No. 1543 02 November 2012

Pursuing sustainable development and better impact @ GCARD2
ICRISAT shares insights on information access, innovation foresight and partnerships

How do we reshape research together so that it better answers the needs of resource poor smallholder farmers and fosters rapid rural development? The Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2) addresses this question towards a more responsive and relevant agricultural research for development (AR4D) systems globally.

(Left) Director General William Dar participating in the GCARD2 breakout group on Foresight guiding research and innovation at the global level. (Right) Delivering a paper on ICRISAT’s open access policy at the parallel session on Sharing and using agricultural knowledge.

Aiming to further strengthen ICRISAT’s AR4D agenda towards stimulating agricultural investment and innovation, Director General William Dar and Deputy Director General for Research Dave Hoisington participated in the four-day GCARD2 held in Punta del Este, Uruguay on 29 October – 1 November.

Focused on the theme Foresight and partnership for innovation and impact on smallholder livelihoods, the Conference proved to be an excellent opportunity for all sectors and regions to report their activities since the 2010 GCARD1 and to agree on collective actions and next steps in the implementation of the GCARD Roadmap and the CGIAR Strategy & Results Framework.

In a parallel session on Sharing and using agricultural knowledge held on 30 October, Dr Dar reported about the pioneering initiative of ICRISAT in institutionalizing an open access (OA) policy since 2009. “As of today, the Institute’s OA institutional repository houses more than 5,700 research documents, a major initiative in sharing knowledge and information to help enhance the development of the dryland tropics of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

In another parallel session on Foresight guiding research and innovation at the global level, Dr Dar participated in the deliberations on ensuring coordination between national processes and global foresight exercises, and increasing the diversity of stakeholders contributing to foresight actions – various regions, the youth, smallholder farmers – focused on the needs of the poor.

Dr Hoisington, meanwhile, spoke on effective strategies for implementing innovation partnerships that improve the livelihoods of the poor on a large scale, including the gaining of evidence and understanding needed for that implementation in the parallel session on Partnerships for livelihood impacts: Turning innovations into market opportunities. The session highlighted that “research on market linkages and enabling policies provides triggers for innovation, and that efforts must be mobilized for increased funds for inclusive market oriented development (IMOD).

GCARD2 provided a major platform for CGIAR and the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) to build cooperation around key forward-looking agendas and plan joint actions among all stakeholders. It has opened international partnership opportunities and helped develop concrete AR4D programs that can lead through to substantive impacts for the benefit of the poor.

back to top Back to top

Crop-livestock integration project launched in Zimbabwe

Promoting better crop-livestock integration can make a difference to farmers’ livelihoods and food security in Zimbabwe.

The new project on “Integrating crops and livestock for improved food security and livelihoods in rural Zimbabwe” was launched recently in Harare. Funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), this project will bring together three Consortium Centers (ICRISAT, ILRI and CIMMYT), CSIRO, the Australian National Science Agency, as well as various Zimbabwean stakeholders to address crop-livestock integration for better livelihoods and greater food security.

Participants from research organizations, national agricultural research and extension systems, NGOs, as well as farmer representatives from Gwanda and Nkayi Districts attended the two-day launch meeting that began on 17 October. Joseph L Sikosana, representing the Principal Director of the Department of Research and Specialist Services, delivered the opening remarks. Iain Wright, Director of ILRI’s People, Livestock and Environment Theme provided insights into collaborative research programming. The project coordinator, Godfrey J Manyawu, ILRI, highlighted lessons learned from previous ACIAR-funded projects.

The main aim of the new project is to identify, test and improve ways to increase agricultural production, improve household food security, alleviate poverty and reduce food-aid dependency in rural Zimbabwe through better integrated crop and livestock production and market participation.

Project activities will be conducted in two farming systems with agro-ecological differences, namely two districts in natural region (NR) II (Murehwa and Goromonzi in Mashonaland, which are relatively high potential), and two districts in NR IV and V (Nkayi and Gwanda, respectively, in Matabeleland which are semi-arid, marginal areas). In these four districts the project will work closely with various farmers in a gender-sensitive, participatory technology framework.

