No. 1536 14 September 2012

Strategic partnership for rice self-sufficiency in Asia
CORRA holds 16th annual meeting at ICRISAT-Patancheru

(L-R) Directors General Dr William D Dar (ICRISAT), Dr S Ayyappan (ICAR) and Dr Robert Zeigler (IRRI) during the opening session of the 16th annual meeting of CORRA at Patancheru.

By 2035, global demand for rice will be more than 135 million metric tons, with demand growing by 8 million metric tons per year. Amid global challenges like climate change, burgeoning population and shrinking land, we must substantially increase rice productivity per unit of land. Rice growing countries in Asia, particularly members of the Council for Partnership on Rice Research in Asia (CORRA), must therefore share research outputs and work together towards a food-secure world.

These views were shared by Dr V Bruce J Tolentino, Deputy Director General for Communications and Partnerships, IRRI during the 16th annual meeting of CORRA on 13-14 September at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

Attended by senior officials from 14 member countries, this year’s CORRA meeting was hosted by ICRISAT, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). The event was aimed at developing a roadmap for rice research-for-development (R4D) in Asia to achieve sustainable rice productivity and meet present and future food security and nutrition challenges.

Dr Dar delivering his welcome address.

Welcoming the participants, ICRISAT Director General William Dar shared his early affiliation with CORRA, being one of the Council’s founders when he was Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) that hosted its inaugural meeting in 1997. He expressed confidence that CORRA as a strategic partnership mechanism plays a vital role in meeting the challenges of the global rice research system.

In his opening message, Dr S Ayyappan, ICAR Director General, stressed the importance of making smallholder rice farmers stronger and more resilient as global threats of climate change become more evident. On the other hand, Dr Robert Zeigler, IRRI Director General shared his view that while increased productivity may not make smallholder farmers richer, having various relevant technology available to them provides them strength.

The meeting featured five country reports, namely: (1) Trends and current developments in studying the nutritional aspects of rice in Japan; (2) Intellectual property management in Thailand; (3) Public-private partnership in rice seed industry in Bangladesh; (4) Methods and tools used in generating rice statistics and progress of integrated crop management in Indonesia; and (5) Rice technology management in India focusing on the KVKs experiences.

Members of CORRA are represented by senior officials of selected NARES in Asia. This in effect provided the meeting with a strong intellectual and political voice and vast opportunities to deliberate on important research and policy issues affecting the livelihoods of rice farmers and consumers, and influencing the rice R4D agenda in the region.

Participants of the meeting at Patancheru.

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The fight against malnutrition
ICRISAT promotes public-private partnerships

by Professor Nigel Poole, OBE and Chair, ICRISAT Governing Board (Reprinted from the WAF September 2012 Newsletter)

ICRISAT Director General, William Dar with visiting Indian farmers during a site visit to examine the performance of new pigeonpea varieties.

We at ICRISAT are pleased that the World Agricultural Forum (WAF) Congress with the theme of reshaping agriculture for a sustainable future is going to be held on our doorstep in Hyderabad in 2013. If we seriously want things to change, and the world’s smallholder farmers to grow more and diverse food and improve their lives, then public-private partnerships are part of the solution. ICRISAT knows how powerful partnerships have been in ensuring that their research has a real impact on the lives of the poor in the arid and semi-arid regions. Prime Minister Cameron and President Obama have both recently stressed the importance of public-private partnerships in reducing malnutrition in Africa and Asia.

I have witnessed firsthand how scientists from ICRISAT and our partners are getting crops to yield better and land to be farmed in a more sustainable and productive way! Just two examples, a pioneering project started in Andhra Pradesh 13 years ago is now the role model for community natural resource management in Asia and Africa. Meanwhile, our soil fertility program called Bhoochetana in Karnataka, covers three million hectares benefiting three million families. With yields increasing by up to 66%, the economic return during last year’s rainy season worked out at around US$ 130 million. We welcome all to explore collaboration with ICRISAT to replicate this success in other states.

As part of our 40th anniversary, scientists from across Africa and Asia are coming together at our headquarters in Hyderabad, India this September to discuss some of their key innovations and the way forward. They will be debating many of the challenges facing smallholder farmers and how research along with the right public private partnerships can mean a significant improvement in yields, land and water management, access to markets and the use of information and communication technology to the benefit of the poor. The role of women, soil and water management together with plant breeding will be highlighted, as ICRISAT has made major advances in these fields.

