No. 1504 03 February 2012

Linking farmers to markets
ICRISAT-HOPE project facilitates sorghum trade on behalf of farmers in Tanzania

Officials of Kwamtoro Sacco, Dunia Trust and ICRISAT-HOPE Project during the contract negotiation.

Highlighting the power of markets to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, ICRISATHOPE project partners in Tanzania negotiated a forward contract agreement for the purchase and supply of 200 tons of sorghum grain between the Kwamtoro Farmers’ Sacco and the Dunia Trust Ltd, a commodity trading company. Spearheaded by Tanzania’s Department of Research and Development (DRD), District Agricultural and Livestock Development Office (DALDO) and ICRISAT, the meeting was held in Kwamtoro in Kondoa District on 27 January.

Dunia Trust agreed to purchase from the farmers 200 tons of white-grained Macia sorghum, an improved ICRISAT variety released in Tanzania. The farmers will deliver the sorghum to Kwamtoro town in June and July at a price of US$ 0.2 per kg. In case of price increase, Dunia Trust agreed to adjust the price to a maximum of 10% increase.

Threats to the implementation of the contract, as well as resolution measures, were discussed during the meeting. It was also agreed that there would be a continuous monitoring of the progress by project partners, and that farmers’ training on crop management, postharvest handling, business planning and marketing, and input supply management would be held in the month of May.

Among those present at the meeting were: Dunia Trust Managing Director Daniel Gisiri; Kwamtoro Sacco Chairman Saidi Husseni; 23 office bearers of five affiliate Saccos in Kwamtoro Division; Willbroad Karugaba (World Food Program/P4P); Donald Munisi and Pancras Swai (DALDO); Peter Sulumo (DRD); Patrick Audi (ICRISAT-ESA); and Hamisi Kitonka (RUDI-Rural Development Initiatives).

ICRISAT and Dunia Trust will finalize the contract document to be signed by parties concerned by 15 February.

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ICRISAT’s social scientists hold annual meeting in Nairobi

Participants of the annual social scientists meet in Nairobi.

With ICRISAT’s IMOD strategy aimed at helping subsistence farmers move towards greater market orientation, the challenge for social scientists has become greater than ever. Working within multi-disciplinary research teams, especially under the new CGIAR Research Programs, the demand is for them to address related research concerns, develop innovations and tap regional and global resources.

Serving as a platform to deliberate on new challenges and future opportunities, ICRISAT conducted its annual social scientists meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on 21-22 January. Led by Cynthia Bantilan, Research Program Director, Markets, Policies and Institutions (MPI), the meeting enabled 20 participants from West and Central Africa (WCA), Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) and Asia to provide updates on their global and regional research projects.

Discussions centered on global projects such as the VDSA, ICRISAT-HOPE Dryland Cereals Project and Tropical Legumes Projects. The low adoption rates of ICRISAT’s mandate crops in sub-Saharan Africa stimulated a discussion on the need for a clear strategy to develop and promote the crops.

In WCA and ESA, the major challenges identified were access to information and improved seeds, lack of clarity on profitability, matching varietal traits with market demand, and market models to effectively link farmers with input suppliers and processors. It was agreed that improved targeting of recommendations should be based on a robust analysis of agriculture- and market-related potentials, comparative advantages of farming systems, and development pathways.

Discussing the results and experiences in research priority setting and strategic assessments, projects on Global Futures, Research Spillovers and Diffusion of Improved Varieties in Africa (DIVA) and Tracking Varietal Change for Future Assessment of the Impact of Crop Genetic Improvement Research in South Asia (TRIVSA) brought forward models for ex-ante impact assessment. The models illustrate the distribution of benefits across countries taking into account the technology potential in each domain and the country’s potential adaptive capacity and adoption rates. Results from this initiative will be used to guide ICRISAT’s strategic targeting and resource allocation across regions to achieve maximum impact.

ICRISAT’s work on mixed crop-livestock systems in southern Africa and key issues on intensification were discussed. Through the Mozambique Strategy Analysis and Knowledge Support System (MozSAKSS), ICRISAT is building the capacity of Mozambique’s Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) in evidence-based policy analysis, data management and modeling.

