No. 1559 22 February 2013

Water for the poor
Improving rural livelihoods through integrated water resource management

Public-private partnership is driving crop productivity enhancement, soil and water conservation, and livelihood generation for smallholder farmers in Medak district, Andhra Pradesh (AP), India.

A section of the audience listens keenly as Director General William Dar delivers his address at the inaugural program of the Global Planning Meeting (GPM) 2013 at Patancheru.

The success of an integrated watershed management collaborative project between ICRISAT, SABMiller India, the Rural Education and Agriculture Development (READ), and BAIF Institute for Rural Development (BIRD) along with the district administration of the Government of AP was showcased in a field day held in Fasalvadi village in Medak district on 18 February. More than 200 farmers from the surrounding villages attended the field day.

The project, spread over four villages (Fasalvadi, Shivampet, Venkatakishtapur and Chakriyal) in the district covering 2,526 households with a total population of 12,940 on 4,500 hectares, was initiated in 2010. It primarily aims to enhance agricultural productivity in the villages through rainwater conservation and harvesting and building farmer capacity to develop sustainable water management practices that enhance groundwater availability and use efficiency.

As a result of the project’s interventions, crop yields have significantly increased by up to 35% and small and marginal farmer incomes by up to 11% in the villages. The project also provides micro-entrepreneurship opportunities to approximately 150 women from Self-Help Groups through the Spent Malt programme. These women collect malt from the SABMiller India local brewery (Charminar Brewery), distributed to farmers in the villages to feed to milch animals. It has been a win-win project since the farmers benefit from significant increase in milk production from 1 liter per day to 3-5 liters per day, while the Self-Help Groups have made a total profit of Rs 1,20,000 (US$ 2,213) in over one year.

In his inaugural address, Mr Dinakar Babu, Collector, Medak district, appreciated the efforts of ICRISAT in demonstrating improved technologies for conserving rainwater and enhancing productivity as well as in increasing incomes of women Self-Help Groups and farmers in the watersheds. He advised farmers to take maximum advantage of ICRISAT’s presence in the villages, and also to help disseminate new technologies to other farmers in the district.

Dr TK Sridevi, Commissioner, Resettlement & Rehabilitation, Hyderabad also advised the farmers to adopt collective rainwater management measures to overcome water scarcity in the rainfed areas. She also appreciated the efforts of the ICRISAT-led project in empowering the women Self-Help Groups.

Collector Dinakar Babu, SP Wani, and other project partners and villagers visit a farmer’s field (left) and a check dam constructed for water storage in Fasalvadi village.

“The results achieved over the last 3 years since the initiative was introduced and the response of the farming community in the watershed have been very encouraging,” said Dr Suhas P Wani, Assistant Director, Research Program – Resilient Dryland Systems, ICRISAT. “Crop yields have increased by 10 to 35%, and income generating activities have contributed ` 25 lakh (US$ 46,109) to the net income of 50 families with animals.”

Dr Wani added that “in Fasalvadi village alone, increased milk production from 260 animals is adding additional net income of Rs 6,250 (US$ 115) per day totaling to Rs 1.88 lakh (US$ 3,304) per month. This project demonstrates the importance of public-private partnerships in managing water efficiently, benefiting farmers through inclusive market-oriented development (IMOD), and improving their livelihoods in the process.”

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ajit Jha, Director, Corporate Affairs and Communications, SABMiller India said, “We are working towards creating an increasingly holistic approach to water stewardship. In addition to our ongoing efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle water within our own breweries, we are working to drive performance improvement in water efficiency, enhance focus on water availability assessment, and support collaborative resource management initiatives in Andhra Pradesh along with States like Rajasthan and Haryana.”

Five farmers namely, Mr P Mallesham, Mrs A Yadamma, Mr P Sadananda Reddy, Mr P Ganesh and Mr Ramachandra Reddy were given recognition during the field day for their exemplary performance in the watershed in the four villages.

