No. 1515 20 April 2012

Enhancing Philippine-ICRISAT partnership
Symposium solidifies initiatives to revitalize rainfed agriculture

DA-BAR Director Nicomedes P Eleazar (left) and Director General William Dar (right) addressing the participants of the Philippine-ICRISAT symposium.

The Philippines has more than three million hectares of rainfed areas, or three-fourth of the 10 million hectares of cultivated areas, that can be the next frontiers for food production. Over five million poor households are dependent on rainfed farming, which contributes about 40% of the country’s total domestic food production.

Revitalizing rainfed agriculture to achieve national food security and improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers is the core of the strategic partnership between ICRISAT and the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR).

Aiming to further strengthen this partnership, a symposium titled, “Enhancing Philippine-ICRISAT Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development” was held on 10 April at the DA-BAR, Philippines attended by more than 100 researchers/ scientists and staff of the Bureau, Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centers (RIARCs), regional field units (RFUs), and state universities and colleges (SUCs) all over the country, as well as representatives from ICRISAT.

(Left) Launching of the book, Feeding the Forgotten Poor and (Right) CO Director Dr Rex Navarro during the symposium.

In his message highlighting the various collaborative research-for-development (R4D) programs and initiatives of ICRISAT and BAR, Director General William Dar stressed the “need to generate and share science-based information and technology on rainfed agriculture amid the threat of climate change, particularly for the resource-poor and vulnerable communities of the country.”

“The Philippines has been benefitting from this strong partnership with ICRISAT which dates back to 1975. It was through this partnership, built and flourished through time, that the introduction of ICRISAT-bred materials, including peanut, sweet sorghum, pigeonpea, and chickpea has been realized,” said Dr Nicomedes P Eleazar, BAR Director, in his welcome remarks.

One of the highlights during the opening program was the launching of the book, Feeding the Forgotten Poor: Perspectives of an Agriculturist by Dr Dar and Prof Arun Tiwari of the University of Hyderabad, India. After the book launch, the symposium commenced which featured a series of presentations on various R4D collaborative programs between ICRISAT and BAR.

The symposium highlighted the partnership between ICRISAT and the Philippines that was strengthened through time and through a common goal which is to better the lives of the marginalized farmers. To solidify efforts to revitalize rainfed agriculture in the country, the symposium prominently featured the Philippine Rainfed Agriculture Research, Development and Extension Program (PhiRARDEP) which was conceptualized with the assistance of ICRISAT and was launched in 2011. Updates on the various projects under the PhiRARDEP were reported during the symposium.

Other resource speakers during the event included: Dr Rex Navarro who gave an overview on the Philippine-ICRISAT partnership; Dr CLL Gowda on ICRISAT’s grain legumes R4D and the importance of food legumes for human health, animal nutrition and prosperity; Dr Suhas P Wani on community watersheds which can help address the Philippine’s growing demand for food; and Prof Arun Tiwari on ICT for farmers and extension workers through the use of low-cost tablet PC.

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Philippine in-country training course on rainfed agriculture for the Visayas

Participants of the in-country training course.

ICRISAT in partnership with the DA-BAR and the Bohol Island State University (BISU) held the second of a series of in-country training courses on rainfed agriculture under PhiRARDEP. The training held on 2-13 April aimed to capacitate agricultural R4D partners in the Visayas islands.

ICRISAT’s R Navarro, MG Mula and RP Mula provided the facilitation and also served as resource persons during the training, along with officials and scientists from various SCUs and research institutes in the country. BISU headed by its President, E Magante and VP for Research and Extension, R Pobar hosted the event and gave full support to the weeklong training.

The training culminated with an inspirational message from Director General William Dar. One of the champions of PhiRARDEP, Dr Dar posed the challenge to all the participants to turn the drylands of the Visayas into productive farmlands. He stressed that ICRISAT mandate crops like sorghum, pigeonpea, groundnut and chickpea, while not meant to replace the current farming system of the area, are drought resistant and have potential niches that can possibly address the concerns of resource-poor farm households.

The closing program was also highlighted with the induction of the officers of the newly organized PhiRARDEP consortium formed as a result of the training.

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Education in the fight against hunger and poverty
DG addresses graduates, receives honorary degrees from Philippine universities

Dr Dar addressing the graduates and receiving the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Technology from TCA President Max P Guillermo.

