No. 1561 08 March 2013

Andhra Pradesh legislators visit ICRISAT,
commit policy support for science-based agricultural development

Four decades since ICRISAT was established, the Institute and the Government of Andhra Pradesh have been actively working together to end poverty, hunger and environmental degradation in the State. This partnership has generated pro-poor agricultural innovations and investments, enhancing agricultural productivity and improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

(Left) Andhra Pradesh (AP) legislators during the open forum. (Right) Director General William Dar elaborates on the 40-year successful partnership between AP and ICRISAT.

Striving to create a more favorable and progressive policy environment for a science-based agricultural development, over 150 members of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly (MLAs), Members of Legislative Council (MLCs), and other State officials visited ICRISAT on 6 March.

“In our 40 years of service to the poor farmers of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, the Government of Andhra Pradesh, being our host State, and the Government of India have been our very important partners in the fight against hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation in the drylands,” said Director General William D Dar in welcoming the delegation to the ICRISAT headquarters.

“The partnership between Andhra Pradesh and ICRISAT has allowed the Institute to conduct global, high-quality and impact-oriented research-for-development, which are adaptable to and directly benefiting the State and the whole of India. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude for your hospitality and steadfast support to ICRISAT all these years,” Dr Dar added.

In response, Honorable Assembly Speaker Nadendla Manohar said, “We are proud of ICRISAT and are thankful for the services you have provided to the farmers of Andhra Pradesh and of other parts of the country. I assure you that the State’s Government and Legislature will always stand by you in all your endeavors.”

Assembly Speaker Nadendla Manohar speaks on the occasion.   Mr Manohar shares a thought with DG Dar, while Medak District Collector Dinakar Babu looks on.

In his interaction with ICRISAT scientists, Mr Manohar also announced an invitation for Dr Dar to visit the State Assembly and present how the State’s farming sector could further benefit from the Institute’s science-based agricultural innovations. He added that the Assembly will hear and decide on ICRISAT’s proposed joint programs for the State’s agricultural growth. These include collaborations on: Bhoochetana (land rejuvenation) for increasing crop productivity, enhancing adoption of improved groundnut cultivars in Anantapur district, and popularizing hybrid pigeonpea in the State’s major growing areas.

Giving an overview of ICRISAT’s work in Andhra Pradesh, Drs CLL Gowda and SP Wani spoke on the successful partnership that has created significant impacts in the farmers’ fields and in India’s agricultural policy environment.

Mr Manohar speaks to the media.

Dr Gowda highlighted ICRISAT’s work on crop improvement research that has led to as many as 214 improved varieties of chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut, sorghum and pearl millet being released throughout India, 73 varieties of which are suitable for Andhra Pradesh. He cited the chickpea revolution in Andhra Pradesh which contributed to a  4-fold increase in chickpea cultivated area in the past decade, with a 9-fold increase in production, triggered by 2.5-fold increase in productivity from 600 to 1,400 kg/ha (highest in India).

On ICRISAT’s initiatives on rainfed agriculture and management of natural resources, Dr Wani stated a case that there is a high potential for Andhra Pradesh to increase its rainfed productivity by up to 5 tons/ha with improved management of land, water, crop and pests. The vast potential of rainfed agriculture has been demonstrated in the integrated watershed management approach at Adarsha Watershed, Kothapally in Rangareddy District which not only increased crop productivity but also ensured water availability for the villagers even during the summer months.

Dr Wani also highlighted the Bhoochetana initiative in Karnataka which in the last four years has improved crop yields by 23-66% over millions of hectares. The Bhoochetana program in Andhra Pradesh has also been initiated in partnership with the Department of Agriculture since the last two seasons, envisioned to eventually cover all districts of the State. For this program to succeed, he stressed the need for a strong political will among government officials, and enjoined the elected representatives to champion science-led development through Bhoochetana to ensure improved livelihoods for the farmers.

The legislative delegation was led by Assembly Speaker Manohar and Dr A Chakrapani, Chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council. Dr Dar, DDG-R Dave Hoisington and other members of the Management Group interacted with the legislative members on ICRISAT’s science-based agricultural innovations and Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) approach in addressing poverty and improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers, and the need for effective and robust policy support.

Expressing gratitude as partners.   Visitors being shown ICRISAT’s rich germplam repository at SatVenture.

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DG meets new Principal Secretary of Agriculture, Andhra Pradesh

Dr Dar presents The Jewels of ICRISAT to Mr Anil Punetha. Also seen are Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka and Dr SP Wani.

