No. 1542 26 October 2012

CGIAR Fund Council Chair visits ICRISAT
Generating agricultural R4D impacts against global hunger and poverty

Under the new CGIAR reform process, agricultural research-for-development (R4D) priorities and initiatives will be geared towards generating more outcomes and impacts that benefit the poor. The CGIAR system will advance its mission to help reduce global poverty and hunger, improve human health and nutrition, and enhance ecosystem resilience through cutting edge international agricultural research, partnership and leadership.

CGIAR Fund Council Chair Rachel Kyte addresses ICRISAT management and staff during her visit to ICRISAT-Patancheru.

These views were shared by CGIAR Fund Council Chair Rachel Kyte during her visit to ICRISAT- Patancheru on 19 October. Speaking before ICRISAT management and staff and representatives from sister Centers, Ms Kyte stressed that while “agriculture is once again on top of the development agenda, donors and funders need to be convinced that investing in agricultural R4D will yield better value for their money and will benefit more people than ever before.”

“We need to better communicate the impacts of investing in R4D with some degree of certainty, on how our research has contributed to increased yields and farm incomes of smallholder farmers and the attainment of food and nutrition security, has reduced the vulnerability of agriculture to climate change, and has built a more sustainable and resilient environment,” Ms Kyte added.

(Left) DDG-R D Hoisington giving the welcome remarks during the FC Chair’s presentation. (Right) Dr Dar presents Ms Kyte with a memento.

As ambassador and champion for the CGIAR, Ms Kyte said that she needs stories to tell on how research results have yielded evidence-based CGIAR contributions to development that will help the System gain more funding support.

The new CGIAR, according to
Ms Kyte, will foster more effective partnerships with a wider range of organizations than ever before – strong national agricultural systems, advanced research institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector.

She pointed out gender issue as a priority area – noting that a more inclusive approach to gender in research leads to better impacts such as improved nutrition and livelihoods, poverty alleviation, and development in general. Overcoming malnutrition should also be a critical component of research programs, and is a high priority among donors.

Ms Kyte also acknowledged ICRISAT’s R4D activities during her visit, noting the Institute’s outstanding facilities and programs. She expressed a better understanding of the need for long-term funding to sustain the gains made by research. The new funding scenario, according to her, will be multi-year and flexible.

She also spoke about improved governance and management of centers and the whole system through the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs), designed as the key instrument to achieve greater alignment of research outputs with the four strategic system level outcomes (SLOs) namely: reduction of rural poverty, increase in food security, improving nutrition and health, and more sustainable management of natural resources.

Through her visit and personal interactions with teams in the field, she committed to bring forward and champion the successes of ICRISAT’s research for development programs.

Director General William Dar led the Management Group, senior scientists/staff and representatives of partner centers in welcoming and receiving Ms Kyte, who is also World Bank (WB) Vice President for Sustainable Development, to ICRISAT Patancheru. She was accompanied by Ms Fionna Douglas, WB Communications Manager; Mr Juergen Voegele, WB Director for Agriculture and Rural Development; Mr Jack Stein, WB Director for South Asia Sustainable Development, and Ms Laura Taylor-Kale, WB Special Assistant to the VP.

Ms Kyte and her team meet with members of management.

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Anniversary celebration in Niger

ICRISAT Niger celebrated the Institute’s 40th anniversary on 11-12 October, marked by a walk and games on the first day, and an evening of celebration on the second day at the Training and Visitors Centers (TVC) in Niamey. Among the chief guests were Mr Allahoury Diallo, High Commissioner for Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens (3N); Dr Mahamane Sabiou, Director General of the National Agronomic Research Institute of Niger (INRAN), representatives of farmers’ organizations, and ambassadors and representatives of development partners in Niger.

In his anniversary message Dr Farid Waliyar, ICRISAT Regional Director for West and Central Africa, thanked all partners for their support over the past four decades, and the staff for their dedication in making a difference in the lives of smallholder farmers in the Sahel. Loyalty awards were also given to some staff members during the ceremony.


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Farmers’ field day held at ICRISAT Kano

IAR’s groundnut breeder Prof Echekwu explaining the groundnut variety trials.

A farmers’ field day was organized by ICRISAT Kano, Nigeria on 4 October at the research plots located within the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) Farm at Wase Minjibir, Kano. The field day, which was part of ICRISAT’s 40th anniversary celebration in Nigeria, showcased groundnut and sorghum breeding and management trials, some of which are being demonstrated in selected states of the country, to over 200 farmers, policy makers, scientists, extension agents and general public.

ICRISAT Country Representative Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe (System Agronomist) welcomed the visitors and presented a brief history and achievements of ICRISAT in Nigeria. They were then shown the various trials which included the aphids-, rosette- and aflatoxin-resistant groundnut variety trials, the groundnut spacing and intensification trials, and the sorghum breeding and agronomic trials.

ICRISAT souvenirs were presented to several partners including the Ministry of Agriculture, IAR, Agricultural Development Project, Heads of Department of Agriculture of LGAs and extension agents. Three agro-input companies and one machine fabricator were also on hand to display their products. A DVD titled “Fighting Striga” which contains 10 short farmer-to-farmer instruction videos on issues related to soil fertility and Striga management, was distributed to the participants.

