No. 1557 08 February 2013

Global research programs on grain legumes and dryland cereals launched

Strategic, high-quality international agriculture research partnerships on grain legumes and dryland cereals to help reduce poverty and improve food and nutrition security in marginal environments

(L-R) IITA DDG-R Ylva Hillbur, ICARDA DG Mahmoud Solh, ICRISAT DG William Dar, ICRISAT Board Chair Nigel Poole, CIAT DG Ruben Echeverria and ICRISAT DDG-R Dave Hoisington

With food insecurity and malnutrition persisting as possibly the greatest challenges facing humanity in the coming decades, two grand research programs to boost food and nutrition and improve livelihoods particularly of the dryland poor were launched at the ICRISAT headquarters in Patancheru on 6 February by the world’s largest international agriculture research coalition.

The CGIAR Research Programs on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (also known by their operating names – Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals, respectively), both led by ICRISAT, are part of CGIAR’s bold effort to help reduce world hunger, malnutrition and poverty while ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources. The research programs, the most comprehensive research-for-development (R4D) efforts undertaken thus far on once ‘orphan’ or neglected crops, have a combined three-year budget of US$225 million.

“We are now faced with the enormous challenge to produce 70% more food to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050 using scarce resources amid the threat of climate change. CGIAR Research Programs like Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals form an integral part of the CGIAR reform process that allows its Centers to function as a unified system, working together to pursue shared goals such as tackling hunger and poverty,” said Dr Frank Rijsberman, Chief Executive Officer of the CGIAR Consortium, during the program launch.

CGIAR Consortium CEO F Rijsberman giving an overview of the CGIAR Research Programs.

ICRISAT Director General Dr William Dar highlighted the importance of the two research programs. “Grain legumes are the ‘poor people’s meat’ – crucial for ending childhood malnutrition. Dryland cereals provide food security to the poorest people on earth. They are vital to the sustainability of mixed croplivestock farming, and provide genetic resources for adaptation to harsh, marginal environments. In the face of growing global hunger and poverty and the effects of climate change, Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals will help provide nutritious, droughtresilient crops for the dryland poor.”

“We are excited to demonstrate the power of partnership in these bold and innovative new research programs, where hundreds of research for development partners worldwide will work together with a market-oriented development approach, along the grain legume and dryland cereal value chains.

We need to develop, adopt, disseminate and promote R4D innovations on these important crops,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Ruben Echeverria, Director General, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) said, “We are fully committed to collaborate with our partners in Grain Legumes to achieve impacts in all target regions, particularly in reducing poverty and food and nutrition insecurity in harsh, dryland systems.”

Dr Mahmoud Solh, Director General, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), stressed that “combining grain legumes and dryland cereals – both highly nutritious, drought-tolerant crops – in their diets are the best bets for smallholder farmers in marginal environments to achieve food and nutritional security and improve their livelihoods.”

Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals partners during the launch at the ICRISAT headquarters.

Dr Ylva Hillbur, Deputy Director General for Research, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) expressed her Institute’s commitment to work with the Grain Legumes partners towards attaining economic and environmental gains in the target regions.

“We are delighted by the significant support and commitment of all our partners in ensuring the success of the two research programs. These programs will make a real difference in the lives of smallholder farmers and the poor people,” said Dr Nigel Poole, ICRISAT Board Chair.

Noting that the “CGIAR Centers and partners are family,” Dr Poole also read out a message from Dr Camilla Toulmin, ICARDA Board Chair, part of which said, “There is an excellent complementarity on which we can build as both centers and leaders of the Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals programs. It is also excellent that we have such strong collaboration with partners from national agricultural research systems (NARS), advanced research institutions, and key donors.”

During the launch, a Declaration of Commitment was signed among the four CGIAR Center partners “to fulfill their responsibility and pledge their actions and support to the successful and smooth implementation of Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals, in order to deliver the programs’ promises to smallholder farmers and to hundreds of millions of poor people in the target regions.”

The CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes is a ten-year R4D program that focuses on improving chickpea, common bean, cowpea, groundnut, faba bean, lentil, pigeonpea and soybean crops grown by poor smallholder families in five target regions. It is a partnership among four members of the CGIAR Consortium: ICRISAT as lead center, CIAT, ICARDA and IITA, along with many public and private institutes and organizations, governments, and farmers worldwide.

The CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals will work on millets, sorghum, and barley to achieve an increase in farm-level crop productivity and total crop production of at least 16% in ten years in the target geographies of harsh dryland conditions. It is a partnership between two members of the CGIAR Consortium – ICRISAT as lead center, and ICARDA, along with a number of public and private institutes and organizations, governments, and farmers globally.

