No. 1509 9 March 2012

At the AP-TEC 2012
ICRISAT shares inclusive agricultural value chain approach

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy inaugurating AP-TEC 2012 as ICRISAT Director General William Dar and others look on.

“Developing countries worldwide are witnessing a fundamental shift in agriculture from subsistence farming to a more market-oriented approach. Rising incomes, growing urbanization, and changes in consumer preferences are driving demand for high-value commodities and niche markets for specialty products. Linking farmers to markets by improving the efficiency of value chains has become critical in leveraging the potential of agriculture in benefiting small-scale producers,” said Director General William Dar.

Speaking at the inaugural session of AP-TEC 2012, Dr Dar stressed the importance of Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) as crucial in ensuring better returns to farmers and helping them get out of poverty for good. Creating strong publicprivate partnerships, he added, results in a selfsustaining value chain, where critical inputs such as technology and market information reach farmers in a timely manner, and quality and preferred products reach end-users.

Addressing the issue of rising costs of agricultural production and poor returns to farmers would require technological innovations to increase productivity, enhancing input delivery system, and attaining effective value addition to ensure farm profitability, Dr Dar emphasized.

Dr Dar delivering the theme address at the conference.

Andhra Pradesh (AP) Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, in his address as Chief Guest, said that the AP Government is now working towards bridging the gap between farmers’ earnings and market price for their produce. He called for consistency in government policies for farmers, and encouraged collaboration between the industry and the agriculture sectors to ensure remunerative prices for smallholder farmers. He also urged farmers to have alternative sources of income from allied sectors of agriculture, and the need for mechanization to enhance agricultural growth and productivity.

The Chief Minister also announced during the conference that the State of Andhra Pradesh will be hosting the World Agricultural Forum (WAF) 2013 Congress. WAF is the foremost global agricultural platform that facilitates dialogue among leaders and decision-makers worldwide to discuss and identify solutions to problems facing the development of agriculture to support a burgeoning global population.

Meanwhile, in his special address, Mr V Nagi Reddy, Principal Secretary on Agriculture and Cooperation, AP, said that to transform agriculture from subsistence to commercialized mode, the AP Government is now implementing an interest-free loan scheme for farmers.

The two-day AP-TEC 2012 on ‘Enhancing and Optimizing Agricultural Value Chains’ was organized by the Andhra Pradesh Technology Development and Promotion Centre (APTDC) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in cooperation with ICRISAT, and was held on 4-5 March at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre.

Dr Dar during a formal hand-over of his book “Feeding the forgotten poor” to the Chief Minister.

AP-TEC 2012 also featured an exhibition with about 50 booths showcasing various agricultural missions and products such as agro-machinery, inputs, technology providers, agricultural consultants, ICT in agriculture, government research institutions and food parks. Among the major companies that participated include JCB, John Deere, Jain Irrigation, Finolex Plasson Pvt Ltd, Coromandel International Ltd, Infronice System Limited, Tata Steel Ltd, VST Tillers, Mahindra & Mahindra, Crystal Group, etc.

The conference was attended by 300 delegates, with 200 farmers sponsored to visit the exhibition. ICRISAT was represented in the AP-TEC 2012 by Kiran Sharma, SP Wani, CLL Gowda and Abdul Rahman Ilyas.

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ICRISAT-HOPE project planning and review meeting held in Soroti, Uganda

Participants of the planning and review meeting in Soroti, Uganda.

Production of finger millet, the main cereal food staple in the Eastern and Northern zones of Uganda, is constrained by low productivity, blast disease and use of improper management practices. In 2010, under the ICRISAT-HOPE project, ICRISAT and partners – National Semi- Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI) and Victoria Seed Ltd – began test adaptations of improved early, high-yielding, blast-resistant finger millet varieties and disseminating seed and improved management practices in six districts each in the Eastern Zone (Soroti, Serere, Pallisa, Kumi, Kaberamaido and Bukedea) and Northern Zone (Apac, Gulu, Kole, Lira,Oyam and Pader) of Uganda.

