No. 1517 04 May 2012

Fighting poverty and food insecurity in the drylands of Tanzania
ICRISAT-HOPE trains farmers on sorghum and finger millet productivity and marketing

When it comes to markets and increasing productivity, knowledge is power. This was the essence of the workshop held for these sorghum and finger millet farmers and extension staff in Kondoa district of Tanzania.

ICRISAT-HOPE project activities have been implemented along with partners in five districts of Tanzania – Rombo, Kondoa, Singinda, Iramba and Kishapu – with the aim of enhancing household incomes by improving productivity and marketing of sorghum and finger millet.

Towards this end, staff from the Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and Tanzania Seed Traders Association (TASTA) in Tanzania in collaboration with ICRISAT spearheaded a training workshop for 32 project collaborators in Kwamtoro, Kondoa district on 17-18 April. The activity was participated in by 15 local farmers, 5 Kwamtoro Sacco officials, 5 extension staff, 5 local government administrators and 2 input vendors. Also in attendance were Bob Shuma and Clemence Kivuyo (TASTA), Timothy Semuguruka (SARI), Henry Ojulong and Patrick Audi (ICRISAT-ESA).

The training aimed to enhance farmers’ knowledge in techniques to improve productivity and marketing of sorghum and finger millet, group formation management, objective price negotiation with traders, and production and marketing of sorghum and millets as a business, and to be able to disseminate the same knowledge to others.

Results of five discussion groups representing Kwamtoro, Lalta, Ovada, Sanzawa and Mpendo wards showed that the production cost of a 100-kg bag of improved Macia sorghum ranged from Tshs 15,000 to 25,000 (US$ 9.5 to US$ 15.8) – with a mean of about Tshs 20,000 (US$ 13). This in effect means that farmers will earn a marginal rate of return (MRR) of 50% within the forward contract agreement the farmers already have with Dunia Trust Limited in which they will sell their sorghum grain at Tshs 30,000 (US$ 19) per bag. During plenary discussions, the participants listed drought, bird damage, striga, and unstable prices as the most important challenges faced by them.

In his closing remarks, Kwamtoro Division Executive Secretary Pius Justine Chima urged extension officers and government administrators present to actively disseminate the knowledge acquired from the workshop and advised farmers to participate in transforming sorghum farming into a business by practicing what they had learnt.

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Agribusiness incubation camp held in Bhubaneswar

The Screening Committee in discussion with an entrepreneur.

As part of the ICAR-NAIP project on ‘Handholding and mentoring of BPD units of NARS’ of the Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program of AIP-ICRISAT, a one-day camp on agribusiness incubation was jointly organized by the National Institute for Research on Jute & Allied Fibre Technology (NIRJAFT), Directorate of Water Management (DWM) and ICRISAT at DWM, Bhubaneswar on 2 May. The camp’s objective was to commercialize technologies developed in the East Zone of the Zonal Technology Management (ZTM) Centre and Business Planning and Development (BPD) Unit, NIRJAFT and provide incubation support to agribusiness entrepreneurs in the region.

Dr Debasis Nag, Principal Investigator & Head of the ZTM-BPD Unit of NIRJAFT (Kolkata) briefed the participants about the opportunities and technologies available in his unit for commercialization from the zone which comprises 16 Regional Research Stations of ICAR. Chief Guest Dr Ashwani Kumar, Director-DWM, said such camps would boost the morale of entrepreneurs in the Eastern Zone who are in real need of incubation services and technical and business support from such events that link researchers to entrepreneurs.

Addressing the entrepreneurs as a special guest, Mr S Aravazhi, Deputy Manager - ABI, highlighted the impact created by the nine other BPD Units of the Network of Indian Agri-Business Incubators (NIABI) in terms of technology commercialization and entrepreneurship development and mentioned various success stories across the nation. Mr KK Gupta, Chief General Manager, NABARD (Bhubaneswar) briefed the audience on funding opportunities from his organization.

