No. 1544 09 November 2012

ICRISAT – Nigeria partnership
Strengthening ties towards sustainable agricultural development

Agriculture is vital to the Nigerian economy as it provides employment for almost 70% of the population. ICRISAT and Nigeria collaborate on research-for-development (R4D) initiatives addressing critical agricultural development challenges facing the country such as poor crop productivity, inadequate diversification of production systems, and weak farmer-market linkages.

Strengthening bonds and exchanging commitments: The top-level delegation from Nigeria during their visit to ICRISAT-Patancheru, with Director General William Dar, Deputy Director General – Research Dave Hoisington and research program directors/senior scientists.

Sustainable agricultural development is now on top of the Nigerian government’s agenda as key to national food security and improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Towards this, a top-level 8-member delegation visited ICRISAT-Patancheru on 7-9 November to further strengthen R4D partnerships between Nigeria and the Institute and thereby contribute to transforming the country’s agriculture into a sustainable, progressive and market-oriented sector.

“Nigeria can benefit much from ICRISAT’s experiences in India in up-scaling innovations such as the community-based integrated soil and water management. This science-based productivity enhancement initiative can be replicated in our country to help smallholder farmers in rainfed areas achieve sustainable food security and improved rural livelihoods,” said Honorable Mohammed Tahir Monguno, Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Nigeria.

Ashok Kumar describes sorghum’s rich diversity to the visitors.

“In addressing critical agricultural development challenges through partnership, solid commitment in terms of technical support from ICRISAT and funding support from our government is vital,” noted Honorable Munir Babba Dan’agundi, Vice Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture. He then expressed commitment to push for adequate funding for collaborative programs between ICRISAT and the Nigerian government.

Director General William Dar reaffirmed ICRISAT’s commitment to help develop Nigeria’s agriculture through R4D projects embracing inclusive and market-oriented development approaches. He advocated for the delegation’s support in pursuing ongoing ICRISAT-Nigeria collaborative programs such as that on rebuilding Nigeria’s groundnut pyramid, sorghum value chain, and the cereal-legume systems improvement program with Yobe State.

Among the areas for future collaboration identified during the meeting are: up-scaling of communitybased integrated soil and water management in Nigeria; research station development and establishment of center of excellence on rainfed agriculture; and capacity and institution building. These future initiatives can also open avenues of opportunities for South-South collaboration between India and Nigeria.

The delegation took the opportunity to thank ICRISAT for its contribution in improving the socioeconomic status of poor farmers in their country, particularly through the sorghum and millet value chains where the Institute has helped in the areas of breeding, seed system development, and mobilization of improved technologies. They also expressed their hope that the partnership with ICRISAT can revive Nigeria’s groundnut production and exports.

PM Gaur extols the virtues of early-maturing chickpea.

The delegation met with ICRISAT management and senior scientists to deliberate on existing partnerships as well as future areas of collaboration, and visited the Institute’s field and laboratory facilities such as the crop demonstration areas, genebank, and applied genomics laboratory.

Other members of the delegation included: Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nigeria; Senator Sefiu Adegbenga Kaka, Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture; Dr Fortune Ihua-Maduenyi, Senate Committee Clerk; Barrister Oscar Chikwuma Okoro, House Committee Clerk; Dr Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Deputy Director, Special Assistant to Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria; and Ambassador Ferdinald Fada Feson.

back to top Back to top

At the Food 360° conference
ICRISAT calls for innovation and technology for a climate resilient agriculture

(Left) Dr Dar delivers his special address at the conference. (Right) At the release of ICRISAT’s knowledge paper are (L-R) Mr Sivakumar S (Group Head - Agri & IT Businesses, ITC Limited); Mr IYR Krishna Rao (IAS, Special Chief Secretary – Agri Marketing, Government of AP); Mr JA Chowdary (Conference Chair); Hon’ble Governor of Andhra Pradesh Mr ESL Narasimhan; Dr Dar; Dr Christopher Peterson (Director, Product Centre, Food-Ag-Bio, MSU); and Ms Sangita Reddy (Chairperson, FICCI AP State Council).

