No. 1498 23 December 2011

Laying the groundwork for South-South collaboration
2nd Africa-India Agricultural Economic Mission concludes successfully

Participants of the 2nd Africa-India Agricultural Economic Mission during the Business to Business (B2B) meeting in Hyderabad.

In a world where political and economic ties are changing rapidly, the world is looking at South- South partnership to boost business opportunities, and find new ways of feeding the growing global population and improving the livelihoods of marginalized, resource-poor smallholder farmers, as was evident during the 2nd Africa-India Agricultural Economic Mission.

The 2nd Africa-India Agricultural Economic Mission organized by Brussels-based EMRC International and ICRISAT successfully concluded in Hyderabad on 16 December after five days of deliberations that brought under a single platform African and Indian decision makers, experts and business community. It culminated in the signing of over 30 Letters of Intent between African and Indian industries in the areas of seed production, food processing equipment, biofuels, farming and technology transfer, and the sharing of a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the techniques and products available to create sustainable agricultural growth.

The 25-member mission from Nigeria, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Chad, Malawi and South Africa comprised of academicians, planners and strategists, top executives and technical directors of private firms brought together by the economic need and the desire to ensure sustainable development in Africa.

KK Sharma of ICRISAT and Idit Miller of EMRC International at the B2B meeting.

“The initiative will see better policies, more effective institutions, improved infrastructure, and better access to markets and to higher quality inputs, particularly for dryland farmers in India and Africa. This is a platform for focused and systematic partnership towards stronger and inclusive development cooperation between India and Africa,” said ICRISAT Director General William D Dar, speaking about the mission.

The B2B events of the mission held at Hotel Golconda in Hyderabad on 15 December served as a perfect platform and unique business opportunity for Indian agroindustrial enterprises to showcase their products and services and develop a positive association with the high-profile African delegation.

Says Mr Muhammed Nurallah Abubakar, Executive Director, Livestock and Fisheries Development and Marketing Company, Federal Ministry of Nigeria of the B2B meetings, “It was an eye-opener for me. I explored various business opportunities in India. Our population is far less than that of India but still lots of people sleep hungry. I want to use the technologies of India and implement them in our country.”

“B2B meetings are essential and one of the main reasons for taking part in these economic missions. One needs to be introduced to the most fitting business partner,” explained Idit Miller, EMRC International’s Vice-President and Managing Director.

“This mission emphasizes the need for private and public sector dialogue and partnerships,” she added.

Apart from their visit to ICRISAT-Patancheru, the mission visited prominent agricultural businesses such as the Parle Agro Fruit Processing Centre, Frigerio Allana Fruit and Meat Processing Centre at Zaheerabad, Nandan Cleantec, Best Engineering Technologies, Sri Biotech, Jain Irrigation and Vibha Seeds.

Going by its success, EMRC is proposing to increase the frequency of these missions to at least twice a year to cover more African countries and regional dialogues in India.

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Past revisited, old friendships renewed at ICRISAT’s 1st alumni gathering

The past and the present of ICRISAT meld at the alumni

It was a happy and nostalgic event at ICRISAT-Patancheru on 17 December as friends from the past met for fellowship, fun and feasting at the first ICRISAT Alumni Get-together. The brainchild of CLL Gowda, MV Shiv Kumar and a few other long-standing stalwarts of ICRISAT, the idea came to life through the formation of a website which saw staff members, both past and present, registering for the event.

Notable among the 120 participants were Sam Ambrose, now 84 years old and SK Sharma, all of 73, who holds the prestigious employee number 001. SK Sharma was honoured during the occasion with a shawl. Also present were Peter Craufurd and T Watanabe, who unwittingly represented the international community of ICRISAT by their presence.

After Dr Gowda and Mr Shiv Kumar welcomed the attendees, a two-minute silence was observed when the names of 120 staff members who had passed away over the years were read out. A lively session of hand waving and applause followed as names of those present were called out. Mr Ambrose, Mr PM Menon, and Mr DS Bisht gave inspiring responses to the occasion.

Thereafter, it was a lively session of musical chairs, lime and spoon race, balloon sandwich, and tambola, with participants and spectators letting themselves go! Not withstanding the generous amounts of snacks and free drinks, the sumptuous lunch spread made it a bit difficult for some to drag themselves to the Konark Wheel for a group photograph, with photographer L Vidyasagar perched atop a fork-lift, recording the happy faces. Murli Sharma and team (happily assisted by the former Visitors Services Officer Deepak Pawar) provided entertainment and information with the latest video about the Institute and field trips.

