12 April 2013
No. 1566

68th Governing Board Meeting
Stronger and more dynamic partnerships, science and institutional vigor recognized

Committed to a stronger and more dynamic agricultural research-for-development partnership as the way forward in tackling food security and poverty reduction in West and Central Africa (WCA), ICRISAT’s 68th Governing Board meeting was strategically held in Dakar, Senegal on 6-10 April.

The ICRISAT Governing Board with the Management Group and Research Committee at the 68th Board meeting in Dakar, Senegal.

Against the backdrop of renewing and revitalizing partnerships in the region, new ways of collaboration were forged and key decisions were made during the week-long event.

The 68th Governing Board meeting commenced with a visit by the ICRISAT Board members and management to the largest research station of the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA) in Bambey and the Centre d’étude regional pour l’amélioration de l’adaptation à la sécheresse (CERAAS) near Dakar on 6 April. ISRA has a strong and active agricultural research program which ICRISAT has been working with for 40 years now.

Recognizing that partnership is the key to overcoming poverty and food insecurity which remain as serious challenges in the WCA region, a Partnership Day was organized by ICRISAT, ISRA, and the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) on 8 April. The Partnership Day succeeded in further strengthening ties and in exploring new opportunities for collaboration and sharing of expertise and resources between ICRISAT and its partners in WCA.

A highlight of the week-long event was a courtesy meeting with Senegal’s Prime Minister, Mr Abdoul Mbaye and Minister of Agriculture, Mr Abdoulaye Baldé on 9 April. The ICRISAT delegation met with the Senegalese officials to seal common commitment and support to stronger agricultural research partnerships within the region.

The series of committee meetings set the stage for the Governing Board’s plenary meeting on 10 April, where the Institute’s enhanced commitment and efforts in maintaining a good balance of science and institutional vigor, financial strength and stability, staff morale and development, and excellent management were recognized.

The 68th Board meeting in session.

In his report to the Board, Dr Dar emphasized that ICRISAT’s financial health is strong and stable, with an approved budget for 2013 of US$67 million. He also updated the Board on the overall achievements of the Institute, topped by the approval and launch of the CGIAR Research Programs on DrylandCereals and GrainLegumes. He expressed  his eagerness to demonstrate the power of partnership in these bold and innovative new Programs, and work with hundreds of research-for-development partners worldwide. To move the activities forward, the Board approved that management actively prepare for the next phase proposals for the two Programs.

One of the key decisions during the meeting was the approval of the ICRISAT Marketing Plan to serve as the blueprint in working within the new CGIAR funding processes and mechanisms, and in vigorously pursuing bilateral programs and new partnerships. The Board requested a progress report of the Marketing Plan at the next meeting in September, particularly on the India Fund strategy and fund raising with the private sector.

The Board also approved that management in consultation with the internal auditors develop a due diligence mechanism for the NARS partners. Further, as part of the internal audit plan, the internal auditors should conduct an annual review of at least one or two of the NARS partners.

The completion of studies for the first phase of the impact assessments was also lauded, as well as major efforts made across the Institute for cultural change, staff morale and staff development. There was a good discussion on achieving gender balance in ICRISAT at all levels as well as diversity in the staff from developed and developing countries. To further achieve gender parity, the Board approved the staff hiring targets to be reported as percentages of women scientists for 2013 -2015.

The Board and management celebrating Dr Dar’s birthday during its 10 April meeting.

In his report as Board Chair, Dr Poole stressed the need to achieve impacts for future funding. He also noted the significant time he spends working with the CGIAR Consortium Office and donors in assisting with the reform processes. He expressed how pleased he was with the success of the launch of the DryandCereals and GrainLegumes and the active engagement among partners during the event. He likewise highlighted the importance of the upcoming World Agricultural Forum (WAF) to be held in Hyderabad in November 2013, which opens up opportunities for ICRISAT to build its profile and interact more with the private industry.

Other decisions made at the Board meeting included the selection of three Centre Commissioned External Reviews (CCERs) for 2013: implementation of the Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) framework; Investment Policy and Currency Exchange Risk Management Policy; and ICRISAT’s sub-Saharan Africa Strategy.

Dr Poole also recognized the excellent contributions and committed and dedicated services over the years of Dr Dave Hoisington as Deputy Director General for Research and Mr Hector Hernandez as Director, Human Resources and Operations, who were both attending the Board meeting for the last time.

