No. 1499 30 December 2011

Pearl millet workshops on biofortification, adoption and knowledge sharing held in Patancheru

Participants of the pearl millet workshops held at Patancheru.

The demand for millets (mainly pearl millet) is likely to increase by 39% in the drylands. Strong and sustained interventions are needed to deal with changing realities in the face of population growth, malnutrition and climate change. Workshops held at Patancheru this week looked at these issues from different angles.

ICRISAT hosted a day-long meet on 21 December at Patancheru to discuss the performance of pearl millet biofortification materials grown during the 2011 rainy season and to develop plans for the 2012 crop season. Twenty-four researchers, both from public and private sector organizations, participated.

Welcoming the participants, Peter Craufurd, Research Program Director–Resilient Dryland Systems, spoke of the 2 billion people who suffer from micronutrient malnutrition globally. He urged researchers to come up with nutrient-dense crop cultivars which in turn can be integrated with natural resource management technologies to produce food crops that meet human nutritional needs in the era of global climate change. Meanwhile, Pfeiffer Wolfgang, Head Product Development, HarvestPlus, discussed operational models available for the development and delivery of biofortified pearl millet.

Peter Craufurd speaks on nutrient-dense crop cultivars at the biofortification workshop. Also seen are (L to R) Kumara Charyulu, KN Rai and Pfeiffer Wolfgang.

The technical session consisted of presentations by KN Rai on Breeding biofortified pearl millet, and by IS Khairwal on Biofortified pearl millet delivery, followed by center-wise presentations from public and private sector partners. The deliberations focused on identifying improved versions of a high-iron (Fe) variety ICTP 8203 with still higher Fe levels for fast-track commercialization, and promising hybrids and breeding lines with high iron levels for multilocation re-evaluation in 2012.

The work plan session was chaired by OP Yadav, Project Coordinator, All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project (AICPMIP). M Govindaraj finalized the 2012 trials and nurseries in consultation with partners. It was encouraging to note that the private sector collaboration expanded further as six new seed companies joined in the conduct of the HarvestPlus pearl millet trials in 2012.

Tracking adoption

(L to R) MCS Bantilan addresses the participants at the workshop on tracking adoption. Also seen are OP Yadav and KN Rai.

In another one-day workshop on “Tracking adoption of improved pearl millet cultivars in India” held on 22 December at Patancheru, around 31 experts from AICPMIP centers, State Agricultural Universities (SAUs), Hybrid Parents Research Consortium (HPRC) members, and ICRISAT economists and pearl millet breeders participated. The activity was part of the project on Tracking Varietal Change for Future Assessment of the Impact of Crop Genetic Improvement Research in South Asia (TRIVSA), jointly conducted by the Research Programs on Markets, Institutions and Policies (MIP) and Dryland Cereals.

The workshop aimed to identify major pearl millet cultivars and traits preferred by farmers in major states of India where they are grown and to assess the extent of diffusion and rate of cultivar-specific adoption. Research Program Director for MIP, MCS Bantilan, and KN Rai explained the importance of the exercise. During the first session, Dr Bantilan and Kumara Charyulu discussed the project’s progress, especially the case of pearl millet. Major cultivars and traits for breeding for both global and Indian perspectives were discussed by SK Gupta and OP Yadav, respectively. Insights from ICRISAT-HOPE project baseline surveys and pearl millet marketing and value addition issues were also discussed.

In another session, preferred traits observed in each of the pearl millet growing states, major cultivars used by farmers and extent of diffusion and uptake, as well as the factors constraining higher adoption of improved pearl millet cultivars were discussed with participating AICPMIP scientists from Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh states and members of HPRC.

Digital knowledge repository

Participants of the workshop on Digital knowledge repository of pearl millet.

ICRISAT’s Knowledge Sharing and Innovation (KSI) Unit conducted a one-day workshop on “Digital knowledge repository of pearl millet” on 23 December. The workshop was attended by 22 participants from AICPMIP centers, SAUs, and pearl millet HPRC members. NT Yaduraju, Kiran Yadav and N Lavanya (NIPHM) sensitized the participants about Agropedia, crop knowledge models and management using concept mapping. The draft Pearl Millet Knowledge Model developed by the KSI team was discussed and finalized during the workshop, to be uploaded on the Agropedia.

