No. 1526 06 July 2012

Pursuing IMOD
Shelling groundnuts made easier

A woman farmer in Chipata, Zambia, tries out the new groundnut sheller.

IMOD is a dynamic progression from subsistence to market-oriented agriculture. It starts by increasing the production of crops, and converting deficits into marketable surpluses that are sold into markets. This strategy enables the poor, particularly women and the youth, to participate, rather than be sidelined in the development process.

ICRISAT’s strategy of inclusive market-oriented development (IMOD) was in motion during a recent visit by a team from ICRISAT-Lilongwe and the Eastern Province Farmers’ Cooperative Ltd (EPFC) to Kabunda village to solicit farmers’ opinion on a groundnut shelling machine.

The activity was conducted under the new Feed the Future project in Zambia. ICRISAT-Lilongwe was the source of the MGV4 (CG-7) basic seed converted into certified seed in villages such as Kabunda through a partnership with EPFC. EPFC provides farmers with training on seed production, increases the number of farmers producing seed through a seed loan system, and also buys back the groundnut certified seed produced by the smallholder farmers.

A groundnut farmer’s work doesn’t stop at harvest. At the end of a growing season, the nuts must be stripped or separated from the stalks. Then they must be gathered into sacks or stored in a granary before farmers can begin the next laborious task of shelling.

This last season, groundnut farmers Gift Lungu and his wife Jessie managed to produce 200 bags of unshelled groundnuts on their farm in Chipata District, in the Eastern Province of Zambia. Two hundred bags of unshelled groundnuts weigh around 3800 kg. “Shelling this amount takes us around 2 months or so on and off,” Jessie says. They hire laborers or women’s groups trying to earn some cash to help them shell.

Paying for extra labor cuts into the profit that the Lungus earn from their groundnuts. Shelling their entire harvest costs them US$ 240 or around 8% of their possible income from groundnut sales. Shelling groundnuts by hand is not just time-intensive; the repeated motion also causes scrapes on fingers. To make the task easier, farmers and laborers regularly wet the groundnuts, which in turn results in increased aflatoxin levels.

During the ICRISAT team’s visit to Kabunda village, farmers provided some of their harvest to be shelled and then each took a turn at the machine to try it out. Women in particular were given a chance to test the sheller and voice their opinions. The team took part in a 10-minute competition to determine the difference in speed between man and machine. In 10 minutes farmers managed to shell around 1 kg of groundnuts as compared to 8.5 kg by the machine.

The problem with the machine is the higher rate of breakage of the nuts. However, most farmers claimed that they were willing to use the machine and that the rate of loss in broken nuts was more than compensated for by the increase in speed of shelling. The discussions after the demonstrations revolved around finding ways for farmers to buy the shelling machine, the issue of maintaining and repairing it, as well as innovative ways to share it with others.

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NSF-BREAD project meeting held at UC-Davis

The Third Annual Project Review and Planning Meeting of the National Science Foundation (NSF)-Basic Research Enabling Agriculture in Developing Countries (BREAD) project titled “Overcoming the domestic bottleneck for symbiotic nitrogen fixation in legumes” was held at the University of California (UC)-Davis, USA on 28-29 June.

(L) Rajeev Varshney presenting the NSF-BREAD project achievements.
(R) Participants of the Review and Planning Meeting.

Among the participants were Doug Cook, R Varma Penmetsa, Jongmin Baek and graduate/ undergraduate students from UC-Davis; Eric von Wettberg, Vanesa Sanchez and Klara Scharnagi from the University of Florida (USA); Sarvjeet Singh and Jagmeet Kaur from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, and Mohd Yasin from the Agricultural Research Station-Sehore of Rajmata Vasundhara Raje Krishi Vishwavidalaya, Jabalpur, India; and Rajeev Varshney, Pooran Gaur, Hari Upadhyaya, Dong-Hyun Kim and Mayank Kaashyap from ICRISAT.

Presentations were made by the project partners showcasing significant progress achieved in the two years of implementation, particularly in the area of genome sequencing of chickpea. Discussions were held to explore the possibility of extending project activities. The project meeting was followed by the Annual BREAD Awardees Meeting at NSF, Washington DC, in which Rajeev Varshney together with Doug Cook presented the progress made and synergies achieved between the NSF-BREAD project and the TLI- chickpea and chickpea genome sequencing projects.

NSF-BREAD is a joint initiative of the NSF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

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ICRISAT participates in AgriLORE project wrap-up meeting

AgriLORE, a consortium project on “Innovations in technology mediated learning: An institutional capacity building in using Reusable Learning Objects in agro-horticulture,” held a wrap-up meeting on 30 June at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi, upon project completion. AgriLORE aimed to develop Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs) to improve livelihoods of rural learners, by offering enhanced, technology-mediated access to learning materials and learning opportunities.

In collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, ICRISAT has contributed to the development of the platform and to distance education institutes, leading to the development of 500 RLOs. The project started in April 2010 and concluded on 30 June 2012.

Dileepkumar Guntuku elaborates on the project activities.

Dileepkumar Guntuku, Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation (KSI), presented the outcome of ICRISAT’s sub-project activities. The consortium partners appreciated ICRISAT’s work and acknowledged IIT Kanpur’s contribution, especially that of Dr TV Prabhakar. Apart from the consortium partners, personnel from CABI, IARI, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the University of Florida took part in this meeting.

The chairman of the review committee recommended the global expansion of the project and suggested exploring funding opportunities for a new program – the National Agricultural Education Program – expected to start in 2013.

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