24 May 2013
No. 1572

Dryland cereals for food and nutrition security
New prospects explored for sorghum and millets in West Africa

Participants of the first workshop of the CGIAR Research Program on DrylandCereals held in Saly, Sénégal. Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT

Agricultural research for development partnership is vital in ensuring food and nutrition security particularly in the drylands. This was demonstrated once again at the recent workshop of the CGIAR Research Program on DrylandCereals, with partners in the Sahel endorsing the need to improve sorghum and millet yields to push farmers from a state of subsistence to one of prosperity and food and nutrition security.

The first workshop of the CGIAR Research Program on DrylandCereals following its recent launch sought to capitalize on partnerships in planning innovations achievable within the next ten years for a major breakthrough in the production of dryland cereals. The meeting was held in Saly, Sénégal on 15-16 May.  

Giving an overview of the DrylandCereals, Dr Dave Hoisington, Deputy Director General, ICRISAT, explained the expected impacts of the program within the next ten years along its product lines, particularly in supporting farmers’ transition from subsistence to market orientation and in improving food security with productive and nutritious pearl millet food, feed and fodder production technologies in West Africa. This was followed by thematic group discussions on data management and sharing, genetic tools, crop management, variety adoption and seed production and dissemination.

Partnership is the key in realizing DrylandCereals’ product lines which will rely on collaboration with national programs, farmers and unions, the private sector, seed companies and farmer-cooperative seed enterprises. Linking producers with processing industries and large-scale grain market players will be essential.

“We are very keen on integrating sustainable crop, pest and disease management options and promoting post-harvest value addition which includes production for malting and beverage. We are now partnering with a private malting company,” says Mr Osho Lagunju, an Agricultural Officer at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Nigeria involved with the Sorghum Transformation Value Chain (STVC).

Participants of the working group.
Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT
  ICRISAT DDG-R D Hoisington speaking at the opening session. Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT

He said the STVC has been exploring opportunities to promote investment in processing within the context of a public-private partnership that could create jobs for the youth. “With ICRISAT leading this CGIAR Research Program, we are confident of increasing sorghum production and consumption and of transforming the sorghum sector in Nigeria,” he added.

Mr Vincenzo Galastro, in charge of the country program of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Niger, said: “We are developing projects and activities in Taoua, Maradi and Zinder regions of Niger which are aligned with the CGIAR Research Program on DrylandCereals.”

Mr Maman Aminou Ali of the farmers’ organization Fuma Gaskiya (Niger), who took part in the working group on supporting variety adoption, seed production and dissemination said, “I am happy to note that all the stakeholders are being involved in the program, right from the stage of identifying priorities and proposing solutions to overcoming them. Fuma Gaskiya’s experiences could benefit other farmers in the region.”

Dr Roger Zangré of the Environment and Agricultural Research Institute (INERA, Burkina Faso) believes that the goals are achievable and will translate into significant increases in production, yields and incomes. “Some sorghum varieties could reach a yield of 1.2 tons per hectare against 700 kg at present,” he said.

According to Dr Macoumba Diouf, Director General, Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA), “Both cereals and legumes are crucial for achieving food security and reducing poverty in Senegal. On a regional perspective, this workshop opens new prospects towards strengthening scientific cooperation between ICRISAT and national research systems for more impact on smallholder farmers’ livelihoods.”

The workshop was attended by national agricultural research systems, farmers’ organizations and private companies, international partners and ICRISAT scientists from Sénégal, Mali, Burkina, Niger, Nigeria, Kenya and India. Also present was Dr Shoba Shivasankar, incoming Director of the CGIAR Research Program on DrylandCereals.

Participants also visited the Centre Régional pour l’Amélioration de l’Adaptation à la Sécheresse (CERAAS) and the Institut de Technologie Alimentaire (ITA), and Jaboot (a private company involved in processing and selling cereals-based products).

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ICRISAT facilitates veterinary and dairy technology commercialization meet

A meeting on technology validation, valuation and benchmarking was organized on 7 May at the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) headquarters in Pusa, New Delhi, as a prelude to the Indian Agri-Business Conclave scheduled in July 2013 in New Delhi.

The meeting was chaired by Dr Sudhir Kochhar, NAIP National Coordinator. Experts screened technologies, potential buyers were identified and marketing strategies for screened technologies were deliberated upon during the meeting. Scientists participated in the B2B (business to business) meetings and presented six technologies to six companies. The meetings, facilitated by consultants Mr Jagadeesh Sunkad and Dr Rahul Srivastava, saw the signing of five Letters of Intent (LOIs) for three technologies, worth US$ 130,000.