State universities and colleges (SUCs) must be in the forefront of generating science and technology (S&T)-based solutions and innovations that are imperative in the pursuit of food security and poverty alleviation, and in the sustainable agricultural growth of the country.

This was the main message of the commencement addresses delivered by DG William Dar as chief guest in graduation rites of three premier SUCs in the Philippines namely: the Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College (ISPC) on 8 April; the Tarlac College of Agriculture (TCA), 66th commencement exercises on 9 April; and the Bohol Island State University (BISU), 79th commencement exercises on 12 April.

Delivering his commencement speech at BISU, where he also received an Honoris Causa of Doctor of Technology Management.

Dr Dar also emphasized in his message to the graduates the culture of feeding the forgotten poor – or dedicating oneself to serving the poor people to overcome poverty, hunger, malnutrition and a degraded environment through better and more resilient agriculture.

At TCA, Dr Dar was conferred an honorary degree (Honoris Causa) of Doctor of Technology by TCA President Max P Guillermo.

At BISU, he was likewise conferred an Honoris Causa of Doctor of Technology Management by BISU President Elpidio T Magante, and was cited for his contributions in “initiating innovations and programs in the field of education, agriculture and technology which benefited and served the people, business sector, industry and the community.”

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ABI-ICRISAT showcases agribusiness interventions at Nepal workshop

Mr Karuppanchetty with Mr Akwal Ahamad Shah, Agriculture Minister, Nepal.

ICRISAT shared its experiences and lessons learnt in India while promoting technology commercialization and agripreneurship through agribusiness incubation at an international workshop on agribusiness promotion held on 8-10 April in Kathmandu, Nepal. Organized jointly by the Project for Agriculture Commercialization and Trade (PACT), the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the World Bank Group, the workshop with the theme “Bringing together technologies, innovations and information for growth and sustainability of agribusiness” aimed at promoting the agriculture sector for the growth and sustainability of agribusinesses.

Addressing the gathering, chief guest Prime Minister of Nepal Dr Baburam Bhattarai said, “My government will double investment in the sector in the next fiscal year to transform it from a subsistence to a commercial sector.” Commercialization of agriculture will attract youth and create mass employment which will ultimately help the economy, he added.

Speaking about ICRISAT’s experiences in technology commercialization.

Representing ICRISAT, Mr Karuppanchetty of the Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program shared his experiences of promoting technology commercialization and agripreneurship through agribusiness incubation, focusing on policy interventions in the areas of education, innovation, risk mitigation, promotion, and access to markets in the agribusiness sector.

During his visit to the Commercial Agriculture Development Program (CADP), Biratnagar, organized by the InfoDev-World Bank to initiate an agribusiness incubator at Nepal, Mr Karuppanchetty held discussions on various successful value chainbased business incubation models in other countries.

During the workshop, participants from Nepal, India, Bhutan, Indonesia, the Netherlands and the US brainstormed on key issues such as removal of trade barriers to facilitate regional and international trade, identifying critical elements in accelerating public-private partnership in agribusiness, and creating markets for Nepal’s niche green products. About 200 agriculture commercialization experts and stakeholders from Nepal participated in the workshop.

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ICRISAT explores ties with MSU on metropolitan agriculture in Hyderabad

ICRISAT is exploring opportunities to be part of an effort led by the Michigan State University (MSU) to shape metropolitan agriculture in Hyderabad.

The MSU delegation with Mr AR Illyas of ICRISAT’s IPP-AIP.

On 7 April, a team led by Dr Chris Peterson, Director, Product Center, MSU and Director, MetroFoodPlus, Detroit City, along with Mr Sander Mager, Managing Director, License to Grow, Netherlands had a brainstorming meeting at ICRISAT, organized by the Innovation & Partnership Program (IPP) of the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP), to discuss the proposal on Metropolitan Agriculture (MetroAg).

MetroAg is conceived as a sustainable, systematic response to global challenges created by evolving agriculture, food and integrally related resource needs of highly concentrated metropolitan regions throughout the world. It aims to form MetroAg communities in cities which will establish Innovation Centers such a MetroFoodPlus in Detroit City, USA and globally establish a Metro Innoversity which will be the platform for learning, and to showcase best practices, knowledge exchange and partnership building.

The MetroAg group has identified Hyderabad in India, apart from Johannesburg, Sao Paulo (Brazil), Detroit and Netherlands, to constitute the first movers in shaping metropolitan agriculture and setting up the innoversity. MSU is exploring the possibility of setting up an India chapter of MetroAg in partnership with ICRISAT, for which an institutional agreement is currently being developed.