“We will promote ‘resiliency’ in order to make smallholder agriculture increasingly productive, linked to commercial markets, sustainably implemented, and resistant to shocks, especially to climate change,” said Director General William Dar.

In his address at the 2nd edition of Food 360°, a two-day international conference-cum exhibition on agribusiness and food processing held in Hyderabad on 5-6 November and organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Andhra Pradesh, Dr Dar also called for a more effective up-scaling of innovations for wider impact, and advocated inclusive market-oriented development.

ICRISAT’s efforts in promoting agribusiness and food processing benefitting and empowering smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs through IMOD is one important step towards achieving a climate resilient agriculture and in tackling poverty and hunger, particularly in the drylands, he added.

ICRISAT served as a knowledge partner at the Food 360° conference with the theme “Seeding Success through Innovation and Technology”. The Institute’s knowledge paper ( on the “Role of Innovations in Transforming Indian Agriculture” prepared by the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) was released on the occasion. The paper highlights the need to revitalize the Indian agricultural sector by successfully establishing an adaptive Agricultural Innovation System (AIS) based on a convergence strategy, in which the civil society, public and private sector come together to develop solutions to sustain productivity, provide opportunities for innovation leading to growth of the sector and thus boost the economy.

ICRISAT also actively participated in the technical sessions and panel discussions during the conference. Dr Prabhakar Pathak (Resilient Dryland Systems) delivered a presentation highlighting ICRISAT’s work on integrated watershed management or Bhoochetana program in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh states. The presentation highlighted the importance of rainfed agriculture to smallholder farmers in the semi-arid tropics, and of using the right technologies, approach, and partners to achieve large-scale adoption of technologies for impact.

Dr Saikat Datta Mazumdar (NutriPlus) chaired the session on “Mechanizing Farm Operations” which highlighted the need for innovations in farm mechanization in order to provide smallholder farmers with affordable and effective options.

Dr Dar also inaugurated an exhibition on agribusiness and food processing during the occasion. A number of aspiring entrepreneurs visited the ICRISAT exhibition stall and showed keen interest in AIP’s ongoing activities in agribusiness incubation and food processing.

back to top Back to top

Sharing experiences in watershed management research

Watershed management plays an important role in promoting sustainable intensification of agricultural systems to overcome chronic food insecurity and low agricultural incomes in the semi-arid areas of Eastern and Central Africa (ECA).

Under the project “Integrated Management of Water for Productivity and Livelihood Security under Variable and Changing Climatic Conditions in ECA”, a meeting was held at ICRISAT-Patancheru on 22-26 October aimed at sharing lessons learnt and progress achieved in implementing watershed programs in five Eastern African countries and in further strengthening the program.

The project was initiated in 2010 in Kenya, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Rwanda and Eritrea, with the primary goal to test and evaluate the suitability of watershed management program under different socioeconomic and agro-climatic conditions.

The project is funded by the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) and led by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) with technical backstopping from ICRISAT. During the inception period, key members of the project team visited India, had extensive discussions with scientists and stakeholders, and interacted with farmer beneficiaries to gain a good understanding of the concept and practice of watershed management.

The recent meeting at Patancheru was attended by 16 researchers from Eastern Africa led by KPC Rao, 15 researchers from the Patancheru-based watershed program led by SP Wani, and representatives from India’s NIRD, CRIDA, BAIF and the Department of Agriculture, Andhra Pradesh. The project has made significant progress in implementing the program built around rehabilitation of degraded lands in the watershed through community mobilization; promotion and adoption of improved soil, water and crop management practices; and diversification of income generating opportunities.

One of the major strengths of the project is its ability to mobilize and bring various stakeholders onto a single platform to work together. In all the participating countries, Innovation Platforms (IPs) involving a number of governmental and non-governmental organizations were established and are working effectively. In Kenya, it was reported during the meeting that the number of food-secure farmers after two seasons of project implementation has increased from 43% to nearly 70%. In Ethiopia, the hill slope rehabilitation work attracted the attention of farmers and other development agents leading to the extension of this work to two other hill slopes.