In WCA, a proposal to enhance research agenda on institutional innovations for the ICRISAT-HOPE project was introduced. In ESA, the economics of promoting sweet sorghum for biofuel were presented. While the prospects are good, the parameters on stalk yield and recovery rates for juice and ethanol need to be improved. Policy support from the government in ethanol pricing was recommended.

The meeting concluded with a brainstorming exercise on elevating the playing field for ICRISAT’s social science research. Three priority areas were identified: (1) methods of impact assessment – improving knowledge exchange among scientists within and outside ICRISAT, creating an internal panel to assess theory-based methods, and enhancing use of panel data for adoption and impact tracking; (2) empirical applications – establishing data warehouse, developing strategic models, application of gender and social analysis, and greater use of GIS to map comparative advantages of mandate crops; and (3) evidence-based policy information – converting evidence from analysis to clear policy statements, developing strategy for policy dialogues, reviewing scientists’ relations to other value chain actors, and documenting pathways and policy development.

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Launch of DST-ICRISAT Center of Excellence at Patancheru

The DST-ICRISAT Center of Excellence (CoE) on Climate Change Research for Plant Protection (CCRPP) will be launched at ICRISAT-Patancheru on 9 February. The project aims to develop a framework and create facilities to evaluate complexities in the effects of climate change-mediated plant diseases and insect pests and their management strategies in grain legumes (chickpea and pigeonpea). The event will involve members of the Expert Committee of Climate Change Program, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and scientists and managers of ICRISAT.

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Sorghum scientists’ field day held at ICRISAT-Patancheru

Participants of the sorghum scientists’ field day at Patancheru.

A sorghum scientists’ field day was organized at ICRISAT-Patancheru on 19 January to showcase improved postrainy season sorghum materials to NARS and private sector partners in India. Developing improved materials for postrainy season adaptation, seed production and marketing as the major theme, the field day involved private sector seed companies, both members and non-members of the Sorghum Hybrid Parents Research Consortium (HPRC). Eighteen (18) participants including 11 scientists from the NARS and the private sector participated in the event.

Welcoming the participants, Oscar Riera Lizarazu, Research Program Director, Dryland Cereals, highlighted the importance of partnerships in sorghum research-for-development (R4D) and the private sector’s contribution in taking ICRISATdeveloped improved sorghum products to farmers. He explained that the proposed CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals would also capture the importance of the HPRC partnership and the need to strengthen the consortium for greater impacts.

In his address, CLL Gowda, Research Program Director, Grain Legumes, chronicled the HPRC’s rise and progress since 2000, and highlighted the need to further strengthen the partnership to serve as a global model.

ICRISAT scientists Belum VS Reddy, HD Upadhyaya, HC Sharma, P Srinivasa Rao, A Ashok Kumar, CT Hash, Santosh Deshpande and P Ratna Kumar presented the Institute’s postrainy season sorghum research activities and products. After the field visits, participants were organized into groups to undertake varietal selections. This was followed by a wrap-up meeting to elicit feedback from the partners and to plan for new activities.

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Workshop on data analysis held in Samanko and Niamey

(Left) Abhishek Rathore explains the nuances of data verification at ICRISAT- Samanko. (Right) Participants of the workshop in Niamey.

Two training workshops on data analysis were conducted at ICRISAT Samanko and Niamey under the PROMISO II project to strengthen the capacity of ICRISAT and NARS scientists and research assistants. The workshops were facilitated by Abhishek Rathore and Roma Das from ICRISAT-Patancheru.

The workshop in Samanko was held on 16-20 January involving 20 participants from Mali, Ghana and Senegal. The participants were trained on how to strengthen data verification by identifying influential values, and basic concepts and methods necessary for multiple environment analysis and contrasts.

The trials analyzed included on-farm variety testing, agronomic performance of new hybrids under intensified production conditions, varietal adaptation to low-P soil conditions, and micronutrient content and bio-availability in grain of farmer-preferred varieties. The workshop concluded with participants presenting their own analyses.

The workshop in Niamey was held at the Training and Visitors Center of ICRISAT-Niamey on 23-27 January. It had 19 participants from ICRISATNiamey, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN), Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA) of Burkina Faso, Institut Sénégalais de la Recherche Agricole (ISRA) of Senegal, and the University of Abomey, Calavi, Benin.

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