No. 1524 22 June 2012
Partnership for progress
ICRISAT and Nigeria strengthen ties towards sustainable agricultural development

Dr Dar (4th from left) during a courtesy meeting with Nigerian Agriculture Minister Dr Adesina (5th from left). Also seen in the picture are (L to R) Dr Ajeigbe, Dr Waliyar, Prof Abubakar, Prof Mokwunye, Minister of State Agriculture Alh Bukar Tijani and Prof Obilana.

Addressing critical agricultural development challenges through partnership was the focus of Director General William Dar’s recent courtesy meeting with Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Abuja, Nigeria on 20 June.

On top of the agenda was strengthening ICRISAT’s research-for-development (R4D) activities in Nigeria. Dr Adesina, a former staff of ICRISAT, stated that agricultural development is now the government’s highest priority. He added that they are banking on Nigeria’s collaboration with ICRISAT to help attain food self-sufficiency, and to transform agriculture into a business-oriented sector through sorghum, millet and groundnut value chains.

Dr Dar speaking during the meeting.

Dr Adesina reported that Nigeria is the number one producer of food sorghum in the world, but hopes to produce an additional 2 million metric tons by 2015. In the sorghum value chain, he reiterated Nigeria’s need for assistance from ICRISAT in the areas of breeding, seed system development, and mobilization of improved technologies. He further noted that Nigeria used to be the number one exporter of groundnut in the 1960s and was famous for its groundnut pyramids in the northern part of the country. The Ministry, he said, hopes to collaborate with ICRISAT in bringing the groundnut pyramid back, citing as an example ICRISAT’s impact in Malawi on groundnut production and exports.

In response, Dr Dar reaffirmed ICRISAT’s commitment to help develop Nigeria’s agriculture through R4D projects embracing the inclusive market-oriented development (IMOD) approach. He shared ICRISAT’s achievements in India in terms of generating and scaling up agricultural innovations such as community-based integrated soil and water management. The meeting identified groundnut and sorghum value chains as areas where ICRISAT can have an immediate impact in Nigeria.

On the other hand, Honorable Minister of State Agriculture, Alh Bukar Tijjani, pointed on the success of the PROMISSO project in promoting three of ICRISAT’s mandate crops – sorghum, millet and groundnut – which are major food and cash crops of more than 50% (80 million) Nigerians.

Dr Dar presenting the ICRISAT-Nigeria flyer to Prof Abubakar (2nd from right), with Dr Waliyar (extreme right) and Dr Mokwunye (extreme left).
During the meeting, Dr Dar submitted a concept note on “Rebuilding the groundnut pyramids: boosting farmers’ income through new groundnut varieties, cropping systems and processing technologies in Nigeria” to Dr Adesina.

Dr Dar was accompanied by Dr Farid Waliyar (Regional Director, West and Central Africa), Dr Uzo Mokwunye (former ICRISAT Board Chair) and Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe (Nigeria Country Representative). Also in attendance during the meeting were Prof BY Abubakar, Executive Secretary of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN); Team Leader of the Nigeria sorghum transformation value chain, Prof Baba Obilana (also a former ICRISAT sorghum breeder), several directors in the Ministry and members of the sorghum transformation value chain.

Dr Dar and his team also visited ARCN where they were received by Executive Secretary Abubakar, the Director of Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), and other Directors in ARCN. Discussions focused on strengthening ICRISAT’s collaborative agricultural R4D activities with Nigerian research institutes.

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ICRISAT-HOPE helps defy drought and sustain sorghum yields

HOPE Dryland Cereals project meeting at Pune.

Interventions of the ICRISAT-HOPE Dryland Cereals project are defying drought and sustaining sorghum crop yield in Maharashtra state of India. Both the Marathwada and Western Maharashtra regions of the state, known as the sorghum bowl of India, reeled under extreme drought in the 2011-12 post rainy season. However, the use of improved cultivars, crop and drought management practices, and input and output market linkages under the HOPE project in the last three years helped more than 25,000 sorghum farmers get an average 40% higher grain yields and 20% higher fodder yields compared to the use of local varieties.