The very enjoyable day came to a close with tea and with a promise to continue the tradition of meeting at regular intervals.

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Systemwide Livestock Programme (SLP) team visits Zimbabwe

Prof Kent Olson from Minnesota University talks to farmers in Nkayi.

A team consisting of Diego Valbuena (ILRI), Lieven Claessens (ICRISAT), and Prof Kent Olson (Department of Applied Economics, Minnesota University) visited ICRISAT-Bulawayo from 28 November to 4 December to discuss research results and outputs related to the Systemwide Livestock Programme (SLP) phase 1, and to start developing an approach for phase 2. SLP aims to better understand the tradeoffs in crop residue use in: millet, sorghum and maize-based systems in West Africa; maizebased system in Eastern and Southern Africa; and wheat/rice-based systems in South Asia.

The visit began with a workshop in Nkayi which saw 20 farmers discussing preliminary SLP survey results. Split into two groups, one discussed means to improve crop production, emphasizing on access to improved seed and agricultural knowledge, while the other deliberated on improving livestock production. They felt access to inputs and animal health and feed were of major concern. Improving cropping technologies for more and higher quality crop residues was viewed as critical to solving livestock feed shortages.

Farmers’ opinion was sought on where they see their farming systems evolving in 10 years. Of the four choices – (1) expansion of croplands and livestock; (2) intensification of existing croplands and livestock; (3) take up new products for niche markets and commercialize; and (4) move out of agriculture–all of them opted for option 2.

In another workshop hosted by the local government for farmers from a different village and district and provincial level support services, discussions centered on promising technical, institutional and policy options with regards to crop livestock intensification. Methods to improve soil fertility and crop diversification were identified as important possibilities to explore with support from multidisciplinary teams to capacitate service providers on crop-livestock intensification and train farmers on relevant technical issues. The need to strengthen local by-laws for better use of cropland and rangeland and institutionalizing effective forms of communication among stakeholders, particularly research, extension and development, was seen as critical. A delegation preparing a project proposal for submission to the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), joined the meeting.

As part of the visit, Prof Kent Olson held a seminar on “Using Stochastic Dominance to Analyze the Profitability of Organic Cropping Systems in Southwestern Minnesota.” This was followed by a visit to the Dimbangombe Ranch where the benefits of kraaling (keeping cattle or domestic animals in enclosures) overnight for a week –riverbeds being rehabilitated and degraded land being converted into productive range and croplands – were demonstrated

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Rainfed rice-chickpea project farmers and trainers on exposure visit to Patancheru

Mamta Sharma explains a point to farmers and trainers, while Suresh Pande waits to elaborate during the exposure visit.

Fifty farmers and site coordinators involved in projects funded by the National Food Security Mission-Pulses (NFSM) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India on Introducing and enhancing the chickpea production in rainfed rice fallow lands (RRFL) of Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh and chickpea and other crops (linseed, lentil, peas and mustard) production in Jharkhand states of India following improved crop production technologies visited ICRISAT-Patancheru on 12-16 December. It was an opportunity to share their experiences and seek the best solutions to problems concerning chickpea production.

Welcoming the participants, CLL Gowda, Research Program Director – Grain Legumes, explained ICRISAT’s commitment to extending improved technologies to RRFL to help increase returns from pulse production. Project Coordinator Suresh Pande, on the other hand, gave an overview of the training program, and reiterated the need to be open to new technologies and contribute to new developments.

Elaborating on the aim, objectives and methodology for the expansion of improved production and protection technologies for chickpea and other crops to farmers, Dr Pande revealed that the technology generated by the projects had reached over 7000 farmers in 10 districts (Jabalpur, Damoh, Rewa, Satna in Madhya Pradesh; Raipur, Durg, Kabirdham, Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh and Palamu and Ranchi in Jharkhand). Site coordinators SK Rao (NFSM-MP), RN Sharma (NFSM-CG), and Yogesh Kumar (DST-JKD) highlighted the constraints to and opportunities for chickpea in RRFL in their target districts. SK Rao also spoke on the village level seed system.

Farmers and trainees were exposed to chickpea research and development at ICRISAT (PM Gaur), disease management (Mamta Sharma), insect pest management (HC Sharma), Integrated Pest Management (GV Ranga Rao), Rhizobium treatment (P Humayun), nutrient management (Girish Chandra), seed business venture (SM Karuppanchetty/Aravazhi), and other activities related to the project. Two trainees from the Philippines (Franklin Bawang and Nathaniel Dimog) also took part in the exposure visit.

