No. 1519 18 May 2012

Tropical Legumes II (Phase 2) holds South Asia work plan meeting in Bhubaneswar

Director General Dr William Dar delivers the inaugural address at the TL II’s South Asia regional annual review and work plan meeting held at Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Also seen (seated from L to R) are Dr CLL Gowda, Director, Grain Legumes Program, ICRISAT; Dr SS Nanda, Dean of Research, Odisha University of Agriculture & Technology and TL II project Coordinator Dr Emmanuel Monyo.

An estimated 101 million households in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and South Asia (SA) grow one or more of the six grain legumes targeted under the Tropical Legumes II project, for food security, income generation, improved nutrition and maintaining soil fertility. Increasing the area under improved cultivars, new production technologies and expanding cultivation to non-traditional areas could possibly bring about change in the lives of smallholder farmers in the target countries.

The South Asia regional annual review and work plan meeting of the Tropical Legumes II (TL II) project was held at Bhubaneswar, Odisha, from 14-17 May. The project aims to enhance grain legumes productivity and production in droughtprone areas of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and South Asia (SA).

In his inaugural address, expressing concern and alarm over the growing number of undernourished, Director General William Dar said, “More than a quarter of the world’s children are still malnourished. Together, SSA and SA regions account for nearly 63% (24% in SSA and 39% in SA) of the world’s 700 million undernourished people, including children.” He appreciated the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s support and commitment to the cause as reflected in its agriculture strategy, with a strong focus on agricultural development in SSA and SA.

Commending the progress made by the TL II team in Phase 1, Dr Dar fervently appealed to enhance efforts towards increasing the area under improved cultivars and production technologies and expanding grain legumes cultivation to nontraditional areas during Phase 2.

About 40 participants representing partner institutes from India (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Odisha) and Bangladesh attended – ICRISAT, Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU), Bihar Agricultural University, Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT), Department of Agriculture, Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme, University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS - Bengaluru, Dharwad and Raichur), Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) and Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI).

In his telephonic message, Dr David Bergvinson from the foundation lauded the impressive work of Phase 1, and said there were greater expectations from Phase 2. He underlined the immense potential to enhance production of legumes in both Bangladesh and India. In a message, Mr DP Ray, Vice-Chancellor of Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology, thanked the Foundation and ICRISAT for including Odisha in Phase 2 of the project.

Dr Emmanuel Monyo, the newly appointed Coordinator of TL II, presented an overview of the project and highlighted the progress made in SSA and India during Phase 1.

TL II project Coordinator E Monyo elucidates on the progress made during Phase 1.

In Phase 2, project activities in South Asia are being continued in 3 Phase 1 states of India (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) and have been expanded to Bangladesh and Bihar and Odisha states in India. The target legumes for South Asia include chickpea, groundnut and pigeonpea. Phase 2 builds on the successes of Phase 1, wherein farmer-preferred varieties were identified through farmer-participatory varietal selection (FPVS) trials in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and their adoption was increased by improving seed supply through strengthening formal and informal seed systems.

Progress made during 2011-12 was reviewed and work plans for 2012-13 were finalized during the meeting. The group also discussed and revised country strategies for chickpea, groundnut and pigeonpea. TL II is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Participants of the annual review meeting.

back to top Back to top

Sorghum and legume-based systems project meetings held in Khartoum

These silos in Garadif state can store up to 100,000 tons of grain.

The Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC) of Sudan in collaboration with the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), organized a Performance Monitoring and Planning (PMP) and country inception meetings on the project “Sustainable intensification of sorghum-legume-based systems for food security and feed to improve livelihoods and adaptation to climate change in semi-arid areas of East and Central Africa (ECA)” from 24-30 April in Khartoum, Sudan.

The ASARECA-funded project aims to enhance utilization of sustainable sorghum-legume system technologies and innovations by smallholder farmers in the semi-arid areas of Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with backstopping from ICRISAT.

Opening the PMP meeting attended by 25 participants, Sudan sorghum breeder and Principal Investigator Dr Abdalla Mohamed highlighted the importance of sorghum as the most important food and feed crop in Sudan, with 6 million hectares under cultivation forming 70% of the total cultivated land.

Country PIs presented their work plans and targets which were then structured into the main work plan. Planned activities, work plans, organizational arrangements and roles and responsibilities of partners were discussed. A gender training session prepared stakeholders in collecting gender disaggregated data.

This was followed by the Sudan project inception meeting in Garadif state, the implementing state about 400 km from Khartoum, chosen because it produces 95% of the country’s total sorghum. State scientists, extension staff, farmers and agro-providers joined this meeting.

In her remarks, Dr Fina Opio, ASARECA Program Manager of Staple Crops said that ASARECA had been formed to share resources among the NARS and to avoid duplication in the exploitation of opportunities along the sorghum value chain. She informed that the technologies developed under similar projects would be up-scaled by the current project.

Participants of the meeting held at Khartoum.

