No. 1511 23 March 2012

Leveraging legumes to benefit the poor
TL II holds regional and national planning workshops in Niamey and Uganda

(L to R) Dr Farid Waliyar (2nd from left) with Mr Oua Saidou, Niger’s Minister of Agriculture, Dr David Bergvinson of BMGF, Dr CLL Gowda and other participants of the TL II meeting held in Niamey.

Grain legumes contribute to the livelihoods, health and nutrition of more than 700 million poor people in the dryland tropics of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. TL II aims to help smallholder farmers overcome productivity constraints such as drought, pest and disease problems, and nonavailability and lack of access to quality seed of improved legume varieties.

Regional planning workshop for WCA

The second phase of the Tropical Legumes II (TL II) project kicked off with the conduct of the regional launching and planning workshop for West and Central Africa (WCA) held on 12-14 March at the Grand Hotel in Niamey, Niger. The three-year TL II project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is part of a ten-year plan which seeks to improve the livelihoods of 60 million smallholder farmers and their families in 15 countries in sub- Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The meeting was attended by over 60 participants from CNRA; the national agricultural research system (IAR, INRAN, IER, INERA, CSRI-SARI, ISRA, and NCRI); Non-Governmental Organizations (CRS, EUCORD, PLAN MALI, GSRDI; seed companies (ALHERI, FASOKABA, and JIKUR SEED); BAGRI of Niger; CGIAR centers (IITA and CIAT); GCP, AGRA, STA, policymakers, extension services (KNARDA, KTARDA, JARDA, and BOSADP); and representatives of women organizations from Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal. They will work closely with smallholder farmers to ensure that seed of improved varieties from the project reach farmers’ fields.

Participants of the TL II workshop held in Uganda.

Inaugurating the meeting, Niger’s Minister of Agriculture Oua Saidou thanked ICRISAT for holding the workshop in Niger and the Gates foundation for its financial support to the project. He stressed the need to align country interventions and to support the President of the Republic of Niger’s N 3 initiative – Nigeriens Nourrissent les Nigeriens (Nigeriens Feed Nigeriens).

Drs Farid Waliyar and CLL Gowda (ICRISAT) and David Bergvinson, Senior Program Officer of the Gates foundation delivered welcome messages during the opening program. Key presentations followed on expectations from the TL II phase 2 by Dr Bergvinson, and issues and opportunities by Project Manager Dr Abate Tsedeke. Other plenary presentations were on TL I and its interface and synergies with TL II, AGRA Soil Health Project and moisture conservation techniques, followed by individual country presentations on achievements and lessons learned from the project’s phase 1.

Day two of the workshop was devoted to group sessions to devise country strategies and work plans, especially the design of a roadmap for seed production to ensure widespread adoption of new varieties in phase 2. The meeting concluded with country presentations of work plans and strategies.

National planning workshop in Uganda

Meanwhile, a national planning workshop for TL II phase 2 was held on 9 March at Lira, Uganda, to review past work and plan future activities for 2012.

Uganda was included in phase 2 of the TL II project in September 2011. Research-for-development activities in the country involve three of the six TL II crops namely, common bean, groundnut and pigeonpea – major legume food staples which are constrained by low productivity, pests and diseases, lack of inputs, poor quality of seed delivery, inadequate extension services and poor management practices.

Inaugurating the workshop, Dr Maiteki A George, Director of Research, Ngetta Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (NgeZARDI), welcomed the participants and pledged support from national agricultural research organizations to ensure the project’s success.

Drs Ganga Rao and Emmanuel Monyo (ICRISAT) presented the project overview, achievements made under phase 1 in other countries, and proposed activities and commitment under phase 2. Participants were likewise briefed on on-station experiments with beans at the National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) Namulonge, pigeonpea at NgeZARDI, and groundnut at Soroti. With the coming season’s work to focus on both on-station and on-farm trials based on PTS (participatory technology selection) and seed increase, partners expressed optimism of the project’s success in Uganda.

Progress on current R&D activities was presented by Dr Nkalubo Stanley, Mr Kalule Okello David and Mr Yuventino Obong, followed by formulation and presentation of groundnut and pigeonpea project interventions by teams. Other concerns and recommendations identified by the participants include demonstration trials for released varieties, up-scaling of participatory variety selection (PVS) trials, quality seed distribution linkages to markets, and research and training in improved management, post-harvest handling, group marketing and value addition. Pilot research sites and key participating farmer groups were identified.

Forty-four participants including ICRISAT representatives, project leaders and officials from national and district agricultural research offices, nongovernment organizations, and farmers’ representatives attended the workshop.

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Strengthening Andhra Pradesh and ICRISAT partnership

Dr Dar with Chief Secretary of AP, Mr Pankaj Dwivedi.