Farmers and visitors were impressed with the performance of the groundnut and sorghum varieties and management trials, and requested for the distribution of seeds for on-farm demonstration and dissemination.

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CLL Gowda bags International Crop Science Award

Dr CL Laxmipathi Gowda, Research Program Director - Grain Legumes, received the 2012 International Service in Crop Science Award during the Annual Meeting of the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) on 23 October at Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

Dr CLL Gowda (left) receiving the Award from CSSA President Dr Jeffrey Volenec.

The prestigious award is in recognition of Dr Gowda’s contribution to agriculture in the dryland areas of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa in his nearly 37 years of scientific research work at ICRISAT.

Dr Gowda is known for his significant contribution in developing improved chickpea cultivars with high yield and resistance to diseases and pests. He is also known internationally, particularly in ICRISAT’s focus regions (Asia, West and Central Africa, and East and Southern Africa) for his nurturing, scientific leadership in the areas of breeding, pathology, entomology, and physiology.

Dr Gowda is one of the main architects of the Hybrid Parents Research Consortium (HPRC), ICRISAT’s flagship public-private partnership (PPP) program with private sector seed companies that is now a model for PPP in other international centers.

CSSA is an international scientific society comprising 6,000+ members with its headquarters in Madison, WI, USA. It advances crop science and fosters the transfer of knowledge on breeding and genetics; crop physiology; crop ecology; seed physiology; genomics, molecular genetics, and biotechnology; and biomedical plants, among others.

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USDA delegation visits ICRISAT Mali

The US State Department delegation during their visit to ICRISAT-Mali.

A high-level US State Department (USDA) delegation visited ICRISAT Samanko station in Mali on 20 October. The group was composed of Eunice Reddick (Office Director, West African Affairs, USDA); Raffi Gregorian (Director, Office of Peace Operations, Sanctions and Counter Terrorism, USDA); Mary Norris (Director, Office of Accelerated Economic Growth, USAID in Mali); and Anton Ghost (Political Unit of the US Embassy in Bamako).

The delegation was welcomed by ICRISAT-WCA Director Farid Waliyar and scientists. An overview of the Institute’s ongoing research activities and its efforts to fight hunger and malnutrition in WCA was presented by Dr Waliyar.

In his presentation, Dr Waliyar expressed appreciation to USAID for its continued project funding support (West African Seed Project or WASA-SP and the ongoing Africa Rising Project) which has been making significant impacts on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the region.

Partners in seed production from cooperatives and NGOs benefiting from ICRISAT’s financial support and technical expertise interacted with the delegation. The visit concluded with a tour of the Institute’s experimental plots on improved varieties of cereals and legumes and integrated soil fertility management.

On behalf of the delegation, Eunice Reddick acknowledged ICRISAT’s work in the region and its contribution to African agriculture and farmers, and pledged USAID’s continuous support to the Institute.

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First pigeonpea hybrid training conducted at Odisha

The first pigeonpea hybrid training was conducted in Odisha on 16-17 October in Jaipatna, Kalahandi and Khariar, Nauparha. The training was sponsored by the Odisha pigeonpea project “Introduction and Expansion of Improved Pigeonpea Production Technology in Rainfed Upland Ecosystem of Odisha.” It was attended by 142 participants composed of farmer seed growers, private seed companies, NGOs, field assistants and district coordinators.

Vijay Kumar showing off-type pigeonpea plants.

A total 40 hectares of hybrid seed production (20 hectares – ICPH 2671; 20 hectares – ICPH 2740) was implemented in the state this 2012 cropping season. The training aimed to teach the participants on how to manage the growth and development of hybrid pigeonpea through practical sessions covering socio-economic importance, and biology and agronomic practices with emphasis on the most effective practices in producing pure seeds of hybrids. Along with poster presentations, the field visits exposed the participants to identification of off-type plants and pests and diseases.

Lectures were given by ICRISAT’s Vijay Kumar, Sarat Tripathy and Myer Mula. They also monitored the seed production plots of Asha and Maruti variety, godown construction and dal mills.

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Mobile workshop on hybrid sorghum seed production held in Mali

A three-day mobile workshop was conducted in Mali on 6-8 October to provide field-based experience and enable exchanges between a wide range of participants interested in hybrid sorghum seed production and marketing.

Exchanging information on fertile and sterile anthers.

The workshop aimed to strengthen the participants’ knowledge on hybrid sorghum seed production and to initiate a network of actors involved in hybrid seed production. The 42 participants from Mali and Burkina Faso represented the range of actors involved in the sector, including seed producer cooperatives and farmer organizations, government extension and seed service structures, NGOs, private sector and research organizations.

The mobile workshop began at the ICRISAT-Samanko site with visits to experimental fields on management and design options for hybrid seed production and a tour of nurseries for hybrid parent development. Visits to four farmers’ seed production plots in Samanko, Siby and Kaka villages provided rich opportunities to observe and discuss field layout, management, and village-level organization for optimizing productivity and ensuring isolation. The workshop concluded with a visit to the IER-Sotuba research station with tours of a range of nurseries and trials.

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