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ICRISAT-Niamey celebrates annual day

We are one happy family: ICRISAT-Naimey staff during annual day celebrations.

ICRISAT-Niamey celebrated its annual day on 19 December at Sadoré. It was an occasion to look back on a successful year, honor staff members, and indulge in some fun and games.

The day began with Country Representative Mahamadou Gandah thanking staff members for their dedication during the year, their steadfast focus on ICRISAT’s new strategy to 2020, and changes taking place within the CGIAR.

As is the custom every year, 14 staff members were given Loyalty Awards–2 for 5 years of service; 3 for 15 and 20 years each, 5 for 25 years, and veteran Djibo Hamidou (Senior Associate, Human Resources Unit) for 30 years.

Loyalty Award honorees with Mahamadou Gandah (2nd row, 4th from left) and Salifou Abdoulkader (Head of Administration (2nd row, 5th from left).

Speaking on behalf of the awardees, Chantal Barreau thanked the ICRISAT management and welcomed new staff members (Tom Hash, Angarawai Ignatius, Rodolfo Martinez, Hame Kadi Kadi, Gaston Sangaré and recently Mensah Romeo), and expressed the need for more capacity building programs to improve staff performance.

The group also visited a tree-planting site, where new staff members planted trees as well. They then split into teams for a few hours of Scrabble, Ludo, card games, crazy 8, coin on the plate, ball in the tire, bottle game, petanque, and volleyball, before they called it a day with a sumptuous meal of “mechoui” (lamb dish).

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Building capacity through the MozSAKSS training workshop

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

A training program on “Strengthening the Capacity of Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Economics (MINAG-DE) Staff on Data Management and Analysis” was organized on 5-8 December in Maputo-Namachaa, Mozambique. The course, meant to promote and strengthen evidence-based policy making in Mozambique, forms part of the ongoing project on Capacity Strengthening through Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support for Agricultural Development in Mozambique (MozSAKSS Phase II) led by Dr Kizito Mazvimavi. Twenty participants from the provinces of Nampula, Niassa, Manica, Gaza and the headquarters in Maputo and ICRISAT-Bulawayo attended the interactive training program.

“Our vision is to continue with such training to build the research capacities of MINAG-DE, from which ICRISAT research staff involved will also benefit,” said Dr Mazvimavi in his keynote address. Consultant Jayne Stack led the training program which focused on data management, analysis, and presentation and report writing and lectures on the application of SPSS in social science data analysis.

In her closing remarks, Deputy Director Lucia Luciano highlighted the need for participants to use the skills gained at the workshop to improve the quality of reports and publications for the ministry, and promised to support future collaborative capacity building initiatives between ICRISAT and DE, as well as participate in such trainings.

In Mozambique, Dr Mazvimavi also attended the official signing of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) compact for Mozambique, officiated by Prime Minister Aires Ali. The activity coincides with the launch of the Government of Mozambique’s Strategic Plan for Agricultural Sector Development (PEDSA), a new 10-year agricultural policy. MozSAKSS was designed to channel resources to MINAG to develop greater capacity to implement these policy development processes and to create strong links to the Regional SAKSS programmes (ReSAKSS) that support CAADP implementation.

At an earlier meeting in ICRISAT-Bulawayo on 23-25 November to lay the groundwork for the training workshop, representatives from MINAG-DE led by the Director of DE, Engineer Victorino Xavier, Domingos Diogo and Louis Lopez participated along with Dr Stack.

Engineer Victorino emphasized the role of MozSAKSS in capacity building of DE staff and called on the need to explore areas for future collaboration. In a one-on-one meeting with ICRISAT-Bulawayo Country Representative Andre van Rooyen, he emphasized the importance of such visits from senior staff in MINAG as this helps to improve the level of communication as well as project implementation.

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ICRISAT scientist bags BIRD Award

ICRISAT Visiting Scientist (Bioinformatics) Sarwar Azam from the Applied Genomics Laboratory (AGL) received the Bioclues Innovation Research Development (BIRD) Award 2011 at the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad on 23 December. The award was in recognition of his contribution to research during the year, especially for the breakthrough in pigeonpea genome sequencing.