To renew and further strengthen the partnership between ICRISAT and the State of Andhra Pradesh (AP), Director General William Dar had a brief meeting with Chief Secretary of AP, Mr Pankaj Dwivedi on 9 March at the latter’s office in Hyderabad. The Chief Secretary is a member of the ICRISAT Governing Board.

During the meeting, Dr Dar expressed gratitude to the Chief Secretary for the Government of AP’s commitment, hospitality and steadfast support to ICRISAT in the last 40 years. The partnership has allowed ICRISAT to conduct global, high-quality and impact-oriented research-fordevelopment initiatives, which are adaptable to and directly benefiting smallholder farmers in AP, in particular, and in India in general.

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Frank Rijsberman appointed CGIAR Consortium CEO

The CGIAR Consortium on 19 March announced the appointment of Dr Frank Rijsberman as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) by the Consortium Board. Dr Rijsberman has extensive experience in international agricultural research, especially water management, coupled with valuable leadership and management skills that make him ideal for this vital role. He is currently director of the Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene Strategy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), tasked with alleviating the burden of water-borne diseases and improving access to sanitation, especially in Africa and Asia.

“Dr Rijsberman has proven himself to be the best candidate to take over the leadership of CGIAR as it continues its reform process,” said Carlos Pérez del Castillo, Chair of the CGIAR Consortium Board. “CGIAR is working on innovative solutions to some of agriculture’s most pressing issues, and Dr Rijsberman has the necessary experience and skills to continue to mobilize this innovation in order to deliver quality agricultural research for sustainable development. He has established himself in the private and not-for-profit sectors as a driving force in his field and I am certain his knowledge and passion for his work will serve CGIAR well as he takes on this important role.”

Dr Rijsberman served as Director General of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) from 2000 to 2007, where he initiated the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture and developed and led the Challenge Program on Water and Food. He then moved to Google to lead their philanthropic team. He has over 30 years of experience as a researcher and consultant in natural resources management in developing, transition, and developed economies. He has consulted for numerous international and bilateral organizations and co-founded “Resource Analysis”, a research and consulting firm in his native Holland. In 1997, he was appointed full Professor at UNESCO-IHE, International Institute for Water Education.

The new CEO obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands, and earned a multidisciplinary PhD in water resources planning and management and civil engineering from Colorado State University, USA.

As CEO, Dr Rijsberman will be responsible for leading the CGIAR Consortium, providing funding, leadership and oversight for the Consortium Office, forging effective research partnerships and overseeing the ongoing implementation of the CGIAR’s strategic, results-based research programs. He will start his new assignment at the Consortium Office in Montpellier on 28 May.

“I’m excited to take up this position with the CGIAR Consortium,” said Dr Rijsberman. “The new CGIAR’s Strategy and Results Framework and portfolio of research programs provide an excellent foundation to reduce rural poverty, increase food security, and improve health and nutrition while ensuring more sustainable management of natural resources. I look forward to helping CGIAR deliver critical research for development outcomes in close partnership with investors, researchers, governments, the private sector, and the men and women smallholder farmers.”

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Abiotic stress project holds annual meeting in Niamey

(Left) Participants of the meeting in Niamey. (Right) PhD student Francesca Beggi (University of Kassel), explains about the “rhizotubes” used to track root system development in the lysimeters.

Fifteen participants from Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Germany and Kenya joined ICRISAT staff from Patancheru, Sadoré and Samanko for a 4-day meeting at the ICRISAT Training & Visit Center in Niamey, Niger to plan activities for the 3rd and final year of the GIZ-supported project “Tackling abiotic production constraints in pearl millet and sorghum”. The project targets the development of improved varietal and management options to alleviate the strong negative interaction between drought stress and P-deficiency stress in pearl millet and sorghum for the Sahelian zone of WCA.

Interesting results for field, lysimeter and pot studies assessing cereal genotype response to high and low soil phosphorus levels, combined with either well-watered and natural or managed terminal drought stress conditions were presented and discussed. During the field visit to Sadoré, participants visited the on-going pearl millet lysimeter study in the cylinder-culture facility with rainout shelter that has been established at the ICRISAT Sahelian Center under the guidance of Dr Vincent Vadez from ICRISAT-Patancheru.

Three PhD students (one each from Germany, Italy and Kenya) presented findings from their on-going studies intended to identify genetic variation from the ability to have efficient symbiotic relationships with vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae (VAMs), mechanisms of tolerance to low-P conditions, and to identify genomic regions contributing to these via genome-wide and candidate-gene approaches to association mapping in both sorghum and pearl millet.

