No. 1505 10 February 2012

2nd Global Agri-Business Incubation Conference
NIABI 2012 highlights entrepreneurship for vibrant agricultural development

Former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam inaugurating the NIABI 2012 at IARI, New Delhi, while ICRISAT Director General William Dar and NAIP Director Dr Bangali Baboo look on.

Highlighting the crucial role of entrepreneurship as a catalyst for agricultural and economic development, the 2nd Global Agri-Business Incubation Conference of the Network of Indian Agri-Business Incubators (NIABI) 2012 concluded successfully in New Delhi on 8 February 2012.

Jointly organized by the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and ICRISAT, the three-day conference aimed to create global awareness, build competencies on agribusiness incubation among entrepreneurs, and establish partnerships among agribusiness sectors worldwide.

In his address as Chief Guest at the inaugural session, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, spoke on the need for a “vibrant agricultural development through innovations and inclusive growth” for India to become an economically developed nation by 2020. This, he added, is possible through product diversification, with focus on better technology, sound entrepreneurship, infrastructure development, and market understanding.

“Worldwide, business incubators are now gaining recognition as vital to agricultural and industrial agribusiness sectors, where technology serves as a precursor for improving the economic, social and environmental conditions especially of rural communities,” said ICRISAT Director General William Dar in his message during the conference.

“India should lead the rest of the world with its vast experience in commercializing farming technology. Networking with farmers and enterprises will be the core of this success,” he added. With NIABI as the model, several incubators across Africa will be set up through ICRISAT’s partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

(Left) Dr Kalam lighting the lamp to kick start the NIABI 2012 at IARI. Also seen in the picture are DG Dar and Dr Akhilesh Gupta, Advisor, Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India. (Right) Participants of the NIABI 2012.

In a special roundtable session chaired by Dr Dar on India’s recent initiatives on South-South collaboration through the Indo-African Summit on Agribusiness, a joint declaration was signed by NIABI and FARAUniBRAIN towards intensifying partnership in technology transfer and commercialization of agribased products between India and Africa.

In his remarks during the closing session, NAIP Director Dr Bangali Baboo said that the conference has opened up new avenues of opportunities for the scaling up of NIABI’s initiatives in commercializing technologies and supporting entrepreneurs.

The conference was attended by more than 200 agri-preneurs, scientists, agri-companies, policymakers, farmers and funding agencies from India, as well as representatives from Malaysia, Philippines and six African nations. A roadmap to revitalize agriculture and allied sectors through agribusiness was developed during the conference, serving as a platform to popularize new and better livelihood opportunities and to strengthen the global agribusiness incubator network.

Participants of the special session on South-South collaboration chaired by Dr Dar.

NIABI was set up in 2009 to harness the potential of agricultural entrepreneurship to improve the livelihood of millions that depend on India’s agriculture sector and to contribute to the nation’s overall economic growth. Today, it boasts of 10 Business Planning and Development (BPD) units coordinated by ICRISAT’s Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program and 54 technologies that have been commercialized generating revenue worth USD10 million.

The next global NIABI conference will be held at the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT), Cochin, Kerala in February 2013.

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Feeding the forgotten poor
Former President APJ Abdul Kalam launches DG Dar’s book

(L to R) Dr Bangali Baboo, Director, NAIP; Dr APJ Abdul Kalam; and Dr Dar during the book launch.

The world’s population will grow from almost 7 billion now to over 9 billion in 2050. The daunting question is – will there be enough food to go around?

In his book Feeding the Forgotten Poor, Director General William Dar raises the question of how the world is going to feed the poor, recounting the events of his own life and career that shaped his commitment to and vision of a hunger-free world.

The book was launched by former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam at the inaugural session of the NIABI 2012 on 6 February where he was the Chief Guest.

In the book’s Foreword, Dr Kalam wrote: “The book reveals perspectives to grow and provide food to the people wherever they live on Earth, backed by Dr Dar’s own experiences in multiple countries. I am particularly impressed with the Chapter Innovate, Grow and Prosper where he deals with strategic science and dynamic development.”

The book, co-written by Arun Tiwari, is divided into four parts: (1) Soil and Roots, (2) Stems, Leaves and Fruits, (3) Skin of the Earth, and (4) Growth and Prosperity, corresponding to Dr Dar’s rise from national to regional and international agricultural research-for-development.

The book, which was also unveiled at ICRISATPatancheru by the DG along with a showing of the video on 9 February, is published by Orient Black Swan and will soon be available at major bookstores in India.

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Chief Minister of Karnataka releases Soil Fertility Atlas

Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka (4th from left) releasing the Soil Fertility Atlas in Vidhan Soudha, Karnataka. Also seen are (L to R) Dr SP Wani, Dr Babu Rao Mudbi, Mr Umesh V Katti, Dr KV Raju, Dr SV Patil and Dr KV Sarvesh.