Discussions during the meeting helped in identifying opportunities for further strengthening the program based on the experiences gained in India. The workshop also helped the participants gain hands-on experience in the use and application of tools and methods for quantifying and monitoring various watershed processes and modelling the same using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT).

Participants of the meeting on watershed management program in Eastern Africa.

back to top Back to top

Field days on aflatoxin contamination management in groundnut held in Niger

A demonstration of how to dry harvested groundnut plants.

Two field days were held in Maradi and Dosso regions, Niger primarily to demonstrate new technologies developed by ICRISAT in reducing Aspergillus flavus or aflatoxin contamination in groundnut.

Organized on 4 October in Elkolta village (Maradi region), the first field day featured a trial conducted in three sites to test the effects of organic manure and gypsum on productivity and aflatoxin contamination of JL24 variety. The second field day was held on 18 October in Guindan gaba village (Dosso region, the largest groundnut producing region in Niger).

In Elkolta village, more than 600 farmers from 11 villages (including women representatives of producers’ associations) as well as representatives from national/regional institutes and NGOs attended the field day. A group of women participating in the field day expressed in Haussa language that “now we understand why we lost so much seed and had no benefits from selling groundnuts in the market”.

ICRISAT scientists Hamidou Falalou and Maimouna Diallo demonstrated new technologies to the farmers, who in turn acknowledged the importance of the Institute’s innovations in producing groundnut with high seed quality.

In Guindan gaba village, the field day was organized in collaboration with the Action pour la Promotion des Groupements Ruraux (APGR, an NGO) and the Guinda gaba Women’s Association. Since the beginning of the rainy season, trials to test JL24 variety under control, gypsum (400 kg/ha) and organic manure (2, 5 t/ha) have been implemented in six sites.

About 500 participants composed of farmers representing associations of groundnut producers from 12 communes, as well as partners from government and nongovernment organizations participated in the field day in Guindan gaba village. They all thanked ICRISAT and its partners for helping farmers achieve increased income from groundnut production and overcome poverty and food insecurity.

back to top Back to top

ABI–ICRISAT organizes ISBA–Hyderabad circle meet

Participants of the first ISBA-Hyderabad Circle meeting.

ABI–ICRISAT organized the first Indian STEPs and Business Incubator’s Association (ISBA) Hyderabad Circle meeting at the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) office on 1 November. The meeting was attended by nine representatives from five ISBA incubator members in Hyderabad – the IKP Knowledge Park, Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE)
at IIIT-Hyderabad, Indian School of Business, Technology Business Incubator at BITS Pilani, and the University of Hyderabad.

Kiran Sharma, S Karuppanchetty, Aravazhi, Saikat Datta Mazumdar, and Jonathan Philroy represented AIP at the meeting. The delegates shared their experiences and discussed various opportunities for collaboration to promote incubation services in the region. It was proposed in the meeting that Start-up Saturdays be conducted for all Hyderabad-based incubatees to be facilitated by IIIT-H. The next ISBA-Hyderabad Circle meeting will be conducted at the IKP Knowledge Park in January 2013.

back to top Back to top

Producers, farmers’ organizations visit ICRISAT Mali

ICRISAT scientists Eva Weltzien (left) and Fred Rattunde (right) explain the nuances of ICRISAT’s sorghum research.

About 30 visitors (composed of producers/farmers’ organizations and NGOs) visited ICRISAT Mali on 31 October. Participants were taken for a tour around the sorghum and groundnut plots by Eva Weltzien and Fred Rattunde (sorghum breeders) and ICRISAT research technicians working for both crops. During the discussions, farmers showed keen interest in ICRISAT’s research in combating foliar diseases, groundnut rosette, aflatoxin contamination and drought, which are major constraints to groundnut production.

The farmers were enthusiastic to learn about shortduration and high-yielding crop varieties, sorghum hybrid varieties, and ICRISAT experiences with sweet sorghum. They were shown a video on “Fighting against Striga” at the ICRISAT Samanko station, followed by a discussion about integrated soil fertility and Striga management options.

back to top Back to top

AIP–ICRISAT as a partner for MSU’s Global Innoversity

A delegation from Michigan State University (MSU) working on the concept of Global Innoversity for MetroAg/MetroFood visited ICRISAT on 8 November to explore the possibility of ICRISAT’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) to be one of the potential regional centers for this novel concept.