Director General William D. Dar along with Dr Suhas Wani, Assistant Research Program Director & Principal Scientist (Watersheds) and Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka, Director – Strategic Marketing and Communication met with Mr Anil Punetha, IAS, new Principal Secretary of Agriculture, Government of Andhra Pradesh.

Dr Dar briefed Mr Punetha about ICRISAT’s ongoing research for development initiatives in the State, particularly the watershed development collaboration with the Watershed Development Department, the ongoing Bhoochetana program to enhance the productivity of rainfed agriculture, and plans and preparations for the forthcoming World Agricultural Forum (WAF) 2013 to be hosted by the State Government in Hyderabad.

Mr Punetha stressed the need to further strengthen ICRISAT initiatives in Andhra Pradesh, and assured total support in strengthening Bhoochetana’s implementation.

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Karnataka’s Bhoochetana program maps out enhanced strategy

(Left) Chief Secretary of Karnataka, Mr SV Ranganath (4th from right) and dignitaries release publications at the Bhoochetana Review and Planning Workshop. (Right) DG William Dar addresses the participants.

The Government of Karnataka’s (GoK) Bhoochetana mission program (Bhoochetana II), which has improved agricultural productivity by 20% in 30 districts of the State covering 5 million hectares, held a review and planning meeting at the ICRISAT headquarters on 28 February – 2 March.

In his inaugural address, GoK Chief Secretary SV Ranganath stated that the ICRISAT-led consortium in Karnataka has increased crop productivity to an average of 5-6% growth in the last four years, from around 2 % for 5-6 years before 2009. He acknowledged Director General William D. Dar and the ICRISAT team led by Dr Suhas Wani, for their passion and persistence which has improved livelihoods of small and marginal farmers in the State.

Dr Dar, in his address, acknowledged that the success in Karnataka was largely due to the teamwork of the Department of Agriculture and the strong political will of high-level policy makers in the State.

Mr Kaushik Mukherjee, Additional Chief Secretary/Development Commissioner and Chair of the State Level Coordination Committee (SLCC), GoK, noted that with the impact of ICRISAT’s interventions through Bhoochetana, they are now looking forward to the second phase, and finding new extension systems through public-private partnerships.

Dr SA Patil, Chairman of the Krishi Mission, Karnataka lauded the achievement of the mission project and highlighted the vision of the Karnataka Krishi Mission in ensuring profitable and sustainable agriculture for the farmers. Mr Shankarlinge Gowda, Principal Secretary, stressed the need for linking farmers to the markets to ensure increased incomes.

Dr KV Sarvesh, Director, Department of Agriculture presented an overview of the Bhoochetana mission project (Bhoochetana II) and the GoK-CGIAR initiative (Bhoochetana plus, involving four benchmark sites – Bijapur, Raichur, Tumkur and Chikmagalur), stressing the need to overcome bottlenecks at the implementation level in the face of the challenge to cover 7.4 million ha in the State.

Dr Wani, Project Coordinator presented an overview and the objectives of the workshop, highlighting the program achievements of covering 4.4 million ha in four years with increased crop productivity from 23 to 66% (in different crops)  and by 10% in case of irrigated sugarcane. In spite of deficit rainfall (-26%) during 2012 rainy season, improved management increased crop yields by 28-38%.

Economic benefits in the 2011 rainy season amounted to ` 647 crores (US$ 130 million) in one season alone when all the 30 districts were covered under Bhoochetana. The innovation in terms of farm facilitators (10,000) and lead farmers (45,000) reached 4.4 million farmers during the fourth year of the project.

Dr KV Raju, Economic Advisor to the Chief Minister of Karnataka, highlighted the need to bring in public private partnerships as well as quantitative indicators for assessing the performance of the program, particularly for Bhoochetana plus, and to clarify the roles and responsibilities of all CGIAR institutions and other consortium partners involved.

About 300 participants from 30 districts of Karnataka and the Directorate of Agriculture participated in the meeting through different sessions, for the preparation of detailed work plans and implementation strategies for both Bhoochetana II and Bhoochetana plus.

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Innovation Platform workshops in Zimbabwe: Changing how we view the world

ICRISAT staff work with extension officers during the recent Innovation Platform training workshops in Bulawayo.

Learning to live with, and even exploit, change and uncertainty was the theme of a series of workshops held in Zimbabwe as part of a recently started, ACIAR-funded project called ZimClifs or “Integrating Crops and Livestock for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Zimbabwe”. The project aims to develop ways to increase agricultural production, improve household food security, and thereby reduce food-aid dependency in rural Zimbabwe through better integration of crop-livestock production and market participation.