From ICRISAT-Zimbabwe, Andre van Rooyen and Sabine Homann-Kee Tui attended the project launch.

back to top Back to top

Microdosing and conservation agriculture
Paving the pathway to a Green Revolution

How effective are microdosing and conservation agriculture in Zimbabwe? This was the main question posed during impact assessment meetings held at ICRISAT-Bulawayo last week.

ICRISAT consultants and reviewers from CSIRO with farmers in Tsholotsho District.

ICRISAT initiated microdosing in 2003-04 as part of a drought relief package that targeted vulnerable households. Since then microdosing has been promoted by various organizations and NGOs in Zimbabwe. Over the years ICRISAT and other stakeholders have produced and distributed educational pamphlets on microdosing and conservation agriculture in English as well as in two major indigenous languages of Zimbabwe.

Reviewers from CSIRO Australia and consultants for ICRISAT’s impact assessment of fertilizer microdosing attended meetings and field visits in Zimbabwe to determine the effectiveness and adoption of these technologies.

In his opening remarks, Dr Andre van Rooyen, ICRISAT Country Representative, said that the practice of microdosing, which is a precision application of fertilizer, is well understood by farmers. However, adoption of this technology remains a challenge for farmers in Zimbabwe due to difficulties in access and availability of fertilizer.

Dr Kizito Mazvimavi, Head of ICRISAT’s Impact Assessment Office, stated that microdosing and conservation agriculture are still faced with constraints such as lack of proper knowledge, market functionality, monetary and resource constraints, cultural beliefs, as well as delays in providing training. Conduct of training during planting season and improving the capacity of local industry to produce affordable fertilizer packs to be marketed in marginal areas are among the suggestions to address the constraints.

ICRISAT and reviewers from CSIRO also conducted analysis and discussion sessions with farmers in Tsholotsho District. During the meeting, farmers acknowledged the value of microdosing and conservation agriculture and stated that when they face challenges in fertilizer availability, they now use manure or compost residue.

Participants of the impact assessment meetings held in Bulawayo.

Recent surveys by ICRISAT show that microdosing was not practiced in high potential rainfall areas and was better suited to the semi-arid regions. Survey results indicated that farmers who practice microdosing in the semi-arid areas of Zimbabwe are able to double their yields.

The participants of the meeting viewed the sustained use of chemical fertilizers as the best way to feed Africa. Targeted recommendations should be developed and scaled-out for smallholder maize systems in southern Africa by integrating participatory research modeling. They also encouraged scientists to improve their communication with farmers in terms of taking calculated risks and informing them of the consequences of their decisions.

back to top Back to top

Pigeonpea production promises improved livelihoods of resource-poor farmers in Rajasthan

Principal Investigator Dr SJ Singh (ARS-Durgapura) addressing farmers in Padasoli village, Jaipur.

The lives of thousands of smallholder farmers living in the dry areas of Rajasthan – long affected by frequent droughts and marginal lands – are bound to change with the introduction of ICRISAT’s earlymaturing pigeonpea varieties in the state’s four districts (Jaipur, Alwar, Dausa and Karoli).

Under the project “Enhancing the Livelihoods of Resource-poor Farmers of Rajasthan through the Introduction of Eco-Friendly Pigeonpea Varieties,” a total of 343 ha (against a target of only 70 ha) of pigeonpea on-farm trials in the 2012 monsoon (kharif) season are in progress and showing outstanding crop performance in a farmer participatory production using ICRISAT’s ICPL 88039 variety.

In collaboration with the Agricultural Research Station (ARS), Durgapura, Jaipur of the Swami Keshwanand Rajasthan Agricultural University (SKRAU), the expansion of the land area covered by the on-farm trials was triggered by the promise of improved and sustainable pigeonpea production, towards overcoming poverty and food and nutritional security in the state.

In a farmers’ field day held on 29 October in Padasoli village of Bassi block, Jaipur district, a total of 150 women and men farmers and 4 village heads (sarpanch) gathered to share the initial success of the trials with partners and scientists from ICRISAT and ARS-SKRAU.