The team was composed of Dr Steven G Pueppke, Associate Vice-President for Research and Graduate Services and Dr H Christopher Peterson, Director – Product Centre for Agriculture, MSU, USA; Mr JA Chowdary, co-Chairman, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, AP State Council; and Dr Janaiah, ANGRAU.

Dr Dar with (L-R) Saikat Datta Mazumdar, Kiran Sharma, Janaiah, H Christopher Peterson, Steven G Pueppke and JA Chowdary.

Global Innoversity is a novel actionlearning platform through which the world’s metropolitan region can develop and mutually share innovations in food, agriculture and integrated resource systems. This platform shall address the growing demand for food and a widening disconnect between urban dwellers and the sources of needed resources for agriculture, water, and energy.

MSU is focusing initially on securing partnerships in select metros like Netherlands, Sao Paulo, Johannesburg, Hyderabad, Singapore, Nairobi, and Detroit. The team met with Director General William Dar and AIP-ICRISAT’s Kiran Sharma, Saikat Datta Mazumdar and Aravazhi. During the meeting, Dr Dar highlighted the need for partnership as a critical component for the success of the project, and suggested engaging the African agribusiness incubator counterparts of AIP in enhancing the reach of the program.

back to top Back to top

Pigeonpea project reaches tribal farmers in Mahabubnagar district, AP

ICRISAT scientists interact with farmers during the farmers’ field day in Chenchuguda village.   A woman farmer shares her experience in the use of a high-yielding pigeonpea variety.

Under the IFAD-EC project “Improving Farmers’ Livelihood and Food Security through Enhanced Legume Productivity in India and Myanmar”, resource-poor tribal farmers of Mahabubnagar district, Andhra Pradesh are now benefiting from improved pigeonpea production through better adapted cultivars and management technologies.

In the project’s 2nd year of implementation (2012 rainy season), a high-yielding variety RGT-1 was introduced in 60 ha of land in Nagar Kurnool, Gopalpeta and Balmur Mandals, Mahabubnagar district covering 10 villages (111 farmers). Traditionally farmers in this region grow local varieties which have poor yields and are susceptible to pests and diseases. These areas are also characterized by shallow alluvial chalka type of soils with poor moisture retention and low levels of soil fertility.

ICRISAT in collaboration with the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) of ANGRAU operating in Mahabubnagar district initiated the project aiming to improve the livelihoods of Chenchu tribal farmers of the village through the introduction of a high-yielding pigeonpea cultivar.

KVK-ANGRAU organized a farmers’ field day in Chenchuguda village on 5 November to provide an opportunity for farmers and scientists to interact. GV Rangarao, CV Sameer Kumar, and MA Ghaffar from ICRISAT and G Samuel, Project Coordinator of KVK and their staff attended the program. Thirty women and forty men farmers participated in the field day.

After a round of field visits, participants gathered to express their satisfaction with the performance of the high-yielding, wilt-resistant pigeonpea variety. GV Ranga Rao advised the farmers on sustainable and economic aspects of crop production in rainfed farming, the importance of seed quality, and the timely, effective and safe use of pesticides, while CV Sameer Kumar interacted with the group on improved production practices in pigeonpea.

back to top Back to top

Centre of Excellence on Climate Change Research for Plant Protection being built at Patancheru

Dr Dar visits the upcoming CoE-CCRPP facility near the Quarantine Unit.

The new facility for climate change research for plant protection under the DST-funded project “Centre of Excellence on Climate Change Research for Plant Protection (CoE-CCRPP), is now being built near the Quarantine Unit at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

The CCRPP facility includes 3 Open-Top Chambers (OTC) and 1 Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (FACE) facility. The facility will be used to enhance the efficiency of basic, strategic and applied research on the effect of climate change variables on pathogens and insects/pests, a new initiative among the CG centers. The CoE-CCRPP will be inaugurated soon.

back to top Back to top