, Germany, for their cooperation during the last four years of project implementation.

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Stakeholders’ workshop on sorghum, pearl millet and groundnut value chain development held in Nigeria

Kano State Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Baraka Sani delivering her opening address during the stakeholders’ workshop.

A three-day stakeholder workshop on sorghum, pearl millet and groundnut value chain development in Nigeria was organized by ICRISAT Kano, Nigeria on 23-25 November at the Tahir Guest Place Hotel, Kano.

Organized under the auspices of ICRISATHOPE and WASA-SP projects, the workshop was led by ICRISAT Country Representative Hakeem A Ajeigbe, ICRISAT-HOPE Regional Coordinator (Objectives 1 and 5) Jupiter Ndjeunga, and WASA National Coordinator in Nigeria Lawrence Fadjana.

The workshop was attended by more than 75 value chain participants from the policy and institutional fields and business and development services; direct value chain actors; representatives of sorghum, pearl millet and groundnut farmers’ associations in Nigeria; processors, biscuit manufacturers, oil millers, and machine fabricator; and representative of Dawanu market, the largest cereal market in West Africa.

The workshop saw presentations on the opportunities and constraints facing value chain actors and their roles and group sessions clustered by commodity to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of each of the three commodity chains.

Among the major issues raised at the workshop were: lack of consistent and reliable supply of raw grains; low access to credit; limited knowledge of agribusiness and marketing skills; poor quality standards for processed products; difficulties in registration and accreditation of small agro-enterprises; need for further research on highyielding sorghum varieties suitable for malting and poultry feed; and strategies for linking processors to supermarkets and potential large outlets.

Kano’s Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources Baraka Sani gave the opening speech, followed by Hakeem Ajeigbe’s welcome remarks. Also present were the Director of Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI); representatives of the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA), Katsina State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KTARDA), Jigawa State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (JARDA); the Director of Commerce, Kano State Ministry of Commerce Alh Kabir; Team Leader of the Nigeria Sorghum Transformation Program in Nigeria Prof Obilana; and the President of North West Agro-Input Dealer Association (NOWAIDA) Alh Saidu Zakari.

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Volunteers of the National Service of Participation visit ICRISAT-Sadoré

Ignatius Angarawai (ICRISAT, Visiting scientist) briefing volunteers and trainees during a field visit at Sadoré.

ICRISAT-Sadoré played host to 33 volunteers and 15 trainers of the National Service of Participation on 24 November. The Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment prepares these youngsters to play an active role in agro-sylvopastoralism.

The West Africa Seed Alliance (WASA) took this opportunity to explain seed production procedures and practices and impart training in agribusiness with the hope that these youngsters will return to their respective villages to advice producers and become seed sellers themselves. WASA intends to aid them in building seed distribution networks in their respective villages.

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Peace Corps future volunteers visit ICRISAT-Samanko

(Left photo) Peace Corps volunteers at ICRISAT-Samanko. (Right photo) Volunteers having a look at the demo on extraction of sweet sorghum at Mali.

Sixteen American citizens training to be Peace Corps volunteers visited ICRISAT Mali on 30 November. The visit aimed to expose the volunteers to the villages where they will undertake missions on health, nutrition and other development issues in the next two years.

The volunteers were received by Bonny Ntare, Assistant Regional Director, WCA. They were taken to sorghum demonstration fields and briefed about ICRISAT’s missions and objectives, research on groundnut, aflatoxin and methods of Striga control, and soil fertility management. There were also presentations on mini-packs of seed varieties and adaptation trials of cereal varieties developed by ICRISAT.

Currently, 165 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in Mali, working in the areas of non-formal education, environmental and agricultural conservation, health and HIV/AIDS awareness, water sanitation and hygiene promotion, and business development.

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Recent papers published by ICRISAT scientists

Gopalakrishnan S, Rao GVR, Humayun P, Rao VR, Alekhya G, Jacob S, Deepthi K, Sree Vidya M, Srinivas V, Mamatha L and Rupela OP. 2011. Efficacy of botanical extracts and entomopathogens on control of Helicoverpa armigera and Spodoptera litura. African Journal of Biotechnology 10 (73):16667-16673. ISSN 1684-5315.

Pathak P, Wani SP and Sudi R. 2011. Longterm effects of management systems on crop yield and soil physical properties of semi-arid tropics of Vertisols. Agricultural Sciences 2 (4): 435-442. ISSN 2156-8553.

Harish BG, Nagaraj N, Chandrakanth MG, Srikantha Murthy PS, Chengappa PG and Basavaraj G. 2011. Impacts and implications of MGNREGA on labour supply and income generation for agriculture in Central Dry Zone of Karnataka. Agricultural Economics Research Review 485-494. ISSN 0974-0279.

Gautami B, Pandey MK, Vadez V, Nigam SN, Ratnakumar P, Krishnamurthy L, Radhakrishnan T, Gowda MVC, Narasu ML, Hoisington DA, Knapp SJ and Varshney RK. 2011. Quantitative trait locus analysis and construction of consensus genetic map for drought tolerance traits based on three recombinant inbred line populations in cultivated groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.). Molecular Breeding 1-16. ISSN 1572-9788.

Varshney RK, Paulo MJ, Grando S, Eeuwijk FA van, Keizer LCP, Ceccarelli S, Kilian A, Baum M and Graner A. 2012. Genome wide association analyses for drought tolerance related traits in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Field Crops Research 126 (1):171-180.

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