No. 1538 28 September 2012

Inclusive agriculture needed for broad-based development in the dryland tropics

“Inclusive agriculture is the key to winning the fight against poverty, hunger and malnutrition in the dryland tropics of the world.”

Professor MS Swaminathan, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), India and Chairman, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) delivering his address as Chief Guest at ICRISAT’s 40th Anniversary Program at Patancheru.

Thus said Professor MS Swaminathan, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), India and Chairman, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in his address as Chief Guest at ICRISAT’s 40th Anniversary Program held on 26 September at Patancheru.

Highlighting the need for inclusiveness to empower the farming poor, Prof Swaminathan emphasized that by giving smallholder farmers access to technologies and connecting them to markets, they will have options for a more profitable and resilient agriculture towards achieving food, nutrition and economic security.

Prof Swaminathan is the Father of India’s Green Revolution, and was one of the architects of ICRISAT’s creation.

Prof Swaminathan also recognized ICRISAT’s four decades of commitment and dedicated service to the most underprivileged sector of the world – the poor in the dryland tropics. Among the challenges he posed to the Institute are: crop biofortification to combat the ‘hidden hunger’ or malnutrition due to micronutrient deficiencies prevailing in the developing world; and appropriate mechanization to help resource poor farmers, particularly women, in ensuring the economic viability of small-farm operations.

Director General William Dar delivering his anniversary address.

Prof Swaminathan also raised the important role of the ‘science of science communication’ to inform, educate and mobilize the public on the importance of such technologies as agri-biotechnology in the fight against poverty and hunger, and the decision makers to come up with supportive policies.

“Andhra Pradesh is proud to host ICRISAT, an international institution that has brought smiles to millions of poor farmers,” said Ms Minnie Matthew, Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh and ICRISAT Board Member in her message during the program. She thanked the Institution on behalf of the small, marginal countless farmers across the globe for generating transformational and sustainable technologies that have benefited farm families in the drylands.

Dr Nigel Poole, ICRISAT Board Chair, highlighted the Institute’s science-based and sustainable innovations which have greatly improved rural livelihoods, contributing to the CGIAR’s high return of $17 for every dollar invested. He stressed that this impact is due, in no small part to the Institute’s strategic public, private and civil society partners worldwide.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Ms Minnie Matthew delivering her message.

In his annual day report, Director General William Dar said that ICRISAT’s 40-year journey was “marked by the exploration of opportunities for inclusive and sustainable development to finally surmount the twin challenges of global hunger and poverty in the dryland tropics.” He added that the way to enhance “our relevance is through excellence in our science and in our ability to influence policies and markets.”

During the Anniversary Program, ICRISAT also bestowed awards to scientists and partners for their outstanding contributions to the Institute and launched two key publications on its four decades of institutional growth.

With the theme “A journey to prosperity in the dryland tropics,” the week-long celebration began with a science symposium on 24 September attended by about 100 international agriculture experts, partners and scientists, and a Loyalty Day program on 25 September to honor staff for their dedicated service to the Institute.

ICRISAT’s 67th Governing Board meeting is now ongoing (27-29 September), also a part of the week-long anniversary celebrations.

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ICRISAT the best hope for poor farmers in the drylands

Nigeria’s Agriculture Minister, Dr Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, addressing participants of the symposium.

“ICRISAT represents the best hope of farmers in the semi-arid tropics, crucial for the economic prosperity and food and nutritional security of the dryland poor,” according to Nigeria’s Agriculture Minister, Dr Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina.

In his keynote address at the 40th Anniversary Science Symposium held at Patancheru on 24 September, the Minister acknowledged ICRISAT’s relentless passion in helping Africa and the developing world through its 40 years of research-for-development work that has left footprints of success globally.

With groundnut remaining an important crop for resource-poor farmers in Nigeria, Minister Adesina announced the launch of a significant three-year collaborative partnership program between ICRISAT and Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture to bring back his country’s lost glory as a leading groundnut exporter. The program, he said, hopes to replicate ICRISAT’s success in Malawi in re-entering the European groundnut export markets through low-cost aflatoxin test kits, in reviving Nigeria’s groundnut pyramid.

Minister Adesina also encouraged donors to continue to strongly support the Institute, stating that investing in ICRISAT has a high payoff. He cited ICRISAT’s research work that made semi-arid Ethiopia a major exporter of chickpeas, revolutionalized food production through large-seeded pigeonpea varieties in Tanzania, improved yields through disease-resistant groundnut in Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and Mozambique, and has helped farmers across Africa’s semi-arid tropics through the innovation, fertilizer microdosing.

Dr Robert Bertram of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Food Security stated his excitement to see Nigeria’s passion and focus on public-private partnerships and noted the potential for ICRISAT to play a major role in these transformative approaches.

ICRISAT Director General William Dar expressed commitment to collaborate with Nigeria in increasing productivity and sustainability of groundnut- and sorghum-based systems in the country.