A two-day workshop was held at the ICRISAT-Bulawayo office on 20-21 February in which 16 extension workers from four project sites in high and low rainfall areas were trained in the Innovation Platform ethics. Partners from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT), and the national agricultural research system were also present.

Inaugurating the workshop, Dr Andre van Rooyen, ICRISAT Country Representative in Zimbabwe challenged scientists and extension workers on their role to strengthen farmer preparedness to face change and uncertainty and develop solutions for every farmer’s particular situation. He introduced the Innovation Platform concept for facilitating context-specific solutions, in particular to poorly developed markets and service supply, and to enable market-oriented intensification of small-scale farming systems.

Dr van Rooyen used the concept of complex systems to illustrate how farming components affect one another, and the outcomes being greater than the sum of their parts. He said extension, research and development need to understand and build four essential elements to boost resilience – the willingness to accept and embrace change, nurture diversity in various forms, combine different types of knowledge, and create opportunities for self-organization and cross-scale linkages.

Dr Sabine Homann Kee Tui, scientist at ICRISAT-Bulawayo, recaptured the project objectives and led the interactive learning process. Participants joined area-specific groups and applied participatory research tools in preparation for the workshops. They reviewed the past by identifying recent successes and challenges within their agricultural contexts, envisioned current and future desirable states of livelihood systems, and defined concrete steps and possible barriers along the development pathway. They also identified key commodities and mapped out the associated value chains. Action plans for mid-term activities of the Innovation Platforms were defined to guide the project activities.

Following this meeting, ICRISAT together with the extension officers launched a new Innovation Platform in Nkayi district and revitalized the existing one in Gwanda during a two-day workshop at each district. Site-specific challenges, opportunities and priority value chains were identified. Benefits from better crop-livestock integration and market-oriented development were clearly acknowledged, as well as the important role extension workers can play to further this end.

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Baseline survey supervisors on resilient dryland systems trained

Participants of the training program held at ICRISAT headquarters.

Baseline survey supervisors of the Research Program – Resilient Dryland Systems for South Asia were trained in survey tools, village mapping techniques using latest GPS tools, techniques in sampling and interviewing farmers, and mainstreaming gender issues at a recent two-day training workshop held at the ICRISAT headquarters.

The baseline survey is expected to be launched soon and the data will be used by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) for  vulnerability, production risk and farm technology adoption studies  in climate change-prone rainfed  and irrigated systems in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and districts of West Rajasthan. 

The training was organized by ICRISAT, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Experts from implementing partner institutions such as the Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti, Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University, University of Agricultural Science at Dharwad and other CGIAR partners participated in the workshop.

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ICRISAT showcases agricultural technologies at Pusa Agriculture Science Fair

Farmers visit ICRISAT’s stall at the Pusa Krishi Vigyan Mela 2013.

Over 2000 people, mainly farmers, researchers, school children, and media, visited the ICRISAT stall on the first day of the Pusa Krishi Vigyan Mela 2013 (Agriculture Science Fair) held on 6-8 March at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) campus in New Delhi.

This year’s theme on  “Agricultural technologies for farmers’ prosperity” gave ICRISAT an opportunity to display grain samples of its five mandate crops and sorghum and pearl millet panicles, in addition to posters on the crops, community-based integrated watershed management, and the Bhoochetana program. The farmers showed keen interest in the ICRISAT-developed groundnut variety ICGV 86564. 

Inaugurating the fair, Union Minister for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries, Mr Sharad Pawar said that 80% of Indian farmers had less than 2 hectares of land holdings while 60% of them were dependent on the rains for their livelihood. Elaborating on the critical water scarcity scenario and the drinking water scarcity in drought-affected regions, he asserted that agricultural innovations were the only ray of hope for farmers in these areas, and that efforts were needed to guide them in transitioning from the stage of distress to prosperity.

This is the first time ICRISAT and other CGIAR Centers were invited to showcase their technological innovations in order to create awareness and to receive feedback from the agricultural community.
Apart from the over 150 stalls set up by institutes of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), State Agricultural Universities, Regional Agricultural Colleges, KVKs, research divisions of IARI, agriculture tool and machine manufacturers, and farmers, there were live demonstrations on scientific crop production, technologies, free soil and water testing, and sale of high yielding variety (HYVs) seeds, saplings and seedlings.

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