Among those who attended the meeting were Dr PS Pandey, NAIP National Coordinator; Dr Puneet Sharma (Indian Veterinary Research Institute);Mr Jagadeesh Sunkad; Dr Sukmeet Singh (Munjal Global Manufacturing Institute, Indian School of Business, Mohali); and Mr SM Karuppanchetty, Mr Jonathan Philroy and Mr Suryamani Tripathi (ICRISAT).

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Director General visits Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly

ICRISAT Director General WD Dar shares some key ideas to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers of Andhra Pradesh with Honorable Speaker of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, Mr Nadendla Manohar (extreme left). Also seen are Drs G Dileepkumar and SP Wani.
Photo: Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly

An opportunity to showcase ICRISAT’s work and further explore ways to contribute to Andhra Pradesh’s agricultural productivity was presented when Director General William D. Dar visited the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on 18 May. This was a follow-up to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly members’ recent visit to ICRISAT.  Along with Dr Suhas P Wani, Assistant Director, Resilient Dryland Systems and Dr Dileepkumar Guntuku, Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation Program, the ICRISAT delegation was received by Honorable Speaker Mr Nadendla Manohar.

During the visit, Dr Dar described ICRISAT’s initiatives in support of smallholder agriculture and discussed novel ways to improve agricultural production in the State.  He briefly outlined the impressive impacts made in Anantapur district by ICRISAT’s high-yielding groundnut variety ICGV 91114. Also discussed were increasing the productivity of sorghum in the rice-fallow system, promoting high-yielding pigeonpea hybrids, soil health mapping, and using innovative knowledge sharing systems to contribute to food and nutritional security in the State. 

Dr Wani highlighted how soil mapping, improving soil health and innovative knowledge sharing systems had reduced yield gaps and increased productivity in the Bhoochetana project in Karnataka.

Dr Dileepkumar discussed novel approaches and ways to strengthen the State agriculture extension system by integrating the use of contemporary Information and Communication Technology tools and innovative knowledge sharing approaches. 

Mr N Manohar (extreme right) explains a point to the ICRISAT delegation.
Photo: Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly

Mr Nadendla Manohar invited Dr Dar to share the Institute’s work and successes during the Assembly session in June. He also sought inputs and recommendations for policies to strengthen the State’s agriculture sector. 

Dr Dar was taken on a tour of the Assembly, where Mr Manohar explained the recent reforms brought in under his administration. In a wrap-up meeting, both Dr Dar and Mr Manohar discussed and defined the next steps towards ensuring that ICRISAT’s research for development initiatives contribute in improving agricultural productivity in the State.

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Tropical Legumes II – Progress, partnerships and plans

TL II Coordinator E Monyo presents an overview of the project.
Photo: S Sridharan, ICRISAT
  L-R) Drs P Okori (ICRISAT), G Kananji (Chitedze Agricultural Research Station) and H Agrama (IITA) discuss work plans.
Photo: S Sridharan, ICRISAT

Access to high-quality seed of the right varieties can make a big difference in a farmer’s field in any given season. On this note, all aspects of seed system development, breeding new varieties, and promoting farmers’ access to improved seed through small packs were discussed at the Tropical Legumes (TL) II Regional Meeting for Eastern and Southern Africa held in Kampala, Uganda on 20-25 May.

The project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the drought-prone areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia through enhanced productivity and production of groundnut, common bean, soybean, chickpea, pigeonpea, and cowpea. Productivity is expected to increase by 20%, and 30% of all tropical legume areas in the two regions are covered by improved varieties. The expected increase in added value of these productivity gains in the rural areas of these regions will amount to more than US$ 4.83 billion over a period of ten years.

The week-long deliberation was designed for project participants to report on the recent achievements in TL I (led by the Generation Challenge Program) and TL II (led by ICRISAT) and discuss ways to integrate the two projects and use the results in the development of Phase III. 

Dr S Silim (left) shares a lighter moment with Dr EK Twinamasiko. Photo: S Sridharan, ICRISAT

Opening the meeting, Dr Emily Kubushenga Twinamasiko, representing the Ugandan Minister of Agriculture, said, “I appreciate the emphasis on smallholder farming since it involves the majority of people in Uganda. I am honored to address this community that is working to reduce hunger in Uganda.” She discussed the importance of legumes in improving nutrition and food security in Uganda, which has a population of 34 million that is growing at a rate of 3.2% per year. Food production growth on the other hand, is stagnant at 3%, which is of great national concern.