DG W Dar at the Dryland Cereals Implementation Workshop.

To bring together all partners involved and create a common and shared understanding and commitment to the two programs, a CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals Implementation Workshop was held on 4-5 February, while a CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes Implementation Workshop is being held on 7-8 February.

In a panel discussion as part of the launch program, representatives from other key partner organizations expressed their perspectives and expectations about the new, innovative program partnerships. The need for partnership on an equal footing was emphasized, where national organizations will be more engaged and involved, and where common priorities, objectives, expertise and resources will be shared. Emphasis was also placed on creating impacts to make a difference in the lives of smallholder farmers and poor people in the target regions.

Among those represented in the panel discussion were the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI) of Uganda, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Agropolis International, Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), and CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme (GCP).

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Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals launch in pictures

CGIAR Consortium CEO F Rijsberman making a point during a townhall meeting attended by ICRISAT management and senior staff.

ICARDA DG M Solh speaks at the Dryland Cereals Implementation Workshop.   SK Datta, DDG (Crop Sciences) ICAR, India, at the Dryland Cereals Implementation Workshop.

CIAT DG Ruben Echeverria speaking at the launch program.   IITA DDG-R Ylva Hillbur at the Grain Legumes Implementation Workshop.

ISRA DG (2nd from left) receiving a gift from ICRISAT.   F Rijsberman at the CEG lab.


Niger Prime Minister pledges support to ICRISAT-Niamey

Niger Prime Minister Brigi Rafini (center) with Ministers of Agriculture (left) and Water and Environment (right) at ICRISAT-Niamey.

“This is the environment I will be willing to work in, and Niger authorities will make every effort to preserve and enhance this ICRISAT Sahelian Center here in Sadoré,” said His Excellency Brigi Rafini, Prime Minister and Head of Government of Niger, during his visit to ICRISAT-Niamey in Niger on 31 January. “ICRISAT’s mission fits perfectly with the 3N (Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens) Initiative launched by the President of the Republic, His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou,” he added.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by a high-level delegation composed of Ministers of Agriculture, Mr Oua Saidou, and Water and Environment, Mr Issoufou Issaka; Counselors of the Prime Minister; representative of the High Commissioner of the 3N Initiative; Deputy Chief of the Prime Minister’s Office Mr Agali Aboubakar; the Prefet of Say, the Mayor of Yuri and the traditional chief of Say. The delegation came on a goodwill visit to show the Government’s appreciation of the contributions of agricultural research (both international and national) to the country’s agriculture sector.

The delegation visited the Sadoré women’s garden, where the chair of the group, Mrs Salamatou Boureima, briefed the Prime Minister and the delegation about their activities. ICRISAT has contributed to the development and empowerment of the Sadoré women’s group by supporting them in nursery management activities. They were trained at ICRISAT and now produce their own grafted fruit trees that contribute an average annual income of 300,000 CFA Francs (US$ 612) to their households.

Mrs Boureima noted the excellent availability of space to implement the 3N initiative while stressing the need for more resources to move forward. She sought the Prime Minister’s help in building this initiative through resources for, among others, fencing the vegetable garden area and in improving accessibility to the village markets.

The delegation also visited different demonstration plots (Moringa, crop diversification, millets seed production and groundnut), the seed unit and the gene bank, and planted trees in the VIP grounds of ICRISAT-Niamey.

During the visit, ICRISAT Country Representative Dr Mahamadou Gandah gave a presentation on ICRISAT’s investments in Niger, its research activities and results, collaboration with national and international institutions, and outlook for the future.

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ICRISAT participates in UniBRAIN partners’ meet

SM Karuppanchetty giving a presentation during the meeting.

The Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program of ICRISAT’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) participated in the Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) Partnership and Incubator Committee Meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya on 28-29 January.

Organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the meeting was attended by seven implementing partners and six incubators to deliberate on the implementation of various programs under the UniBRAIN Agribusiness Innovation Incubation Consortia (AIICs), discuss achievements in 2012, and set targets for January to June 2013.

SM Karuppanchetty, Divya Nancy G and Sangya Sharma represented ABI-ICRISAT as a UniBRAIN partner institution at the event. SM Karuppanchetty gave a presentation on implementation phase review and activities, mentoring and guidance of the AIICs through direct visits and annual meetings, capacity building and skills development for managers and staff, Global Agribusiness Incubation (GABI) newsletter, and other activities undertaken in September-December 2012.