The contrasting rainfall patterns experienced across trial sites in WCA during 2010 (a year of aboveaverage rainfall) and 2011 (a year of poor, sporadic rainfall), have provided interesting field data sets that will require thorough analysis during the final year of the project. On a sad note, the meeting opened with a minute of silence in memory of Dr Heiko Parzies, who died unexpectedly last August. He had been leading the project’s activities at the University of Hohenheim.

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Kizito Mazvimavi to head Impact Assessment Office

Dr Kizito Mazvimavi has been appointed as Head, Impact Assessment Office (IAO), ICRISAT. He will take up his new responsibility at headquarters on 15 May. He is currently Scientist (Agricultural Economics) at ICRISAT, Zimbabwe. He has a PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Since 2004, Dr Mazvimavi has held various positions at ICRISAT – Post-Doctoral Fellow, Regional Scientist and Scientist (Agricultural Economics). He was instrumental in implementing various agricultural research projects that include impact assessment studies. He worked on projects funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Bank and GTZ as a development specialist, and managed impact assessment studies on agricultural relief and market interventions. He has a strong background in qualitative and quantitative data management analysis and statistical abilities relevant to social science research as well as several publications and reports to his credit.

Prior to joining ICRISAT, he worked with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Zimbabwe.

Team ICRISAT welcomes Kizito Mazvimavi!

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ICRISAT-Niamey celebrates International Women’s Day

ICRISAT Niamey’s women staff celebrate International Women’s Day.

ICRISAT Niamey’s women celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March by showing solidarity to the cause “Empower rural women – End poverty and hunger,” this year’s UN theme. ICRISAT Country Representative in Niger Mahamadou Gandah attended the ceremony.

In Niger, men migrate from rural areas to towns leaving women to tend to farming and the household. Women use wells for irrigation to grow vegetables instead of using drip irrigation. Many rural women don’t have access to microcredit, skills and training or to opportunities for land and livestock ownership. Hence, there is a need to pay greater attention to women who play a key role in agriculture.

Through an association, ICRISAT-Niamey’s women plan to help rural women boost their income, utilize drip irrigation, have access to microcredit, and develop their gardens to fight poverty.

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ICRISAT participates at the World Water Forum

SP Wani at the 6th World Water Forum at Marseille, France.

The 6th World Water Forum held in Marseille, France on 12-17 March, presented ICRISAT and ICARDA with an opportunity to jointly organize a session titled “A Little Rainfall Can Go a Long Way to Feed Many More: Act Now.”

The session which was well received, presented solutions from Asia and Africa, represented by IWMI (Ethiopia), IDE (Burkina Faso), the Government of Karnataka and ICRISAT (India) and GIZ (formerly GTZ).

Representing ICRISAT, Dr SP Wani highlighted the challenges of rainfed agriculture and the opportunities to unlock its potential through an integrated inclusive market-oriented development approach with community partnership and a consortium of research for development organizations. ICARDA was represented by Dr Fousy who spoke on small water harvesting structures in arid regions.

Ministerial delegations from 147 countries, 800 media personnel, hundreds of companies providing water services, scientists, policymakers, NGOs and farmers attended the forum which was inaugurated by France’s Prime Minister Mr Francois Fillon. Mr Michael Jarraud, Secretary-General, WMO and Chairman, UN Water also spoke during the forum. The event had 300 parallel sessions covering different aspects of water.

Dr SP Wani also served as a panel member of the session “Contribute to Food Security by Optimal Use of Water”, in which ICRISAT presented the water impact calculator as a means to save irrigated water and enhance water-use efficiency, developed in partnership with SAI Technologies.

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NASFAM CEO visits ICRISAT-Patancheru

(Left) Mr Dyborn Chibonga meets Dr Dar. (Right) Making a point during his seminar.

Mr Dyborn Chibonga, CEO, National Association of Smallholder Farmers in Malawi (NASFAM), visited ICRISAT- Patancheru on 21-23 March. During his visit, Mr Chibonga met with DG William Dar, DDG-R Dave Hoisington, RPD Grain Legumes CLL Gowda, and other senior ICRISAT staff.

NASFAM and ICRISAT have been working together for over a decade now towards crop diversification and enhancing farm productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers. ICRISAT’s partnership with NASFAM in producing and marketing quality groundnuts has been a big success. Malawi is now able to export groundnut for sale in the UK and other European markets, made possible by farmers producing good quality groundnuts, by cultivating improved varieties and adopting crop management practices, tied with assessing for aflatoxin using the ELISA kit (technology developed by ICRISAT and transferred to NASFAM). NASFAM is also involved in the production and distribution of quality seed of improved varieties, thereby improving farmers’ seed access. It has also facilitated the adoption of improved varieties of groundnut and pigeonpea in Malawi.