“We envision this project to pave the way for long-term prosperity in Rajasthan, through sustainable, eco-friendly and cost-effective agriculture,” said Dr SJ Singh, Principal Investigator and Scientist-in-Charge of ARS-Durgapura. He acknowledged ICRISAT’s encouragement and motivation in working with local partners, and in introducing science-based solutions in changing the lives of resource-poor farmers. The project was initiated by Dr Singh in partnership with Dr KB Saxena, ICRISAT Principal Scientist (Pigeonpea).

During the program, successful farmers namely, Bhawar Singh, Ramkumar Mina, Deep Singh and Rameshwar Singh shared their experiences in growing ICPL 88039 pigeonpea variety in the fields. Farmers agree that pigeonpea is the best suitable alternate crop in poor soils of the area owing to its high benefit-cost ratio over cereals. In the program, scientists clarified and suggested suitable measures on different aspects of pigeonpea production technology.

After the program, participants of the field day toured the 300-ha ICPL 88039 pigeonpea crop area in Padasoli, Lalwas and Sarpanch ki Dhani villages of Jaipur district. Each on-farm demonstration measured 1 ha, and a suitable crop management package was introduced in the fields, evident in the outstanding performance of the crops.

Among those who attended the farmers’ field day were: Dr CV Sameer Kumar (Senior Scientist, Pigeonpea Breeding) and Ms Cristina Bejosano (Head, Public Awareness and Marketing Support) from ICRISAT-Patancheru; Drs SJ Singh and PS Shekavat (Senior Scientist) from ARS-Durgapura; and Drs SL Sawargaonkar and Vishnu Vardhan (Special Project Scientists) from the ICRISAT office in Jaipur.

Farmers and scientists give a thumbs up to ICPL 88039 pigeonpea variety’s outstanding performance in Padasoli demo farm.

back to top Back to top

ICRISAT-HOPE Project Management Team meets in Nairobi

Participants of the ICRISAT-HOPE PMT meeting held in Nairobi.

The ICRISAT-HOPE Project held its 6th Project Management Team (PMT) Meeting on 11 October in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting served as the second bi-annual progress review for the year 2012, following the one held in Zanzibar in March this year. It aimed to determine the project’s progress in achieving planned targets and ensuring overall goals. The team deliberated on the plans and modalities for developing target country strategies for the mandate crops.

The Project Management Team also deliberated on the future of the project beyond its completion in 2013. Participants were informed of an external review in February 2013, and the need to start preparing relevant documents for this.

In his remarks, Yilma Kebede of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) acknowledged the team for what he called a qualitative change with the scientists looking outward, at the bigger picture as a result of the project. He advised the team to conduct an internal project review, to evaluate the project design in all locations, review outputs and identify the lessons learnt so that there can be improvements in a possible subsequent phase. He also emphasized on the need for ICRISAT to continue empowering national partners to stand on their own and help them to see the bigger picture beyond the project.

The one-day meeting was chaired and facilitated by Project Coordinator George Okwach. Other participants included Said Silim, ESA Director and Principal Investigator; Dave Hoisington, Deputy Director General for Research; and project objective leaders and regional objective coordinators, namely, Nareppa Nagaraj, SK Gupta, Henry Ojulong, Alastair Orr, Mary Mgonja, Eva Weltzien, Jupiter Ndjeunga, P Parthasarathy Rao, Belum Reddy and Ashok Kumar. Attending as a special guest was Chanda Goodrich, Principal Scientist, Empower Women, who also serves as the project’s Gender Advisor.

back to top Back to top

ICRISAT facilitates establishment of Food Business Incubator in Uganda

(Left) S Karuppanchetty meets with Mr Tress Bucyanayandi, Uganda’s Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries and (Right) with the host institute NARL’s Director and team.