As part of the camp, a screening committee evaluated potential and eligible entrepreneurs to enroll as ZTM-BPD NIRJAFT members to avail incubation services. Of the 80 entrepreneurs who participated in the event, 20 were evaluated. A total of 7 start-up entrepreneurs and 4 SMEs were enrolled as members of ZTM-BPD NIRJAFT with 10 technology commercialization deals along with incubation support. Potential entrepreneurs can register with AIP-ICRISAT for a similar camp being organized by NIRJAFT in Ranchi on 18 May.

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DG announces creation of Strategic Marketing & Communication Office (SMC)

The emerging context of a new CGIAR and its subsequent funding environment requires re-examination, integration and reconfiguration of the marketing and communication functions at ICRISAT.

To pursue this direction, Director General William Dar announced the creation of the Strategic Marketing & Communication (SMC) Office effective 1 May 2012. The new Office is a merger of two previous units – the Resource Planning & Marketing (RPM) and the Communication Office (CO). The SMC will have as its interim Director, Dr Rex L Navarro.

In the new organogram, SMC will have four seamless operational clusters, namely: (1) Grants and Contracts; (2) Global Media; (3) Publications, Public Awareness & Marketing Support; and (4) Visitors and Travel Services.

A cluster approach in managing talents will be pursued to optimize staff synergy and operational flexibility. The set-up will also allow for seamless collaboration and value addition among staff members demanded by the creative and timebased nature of the combined functions. Specific terms of reference will be drawn up for each of the positions in the clusters.

Team ICRISAT congratulates the active women and men of the new SMC who will contribute to more successes for the Institute now and in the future.

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Odisha pigeonpea project evaluation and planning workshop held

A meeting and an Orientation and Planning Workshop of the project on ‘Introduction and expansion of improved pigeonpea (arhar) production technology in rainfed upland ecosystems of Odisha’ were held at the Directorate of Agriculture and Food Production, Bhubaneshwar and in Bhawanipatna, Odisha on 19 and 26 April, respectively.

The meeting at Bhubaneshwar was chaired by Director RS Gopalan together with his Deputy Director Saroj Das. Present during the meeting were the three Deputy Directors of Agriculture (DDAs) of Nauparha, Rayagada, and Kalahandi; NGOs (LOKSEBAK and SVA), KVK-Umarkote; three district coordinators and State coordinator; seed certifying agency; and Dr MG Mula and Mr RV Kumar from ICRISAT.

During the open forum, Dr Gopalan recommended an adjustment of the 2012 targets as an offshoot of the 2011 results. This entails a reduction in improved pigeonpea production technology (IPPT) sites from 6000 ha to 4000 ha; inclusion of Boudh and Bolinger districts in the project; reduction of the IPPT site in Rayagada from 1500 ha to 500 ha; fertilizer subsidy in the seed production component of the project; institutionalizing seed delivery system in the project to sustain pure quality seeds of farmer preferred varieties and hybrids; and hiring 15 field assistants.

Meanwhile, the Orientation and Planning Workshop was participated in by 65 project implementers involving four DDAs (Kalahandi, Nauparha, Rayagada and Bolinger) with their agricultural officers, KVK Nauparha, NGOs (LOKSEBAK and SVA), OSSOPCA (Central Seed Certification Officer and staffs), 15 newly-hired field assistants, district coordinators, State coordinator, and ICRISAT scientists.

Participants of the Orientation and Planning Workshop held in Odisha.

Prior to the planning workshop, Dr Mula presented the 2011 project accomplishments and targets for 2012. The main output of the workshop was to schedule the delivery of seeds in the sites covering 15 blocks in five districts (Nauparha, Kalahandi, Rayagada, Bolinger, and Boudh) for the sowing of 4,000 hectares of IPPT; 1,000 hectares for certified seed production; 186 hectares for foundation seed production; 40 hectares for hybrid seed production; and 42 hectares for farmer participatory varietal trials (FPVT). The workshop came up with specific schedules for the purchase and delivery of seeds and fertilizers to meet the scheduled sowing before 15 June. Fertilizers will be subsidized by the project only under the seed production and FPVT component of the project.

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