Karnataka Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda released the Soil Fertility Atlas for the State of Karnataka at the Vidhan Soudha, Karnataka’s State Assembly on 9 February. The release was chaired by Minister of Agriculture Umesh V Katti. Also present were Dr KV Raju, Economic Advisor to the Chief Minister, Government of Karnataka; Dr Babu Rao Mudbi, Secretary, Agriculture; Dr SV Patil, Chairman, Karnataka Krishi Mission; Dr KV Sarvesh, Commissioner, Agriculture; and Dr SP Wani from ICRISAT.

Highlighting the importance of Bhoochetana, the Chief Minister expressed gratitude to ICRISAT for its support to the project in the last three years that had led to considerable progress in Karnataka’s agriculture. He also appreciated the Department of Agriculture’s efforts in helping achieve record foodgrains production.

Mr Umesh Katti underlined ICRISAT’s efforts and support in bringing out the Soil Fertility Atlas which he said would benefit farmers, government officials and extension personnel in the state. The CD format was also appreciated for its easy accessibility in remote areas.

Dr Wani spoke on the importance of soil health and lauded the Government of Karnataka for taking the lead in facilitating the sampling of 92,860 farmers’ fields through a farmer participatory approach.

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Surmounting climate change
Conference highlights policy needs for climate-smart agriculture

Dr Dar speaking at the inaugural session of the conference.

Scientists have a responsibility to show policymakers that a climate-smart agriculture is possible. Scientists and policymakers need to work together, quickly, to chart a course toward a sustainable global food system and for the success of any climate change adaptation and mitigation effort,” said Director General William Dar, speaking as Guest of Honor at the inaugural session of the International Conference on Climate Change, Sustainable Agriculture and Public Leadership, held on 7 February at the National Agricultural Science Centre (NASC) Complex, New Delhi.

Dwelling on the gravity of the situation, Dr Dar pointed out that “the effects of climate change are more likely to be felt in the arid and semi-arid tropics – home to the deepest pockets of poverty on earth. He added that a recent study assessing rainfed cereal potential under different climate change scenarios revealed loss of rainfed production potential by 10-20%. This is expected to affect 1-3 billion people by 2080 mostly in the tropical developing countries.

He then outlined opportunities for scientists to help improve the overall understanding of agricultural practices that will deliver multiple benefits in climate change adaptation and mitigation, global food security, and reducing dangerous emissions. These include integrating global and national policies on climate change, increasing investment on agriculture, sustainable intensification, helping the most vulnerable, reducing waste, and sharing information.

Inaugurating the conference, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries and Parliamentary Affairs Harish Rawat said, “We should address climate-change related issues in a systematic manner through constructive and developmental programs to increase productivity and profitability of small and marginal farmers.”

Explaining how the effects of climate change will be felt more in Indian conditions due to different agro-climatic zones, thereby affecting marginal and small farmers who constitute 80% of the Indian farming community, Minister Rawat underlined the need for a comprehensive and multidimensional strategy to mitigate climate change effects.

The conference was jointly organized by ICAR and the National Council for Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Public Leadership (NCCSD). Delegates from around the world, ICAR and NARS officials, directors of different institutes, scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs participated.

HR heads of CCIAR centers meet at IRRI

Heads of Human Resources from 15 CGIAR centers attended a 5-day conference at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines, on 6-10 February to discuss the HR community of practice and the workings of the One Corporate System (OCS) sponsored by the CGIAR Consortium Office. ICRISAT was represented by Hector Hernandez, Head of Human Resources and Operations (HRO).


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Upscaling Mali’s agro-meteorological advisory mechanism in the Sahel

Training and testing of participatory methodological tools for the field assessment.

Farmers in the Sahel are vulnerable to food insecurity given extreme weather and climate events that hinder agricultural production and the lack of risk-reducing information. In 1982, Mali’s national meteorological service, with support from agricultural and rural development services, bridged this gap between farmers’ needs and available information by setting up a program to improve their access to and use of agro-meteorological information.

The project was the first of its kind in Africa to supply climate information directly to farmers, teach them to measure climatic variables, and help them develop skills in using climate-related information in decision-making.

Exploring possibilities for upscaling the experience in other Sahelian countries, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), Institute for Rural Economy of Mali (IER), and AGRHYMET engaged in a thorough assessment of the program in a workshop at ICRISAT-Samanko (Bamako, Mali) on 25-27 January.

In his opening address, ICRISAT’s Director for West and Central Africa (WCA) Farid Waliyar highlighted the Institute’s frontline research on climate change adaptation. Meanwhile, CCAFS West Africa (WA) Regional Program Leader Robert Zougmoré provided a snapshot of CCAFS and its bid in pushing for climate risk management in the region.

Participants of the training workshop.