On 23 March, Mr Chibonga delivered a seminar on “Partnership for smallholder development to access markets”, where he highlighted the work of NASFAM. He stressed that NASFAM could not have achieved success without support from ICRISAT.

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AICPMIP annual workshop held at Jaipur

AICPMIP annual workshop held at Jaipur The 47th annual workshop of the All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project (AICPMIP) was held on 17-19 March at Swami Keshawan and Rajasthan Agricultural University, Agricultural Research Station, Jaipur, Rajasthan. More than 250 delegates from ICAR, SAUs, and the private seed sector participated.

Chief guest Harji Ram Burdak, Minister for Agriculture & Animal Husbandry, Government of Rajasthan, urged the scientists to strengthen research activities to develop pearl millet hybrids best suited for dry areas in the country, especially in Rajasthan. ICRISAT was represented by Drs KN Rai, SK Gupta, Rakesh Srivastava, Rajan Sharma and NT Yaduraju. ICAR was represented by SK Datta (Deputy Director General – Crops Science) and RP Dua (Assistant Director General – Field and Forage Crops).

A book on “Twenty-five years of pearl millet improvement in India”, co-authored by OP Yadav and 11 other scientists (including KN Rai, SK Gupta and CT Hash from ICRISAT) was released. Seven hybrids (2 from the public sector based on ICRISATbred male-sterile lines and 5 from the private sector, of which 3 are based on proprietary male-sterile lines developed from crosses between ICRISAT-bred seed parents), were identified for release.

In the early, medium and later maturity group trials, 63-66% of the public sector hybrids were based on ICRISAT-bred male-sterile lines. Meanwhile in the hybrids produced for summer cultivation, 88% of the hybrids were based on ICRISAT-bred male-sterile lines. Genome sequencing and commercialization of the value-added products were identified as the two most important research issues, among others.

Participants also expressed concern about the growing incidence of blast disease in pearl millet, which would require strengthening of the disease screening facilities at AICPMIP centers.

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ICRISAT participates at the Global Food Security Forum

The signing of the MoA for the “India-Morocco Food Legumes Initiative” in Rabat.

A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) for an “India-Morocco Food Legumes Initiative” was signed by ICRISAT along with ICARDA, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), IAV, INRA, and OCP Foundation, at the Global Food Security Forum held at Rabat, Morocco on 7-9 March. Representing ICRISAT at the event was Dr SP Wani, who was also a panel member during the smallholders’ and commercial farmers’ workshop at the farmgate level.

About 250 participants from various countries took part in the event organized by OCP Foundation. Mr Aziz Akhannouch, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Kingdom of Morocco, and Dr Mostafa Terrab, Chairman and CEO, OCP Foundation delivered the welcome addresses.

The forum had four plenary sessions on challenges of food security; markets, volatility and food security; policy, geopolitics and food security; and investment and innovation, in addition to workshops at different levels – farm gate, local, national, regional and global.

Dr MS Swaminathan as co-chair of the forum played an important role in taking the agenda forward, guiding the deliberations and the action plan to achieve the activity’s goal. Dr Suresh Pande and Mr Ilyas Abdul Rahman also participated in the forum.

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SM Sehgal Foundation holds maize field day

Participants at the Maize Scientists’ Field Day at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

The SM Sehgal Foundation (SMSF) held its 4th Maize Scientists’ Field Day at ICRISATPatancheru on 14 March to demonstrate and share global maize germplasm collected from different public institutions, including the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). This germplasm has been purified, multiplied and characterized by SMSF.

SMSF is focusing on developing and sharing diverse, trait-specific, pre-breeding and hybrid-oriented germplasm with public and private sector scientists for the development of suitable cultivars. The major attractions during the field day were the Multiple Disease Resistant Lines (MDR) and Multiple Insect Resistant (MIRT) lines.

The event was attended by 71 participants, representing five public institutions (IARI, Directorate of Maize Research, CIMMYT, UAS-Raichur and Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad) and 44 private seed companies (Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, CP Seeds, Metahelix, Nuziveedu, Rasi, Vibha, Bisco, Krishidhan, Kaveri, etc.).

Dr SK Vasal, CIMMYT maize scientist and World Food Prize Laureate was the special guest at the event. Also present on the occasion was Dr MD Gupta, honorary Technical Advisor, SMSF, who provided the required mentoring and guidance. Ms Vani Sekhar, Senior Scientist, SMSF, highlighted the importance of source germplasm and pre-breeding material. Stating that the foundation’s field days since 2009 had led to the distribution of germplasm to public and private sector maize scientists, she added that 7330 seed samples had been shared so far.

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