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Niger officials visit ICRISAT, explore opportunities to strengthen food security partnerships

Ambassador Ali Illiassou (4th from left) and Niger High Commissioner to the 3N Initiative, Allahoury Amadou Diallo (5th from left) with ICRISAT senior management staff.

With sustainable agricultural development on top of Niger’s agenda as key to national food security, His Excellency Mr Allahoury Amadou Diallo, Niger High Commissioner to the 3N Initiative (Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens) and His Excellency Mr Ali Illiassou, Niger Ambassador to India visited the ICRISAT headquarters on 20-21 February.

The visit was aimed at exploring possible collaborative opportunities to enhance Niger’s 3N initiative through the ICRISAT South-South Initiative (IS-SI). 3N is a new government program designed by the President of Niger to improve agricultural production in the country. IS-SI, on the other hand, is ICRISAT’s platform for focused and systematic international partnerships critical for a more effective and inclusive development cooperation between India and Africa. 

According to the Niger officials, the two-day productive and rewarding visit helped them better understand ICRISAT’s work and what ICRISAT can offer to Niger. “ICRISAT’s Inclusive Market-Oriented Development strategy and research agenda fit well in our 3N Initiative,” the High Commissioner pointed out.

Areas for possible future collaborations between Niger and ICRISAT identified during the discussions include: groundnut seed production, agribusiness incubation, food processing clusters, watershed management, drought preparedness, ICT to modernize Niger extension system, and capacity building activities (for national partners, NGOs, students and farmers).  The High Commissioner also proposed to have an agreement between the Niger Government’s 3N Initiative and ICRISAT to carry out collaborative activities identified during the visit.

The discussions were led by ICRISAT’s DDG-R Dave Hoisington, Joanna Kane-Potaka (Director, Strategic Marketing and Communication) and Guntuku Dileepkumar (Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation and IS-SI Coordinator).    

The two-day visit of Niger officials covered interactions with ICRISAT senior management staff; orientation on IS-SI; and visits to SATVenture, research program areas, Agribusiness and Innovation Platform, RS Paroda Gene Bank, Center of Excellence in ICT innovations for Agriculture, and Center of Excellence in Genomics. The visit was coordinated by Farid Waliyar, Mahamadou Gandah, and Guntuku Dileepkumar.

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Postrainy sorghum project dissemination workshop held

The Research Program on Dryland Cereals conducted a dissemination workshop on “Improving postrainy sorghum varieties to meet the growing grain and fodder demand in India,” an ACIAR-funded project, on 19-21 February 2013. 

The workshop was attended by 16 scientists from abroad and 8 scientists from Indian national programs. The activity aims to disseminate the findings of the now completed four-year ACIAR-funded project, especially the beneficial effect of introgression stay-green QTL on grain and stover yield and quality, and the importance of crop simulation modeling to better guide breeding targets.

The workshop also sought to open up discussion with other scientific groups and an opportunity for creating/expanding linkages in the implementation of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals. It also included deliberations on the contents of a possible second phase of the ACIAR-funded project.

The main collaborators of the project were ICRISAT, the University of Queensland and QAAFI (Australia), and India’s Directorate of Sorghum Research (DSR) and State Agricultural Universities (through DSR).

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Tribal farmers from Odisha state visit ICRISAT

To strengthen their knowledge in integrated grain legume production, eight farmers and two researchers from the Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood Program (OTELP), India visited ICRISAT on 18-20 February. During their visit, the farmers had an opportunity to interact with the Research Program – Grain Legumes team.

The farmers had indepth interaction with chickpea, groundnut and pigeonpea scientists on varieties suitable for their locations. They also had the opportunity to see various farm machinery for land development and plant protection. Participants were provided with sets of protective clothing and information on safe use of plant protection chemicals and the need for maintaining environmental health in their agricultural systems.

Staff of the Learning Systems Unit (LSU) and the Farm, Engineering and Transport Services (FETS) also assisted in the coordination of the visit

Tribal farmers with ICRISAT scientists at Patancheru.

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