In his opening remarks, State Minister for Agriculture Prof Mamoun I Dawelbait, citing the project as timely, was optimistic that it would stem the decline in the region’s sorghum yield, which had fallen from an average of 800 kgs ha-1 to 300 kgs ha-1 over the years mainly due to Striga. Noting the change in people’s preferences for bread as opposed to pure sorghum and the need for value addition, he expressed happiness that the project was taking a value chain approach. The ARC has submitted three Striga-resistant sorghum varieties for release, which the project would promote and share with other NARS in the project.

Participants later visited the Auction hall where sorghum grain is auctioned every morning and saw the huge silos that can store up to 100,000 tons of grain between harvests.

back to top Back to top

Sweet sorghum value chain project meeting held at Patancheru

Participants of the sweet sorghum review meeting held at Patancheru.

The fourth annual review and project culmination meeting of the ICRISAT-NAIP-ICAR Sweet sorghum ethanol value chain development project was held at Patancheru on 15 May, to review the progress made in the last four years (December 2007 to May 2012), evaluate the lessons learned and explore ways to take the value chain forward.

Consortium partners from the Directorate of Sorghum Research (DSR), Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Sri Venkateswara Veterinary University (SVVU), Agri-Innovation Program at ICRISAT, erstwhile partner Rusni Distilleries and ICRISAT scientists and NAIP Component 2 National Coordinator RK Goyal, participated in the meeting.

Welcoming the participants, Dr Oscar Riera Lizaraju, Director - Dryland Cereals Program highlighted the importance of the consortium and the progress made. In his opening remarks, DDG-R Dr Dave Hoisington congratulated the team for working out of the box, and called for supportive policies to make such ventures sustainable in order to reap future benefits.

Consortium Principal Investigator Dr Belum VS Reddy presented the project’s overall progress and emphasized that enhancing on-farm yields would make the crop profitable to farmers. He complimented the team for innovatively modifying crusher rollers to suit sweet sorghum stalk, thereby achieving the targeted juice output of 350 liter ton-1 of stalk, record output of syrup at 65 kg ton-1 of stalk and a 27% reduction in the cost of syrup production. This was followed by brief presentations by consortium partners on the progress made in their respective activities. In conclusion, Dr Belum Reddy called for the setting up of multi-feedstock units with multiple products and providing enabling policy support, as in China.

At the meeting of the Consortium Advisory Committee (CAC), its chairman ST Borikar suggested exploring alternative markets for sweet sorghum syrup and product development to make the crop more profitable to farmers.

NAIP National Coordinator Dr RK Goyal spoke on the project’s progress and regretted that the withdrawal of Rusni Distilleries from the consortium owing to inherent difficulties, had created a vacuum in the centralized operations of the ethanol value chain.

The project ends in June 2012.

back to top Back to top

Workshop on sorghum use in school feeding programmes held in Kano

Participants of the Training of Trainers’ (ToT) workshop.   Hajia Halima Titi Bello, Head of Women In Agriculture, KNARDA, makes a demonstration.

ICRISAT participated in a Training of Trainers’ (ToT) workshop organized by Nigeria Sorghum Transformation Value Chains (STVC) from 14-16 May, at the Kano Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA) in Kano, Nigeria. STVC is a focal group of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Nigeria. The objective of the workshop was to promote sorghum use in school feeding programmes, focusing on increased production and improved processing for improved nutrition.

Participants included field officers of the Women in Agriculture (WIA) programme of the 13 states of the Northeast and Northwest zones of Nigeria and representatives of women groups from 22 local government areas in Kano State. The two zones together produce about 80% of the sorghum grain in Nigeria.

Vera Lugutuah, APO (Human Nutrition) at ICRISAT, Mali, presented nutrition-related activities and projects of ICRISAT. Other resource persons included Dr Omo Ohiokpehai, Head of Sorghum Processing and Products Group (STVC), Alh Alli Madugu, MD Dala Foods Nigeria Ltd and Hajia Halima Titi Bello, Head, WIA, KNARDA. The topics discussed included the effects of different processing methods on nutrient content and bioavailability of sorghum; nutrient retention and biofortification and fortification. The participants gave a positive feedback and briefly outlined the way forward for each of their local governments.

back to top Back to top

ICRISAT showcased at Europe Day celebration in Kenya

Paul Chege interacts with a visitor at the ICRISAT stall.

ICRISAT-Nairobi had the opportunity to showcase its research activities that are supported by the European Union and its member states on 9 May, at the Europe Day Celebration and exhibition. Hosted by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Kenya under the theme ‘Research for Development’, the event was organized by the Delegation of the European Union to Kenya. ICRISAT as one of the partners of the European Union, was invited to put up a booth.

ICRISAT was represented at the exhibition by Peter Kaloki and Paul Chege, who showcased research products, seed varieties, reports, brochures and information leaflets.

back to top Back to top

ICRISAT conducts in-country training course on rainfed agriculture RD&E

Participants of the in-country training organized at MMSU, Philippines.