The award includes an honorarium, a plaque and a certificate of appreciation given by Bhanuprakash Reddy of NIN, Durga Prasad of the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), and Jayaraman Valadi, President of

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SIMLESA review and planning meet held in Embu

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 Embu, Kenya on 8-10 December to review the progress made during year 2 and devise work plans for year 3.

A demo plot showing conservation tillage with maize-beans intercropping.


Among the participants were SIMLESA project coordinator Mekuria Mulugetta; ICRISAT’s Ganga Rao and Moses Siambi; CIMMYT’s SEP Director Bekele Shiferaw; ACIAR representative; Deputy Director–KARI Felister Makini; CIMMYT scientists; Daniel Rodriguez of Queensland Alliance for Agriculture, Food and Innovation (QAAFI); Yolisa Pakela of the Agricultural Research Council–South Africa; NARS legume and maize breeders, and socio-economists and agronomists from the Kenyan NARS [KARIKakamega (western region) and KARI-Embu (eastern region)]; chairperson of Kyeni SIMLESA Innovative Platform; and representatives from Wakala Africa Seeds, One Acre Fund, and Kenya Seed Company.

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 reported on legume breeding and seed systems (pigeonpea in the Eastern Zone and common beans, groundnut and soybean in the Western Zone), and seed roadmaps and ICRISAT’s contribution to the project. Moses Siambi shared his experiences on revolving seed scheme and seed systems that are working in ESA countries under on-going research projects. Kenyan NARS partners presented finalized work plans and budgets for the project objectives.

The participants also took part in the Kyeni field day organized under the Kyeni SIMLESA Innovative Platform which included field demonstrations on livestock integration, meteorological support to weather A demo plot showing conservation tillage with maize-beans intercropping. forecasting, soil testing, rural enterprises including fish culture, value addition and crop insurance for drought (by Kilimo Salama).

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Meeting on ICT support to Bhoochetana

Participants of the review meeting at Patancheru.

ICRISAT’s Knowledge Sharing and Innovation (KSI) Unit conducted a one-day review meeting on “ICT Support to Bhoochetana” on 26 December at Patancheru. The workshop was attended by 11 participants from Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) in Gulbarga, Raichur and Dharwar. ICRISAT has built the capacity of these KVK personnel in using ICT for agro-advisory delivery. So far, the three KVKs have broadcast around 155,503 voice messages. The participants presented the progress of their work and discussed their future assignments.

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Agri-Business Incubation Program showcased at KISAN 2011

Visitors at the ICRISAT-AIP stall at KISAN 2011 in Pune.

ICRISAT’s Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program participated in the five-day fair KISAN 2011 held at the International Exhibition Grounds in Pune from 14-18 December to promote the activities of the Agribusiness & Innovation Platform (AIP), Network of Indian Agri-Business Incubators (NIABI) and the 2nd Global Agri-Business Conference to be held on 6-8 February in New Delhi.

The fair hosted 200 stalls and received more than 160,000 visitors. ICRISAT’s stall attracted a good number of young entrepreneurs interested in setting up agribusiness ventures. Around 260 people showed interest in NARS technologies and the support that ABI and NIABI offer to potential agripreneurs. The exhibition saw participation by agro-machinery companies, government institutions, marketing portals and many other private players from the field of agriculture, including participants from China and Israel. Student volunteers from Pune University’s Faculty of Management supported ABI-ICRISAT in conveying the incubation concept in the local language. ICRISAT was represented by Jonathan Philroy and Talari Luke.

ABI partner institutions in NIABI, the Business Planning and Development (BPD) units of the Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology (CIRCOT), Mumbai; Anand Agricultural University (AAU), Anand; and Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Viswa Vidyalaya (JNKVV), Jabalpur also participated in the event. Since Maharashtra is a cotton-growing area, many enquiries centered on technologies related to cotton. CIRCOT was able to generate nearly 13 leads out of the enquiries. The Seed Business Venture (SBV) of ABIICRISAT also got a considerable number of enquiries.

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