26 July 2013
No. 1581

IFAD President visits ICRISAT Niger

IFAD President Dr K Nwanze (center) appreciating crop diversification program’s display during his visit to ICRISAT Niger. Also seen are (L-R) ICRISAT Regional Director for WCA Dr F Waliyar, Niger Minister of Agriculture Mr O Saidou and ICRISAT Country Representative for Niger Dr M Gandah.
Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT

“We have a future that has potential, and our role is to transform this potential into actionable results. I am proud of the work ICRISAT is doing in helping ensure prosperous, food secure and resilient drylands. This mandate is not an easy one to achieve but it is feasible,” said Dr Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Dr Nwanze shared these views during his visit to the ICRISAT Sahelian Center in Sadoré, Niger on 25 July. Stressing the importance of investing more on rural development and on smallholder farming systems, he added that “while potential exists, this needs to be translated into real and concrete projects on the ground. Scientific knowledge is to be transformed into action for development. That is why scientists must work together with diverse partners – the public and private sectors, and the smallholder farmers who are our main partners.” 

The IFAD President, who served as Director of the ICRISAT Sahelian Center from 1982 to 1985, wrote in the visitors’ book that his visit to ICRISAT is like “returning home” almost 30 years after leaving the Center, marking it as a major milestone in his professional life. “Memories of the past decades and my experiences here at ICRISAT have helped shape my life and have placed me where I am today,” he added.

Dr K Nwanze with Dr F Waliyar at ICRISAT Niger. Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT
(L-R) Mr Allahoury Amadou Diallo, Mr O Saidou, Dr K Nwanze and Dr F Waliyar during a meeting. Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT

Dr Nwanze visited ICRISAT with a strong delegation composed of Niger’s Minister of Agriculture, Oau Saidou and High Commissioner of the Presidential initiative 3N (Nigeriens Feed Nigeriens), Mr Allahoury Amadou Diallo, and Dr Aboubacar Ichaou, Director General of the Institut National de Recherche Agronomique (INRAN).

In his welcome address, ICRISAT West and Central Africa (WCA) Regional Director, Dr Farid Waliyar, thanked the IFAD President for his continuous support to ICRISAT and its partners. He also expressed hope for future IFAD support particularly on proposals jointly developed by ICRISAT with the Niger Government in the following areas: groundnut production systems, technologies such as micro-irrigation, soil fertilization, improvement of crop-livestock integration, and market research.

Dr K Nwanze receives a gift from ICRISAT’s Ms Laure Anthony, who worked with him at Sadoré three decades ago. Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT
Dr K Nwanze signs the ICRISAT visitors book while Mr O Saidou and Dr F Waliyar look on. Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT

Dr Waliyar also emphasized the role of partnership in ICRISAT activities: “Our long partnership with INRAN, the University of Niamey and IPDR Kollo involves joint research, mentoring students, and training programs. This partnership is especially extended to farmers’ organizations and national and international NGOs, especially in technology transfer.”

The IFAD President’s visit consisted of interactions with ICRISAT scientists and other staff, and a tour of facilities such as the gene bank, seed unit, and crop diversification program covering fruits trees, moringa and date palm.

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ICRISAT at the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week
Showcasing agricultural science and innovation for food security

Mr B Sogoba, Director, NGO AMEDD (right) receiving the prize for the farmer-to-farmer video “Let’s Talk Money” from outgoing FARA Director Dr Monty Jones. Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT

The 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW) and General Assembly of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) concluded on 20 July in Accra, Ghana, with ICRISAT reiterating its continued commitment to Africa’s smallholder farmers through its research-for-development initiatives.

“I am proud to see the progress that the FARA has made since its creation and its contribution in enhancing the scientific agricultural research agenda in Africa. I also believe that CGIAR centers like ICRISAT have the capacity to support the establishment of this science agenda toward attaining food security within the continent,” said Dr Adama Traore, member of the ICRISAT Governing Board. He also underlined how the attendance by the highest body of the African Union and New Partnerships for African Development (NEPAD) has demonstrated the commitment of policy and decision makers to the Forum.

In his statement to the general assembly titled “African agricultural development: opportunities and challenges,” International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) President Dr Kanayo Nwanze acknowledged the impact of ICRISAT’s science and innovation, citing in particular the fertilizer microdosing technique in increasing yields using low cost and existing technologies.