TL I Coordinator Ndeye Ndack Diop and TL II Coordinator Emmanuel Monyo provided overviews of their respective phases of the project. Presentations captured the most recent achievements of the six crops in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

The second day consisted of updates on Markets, Policies and Partnerships and developing work plans for the upcoming year. The TL I participants joined the meeting on the third day and provided updates on their achievements, discussed the breeding products developed in Phases I and II as well as those developed by partner projects such as the Indian chickpea project, the AGRA soil health program and the FAO seed systems program for Southern Africa. 

Crop-specific group work was done to review the achievements that will be highlighted in the project annual report. A few participants stayed on to attend a two-day training workshop on fingerprinting data and managing phenotypic data.

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ICRISAT-Nigeria braces up for the 2013 cropping season

In preparation for the 2013 wet season and to implement new and on-going projects in Nigeria, ICRISAT Nigeria organized a series of meetings with partners in April and May to deliberate and finalize work plans identified in the Accra meeting, and to review the 2012 trials and planned 2013 trials.

Speaking at the meeting, ICRISAT Nigeria Country Representative Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe briefed the partners about their expected roles in the Groundnut Value Chain Project to be launched soon and implemented in five States in 2013, to be spread to 15 States in 2014. The project would aim to increase incomes and enhance livelihoods of the actors along the groundnut value chain through increased productivity by the adoption of farmer- and market-preferred groundnut varieties, improved quality of grains and produce, and reduced transaction costs.

Partners were briefed on the activities to be implemented by ICRISAT Nigeria in the CGIAR Research Program on GrainLegumes. The meeting had representatives from the Institute for Agricultural Research, Zaria; Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority; Jigawa State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority; Katsina State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority; Green Sahel Agricultural and Rural Development Initiative; and ICRISAT.

A training workshop was held on 25 April for Heads of Department (HOD) of Agriculture from 16 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Kano State, where work plans were developed. Highlighting the importance of making farming less of a drudgery, Dr Ajeigbe spoke about the animal-drawn combine planter and processing equipment that would be introduced for small- and medium-scale farmers in the project implementation areas. The planters would be tested across different soil types in the Sudan and Sahel agro-ecological zones.

Training workshops were also held for extension agents and selected HOD of Agriculture from 8 LGAs in Bauchi State; for 26 EAs from 17 LGAs in Kano State; and for extension agents based in Katsina, Jigawa and Dutse States. The training mainly covered developments in production technologies of groundnut, sorghum and pearl millet; participatory research and extension methods; farmers and farmer group selection, plot selection, and demonstration plot layout; identification of roles and functions of different partners; linkages to input-output markets and government agricultural support schemes.

These activities were part of the CGIAR Research Programs on DrylandCereals, GrainLegumes and Dryland Systems.

Participants of a training workshop for Local Government Area Heads of Departments of Agriculture.
Photo: H Ajeigbe, ICRISAT

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Enhancing the value of legumes in Asian cropping systems

Mr Bounhmi Sivilay, a prosperous Lao farmer from Nonhdou village (2nd from right) shows his groundnut harvest to (L-R) Dr PM Gaur, Mr Phaivanh, Dr HD Upadhyaya and Mr V Vansy at the Project experiment fields at Pakse in Lao PDR.
Photo: KB Saxena, ICRISAT

Increasing the productivity of rainfed agriculture, which still supplies some 60 percent of the world’s food, would make a significant impact on global food production.

This highlights the importance of the “Sustainable management of crop-based production systems for raising agricultural productivity in rainfed Asia” project annual meeting of partners from India, Laos, Nepal and Vietnam held in Vientiane, Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic (PDR) on 16-18 May. The gathering sought to review and plan activities for 2013-14 for the project led by ICRISAT and funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

In his welcome speech, Dr CLL Gowda, Director, Research Program – Grain Legumes emphasized the project’s focus on improving the well-being of poor smallholder farmers in rainfed systems in the target countries, modeled on ICRISAT’s Inclusive Market-Oriented Development approach.

Dr Phoung Parisak Pravongviengkham, Vice Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR, spoke of his country’s efforts to graduate from the United Nation’s list of 20 Least Developed Countries, and said this would require inclusion of legumes in the cropping systems to improve soil fertility to sustain crop yields. He appreciated ICRISAT and IFAD for including Laos as one of the target countries for the project, and said he is confident the vast experience and knowledge of ICRISAT and other project countries would help local scientists improve their capacity for legumes improvement and their cultivation in large areas.