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Engaging the private sector in Zimbabwe’s goat sector

Qonda Mathe, buyer of goats for Bulawayo Abattoir, speaks on prices and quality as farmers listen keenly.

Representatives from Bulawayo Abattoir – one of the largest cattle slaughter houses in Bulawayo – together with ICRISAT and local governments in Gwanda and Beitbridge districts, held one-day meetings to explore the possibility of collaborating with small-scale goat producers. The company’s recently launched initiative “Goats to Market” recognizes the huge potential in goats and aims to promote goat farming in rural communities in the country by helping enhance farmers’ capacity to improve the quality and productivity of their herds and to increase off-take and incomes. The districts are the most prolific goat production areas in Zimbabwe.

Previous interventions through the ICRISATmanaged LiLi: Markets Project, scaled out by the EU ORAP-led project on “Improved goat production and market participation for food security and sustainable livelihoods in Zimbabwe” had facilitated innovation platforms to bring all stakeholders together to define priority interventions. Lack of market infrastructure was a key bottleneck. Though sale pens have been established in a few wards with NGO initiative, farmers felt they were still underutilized and called for better coordination with market actors. This area of improvement also involves issues of adequate, accurate market information, and grading knowledge and transparency in price determination.

To address these issues and establish a clear precedence for future collaboration, the following resolutions were made: farmers would be able to choose between two marketing channels – auctions and private sales between local communities and the Bulawayo Abattoir; and community representatives would be trained on grading and standards, supported by the Bulawayo Abattoir. Local authorities confirmed their willingness to support the different market channels.

ICRISAT will further facilitate the involvement of the key actors, to revise their roles and define future activities for creating trustful relationships between the farming communities and the private sector.

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SIMLESA review and planning meet held in Dar es Salaam

Participants at the SIMLESA review and planning meeting in Dar es Salaam.

The annual review and planning meeting of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)-funded Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume cropping systems for food security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) project was held at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 4-6 December to review the progress made during year 2 and devise work plans for year 3.

Among the participants were SIMLESA project coordinator Mekuria Mulugetta; ICRISAT’s Ganga Rao and Emmanuel Monyo; CIMMYT’s SEP Director Bekele Shiferaw; ACIAR’s representative; Assistant Director of Crop Research, Department of Research and Development (DRD) Hussein Mansoor; CIMMYT scientists; Queensland Alliance for Agriculture, Food and Innovation (QAAFI); Agricultural Research Council– South Africa; NARS legume and maize breeders, and socio-economists and agronomists from the Tanzanian NARS – Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and Ilonga Agricultural Research Institute (IARI).

During the meeting, NARS partners reported on the progress made under targeting, markets and value chains; crop management, including conservation agriculture; and maize-legume breeding. Ganga Rao highlighted the progress made in legume breeding and seed systems, including seed roadmaps and ICRISAT’s contribution to the project.

Emmanuel Monyo shared his experiences on groundnut varieties and seed systems that are working in ESA countries based on progress made in the Tropical Legumes-II project.

Ganga Rao also revealed gaps in legume breeding and seed system activities in Tanzania during 2011, and made suggestions for inclusion in the 2012 work plans. Tanzanian NARS partners presented finalized workplans and budgets for the project objectives at this meeting which saw active participation by stakeholders in project management and coordination issues. The regional review and planning meeting and mid-term review meeting are planned from 19-22 March 2012 in Arusha, Tanzania.

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Descriptive case study on ICRISAT bags Outstanding Award

A descriptive case study titled Making Agricultural Research Sustainable: A Leadership Perspective focusing on ICRISAT’s leadership and its role in reviving ICRISAT was conferred the “Outstanding Award” at the “National Convention on Responsible Leadership: Sharing of Case studies” held at XLRI School of Business and Human Resources, Jamshedpur, India, in conjunction with the Centre for Global Management & Responsible Leadership.

The study was conducted by Sunita Mehta, Senior Assistant Professor, Vishwa Vishwani Institute of Systems and Management along with Wg Cdr SK Sharma, COO, Indian Air Force, Centre for Leadership and Behavioral Sciences. It was a detailed follow up of their earlier study,Turnaround of ICRISAT: Transformational Leadership of Dr William D Dar – A Case Study that had bagged the 2nd prize in the Indian School of Business (ISB) and Richard Ivey School of Business (Ivey) Case Competition 2011.

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