Partnerships between policy makers, the private sector, civil society and most importantly the farmer, have been instrumental in getting successful research to the farmer’s field. Sustainable advances in agriculture is the pertinent theme for next year’s WAF congress which will be taking place in November 2013 in Hyderabad, and I am sure the life-changing contributions of ICRISAT and its partners will provide much food for thought during the congress roundtables. And our Director General, William Dar and his team at ICRISAT will be very pleased to welcome any of those attending the WAF Congress to make a visit to ICRISAT during their visit to Hyderabad.

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Breaking communication barriers
“What ICRISAT Thinks: The Director General’s Blog” launched

As a global agriculture research-for-development (R4D) partnership for a food-secure future in the drylands, ICRISAT constantly strives to improve its interaction with its stakeholders globally. Thus, on 10 September, Director General William Dar launched the “What ICRISAT Thinks: The Director General’s Blog” ( as a new channel to reach out and enhance communication with partners and stakeholders, in service to the poor people of the dryland tropics.

The first blog post, “Diversity Defies Drought” (, asks whether the developing world’s dependence on imported grains of just a few crops increases risk to their food supplies, and stresses the importance of a more diverse local cropping systems to reduce such risks and mitigate the effects of drought.

The aim of the blog is to provide readers with a brief, incisive, and stimulating message that describes ICRISAT’s strategic perspective and working approach on one important R4D challenge at a time. The blog will also focus on what ICRISAT and its partners have achieved so far in addressing this challenge, what remains to be done, and why it matters to the world.

A new blog message will be posted every two weeks. Readers may wish to receive new blog messages by email or as an email attachment for printing, or may also subscribe to read the blog in RSS reader, or to be notified on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites (please see email sign-up box and RSS and social media icons on the blog page). The blog is also be hosted on the ICRISAT website (

Readers are invited to post comments and thoughts in the comment space under the blog message. We look forward to learning from each other through this blog, and may you find this new channel of communication interesting and enjoyable.

ICRISAT senior staff during the launch of the blog.

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CRP4 partners meet at Patancheru

Participants of the CRP4 meeting.

The CGIAR Research Program (CRP) 4 on Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health (A4NH) partners from India met at ICRISAT-Patancheru on 11 September. This one day meeting was organized primarily to introduce ICRISAT’s CRP4 research activities to, and prepare the 2012-13 work plans with, partners from India. The meeting was attended by representatives from three state agricultural universities (ANGRAU, UAS-Raichur and TNAU); the Directorate of Groundnut Research, ICAR, and the Rural Development Trust, a nongovernment organization.

In his opening message, Dr CLL Gowda, Research Program Director – Grain Legumes and ICRISAT’s CRP4 focal person, briefed the partners on the CGIAR reform process and the CRPs, particularly the A4NH. Dr HK Sudini, Groundnut Pathologist presented the CRP4 research components, focusing on ICRISAT’s aflatoxin research activities. Drs HD Upadhyaya and P Janila also participated in the meeting.

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Communication project on aflatoxin mitigation begins in Malawi

Nick Quist Nathaniels discusses the development of a radio program on aflatoxin with the producers of M’mudzi Wathu Community Radio in Mchinji, Malawi.

Transforming a new innovation into local knowledge and common practice has proven to be a rather complex process. In an attempt to bridge this gap, the Innovative Communication Media and Methods for More Effective Aflatoxin Mitigation in Groundnut (ICMM) in Malawi and Tanzania project will assess the role of communication in influencing the process of change that leads from awareness to understanding to desirable, sustainable action.

A one-year pilot phase of the ICMM project, funded by the McKnight Foundation, was implemented in 2011 in Tanzania and Malawi to assess the potential of innovative communication in disseminating project results in the two countries. Building on the success of the pilot phase, a new two-year ICMM project, also funded by the McKnight Foundation, will begin to develop and test various communication interventions in constructively engaging with stakeholders in the groundnut innovation system to reduce aflatoxin exposure in Malawi and Tanzania.

Aflatoxin-free groundnuts can ensure higher returns for these farmers as well as safer products for consumers.

Nick Quist Nathaniels, a communication convert by way of plant pathology, visited Malawi to interact with ICRISAT staff connected with the project (Swathi Sridharan, who will manage ICMM in Malawi, Wills Munthali, Harry Msere, Moses Siambi, and Sam Njoroge). Ideas surrounding communication, problems on aflatoxin mitigation and management, and challenges with obtaining useful feedback after disseminating communication products were discussed and used as inputs to come up with a workable plan for the project’s first year.

The project will use an informal Learning Alliance Approach to encourage a better understanding among stakeholders of the consequences of each of their own action or inaction with respect to the aflatoxin problem. Along with this approach, the project will test the effectiveness of leaflets, radio and video in increasing awareness and understanding on aflatoxin mitigation and management.

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