Representing ICRISAT as the implementing agency of the project Food Processing Business Incubators (FPBIC) of India’s Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MFPI), Mr Karuppanchetty of ABI-ICRISAT visited Uganda on 7-13 October. The visit was conducted as part of the feasibility study for setting up FPBIC in the country. He visited existing business incubators at the District Agriculture Training and Information Center (DATIC), National Agricultural Research Laboratory (NARL), Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), Afri Banana Products Limited (ABP Ltd), and Consortium for Enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD). He also met the High Commissioner of India, Mr Sumendranath Ray and Mr Okaasai S Opolot, Director of Crop Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Uganda.

Observations from the study were presented to Mr Tress Bucyanayandi, Uganda’s Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries, and recommendations made to make NARL as host institution for the FPBIC.

back to top Back to top

Pigeonpea training-cum-field exposure for Odisha field staff

To strengthen the capacity on pigeonpea seed production and management of Odisha field staff under the “Introduction and Expansion of Improved Pigeonpea Production Technology in Rainfed Upland Ecosystem of Odisha” project, ICRISAT scientists conducted a training-cum-field exposure for 19 participants on 29-31 October at ICRISAT-Patancheru. The participants were exposed to the different methods of seed production of hybrids and varieties, identification and management of pests and diseases, operation of dal mill machine, and special topics on waterlogging and super early lines. A farmers’ field visit was also organized to enable the participants to interact with farmers involved in seed production.

The activity was coordinated/attended by ICRISAT’s Drs GV Rangarao, KB Saxena and MG Mula.

(Left) Participants of the training-cum-field exposure held in Patancheru. (Right) At the hybrid seed production demo plot.

back to top Back to top

Workshop on experimental design and data analysis held in Nairobi

Scientists and scholars who participated in the workshop held in Nairobi.

ICRISAT’s Biometrics Unit conducted a workshop on experimental designs and data analysis for ICRISAT-HOPE and TL-II project partners on 15-19 October in Nairobi, Kenya. This workshop was attended by a total of 35 participants including scientists and scholars from 9 countries. The workshop was mainly on the basics of statistical concepts, data cleaning, and data handling and analysis. Participants were exposed to various techniques for diagnostic measure of data sets and pooling of data sets across locations and time. The software for the training was GenStat 15th Edition and Discovery Edition.

Abhishek Rathore, Anil Kumar and Roma Rani Das of the Biometrics Unit served as resource persons. The workshop was locally coordinated by Mary Mgonja, Henry Ojulong, Ganga Rao, Christine Wangari and Lynette Bwire.

back to top Back to top

India-US cooperation on sustainable biofuel systems

To enhance cooperation in renewable energy, India and the US established a “virtual” Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (JCERDC) as a follow-up of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama in November 2010. The Government of India and the US Department of Energy (DoE) have committed $25 million each in support of JCERDC projects.

At the launch of the Indo-US consortium on lignocellulosic biofuels at the US Department of Energy, Washington DC.

The formal launching of JCERDC took place during the Indo-US Energy Dialogue co-chaired by US Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai at DoE, Washington DC on 28 September. The consortium on second generation biofuels was represented in the dialogue by Dr Ahmed Kamal, Principal Investigator (PI), Indian Institute of Chemical Technology and Dr P Srinivasa Rao, Co-PI, ICRISAT. The consortium shall work on sustainable feedstock cultivation and supply, biofuel conversion technologies with minimal environmental impact, and analysis of overall sustainability of the value chain.

back to top Back to top

Intellectual Property awareness orientation for Niamey staff

Participants of the IPR orientation in Niamey.

As part of strengthening intellectual property (IP) management capabilities within ICRISAT,
B Hanumanth Rao, IP Senior Manager visited ICRISAT-Niamey on 22-24 October where he presented two seminars on intellectual property rights (IPR) related to, among others, agriculture, management of IP at ICRISAT and material transfer agreements for both incoming and outgoing materials. One-on-one meetings with scientists and scientific officers facilitated discussions on IP aspects relating to their own areas and projects.

While in Niamey, Mr Rao met with officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Industrial Development, as well as NARS partners, INRAN and IRD, to discuss and strengthen existing collaborations.

back to top Back to top