Project interventions also helped farmers overcome high climatic variability during the three years of project implementation. Additionally, higher market price (over USD 0.60 kg-1) in 2012 greatly boosted farmers’ incomes from sorghum.

The BMGF-funded HOPE Dryland Cereals project (sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet) is implemented in 11 countries including India. ICRISAT is the lead center, with the Marathwada Agricultural University (MAU), Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (MPKV) and Directorate of Sorghum Research (DSR) as partners for sorghum in India. The project completed three years of implementation and the 3rd annual progress review and workplan development meeting was organized at the College of Agriculture, Pune in Maharashtra on 14-15 June.

In his opening address, Vice Chancellor of MPKV Dr TA More commended the dedicated efforts by ICRISAT and partner institution scientists working under the project, particularly in transferring technologies and making a difference in the lives of more than 25000 farmers in the last 3 years. Eva Weltzien from HOPE management observed that the good work done in India should be well documented and published for the benefit of all stakeholders, while George Okwach, HOPE project manager appreciated the overall progress of the HOPE project in South Asia (SA).

SR Gadakh from MPKV presented highlights of the benefits to smallholder sorghum farmers, SP Mehtre on sorghum research progress, Pokharkar on targeting, Sachin More on marketing, and Gadakh and Mehtre on delivery for adoption.

Participants of the project meeting.

The workplan for the fourth year was developed and presented by ICRISAT’s Nagaraj, Belum, Partha and Ashok, and was approved after thorough discussions. For the first time, farmers were made a part of the work planning meeting. Lewis Mughogho and Brhane Gebrekidan, HOPE Project Advisory Board (PAB) members congratulated the sorghum team in SA for the great achievements in developing technologies which can be shared with teams in sub-Saharan Africa.


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ICRISAT participates in high-level international organizing committee meeting in Brazil

Participants of the high-level international organizing committee meeting in Brazil.

Despite repeated occurrences of drought throughout human history and the large- scale impacts on various socio-economic sectors, no concerted efforts have been made to initiate a dialogue on the formulation and adoption of national drought policies. With the leadership of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), in collaboration with various UN agencies, international and regional organizations, and key national agencies, a High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP) has been planned on March 2013 in Geneva. As an initial step, a preparatory High-level International Organizing Committee (HIOC) meeting was organized at Brasilia, Brazil on 11-12 June.

Dr Naveen P Singh of the Research Program on Markets, Institution & Policies, represented ICRISAT to the HIOC and shared the Institute’s various drought mitigation programs/plans in the drylands, as well as constraints and bottlenecks in the implementation of such programs. He was also involved in developing the structure of the proposed HMNDP wherein intricacies of drought and its linkages with science and policy will be deliberated. The overarching theme of HMNDP, to be conducted in two segments, shall be “reducing societal vulnerability – helping society (communities and sectors) to cope with drought through National Drought Policy.”

The HMNDP outcome is envisioned to enable governments to adopt policies that engender cooperation and coordination at all levels of governments in order to increase their capacity to cope with extended periods of water scarcity in the event of a drought to create more drought resilient societies.

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ICRISAT-assisted e-Courses now available online

e-Courses for the BVSc and AH degree programs developed by the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TNVASU), Chennai were released recently at a function organized by ICAR at TNAU, Coimbatore. The e-Courses are now available at The offline version in the form of DVDs was also released.

ICRISAT played a crucial role in building the capacity of the TNVASU teachers to develop the e-Courses, training 79 content developers (in two batches) for five days in 2008. Through an email, Dr M Thirunavukkarasu, Consortium Principal Investigator at TNVASU, acknowledged the role played by ICRISAT in training the teachers, who were novices otherwise, in the nuances of e-Course development. He particularly thanked Drs V Balaji and B Diwakar for their inputs. In total, ICAR’s National Innovation Project (NAIP) has supported the development of e-Courses for seven degree programs in agriculture, where ICRISAT has also provided trainings.

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ICRISAT-aWhere data management project kicks off

Data management project kick-off meeting in Nairobi.