With a view to reviewing this past work and planning future activities for 2012, NaSARRI organized a planning and review meeting in Soroti, Uganda during 29 February-1 March. Launching the meeting, the project’s national coordinator for Uganda, Nelson Wanyera (NaSARRI) emphasized that the project would focus on deepening impact in 2012 and 2013 by up-scaling participatory variety selection (PVS) trials, seed distribution and training in improved management, post-harvest handling, group marketing and value addition.

In 2011, the project established R&D networks with at least 3 farmer groups (about 20 members per group) in each of the 12 project mandate districts. In Serere district, it has linked with Soroti Sorghum Producers and Processors Association (SOSPPA), a 350-member farmers’ cooperative, to produce, process and market Seremi II. PVS trials of promising finger millet, demonstrations on blast-tolerant varieties, micro-dosing on finger millet and row planting were undertaken in these districts. An estimated 1200 farmers (60% women) attended field days to learn about production techniques. Victoria Seed Ltd and NaSARRI distributed about 4.5 tons of Seremi II in the 12 districts. Each farmer received about 0.5 kg to plant a minimum of ¼ of an acre. About 9,000 farmers who accessed improved seed through the project seeded about 2,250 acres of Seremi II. The average yield was about 360 kg per acre.

The meeting concluded with visits to two farmer groups, one each in Apac and Gulu districts, respectively, and an individual farmer, to seek their feedback on the challenges and successes of finger millet production. Late seed delivery, flooding (at the start of planting), mid-season drought and inadequate labor availability for row planting and weeding were reported as major challenges.

Future plans include PVS and demonstrations that will continue in 2012 to reach more farmers through four farmer field Schools: Ng’eta (Lira district - 200 members); Bungatira (Lira district - 600); Odok Oyieng (Kaberamaido - 50); and Ocan Onote (Apac district – 200). Victoria Seed Ltd and NaSARRI will distribute 1.5 kg seed to new farmers. Group members will be trained in improved post-harvest handling, processing and value addition, management of farmers groups and group marketing and agribusiness management.

The meeting was also attended by Dennis Ong’ora (Victoria Seed Ltd), 4 farmer representatives, 2 agronomists (NaSARRI), Henry Ojulong, Daniel Ajaku and Patrick Audi (ICRISAT-ESA).

Seeds of hope

Forty three-year-old Vincent Amote from Apac district in the Northern Zone of Uganda first heard about improved finger millet seed from Victoria Seed Ltd. He bought 4 kg of Seremi II, an earlymaturing, blast-tolerant and market-preferred improved variety, which he used to seed 2 acres of land. He harvested about 8 bags of 90 kg each. He has concrete plans following harvest – 5 kg will be retained as seed; 6 bags will be used to make a local brew; and 2 bags will be used as food (porridge and “ugali”). Today, Vincent is optimistic he will earn about Uganda shs 180,000 (US$ 72) per bag through value addition.

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A major step in the fight against hunger
CGIAR Consortium attains International Organization status

The CGIAR Consortium, representing the world’s largest global agriculture research partnership aimed at reducing rural poverty and hunger was officially granted International Organization status on 2 March in Paris, France.

The Agreement conferring the status was signed by Ms Anne Dorte Riggelsen, Ambassador of Denmark to France on behalf of her government. This ratified the agreement between France and Hungary which had already been signed in September 2011.

“Achieving International Organization status and recognition is a major step towards enabling the reformed CGIAR to deliver research resulting in real impact – improved food security, health and nutrition alongside sustainable management of natural resources,” said Mr Carlos Pérez del Castillo, CGIAR Consortium Board Chair, who was present at the event. “This status will allow the Consortium to operate as an independent organization, speak with one voice at an Visit of Belgian Embassy and Development Cooperation Bureau delegation international level, establish better partnerships and raise awareness of its work at a time when agricultural research is the key to the survival of a billion people,” he added.

Over the past four decades, CGIAR has proven that investing in agricultural research has a costeffective impact on the fight against hunger and malnutrition. Since 2010, the CGIAR has been undergoing a major reform. With the Consortium becoming an International Organization, this not only endorses the strategic reform, but by facilitating fundraising and coordination it will catalyze the impact-oriented research essential to the lives of millions of smallholder farmers.