According to Daouda Zan Diarra from the Direction Nationale de la Météorologie (DNM) of Mali, more than 2,500 farmers have directly participated in the program since its onset. Evidence suggests climate information has enabled them to make better management decisions, empowered them to take more risks, invest more in new technologies, and seek agricultural information from other sources. Reports show that farmers affiliated with the project consistently recorded 25-30% higher yields of millet and sorghum in southern Mali and 40-60% in the north, and correspondingly higher incomes than those who have not used agro-meteorological information.

Robert Zougmoré highlighted the three main components of the study that will run from February to May 2012: (1) Field assessment (by CCAFS, USAID and IER) to collect information from participants and non-participants through focus group discussions and individual interviews; (2) Institutional assessment (by CCAFS and IER) of project agencies and institutions, review of existing data, documents, and records to identify how the project was implemented and methods used; and (3) Science assessment (by IRI) to define gaps in all scientific aspects of the project and analyze them to provide up-to-date scientific tools, methods and information.

Data from scientific and field assessments will together determine the quality and utility of the information being served to project participants, its impact on their well-being, how it has impacted farming practices related to the targeted crops, and how those impacts came to pass. The institutional assessment will be used to contextualize the products of the scientific/field assessment analysis for possible use by interested meteorological services in the sub-region.

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DST-ICRISAT Center of Excellence on Climate Change Research for Plant Protection launched at Patancheru

Participants of the CoE-CCRPP project launch at Patancheru.

The project establishing a Center of Excellence on Climate Change Research for Plant Protection (CoE-CCRPP), funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DSTClimate Change Program), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, was launched at ICRISATPatancheru on 9 February. The three-year project aims to establish facilities and provide opportunities to research institutes for research on climate change and its impact on diseases and insect pests of legumes in the semi-arid tropics.

In his keynote address, Director General William Dar appreciated the partnership between DST and ICRISAT in the timely initiative that would have a major bearing on environment-friendly, pest mitigation strategies for the sustainable production of grain legumes and in increasing food security in the drylands, particularly in regions most vulnerable to climate change.

Dr CLL Gowda, Research Program Director-Grain Legumes, welcomed the group and appreciated the new initiative and proactive support from the DST-Climate Change Program. Project Investigator Dr Suresh Pande underlined the importance of the project in view of annual crop losses of over US$8.48 billion that diseases and insect pests cause, and which are likely to increase at least four-folds under the climate change scenario. He also emphasized that the emergence of more aggressive pest and pathogen populations due to climate change, resulting in heavy crop losses and epidemics particularly in grain legumes such as chickpea and pigeonpea would provide CCRPP with opportunities for targeted research.

The DST-Climate Change Program group during their visit to glass house facilities at Patancheru.

DDG-R Dave Hoisington acknowledged the participants of the climate change research initiative at ICRISAT and said that along with partners, ICRISAT has been implementing research-fordevelopment initiatives that provide science-based solutions and pro-poor approaches for adaptation, particularly of rainfed agricultural systems to climate change. He added that ICRISAT is confident that the CCRPP partnership would bring the Institute closer to realizing its ‘Hypothesis of Hope’.

Dr Akhilesh Gupta, Advisor, DST Climate Change Program (CCP) spoke of the merit of the CoE-CCRPP, as it was the only project among the 147 that qualified under the CCP program and which received full support after a long and stringent process of approval. He said DST looks forward to knowledge and basic data generation to formulate policy on climate change research at the national and regional levels. The Executive Council of DST-CCP composed of Drs S K Dube (Chairman), DR Sikka, AA Nambi, CK Varshney and Rajesh Kumar also expressed appreciation of the initiative.

Members of the Expert Committee of the Climate Change Program, DST, were taken on a tour of ICRISAT’s ongoing research on climate change and host plant x pest/pathogen x environment interactions conducted in controlled environment conditions.

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Training on carbon sequestration and trading at Patancheru

Inaugural meeting of the training course on carbon sequestration and carbon trading.

The National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) and Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) are supporting a two-week national training course on Carbon Sequestration and Carbon Trading being held at ICRISAT-Patancheru from 6 to 17 February. Sixteen participants representing ICAR institutions, state agricultural universities (SAUs), and ICRISAT staff are part of this course jointly offered by the University of Florida and ICRISAT.

Delivering the inaugural message on 6 February, DDG-R Dave Hoisington stressed the importance of carbon sequestration and the need for identifying potential areas of collaboration.

The training is composed of theory and hands-on experience by trainers from ICRISAT, the University of Florida, Virginia Tech University and the National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning. The most important output from the training will be a proposal on carbon sequestration representing different agro-ecological zones to be written and presented by the participants in consultation with the trainers.

The course is being jointly coordinated by Dr SP Wani, ICRISAT and Dr K Ramesh Reddy of the University of Florida, with Dr Rosana P Mula, Coordinator, Learning Systems Unit as organizer.

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