Scientists from the ICRISAT-HOPE and Tropical Legumes II projects held an ICRISAT-aWhere data management project kick-off meeting in Nairobi on 8 June. This is following an agreement between ICRISAT and aWhere Inc to use the aWhere data management platform for the HOPE and TLII projects (both funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) for collating, analyzing, and sharing data and information with partners, and to allow BMGF Program Officers to monitor the project activities virtually.

aWhere is a data management platform that enables agricultural research and extension efforts to be analyzed, and results monitored and measured down to the farm, field, village, or household while simultaneously allowing those results to be available to the public.

The meeting was organized and facilitated by Dileepkumar Guntuku, Global Leader, ICRISAT’s Knowledge Sharing and Innovation. At the meeting, aWhere CEO, John Corbett, gave an overview of the data management platform and how it brings transparency and accountability by connecting project efforts with funding sources. He added that the platform transforms complex data from many sources into actionable insight through comprehensive data collection, data integration, and location intelligence technologies. The platform provides information-rich, interactive applications, visualizations and reports, and requires minimal training to use.

A total of 36 scientists (17 onsite and 19 virtual) participated in the meeting. Broadcasted through the KSI connect platform, virtual participants were able to watch the entire meeting and also allowed them to interact with onsite participants through the chat window. Participants from HOPE and TLII projects include Said Silim, Ganga Rao, Alastair Orr, George Okwach, Mary Mgonja, Henry Ojulong, and Dave Harris. They were joined by colleagues from ICRISAT WCA and Patancheru, IITA and CIAT through virtual streaming. A design workshop will be held later where all key personnel and objective leaders of the two projects will contribute to the design and requirement gathering.

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Workshop on voice-KVK and KVK-Net

Participants of the workshop at Patancheru.

ICRISAT’s KSI in collaboration with IIT-Kanpur organized a one-day workshop on 15 June to sensitize Krishi Vigyana Kendra (KVK) scientists of Zone VIII on virtual extension activity using the voice message broadcasting platform ‘vKVK’.

vKVK was developed to connect Krishi Vigyan Kendras with the farmers via internet and mobile phones. A knowledge networking site developed by the IITK for sharing of experiences among scientists of KVKs called ‘KVK-Net’ was also demonstrated. Twenty three scientists from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala participated in the workshop.

The workshop coordinated by Dr N T Yaduraju, Principal Scientist (ICT4D), was inaugurated by DDG Dave Hoisington. ICRISAT’s Dr Kiran Yadav and Mr Jeetendra Kumar, along with Dr Shravan Shukla from IIT-Kanpur and Dr CY Manikanhaiya from the Zonal Project Directorate, Kanpur served as resource persons.

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Agropedia-II Bags eWorld Forum Award 2012

Dr Hugar (left) receiving the award on behalf of Team Agropedia.

The NAIP- ICAR funded consortium project “Engaging Farmers, Enriching Knowledge: Agropedia Phase II” bagged the eWorld Forum Award 2012 as the best ICT-enabled agriculture initiative of the year. Dr LB Hugar of the University of Agriculture Sciences (UAS), Raichur received the award on behalf of Team Agropedia at a function held in New Delhi on 15 June. The award is given primarily to acknowledge unique and innovative initiatives in the use of ICT4D, and is sponsored by e-Gov Magazine in cooperation with the Department of Telecommunications and Electronics and the Department of Information Technology (IT) under the Ministry of Communication and IT, Government of India. Agropedia (Phase-I) also bagged the eWorld Forum Award back in 2009. The first phase of the project was led by ICRISAT.

The Agropedia Phase II project launched in April 2011 has recorded excellent progress in such a short time. The lead partner, IIT-Kanpur, conceived and developed vKVK – an innovative platform for sending agro-advisories either as text or voice message in local dialect directly to the farmers’ mobile phones. This technology was pilot tested involving over 20,000 farmers in 30 KVKs across the country during 2011-12. ICRISAT tested the platform successfully involving over 3000 farmers located in four districts in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. ICAR is planning to upscale the project to cover all the 630 KVKs in the 12th Five Year Plan.

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