“In India, ICRISAT stands for global hope of transformation of subsistence farming to economically viable prosperous farming,” says Dr SK Datta, Deputy Director General (Crop Science) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

From Syngenta Foundation, Executive Director Marco Ferroni noted that the Minister was right on the mark in highlighting “the role of the government as facilitator of public-private investment in agriculture, the most powerful path to food security and poverty reduction.”

“We are delighted by the significant support from Nigeria and the kind words by some of our key partners,” says Dr Nigel Poole, Board Chair.

The Science Symposium themed How can smallholder farming feed the world and promote economic growth? was attended by about 100 international agriculture experts, partners and scientists.

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ICRISAT holds 40th Anniversary Loyalty Day

Governing Board Chair Dr Nigel Poole delivering his Loyalty Day message.

As part of its 40th founding anniversary celebrations this week, ICRISAT held a Loyalty Day on 25 September to honor staff for their dedicated service to the Institute.

Led by Board Chair Nigel Poole, members of ICRISAT’s Governing Board and management gave awards to more than 100 staff who have rendered five to forty years of service to the Institute. Loyalty Days are held every year where ICRISAT recognizes employees as part of enhancing and sustaining staff morale.

In his address to the staff as Chief Guest, Professor Nigel Poole, declared, “We are on an unrelenting journey in the quest for better livelihoods for the poor in the drylands. It is imperative for us to embrace new ways of thinking and doing things through an inclusive process of cultural change.”

He further said, “We were able to surmount formidable challenges because of your dedication and loyalty to the institute. As a result, the fruits of your hard work are now being enjoyed by millions of smallholder farmers in the drylands.”

In extolling Team ICRISAT, Director General William Dar said, “Great teams have great depth. When we are winning, nothing hurts. Winners pay the price: excellence, relevance, influence, dedication. These are all on the price tag of ICRISAT.”

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ICRISAT and ICAR to host international conference on legume genetics and genomics

ICRISAT in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is hosting the VI International Conference on Legume Genetics and Genomics (ICLGG) at the Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre on 2-7 October. This conference is part of a series of ICLGG conferences held previously in the USA (I & V), France (II), Australia (III) and Mexico (IV), and the first being organized in Asia. The VI ICLGG is a continuous effort of a mission to bring together scientists working on legume biology in model species, using genetic and genomic tools, with those working on applied aspects and breeding of crop and pasture species.

The VI ICLGG will have more than 500 delegates from 44 countries – the biggest ICLGG conference ever. Several legume crops play an important role in the food security of India and many developing countries of Asia and Africa. Hence, a few sessions with downstream applications, in addition to basic legume biology sessions, have been included in the program. Keeping with the theme of broadening participation, 57% of oral presentations were selected by IAB and OC, while the remaining abstracts will be presented in evening poster sessions on 3-4 October.

The main conference will start in the evening of 2 October with inaugural address by ICRISAT Director General William Dar and ICAR Deputy Director General (Crop Science) Dr Swapan Datta. This will be followed by an inaugural lecture by Dr Rick Dixon, Plant Biology Division Director and Senior Vice President, Noble Foundation, USA.

Information about this conference is available at
For details, please contact:
B Manjula ( or Rajeev Varshney (

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Workshop on soil test-based nutrient management in Bhoochetana held

Dr KV Raju, Economic Advisor to Chief Minister of Karnataka, addressing the workshop participants.

A one-day brainstorming workshop on soil test-based nutrient management was held at Bengaluru on 22 September for the Bhoochetana program. The activity aimed to promote and facilitate availability of recommended micro- and macro-nutrients to millions of farmers in Karnataka based on specific soil test-based recommendations.

The workshop, attended by 60 participants (major fertilizer producers, development workers, policy makers and researchers), discussed ways to develop new fertilizer formulations and how to make these available to the farmers.

Welcoming the participants, Dr KV Sarvesh, Director, Department of Agriculture, Karnataka sought the cooperation of fertilizer manufacturers and dealers in helping Bhoochetana to expand coverage of balanced fertilizer management options based on ICRISAT’s soil test analysis.

In his inaugural address, Dr Kaushik Mukherjee, Additional Chief Secretary and Development Commissioner, Karnataka stressed the need for farmers to adopt appropriate formulations to address inherent deficiencies in soils and called upon the industry to come up with the right formulations to ensure sustainable agriculture in the region. Meanwhile, Dr KV Raju, Economic Advisor to the Honorable Chief Minister of Karnataka stressed the need to develop the right type of formulations for pilot testing in selected states.

Dr SP Wani, ICRISAT Principal Scientist (Watersheds) emphasized the benefits to farmers of balanced nutrient management based on soil test analysis, and the development of new formulations and technologies to ensure availability of knowledge and materials. A number of presentations were made by the experts in three sessions addressing topics such as diagnosis and assessment of soil fertility status, new formulations, public-private partnership (PPP) supply chains, and decentralized recommendations.

The workshop was jointly organized by ICRISAT, the Department of Agriculture – Government of Karnataka, and Rio Tinto.

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