A five-day in-country training course on “Capability strengthening for rainfed agriculture, research, development, and extension (RD&E) in the Ilocos” was conducted by ICRISAT with the DA Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) and hosted by the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Batac, Ilocos Norte, Philippines on 7-11 May.

The course was aimed at developing and strengthening the capabilities of the Philippine Agriculture Research and Extension System (NARES) on rainfed agriculture RD&E along the Philippine Rainfed Agriculture Research, Development, and Extension Program (PHIRARDEP). It enabled participants to exhibit improved knowledge, attitude and skills on rainfed cropping systems, natural resource management, and related learning areas; share information, knowledge, and skills on rainfed agriculture with various stakeholders, especially decision-makers, extensionists, and farmers; and mobilize stakeholder involvement in rainfed agriculture RD&E in northern Philippines.

Fifty senior faculty and researchers of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), senior researchers and staff of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and provincial and municipal agriculturists (PAs & MAs) of local government units attended the course. The activity was coordinated by ICRISAT through Drs Rex L Navarro, Director, Strategic Marketing and Communication, Myer G Mula (scientist) and Rosanna P Mula (LSU Coordinator /Special Project Scientist).

Dr Miriam E Pascua, President of MMSU, in her message said, “more than three decades ago, our R&D focused on developing technologies that feed our hungry world. Today, it is still the same goal that we would like to pursue.”

Speaking on “Innovations in knowledge sharing for rainfed agriculture”, Dr Navarro emphasized that business as usual would no longer suffice. “We will launch a new approach to agriculture to cope with climate change, to refit and reinvent agricultural RD&E in waging a second Green Revolution, this time in rainfed areas. We must pursue a new approach involving the men, women and youth of every rural household in the rainfed areas.”

Representing DA-BAR Director Dr Nicomedes P Eleazar, Assistant Director Dr Teodoro S Solsoloy outlined the approach by which various agencies and stakeholders can meet the challenges of climate change.

back to top Back to top

ACIAR end of project review meeting held

A team comprising Drs Richard Heath and MS Sheshshayee, led by ACIAR Acting Research Program Manager Dr Richard Brettell of the Crop Improvement and Management Division, are at ICRISAT to review the project on “Improving postrainy sorghum varieties to meet the growing grain and fodder demand in India”, led by Project Investigator Dr Vincent Vadez.

The project involves ICRISAT (Drs Jana Kholova, Santosh Deshpande, CT Hash and Parthasarathi Rao), DSR and agriculture universities (Dr HS Talwar from DSR, Dr Biradar and Dr Sameer Kumar), ILRI (Michael Blummel) and the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (Drs Andrew Borrell, GL Hammer and Greg McLean).

The objective of the project was to increase grain/stover productivity and quality of postrainy sorghum in India through the introgression of stay-green QTLs from B35 donor parent using a combination of crop simulation modelling, advanced molecular techniques, and physiological understanding of critical drought adaptation traits for precise phenotyping. The project has yielded significant outputs that pave the way for developing products for smallholder farmers’ in the rabi sorghum area. The approach has the potential to be replicated in other regions.


back to top Back to top

Work/Life Fulfilment Integration workshop held in ESA

Participants of the workshop held at Naivasha, Kenya.

Happiness psychology, Theory U, appreciative enquiry, the power of positivity and synchronicity were some of the themes discussed during a workshop on Positive Work/Life Integration held in Naivasha, Kenya, from 10-11 May, in which ICRISAT staff from the three ESA locations of Nairobi, Lilongwe and Bulawayo participated. Regional Director for ESA Dr Said Silim welcomed the participants and enjoined them to learn and then apply the new learned skills back on the job.

The course also examined work/life fulfilment and attempted to get participants to assess the big picture of their lives by understanding what factors contribute to their own overall happiness, and how they perceive their lives and the options open to them. One of the most powerful exercises was one where participants drew a picture of their lives at the present moment and then shared these images (roller coasters, rainbows, crossroads, etc.) with their colleagues.

Later, staff received the results of the survey they had completed that classified them into one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types and a stress profile showing how their personality type usually handles stress, what triggers stress and best strategies of coping with stress. The second day focused on issues of time management, distinguishing between important tasks and urgent ones and time allocation to each. The course concluded with a visioning exercise where participants projected ICRISAT’s impacts five years from now.

The course was organized by Mr Hector Hernandez, Director, Human Resources and Operations, and conducted by Philip Merry Global Academy of Leadership based in Singapore.

ESA scientists meet: Scientists in ICRISAT-ESA took this opportunity to hold a meeting on 12 May in Naivasha to discuss common issues for IRS staff in all three locations. Led by Dr Said Silim, staff members were briefed on regional requirements for the upcoming Governing Board meeting, followed by a delegation of duties such as the development of presentations showcasing ICRISAT-ESA research. Personnel issues, recruitment procedures and full cost recovery were also discussed. This was followed by the group examining the CRPs pertinent to ICRISAT and attempting to identify where ICRISAT, and more specifically where ICRISAT-ESA, had certain opportunities/advantages.

back to top Back to top