No. 1553 11 January 2013

Water, agriculture and rural livelihoods
ICRISAT ventures into recycling waste water for agricultural use

The lack of adequate water is linked to poverty – and innovations to address the problem of rural poverty by improving water availability particularly for agricultural use can translate into significant economic and social benefits.

Participants of the pre-planning meeting of consortium partners of the Water4Crops (India-EU) project at Patancheru.

Following successes with rainwater harvesting and management, ICRISAT’s watershed team is making inroads into recycling industrial and domestic waste water for agricultural use to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor in the semi-arid tropics.

(L-R) DL Savithramma, Professor & Head, Department of Genetics & Plant Breeding, UAS, Bengaluru; Pooran Gaur; Meenakshi Sharma, Vice President, Sustainability and Communications, SAB Miller India; and SP Wani at the meeting.

As part of this, a pre-planning meeting of consortium partners of the project “Integrating bio-treated wastewater reuse with enhanced water-use efficiency to support the green economy in EU and India”, also known as Water4Crops (India-EU Project), was held on 8-9 January at the ICRISAT headquarters in Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, India. The EU-Indian consortium comprises of 14 partners – state agricultural universities, national institutes like The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), nongovernment organizations (NGOs), and private industrial partners.

The project will primarily aim to develop and demonstrate integrated treatment processes for agro-food industry effluents targeted at recovery of economically useful components; enhance water-use efficiency through improved irrigation systems, agronomic practices and using validated simulation models; and assess impacts of treated

The project will also look into increasing saline wastewater use efficiency; mapping and characterizing quantitative trait loci (QTL) for drought tolerance related traits in maize, sorghum, pearl millet, chickpea and tomato; improving drought adaptation using marker-assisted breeding and trait-based selection approaches in the said crops; and evaluating and optimizing the proposed combinations of bio-treatment and wastewater reuse to support green growth and to boost interaction between knowledge organizations and industries of the European and Indian parties.

Detailed work plans being prepared will be used for discussions during the project’s formal kick-off meeting of the India-EU consortium partners on 28-30 January.

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Training conducted on sustainability, marketing and policy in biofuel systems

Participants of the training program held at IICT, Hyderabad.

Under the Indo-US Joint Clean Energy Development Centre project “Development of sustainable advanced lignocellulosic biofuel systems,” scientists from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), ICRISAT, Virginia Tech and Abellon Clean Energy Ltd conducted a training program on “Sustainability, Marketing and Policy” in biofuel systems on 3-4 January at IICT, Hyderabad. The activity was attended by 24 participants from 8 public sector organizations and 2 private companies.

The workshop was inaugurated by Dr Ahmed Kamal, IICT Acting Director and the project’s Coordinator. Janaki Alvalapati (Virginia Tech, USA) spoke on work package challenges, profitability analysis, and energy scenario in the Americas;
P Srinivasa Rao (ICRISAT) on project target ecologies; Pankaj Lal (Montclair University, USA) on profitability analysis and supply chain management; and Beena Patel (Abellon Clean Energy) on certification protocols and sustainability standards.

Also discussed were mechanics of life cycle analysis (LCA); LCA case study on energy and emissions estimations; regional impact analysis; and feedstock supply chain management.

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Building resilience against drought in Karnataka

Participants of the workshop held at the DoA, Karnataka, Bengaluru.

As part of the Government of Karnataka (GoK)-CGIAR Consortium initiative to help small and marginal farmers in the state build resilience against frequently occurring drought, a two-day workshop was held on 3-4 January at the Department of Agriculture (DoA), Bengaluru, to map out detailed plans for four benchmark locations in Tumkur,  Raichur, Bijapur and Chikkmagalur.

Under the GoK-CGIAR initiative, seven members of the CGIAR Consortium have joined hands to provide technical support in establishing the four benchmark sites in Karnataka, based on the success of the Bhoochetana program, as the state’s flagship initiative on science-based agricultural development.

In his inaugural address, Dr Kaushik Mukherjee, Additional Chief Secretary & Development Commissioner, GoK stressed the need for science innovations to benefit farmers. He also spoke on how the CGIAR centers could together contribute significantly through convergence of technologies.

Dr Sarvesh, Director of Agriculture, explained how the GoK-CGIAR initiative will increase the overall productivity of agriculture towards improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the state. ICRISAT’s Dr SP Wani, the consortium coordinator, said that the main outputs of this partnership would be to increase agricultural productivity by 20% and family incomes by 25% at the benchmark sites, which would be developed into micro-watersheds.

Highlighting Bhoochetana’s benefits, Dr KV Raju, Economic Advisor to the Karnataka Chief Minister acknowledged the ICRISAT-led CGIAR consortium for setting up the benchmark sites. The consortium partners identified the locations and potential interventions and will meet soon at ICRISAT to plan the detailed activities and logistical support.

Participants of the workshop included representatives from DoA line departments, the district administration, state agricultural universities, CGIAR Consortium Centers [International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) and ICRISAT], and AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center.

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