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Field tour to ISRA, Bambey
ISRA and ICRISAT forge stronger strategic partnership

ISRA Director General Dr Macoumba Diouf (center) with Dr Dar and Dr Poole.

“Food security is on top of our government’s priority, and we are addressing this through initiatives to improve the production of millet, sorghum, maize and rainfed rice,” said Dr Macoumba Diouf, Director General of ISRA, during the visit of the ICRISAT Board members and management to its Bambey station near Dakar, Senegal on 6 April.

“Coping with drought, poor soils and exposure to pests and diseases and climate change are some of the major challenges for research in Senegal,”

Dr Diouf added in his comprehensive orientation briefing of ISRA’s crop research initiatives, challenges and successes. He led the ICRISAT team on a field tour of the Bambey station to show the different varieties of crops being tested in the harsh drylands of Senegal.

ICRISAT Board members and management with ISRA and CNRA officials and staff.

“Our partnership with ICRISAT through the years has been very beneficial to our country, highlighted by nearly 3,000 varieties of sorghum exchanged between ICRISAT and ISRA as well as nearly 200 varieties of groundnut and 100 varieties of pigeonpea,” stressed Dr Samba Thiaw, Director of the Centre National de Recherches Agronomiques de Bambey (CNRA-Bambey). Dr Thiaw acknowledged ICRISAT’s important role in ISRA’s research initiatives, particularly in varietal development and in training and capacity building of scientists in cereals, legumes and natural resources. He noted the many ISRA scientists who have spent time at the ICRISAT headquarters in India for training on crop breeding/improvement, opening vast opportunities for joint research undertakings.

Board members and management with ISRA and CERAAS officials and staff.
A CNRA scientist explains his institute’s pearl millet research during the field visit.

“I am very excited to be here to witness the value of the ICRISAT-ISRA partnership. I see the many ICRISAT varieties being used in research here and benefiting the country and its people; this shows that we have chosen our partners well,” said Dr Nigel Poole, ICRISAT Board Chair.

Director General William Dar, meanwhile affirmed a strong support to elevate the partnership between ISRA and ICRISAT with the CGIAR Research Programs as the platform. In response to Dr Dar’s statement of support, Dr Diouf has offered to host the implementation of some CGIAR Research Program activities in Senegal.

The ICRISAT Board members and management also visited CERAAS, a national center of ISRA open to regional cooperation. Dr Ndiaga Cisse, Director of CERAAS, pointed out that his organization, which focuses on crop adaptation to drought, benefits much from its collaborative work with ICRISAT on dryland cereals such as sorghum, pearl millet and fonio, as well as on legumes such as groundnut, sesame and cowpea.

Young scientists of CERAAS who trained at the ICRISAT headquarters in India with ICRISAT management.

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Partnership Day
ISRA, CORAF/WECARD and ICRISAT strengthen ties for food security and poverty reduction in WCA

Dr D Hoisington addressing the participants of the Partnership Day.

The power of partnership in advancing food security and poverty reduction was highlighted at the Partnership Day organized by ICRISAT, ISRA and CORAF/WECARD on 8 April in Dakar, Senegal.

“We are committed to strengthen and stimulate our partnerships in WCA. Under the ICRISAT-led CGIAR Research Programs on GrainLegumes and on DrylandCereals, national and regional organizations like ISRA and CORAF/WECARD will play more significant roles in ensuring that research results benefit the smallholder farmers,” said Dr William Dar.

The potential of South-South cooperation between India and Africa was also highlighted during the Partnership Day, especially in the context of the ICRISAT South-South Initiative (IS-SI). “Two years ago, we launched the IS-SI aimed at building upon the already strong and successful India-Africa partnership to scale up its role as a driver of prosperity and economic opportunities in the dryland tropics,” said Dr Nigel Poole.

“With the support from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) headed by its Director General, Dr S Ayyappan, who is also Vice-Chair of the ICRISAT Board, this partnership mode is now moving incredibly fast. IS-SI is truly unlocking the entrepreneurship of people in countries in this continent and improving the process of knowledge exchange between India and Africa,” Dr Poole pointed out.

Dr Dar, Dr Poole, ISRA DG Dr M Diouf, and CORAF/WECARD Executive Director Dr Harold Roy-Macauley during the MoU signing.