The group was in Hyderabad on 4-7 April to present the concept to a select stakeholder group comprising of officials of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, universities and leading private sector parties from the banking, infrastructure, agribusiness, poultry and R&D sectors. Dr Peterson and his team also met with Mrs Geetha Reddy, Minister for Major Industries, Government of Andhra Pradesh, who welcomed the move and sought a detailed proposal. The team also visited three lead partners from the seed industry, R&D innovations and poultry sector who agreed to be part of the Hyderabad initiative.

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ICRISAT signs MoU with Canada-based FAS

A new public-private sector partnership was initiated between Canada’s start-up company Frontier Agri Sciences Inc (FAS) and ICRISAT with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covering, among others, collaborative research & development, soft landing of potential technologies, both generic agricultural technologies and biotechnologies, and leveraging local expertise for market expansions.

KK Sharma and Hector Hernandez with FAS CEO Dr Julian Northey after the signing of the MoU.

FAS is committed to the application of modern biotechnological approaches and sustainable agricultural practices with the goal of increasing agricultural yields leading to improved livelihoods. Its team was led by its CEO Dr Julian Northey.

Participants were taught various styles of field walks, field counts and recording observations during their .visit to the irrigation farm site of the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR). At the Premier Seed Nigeria Limited Factory in Chikaji Industrial Estate, factory procedures on receipt of seed stocks, processing, packaging and storage as well as the internal quality control unit of the seed company to evaluate the ongoing germination tests in the laboratory were explained.

During their three-day visit on 16-18 April, FAS had a series of discussions with the Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops (PTTC) and AIP teams led by Dr KK Sharma, exploring activities that could be undertaken jointly. As part of this, a meeting with private agri-companies, predominantly seed companies and entrepreneurs, was organized to invite interest in technology transfer and licensing opportunities. More than 30 seed companies like Advanta, Syngenta, Bayer Crop Sciences, Zuari Seeds, Shriram Bioseeds, Vibha Agro Tech, and Seed Works attended the meeting. Some of the companies have expressed keen interest in licensing opportunities, which will be handled by AIP after detailed market study and technology valuations.

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CCAFS leader visits ICRISAT

Dr Jim Hansen from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), Earth Institute of Columbia University, New York, and Theme Leader of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Theme 2: Adaptation Pathways for Current Climate Risk, visited ICRISAT on 13 April. Dr Hansen met with scientists in the Research Programs on Resilient Dryland Systems, Dryland Cereals and Grain Legumes and expressed a strong desire to work with ICRISAT as an important partner for CCAFS.

A rapt audience listens to Dr Jim Hansen during his seminar.

During his visit, he presented a seminar titled ‘Where are the emerging opportunities to adapt agriculture to a variable climate?” outlining CCAFS’ program and explaining the objective of Theme 2. The seminar addressed designed diversification, index-based insurance, local knowledge that can be scaled up, food system risk management and climate information services.

He also held discussions with Drs Craufurd, Guntuku and Ninnes about ICRISAT hosting a scientist funded by CCAFS to work on climate information services. This position would look at case studies in Africa and Asia on climate information services and organize a South-South workshop to exchange ideas and experiences. The position would also strengthen gender and social equity in climate information services.

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Dr Jim Yong Kim is new World Bank Group President

The Executive Directors of the World Bank Group on 16 April chose Dr Jim Yong Kim as President of the Group for a five-year term beginning on 1 July 2012. He will replace
Mr Robert B Zoellick.

Dr Jim Yong Kim is currently President of Dartmouth College. A US national born in Seoul, South Korea, he is a co-founder of Partners in Health (PIH) and a former director of the Department of HIV/AIDS at the World Health Organization (WHO). Dr Kim held professorships at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, served as chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and director of the François Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The World Bank Group’s President is Chair of the Boards of Directors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). The President is also ex officio Chair of the Boards of Directors of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the Administrative Council of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

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The power of positive thinking

This picture was taken by Dr Tom Hash on his way from Niamey to Tera in western Niger. It had rained nicely the previous evening, and ever willing to try their
luck – farmers and their families were in the field planting pearl millet. One field along the road still had green seedlings in it that
had been sown with an even earlier rain storm in mid-February.

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