“I am grateful for the support shown by the signatories to the agreement for making this possible,” said Mr Pérez del Castillo.

The CGIAR Consortium Office is headquartered in Montpellier, a well-established, French agricultural research hub.

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Visit of Belgian Embassy and Development Cooperation Bureau delegation

The Belgian delegation at ICRISAT-Samanko.

A Belgian delegation led by Ms Vandeputte Renata, Director, Division of the Belgian Cooperation Bureau in charge of supporting CGIAR finance, and staff from the Belgian embassies in Casablanca, Brussels and Dakar, visited ICRISAT’s Samanko station on 4 March. They were met by ICRISAT scientists Dr Eva Weltzien and Pierre Sibiry, and representatives from ICRAF, ILRI and the Climate Change and Agricultural Food Security (CCAFS) program.

After a visit around the research facility, the scientists presented an overview of the West African CGIAR climate change research program, followed by discussions with the delegation. The visitors were shown ICRISAT’s off-season activities in seed production, random mating of populations, advancing breeding materials and ICRAF’s experimental plots.

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KAU signs MoU with ICRISAT in agri R4D, training & academic activities

Dr Dar and Dr KR Viswambharan, Vice-Chancellor, KAU, signing the MoU.

ICRISAT and the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for intensive collaboration in agricultural research-fordevelopment (R4D), advanced training and related academic activities.

Director General William Dar and Dr K R Viswambharan, Vice- Chancellor, KAU, signed the MoU at Patancheru on 2 March. The MoU particularly covers joint research activities to explore and forewarn emergence of new crop pests and diseases, develop saline/flood/heat/drought-tolerant varieties through biotechnology tools, strengthen research in social sciences, and provide access to students and faculty at a higher level of learning.

Dr Viswambharan said that the MoU would benefit the academic community including students by way of new avenues for research and knowledge accumulation. KAU’s mission is to provide skills and technology required for sustainable development of agriculture and improved livelihoods of farmers of Kerala under the projected climate change scenario. It is with this intent that KAU launched a master’s course in climate change adaptation. “We have entered into partnership with several institutes at the international, national and state levels to strengthen the aims and objectives of our Academy for Climate Change Education and Research (ACCER),” he explained.

Meanwhile, Dr Dar highlighted the relevance of the MoU, stating that “KAU is the only university in India to have a course on climate change studies. The collaboration between the two institutes will definitely prove beneficial for the agricultural sector, especially the area of advanced studies and research.

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IPR awareness orientation for Zimbabwe and Malawi staff

(L to R) McDonald Jumbo, APO-Breeding, Sakile Kudita, Scientific Officer, and Hanumanth Rao, IP manager in a groundnut field in Zimbabwe.

Mr B Hanumanth Rao, Manager, Intellectual Property (IP) visited Bulawayo and Lilongwe recently to raise IP awareness among staff in Africa, in line with ICRISAT’s strategy to strengthen IP management capabilities.

While in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (23-24 February), Mr Rao held seminars on intellectual property rights (IPR) related to agriculture, various forms of IPR, IPR issues in the CGIAR system, material transfer agreements as well as ICRISAT’s IPR policies. The seminars were followed by sessions allowing participants to clear their doubts and raise more site-specific issues. One-to-one meetings with scientists and scientific officers on plant genetic resources facilitated discussions on IP aspects relating to their own areas and major projects.

While in Harare, Mr Rao met with the Plant Variety Protection Registrar, African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) officials as well as FAO staff to discuss strengthening existing collaborations. He was accompanied by McDonald Jumbo, APO-Breeding, and Sakile Kudita, Scientific Officer. The trip concluded with a visit to Lilongwe, Malawi.

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ICRISAT-ABI fosters agribusiness ventures through nationwide campaign

Agribusiness camp at NIRJAFT.

The Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program of ICRISAT’s Agribusiness Innovation Platform (AIP) in association with the Small Farmers Agri-business Consortium (SFAC), is seeking to promote SFAC’s venture capital scheme for agri-business development. As part of this effort, ABI has conducted 10 agribusiness camps across the country through ICAR-NAIP’s Network of Indian Agri-Business Incubators (NIABI).

In addition to the five camps held in January, another three were held in February. The camp at the National Institute of Research on Jute and Allied Fibre Technology (NIRJAFT), held in Kolkata on 13 February was inaugurated by M Raji Gayan, General Manager, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). SM Karuppanchetty, COO, ICRISAT-ABI made a presentation on incubation and funding opportunities for setting up agribusinesses. The camp which was attended by 31 entrepreneurs, 3 bankers, 4 DIC members and 18 NGOs, evaluated 14 proposals and recommended 6 under the scheme.

The camp at Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (CCSHAU), Hisar was held on 22 February. Aravazhi Selvaraj, Deputy Manager, ICRISAT-ABI, made a presentation at this camp which was attended by over 140 entrepreneurs and 3 bankers. Twenty proposals were evaluated and 4 were recommended under the scheme.

The camp at the Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology (CIRCOT), Nagpur, on 28 February was attended by 70 entrepreneurs and 3 bankers. Jonathan Philroy, Assistant Manager, ICRISAT-ABI represented the Institute at this event. The panel evaluated three proposals, all recommended under the scheme.

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International delegation of women trainers visits ICRISAT

The women trainers’ delegation with Dr Dar.

A 15-member delegation of senior women officials from the Ministries of Economic Affairs, Cooperatives, Industry; trade department, civil, urban development; Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME), Chamber of Commerce, NGOs and women entrepreneur associations from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Lao PDR, Maldives, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka visited ICRISAT-Patancheru on 6 March.

The delegation was in Hyderabad for a program on “Training of Trainers on Entrepreneurship Development for Women Trainers and Motivators” at the National Institute for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

Interacting with the group, Director General William Dar highlighted ICRISAT’s initiatives in promoting the cause of women and gender diversity as part of its activities to improve the livelihoods of farmers in the semi-arid tropics. He urged the delegates to utilize the visit to explore opportunities for mutually beneficial collaborations with ICRISAT. The delegation visited the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) and was appraised of its activities as part of the delegation’s training module on enterprises for women in the food processing sector.

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Eminent molecular biologist Sir Ed Southern visits ICRISAT

(Left) CEG staff with Professor Ed Southern. (Right) Delivering a seminar on Drought and Heat Tolerant Legumes.

For students of genetics and plant breeding, the name Ed Southern is a familiar one. But the opportunity to actually meet the Professor of Biochemistry (Emeritus) at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Trinity College, came true when he visited the Centre of Excellence in Genomics (CEG) at ICRISAT on 6 March.

Professor Ed Southern is associated with two crucial genomics discoveries – the Southern blot/ Southern hybridization and microarray gene technology. While Southern hybridization led to the invention of DNA fingerprinting and molecular markers (RFLP), microarray gene technology started gene expression and gene isolation studies. Professor Southern is also Founder, Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer of Oxford Gene Technology. He is also founder and chairman of The Kirkhouse Trust, a Scottish charity that aims to promote education and research in the natural sciences, particularly the biological and medical sciences. The Trust has identified “agricultural crop improvement research for the developing world, specifically legumes” as its current funding focus.

Professor Southern was here to discuss and learn the ongoing research and future plan of implementing genomics research in legume breeding. He had discussions on research, extension and policy issues in international agriculture in Africa and Asia with Director General William Dar, and Drs CLL Gowda, Oscar Riera- Lizarazu, and HD Upadhyaya. Professor Southern was accompanied by Dr Robert Koebner, cofounder of CropGen International and Consultant to The Kirkhouse Trust. They also met the pigeonpea genomics team of Rajeev Varshney, Rachit Saxena, Isabel Vales, K Himabindu, Abhishek Rathore, Trushar Shah and Mahendar Thudi.

As part of his visit, Professor Southern delivered a talk on “Drought and Heat Tolerant Legumes”, in which he shared his vision for legume improvement in developing countries.

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