A revised monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework will be developed for ratification within two weeks of the meeting. Participants also had a Management Information and Collaboration System (MICS) training on 30 January-2 February.

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Korea-based science park association seeks to expand in India

Dr Sun Kook Kwon, Secretary General and Ms So Young Park, Researcher of the Asian Science Park Association (ASPA), Korea visited Hyderabad on 29 January seeking to expand their membership base by networking with India’s Science and Technology Entrepreneurs’ Parks (STEPs) and Business Incubators Association (ISBA).

ASPA officials with Dr Dar and S Aravazhi.

In a meeting with Director General William Dar, the visitors expressed interest in partnering with STEPs and ISBA and with the Network of Indian Agri-Business Incubators (NIABI). Dr Dar expressed support to ASPA, noting that such collaboration would open up avenues for technology exchange and provide soft landing support to entrepreneurs. He added that agriculture-based partnerships are crucial in tackling the future challenge of feeding a growing population.

ASPA is an international nongovernment organization that works in the areas of joint development of scientific technology, industry and economy in Asia. ICRISAT through its Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) headed by Dr Kiran K Sharma, facilitated ASPA’s meetings with Hyderabad-based business incubators.

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Farmers’ field day on sorghum-legumes technology held in Makueni District, Kenya

Participants of the sorghum-legumes technology field day.

“Using the sorghum-legumes technology on my 2 acres of land, I will be able to harvest about 15 bags of sorghum grain, 3 bags of cowpea, and 1 bag of green grams,” says a triumphant Charles Wambua Mutisya of Kona Baridi Village, Kikumini in Kenya. This 45-year-old father of eight believes his harvest will feed his family until the next harvest in August and ensure surplus grain for sale. “Had I planted maize and beans on the 2 acres, I would have harvested no more than 3 and 0.5 bags, respectively, which would have lasted only up to the end of April and without anything to sell,” he says.

Charles Wambua was among the 184 farmers (92 of whom were women) from Kikumini, Munde, Wote, Makongo, Kathonzweni, Mwambani, Unoa, Kyamusoi, Mang’auni locations of Makueni District who attended the District Farmers’ Field Day held on John Muia Musya’s farm on 31 January to promote improved climate change-ready sorghum-legumes technologies to improve food and income security.

The field day was organized by ICRISAT and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) in partnership with the District Agricultural Office (DAO) of Makueni, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) at Katumani, and other stakeholders.

Past research in the Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) of Eastern Kenya has shown that farmer-preferred maize and beans cropping systems fail to produce any grain in half of all cropping seasons due to the high frequency of drought and use of unsuitable technologies, leading to endemic famine, poverty and suffering for the people, especially the most vulnerable – children, mothers and the elderly.

Through the mother and baby trial technology-delivery methodology, the ICRISAT-CCAFS’ sorghum-legumes technology delivery project was able to reach about 300 farm households in five villages during the October-January cropping season. On display during the field day were seven sorghum legume-intercrop innovations. Of the three improved sorghum varieties on display, the most preferred variety was KARI Mtama I for its big heads (high yield) followed by Gadam for its earliness. Also on display were food products made from sorghum such as mandazi, cake, and plilau.

Dr Charles Kariuki, Director of KARI-Katumani and chief guest of the event, thanked ICRISAT, CCAFS, DAO and the farmers for making the field day a big success. He also reminded the farmers that sorghum being more drought tolerant than maize, is more suitable in overcoming the endemic food insecurity and poverty in the ASALs and that consuming sorghum-based food products is highly recommended for diabetics. He urged the farmers to plant at least half their cereals cropland with KARI Mtama I and/or Gadam.

Dr Kariuki also encouraged farmers and other stakeholders to work together, through the coordination of the DAO, to form marketing groups to market their surplus sorghum grain to the East African Breweries which has offered to buy their produce at Kshs 25 (US$ 0.25) per kg.

Displays were put up by Africa Harvest, Farm Input Promotions (FIPs), Universal Traders SACCO, Water Resources Use Association (WRUA), MARAFIKI Micro-Finance, Tosheka, and Ministry of Livestock and Fishery Resources, representing the major players in the sorghum value chain. Representing various institutions were Dr Reccha (CCAFS-ILRI); Dr CK Kamau and Rachel (KARI); Charles Ndungu, Muoti and Kinywee (DAO, Makueni); Dr Steffen Fritz (Ecosystems Services and Management, Austria); and Mary Mgonja, Patrick Sheunda and Patrick Audi (ICRISAT).

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