CORAF/WECARD Executive Director, Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, highlighted his organization’s common mission with ICRISAT and CGIAR. “CORAF/WECARD provides opportunities and facilitates CGIAR research partnerships with national organizations in the region. We have a growing strength of collaboration with ICRISAT and other CGIAR Centers, as well as similar and complementary interests and willingness to work together to improve the well-being of the poor.”

“Our partnerships respond to priorities of WCA on food security and livelihood improvement. Together with ICRISAT and the CGIAR, we create value addition in investments structured to ensure economies of scale and spillover effects in countries in the region,” Dr Roy-Macauley added.

ICRISAT, ISRA and CORAF/WECARD in a show of solidarity for food security and poverty reduction in WCA.

“There are many people to feed and climate change is a continuing challenge. We can do more together to advance development and poverty reduction in WCA,” said Dr Macoumba Diouf, ISRA Director General.

The Partnership Day was capped with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ICRISAT and ISRA to renew and revitalize 40 years of research collaboration on groundnut, pearl millet and sorghum. Highlighting ICRISAT’s relationship with CORAF/WECARD, an MoU was also signed between the two organizations to formalize the partnership and set the scene for tackling new challenges together and creating more impacts.

A press conference was held after the Partnership Day program to answer questions from the media related to ICRISAT’s global programs and activities, and its partnerships in Senegal and in WCA.

The press conference after the Partnership Day.

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Meeting with Senegalese officials
Senegal Prime Minister supports new partnerships to improve livelihoods of the poor

Senegal Prime Minister Mr A Mbaye (left) with Dr Poole and Dr Dar.

“Our agriculture must be able to feed our people, and at the same time provide solutions to the problem of unemployment in our country. Agricultural development and food security is a priority of our government, and we need your support on this more than ever,” said Prime Minister of Senegal, Mr Abdoul Mbaye.

“We want to use science-based solutions for agricultural growth to create opportunities for employment, as well as to cope with the changing climate conditions. Your work with our national institutes on cereals and legumes has contributed much to increasing and diversifying sources of incomes for our people,” added the Prime Minister.

Highlighting the importance of research partnership in view of current agricultural challenges, Senegal’s Minister of Agriculture, Mr Abdoulaye Baldé, said: “We are about to modernize our agriculture. We need a more effective system of research and dissemination of agricultural technologies. This is a priority for the government of Senegal and we are committed to work together with ICRISAT towards achieving this goal.”

Senegal’s Prime Minister Mbaye and Agriculture Minister Baldé both expressed commitment to a stronger and more dynamic research-for-development partnership during a courtesy visit by the ICRISAT delegation led by Dr Nigel Poole, together with Dr William Dar, Dr S Ayyappan, Vice-Chair of the Board, and Dr Farid Waliyar, Regional Director for WCA on 9 April.

“The organization of ICRISAT’s Governing Board meeting here in Dakar is a strong sign of the vitality of relationship between ICRISAT and Senegal, particularly through ISRA,” noted Dr Poole.

L-R) Dr F Waliyar, ICRISAT Regional Director for WCA; Dr S Ayyappan, Vice-Chair of the Board and ICAR Director General; Dr Poole; Dr Dar; Senegal’s Minister of Agriculture, Mr A Baldé; and ISRA DG Dr M Diouf.

“We are at a stage of elevating our partnerships in the region through the implementation of the CGIAR Research Programs, in which ISRA will play a significant role,” said Dr Dar.

A discussion on south-south cooperation between India and Africa and other new partnership opportunities for agricultural development was also discussed during the visit. “There are similarities between Indian and African climates where a major part of the population consumes cereals such as millet and sorghum, and grain legumes such as groundnuts. Working with ICRISAT to develop varieties adapted to both Indian and African conditions is the key,” noted Dr Ayyappan.

The visit was capped with Prime Minister Mbaye’s expression of full support to the revitalized ICRISAT-Senegal collaboration and the new partnership dynamics under the CGIAR Research Programs.

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Director General W Dar receives alumnus award

The Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State Colleges (ISPSC) Federated Alumni Association in the Philippines awarded Director General William Dar a Certificate of Recognition as a Distinguished Alumnus during its Centennial Alumni Homecoming on 1 April in Sta Maria, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. The award was given “in sincere recognition of Dr Dar’s outstanding accomplishments and achievements, and in grateful acknowledgement of his diligence, generous support and unselfish assistance and innumerable contributions in the establishment and attainment of goals and objectives, programs and projects of the Alma Mater particularly, the ISPSC Federated Alumni Association”.

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