No. 1501 13 January 2012

Improving food and nutritional security in western Africa
New groundnut and pearl millet varieties released for dry savanna regions of Nigeria

A-farmer-admiring-ICIAR19BT-Nigeria Pearl-millet
A farmer admiring ICIAR19BT harvest in the field. (Above) New pearl millet variety PEO5532.

ICRISAT’s presence in Nigeria since December 2010 and its committed efforts to step up research activities in the dry savannas of the country have paid dividends. The National Variety Release Committee of Nigeria recently approved the release of a new groundnut variety, ICIAR19BT, and a pearl millet variety, PEO5532, both developed jointly by ICRISAT and the NARS.

Groundnut variety ICIAR19BT, released as SAMNUT 24, was jointly developed by scientists of ICRISAT and the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Samaru, Nigeria. It is an extra-early maturing (about 75 days) variety with high grain and moderate fodder yield. Most importantly, it is resistant to rosette disease. Its yield averaged 1.78 tons/ha on-station and about 1.5 tons/ ha on farmers’ fields across several locations in northern Nigeria. The variety was accepted by farmers during the first year of testing in participatory variety trials conducted in the states of Kano, Jigawa and Kastina under the Tropical Legumes II project. Efforts will be made to produce adequate quantities of the variety which is now in great demand.

Pearl millet variety PEO5532, released as LCICMV-3 or Super Sosat was jointly submitted for release by Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI) and ICRISAT and was considered for its outstanding characteristics of high yield (3.0-3.5 tons/ha on farmers’ fields), resistance to downy mildew disease (<5%), and its stout stalk used for fencing.

The National Agricultural Seed Council of Nigeria has directed the immediate supply of 60 kg of Super Sosat from ICRISAT/LCRI for seed production and distribution to farmers as part of the country’s agricultural transformation agenda for 2011-2015. In order to consolidate and sustain the gains of this joint achievement, LCRI Executive Director Dr O Olabanji has requested ICRISAT Niamey to supply 50 kg of pure breeder seed to LCRI, which will subsequently be multiplied.

In a related development, the Nigerian Crop Diversity Trust meeting on 8 December 2011 called for immediate germplasm collection of pearl millet (Maiwa and Dauro types), yams, cowpea and sorghum, as it believed that some varieties are undergoing genetic erosion and possible extinction.

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Fourth year targets expansion to 5 million ha in 30 Karnataka districts
Bhoochetana review and planning meeting held

Participants of the Bhoochetana review and planning meeting at Patancheru.

A Review and Planning Meeting of the Bhoochetana project was held at ICRISAT-Patancheru on 6-8 January to review the progress of its 3rd year and to plan activities for the 4th year. Conceived by ICRISAT for the Government of Karnataka, the project aims to bridge the gap between crop yields obtained in farmers’ fields and achievable yields, by adopting a science-led consortium approach.

Among those who attended the meeting were staff of the Department of Agriculture (DoA) from 30 districts of Karnataka; senior policy officials from DoA, Bengaluru; representatives from State Agricultural University (SAU); Managing Director and Deputy Director of Karnataka State Seeds Corporation (KSSC); Vice Chancellor of the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Raichur; Dr VS Prakash, Director, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC); and Dr SA Patil, Chairman, Karnataka Krishi Mission.

The meeting began with Dr Suhas Wani welcoming the 245 participants, followed by Dr Baburao Mudbi, Commissioner of Agriculture, DoA, stating the objectives and the learnings from the project during the last three years. Presenting the way forward based on past experiences, Dr Sarvesh, Director of Agriculture, said the project would cover an additional 5 million ha in 30 districts during the 2012 rainy season.

Delivering the inaugural address on behalf of Director General William Dar, Dr Peter Craufurd, Program Director, Dryland Resilient Systems, appreciated the project’s participatory research approach in achieving impacts. Lauding the Government of Karnataka for scaling-up the technology, he said it had become a model state in India.

Presenting the project’s progress and status, Dr Wani spoke of the huge challenge of covering 5 million ha in the 2012 rainy season. The subsequent technical session saw detailed discussions on the strategy to meet this target, such as district- and taluk-wise inputs (seeds, fertilizers including micronutrients, biofertlizer, etc.) and financial and human resources required.

The group also developed recommendations in handling the 10,000 farm facilitators as well as in training them to reach 3.6 million small farm holders in the state. This was followed by a team-building exercise.

Devising a strategy to multiply seeds of improved cultivars to meet project needs, officials and staff from DoA, KSSC and ICRISAT agreed that all the seed villages will have Bhoochetana inputs and that new seed villages managed by KSSC would be situated in Bhoochetana blocks.

The workshop came up with recommendations such as: inclusion of irrigated area in addition to the rainfed area to cover 5 million ha; enhancing micronutrient use (currently around 20% of the recommended rates); training of farmers and farm facilitators, and strengthening crop-based farmer field schools; undertaking soil sampling in selected areas to study residual benefits of micronutrient application during the last two or three years; and covering 7.4 million ha during the second phase with technical support from ICRISAT. Feedback from participants and DoA revealed their satisfaction with the progress made, new means of communication being adopted, and institutional mechanisms being strengthened for effective extension of the technologies in the state.

The occasion also saw the release by Dr SA Patil of a manual on pest management and good practices in Belgaum district prepared by DoA, and the release of the Soil Fertility Atlas of Karnataka by Dr BV Patil, who described it as a historical step for the state of Karnataka.

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In-country training on rainfed agriculture held in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Philippines

Participants of the PhiRARDEP in-country training at CAR.

The first of a series of in-country training under the Philippine Rainfed Agriculture Research, Development and Extension Program (PhiRARDEP) was held at the Ifugao State University (IFSU) at Lamut, Ifugao, Philippines on 8-13 January, jointly sponsored by ICRISAT, IFSU, and the Philippines’ Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

PhiRARDEP’s goal is to develop, coordinate, monitor and evaluate the implementation of a vigorous rainfed agriculture research, development, and extension program to enhance food, nutrition and energy security, improve livelihoods and empower communities in the country’s rainfed areas. The program was conceptualized through the concerted efforts of ICRISAT, DA-BAR, state universities and colleges (SUCs), and local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines.

Sixty participants from different institutions of the six provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and BAR attended the training. Drs S Ngohayon and E Bagtang, Presidents of IFSU and the Kalinga-Apayao State College (KASC), respectively, both from CAR expressed confidence that the training could provide the impetus for rainfed development in the region through community seed systems. Rosana Mula, ICRISAT Learning Systems Coordinator, provided an overview of the training and its expected outputs.

Among the resource persons from ICRISAT were Rex Navarro (Innovations in knowledge sharing for community mobilization), Suhas Wani (Watershed management), and Myer Mula (Pigeonpea, chickpea and seed systems). Resource persons from the Philippines were Joel Lales of BAR (Overview of PhiRARDEP); Heraldo Layaoen of the Mariano Marcos State University (Sweet sorghum); Fernando Gonzales of Benguet State University (Chickpea); Rose Mary Aquino of the Cagayan Valley Integrated Agricultural Research Center (Groundnut); Karen T Barroga and Olive Asis of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice Knowledge Management & Sharing); Susan Balanza of DA (Development plan of CAR); and Wilfredo Cabezon of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (Soil and water conservation in Philippine rainfed areas).

One of the highlights of the training was the presentation of a collective plan by province, the outputs of which will be integrated into a single proposal for submission to BAR.

The closing program was presided over by Commissioner of Higher Education Dr William Medrano, a strong supporter of agricultural research for development who was instrumental in crafting the links and networks of SUCs with ICRISAT and the DA.

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