No. 1533 24 August 2012

Promoting public-private partnership
ICRISAT-HOPE upscales pearl millet hybrid seed production in India

(L to R) Dr OP Yadav, Project Coordinator, AICPMIP; DG William Dar; DDG-R D Hoisington; and CLL Gowda during a meeting at Patancheru to identify the pathways to successfully upscale the seed production of publicbred pearl millet hybrids.

Smallholder farmers are often constrained by the lack of access to seeds of improved crops and varieties. This is one of the biggest obstacles to technology utilization, especially to smallholder farmers. Hence, finding ways of supporting reliable seed systems is pivotal in increasing agricultural productivity and improving the livelihoods of smallholder households.

The ICRISAT-HOPE project recently identified promising pearl millet hybrids from the public and private sectors adapted to India’s arid zone. On 17 August, public and private sector organizations gathered on a single platform at ICRISAT-Patancheru to identify ways to successfully upscale seed production of these public-bred pearl millet hybrids. Directors of Research and scientists from four partner State Agricultural Universities (SAUs), and senior management and breeders of 18 seed companies of the Pearl Millet Hybrid Parents Research Consortium (PMHPRC) attended the meeting.

Deputy Director General – Research Dr Dave Hoisington welcomed the participants. In his inaugural address, Director General Dr William Dar spoke on the challenges of ensuring food security and affordability and coping with climate change, and the project’s role in improving the livelihood of small and marginal farmers. He underlined the need to make available quality seeds to farmers as an important component of sharing the results of research. He pointed in the direction of public-private-participatory approaches to aid the process, and urged the participating institutions to remove the hurdles in smooth seed delivery by following successful models like ICRISAT’s Hybrid Parents Research Consortium (HPRC).

Dr Dar addressing participants during the meeting.

In the technical session, partner scientists from SK Rajasthan Agricultural University, CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Junagarh Agricultural University, and SK Dantiwada Agricultural University, SK Nagar presented the results of large-scale farmer participatory adoption trials conducted by the project in 2010 and 2011. The group felt that the identified hybrids should reach farmers in the shortest possible time for them to reap the benefits of research.

Under the chairmanship of Dr OP Yadav, Project Coordinator, All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project (AICPMIP) and Dr CLL Gowda, Program Director – Grain Legumes, the group brainstormed on the release/notification process for hybrids, non-exclusive marketing rights to the private sector for public-bred hybrids, structure of royalty payments, price structure of certified seeds, branding of products, challenges in seed production, and private sector policies in seed production of public-bred hybrids.

The platform came in handy for some seed companies to discuss the issue of marketing rights for the identified hybrids with senior management of partner public organizations.

The meeting ended on an optimistic note with the group resolving to strengthen administrative systems to improve public-private partnerships for rapid and efficient seed delivery.

back to top Back to top

“Intensificationability” for smallholder households

Dr D Harris during the seminar in Nairobi.

While scientists focus on technologies that would increase productivity and yields, farmers are more concerned with the benefit cost ratio of adopting these new technologies. Costs are incurred with increased yield, so higher yield does not necessarily mean more returns.

So what are the factors to be taken into account when promoting new technologies for rural households? The household’s potential to benefit from such agricultural intensification seems a reasonable answer. And the word that describes this is “Intensificationability’’, which is a measure of the potential for a household to benefit from agricultural intensification. The tongue twister is also a big challenge to scientists when their innovation is not used and has no impact on poverty alleviation.

Along with this, Dr Dave Harris, Principal Scientist - Agroecosystems/Climate Change (Resilient Dryland Systems), gave a presentation on 10 August, to ICRISAT & ICRAF Nairobi staff titled: “Intensificationability” – Limits to agricultural development from a smallholder household perspective: The profitability of rainfed crop production and how it affects the potential for intensification. His presentation was based on measuring the potential for rural households to intensify technologies and its corresponding impact.

The three main factors in the analysis were household size, farm size and profitability. He found profitability data for 29 crops, involving a wide range of diverse technologies in 15 countries. Results showed that technology improved median profitability by 220%.

However, absolute values of net returns from rainfed cropping ranged only up to $700 per hectare per season. Since most rural households in sub-Saharan Africa are very small (80% of farmers own less than 2 hectares), returns from adopting improved technology are not attractive compared with other sources of income.

Hence, the fact that very few smallholder households derive their income from agriculture
(‘full-time farmers’) needs to be taken into account when promoting improved technologies.

During the discussions, suggestions were put forward for possible solutions, including irrigation which increases the number of cropping seasons per year but may be too costly for smallholder farmers.

back to top Back to top

Training course on Field Trial & QTL analysis

The Biometrics Unit at ICRISAT in collaboration with Professor Karl Broman from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Dr T Nepolean from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, is organizing a training course on R and R/QTL on 3-6 December 2012 at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

The course, designed for researchers and students of plant breeding, molecular biology, agricultural biotechnology and bioinformatics and biometrics, will comprise of three modules: (1)“R software” which includes installation, data management in “R” environment, basic programming and graphics; (2) phenotypic data analysis that covers field/lab experimental designs (CRD, RCBD, IBDs, Lattice and etc.) including data cleaning, outlier detection and other requirements of proper statistical analysis; linear models and their use in analysis of experimental designs; defining linear models for different types of experimental designs; and mixed models and their analysis; and (3) QTL analysis, cleaning of genotypic data, single marker regression, simple and composite interval mapping and multiple QTL mapping.

To register and for more details, visit or contact Ms B Manjula ( or Dr Abhishek Rathore ( (

back to top Back to top