More than 25 scientists from India, Laos, Nepal, Vietnam, IRRI, and ICRISAT reviewed the progress of the IFAD project, and planned for activities for the period 2013-14. The outgoing Chairman of the Project Steering Committee, Dr HS Gupta (Project Director, Jharkhand Tribal Development Society, Ranchi) lauded the progress made in research and development activities in the target areas and hoped for its continued momentum. Incoming Chair Dr Linkham Douangsavanh, Deputy Director General, National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFPRI), Vientiane, Laos reviewed the partners’ work plans for year 2 and beyond. Committee members suggested enhancing the relevance of partners’ work plans to ensure the well-being of poor smallholder farmers in the rainfed areas.

ICRISAT staff members at the meeting were Drs KB Saxena,     H Upadhyaya and PM Gaur, and Mr P Ramakrishna. The meeting was co-sponsored by the Sustainable Natural Resource Management and Productivity Enhancement Project (SNRMPEP).

Participants of the meeting held in Vientiane. Photo: Photo: V Phearthep, SNRMPEP

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Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013 implementation workshop held

Director General WD Dar emphasizes a point while delivering his inaugural message at the workshop held at ICRISAT headquarters, Patancheru. Photo: L Vidyasagar, ICRISAT

“The transformation of agriculture must be the top priority concern of our public policies, including science and technology policies. Eventually, science must help in establishing an inclusive society that seeks to solve other major social problems through the application of science, technology and innovation,” said Director General William D. Dar, speaking at the Brainstorming Conference on Science Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy 2013 Implementation.

India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) and ICRISAT jointly organized the event, held at the ICRISAT headquarters on 14 May. It had four main sessions, namely: (1) Nurturing and promoting excellence and relevance in science education, research & development; (2) Crafting the dream innovation ecosystem; (3) Enhancing private sector investments in R&D, technology and innovation; and  (4) The national STI enterprise servicing an aspirational Indian society. Discussions focused on reorienting STI policy and seeking ideas and perspectives from a diverse section of stakeholders. 

Also speaking on the occasion, Dr Dileepkumar Guntuku, Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation program said the event would serve to identify best practices and come up with new ideas in the areas of research, technology and innovation that will help frame specific schemes, missions, programs, mechanisms, instruments and procedures for effective implementation of the STI policy.

On behalf of DST, Dr Nirmalya Bagchi from the Administrative Staff College of India provided an orientation to the STI policy, highlighting the thrust areas of R&D investment, tangible product development, industry-academia collaboration, and integrating science-technology and innovation that will result in inclusive development.  

The meeting saw representation from the academe, research organizations, industry, government, civil society, etc. Among those who spoke were Mr Aldas Janaiah (ANGRAU); Suhas P Wani (ICRISAT), Dr SL Goswami (National Academy for Agriculture Research Management); Ms Sandhya Kode (IIIT Hyderabad); Mr VR Kaundinya (Advanta Seeds); Ms Nita Sachan (Indian School of Business); and Mr E Haribabu, Pro Vice Chancellor. 

The conference was coordinated by Mr Narendrakumar, Director, Country Relations and Business Affairs, Mr Sumanthkumar, Scientist - ICT4D, and Dr Dileepkumar Guntuku.

Participants of the workshop. Photo: L Vidyasagar, ICRISAT

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Food processing business incubation center to be set up in Cameroon

Mr SM Karuppanchetty (center) and Mr S Aravazhi (extreme right) during their field study in Cameroon.
Photo: Edward, CCIMC

As part of the project of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), Government of India, a feasibility study was conducted on 28 April - 5 May by ABI-ICRISAT to set up a Food Processing Business Incubation Centre (FPBIC) in Cameroon. ICRISAT’s Mr SM Karuppanchetty and Mr S Aravazhi visited two sites of the Cameroon Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Crafts (CCIMC) accompanied by experts from the Chamber. A three-day market survey and field assessment was done in Douala and Limbae to prepare the business plan, following which two locations were identified, near Douala Port and at Boadibo, to be set up by the Centre d’Incubation Pilote. The incubator will process tapioca-based products and incubate rural entrepreneurs on primary processing.

The draft business plan was submitted to the Adhoc Project Steering Committee on 3 May, at a meeting attended by Mr Halidou Bello, Secretary; Mr Yves Tefack, Chief of the Centre; technical experts of CCIMA and CIP; and Mr J Ravi Kumar, Consul, Indian Consulate in Cameroon. The incubator will be operational by the end of 2013 upon approval of the final business plan by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries.

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