ICRISAT took active part in the proceedings and side events at AASW organized under four sub-themes. A side event under the sub-theme on innovations to enhance productivity and resilience was dedicated to a consultative dialogue on smart agriculture to mitigate climate change. This was chaired by Dr Farid Waliyar, ICRISAT Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

During the side event on Nigeriens Feed Nigeriens (Presidential initiative 3N) organized by Conseil Ouest Africain pour la Recherche et le Développement Agricole/West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD), ICRISAT’s interventions in Niger were highlighted through a presentation by the Director of the Niger Agricultural Research Institute.

WCA Regional Information Officer Ms Diama (far left) with members of the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development and the FARA-AASW Social media reporters’ group organized by CGIAR. Photo: AASW

Climate smart villages in Africa: Opportunities for farmers and communities, a side event organized by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), had Robert Zougmoré as the main speaker and Abdoulaye from CCAFS based at the ICRISAT Samanko station in Mali also contributing.

On the closing day, certificates were presented to young trainees in social media and on gender mainstreaming in agricultural research for development. “Let’s talk money”, a film developed by ICRISAT and its partners (Agro Insight and partners) was awarded the third prize in the Film Festival Award category. The award was presented to Mr Bougouna Sogoba, Director of the Malian NGO Association Malienne d’Éveil au Développement Durable (AMEDD).

ICRISAT was represented at the conference by Dr Waliyar, Country Representative in Malawi Dr Moses Siambi, and Regional Information Officer for WCA Ms Agathe Diama. Ms Diama actively represented ICRISAT at the CGIAR booth and contributed to the AASW social media blog. Articles published during the event can be found on the CGIAR website www.cgiar.org.

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Agri-Tech Investors Meet boosts business opportunities through business incubation

(L-R) Drs WD Dar, K Kasturirangan, S Ayyappan and D Rama Rao at the meet. Photo: ABI, ICRISAT

More than 70 ready-to-commercialize agro-technologies from different sectors of agriculture were showcased and 58 agro-technologies were commercialized at the Agri-Tech Investors Meet held in New Delhi on 18-19 July.

Conducted by the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in collaboration with the Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program of ICRISAT, the technology commercialization platform saw a gathering of 400 participants representing industry, agri-scientists, entrepreneurs, investors and incubator professionals in the quest to create a climate of entrepreneurship in agriculture.

Delivering the inaugural address, Dr S Ayyappan,Director General, ICAR emphasized that “Indian agriculture is full of challenges and opportunities. To accelerate agricultural growth, the way forward is to create a robust entrepreneurship climate within the sector.”

In his special address, Director General William Dar said, “By helping nurture innovations and entrepreneurship in agriculture through our ABI program, ICRISAT is fulfilling its mission to help eliminate poverty and improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the drylands. I am extremely happy that ICAR is enhancing this initiative and network further.”

Dr K Kasturirangan, Member (Science), Planning Commission of India who was Chief Guest during the closing session, urged scientists to do market-oriented research to enhance public-private-partnerships for a prosperous future for Indian agriculture. Dr Kiran K Sharma, CEO of ICRISAT’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform, lauded ICAR’s role in bringing different stakeholders together, while Mr SM Karuppanchetty, COO of the ABI program presented the work and progress of India’s agribusiness incubators.

Eighty Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were exchanged at the meeting, the value of the technology transfer being US$ 0.578 million. The event also held 98 B2B (Business-to-Business) meetings involving scientists, industrialists and agri-business entrepreneurs for which 43 Letters of Interest (LOIs) were signed for technology commercialization.

The event had the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) as industry partner and the Indian School of Business (ISB) Munjal Institute for Global Manufacturing as knowledge partner.

Dr Dar delivering his special address at the meet. Photo: ABI, ICRISAT
One of the MoUs being exchanged in the presence of dignitaries. Photo: ABI, ICRISAT

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ICRISAT-HOPE holds field days on improved finger millet production in Uganda

Participants during the field day in Ayer sub-county in Lira district of Uganda. Photo: P Audi, ICRISAT
Farmers negotiate finger millet seed and other inputs in Amach sub-county. Photo: P Audi, ICRISAT

The ICRISAT-led HOPE project in partnership with the National Agricultural Research Organization, Victoria Seeds Ltd and Support to Holistic Advancement and Responsible Engagement (SHARE) organized two field days in Amach and Ayer sub-counties of Lira district, Uganda on 15 and 16 July, respectively.

The field day in Amach attended by 133 farmers (40% women), was held on 43-year-old Molly Okello’s farm. The farm has 3 acres of cropland planted with improved finger millet variety Seremi 2, local finger millet variety Okelo Ociba, cassava, maize, and beans. Ms Molly who runs a 9-member household, reported that the March-July or long rain mid-season drought would mean no maize and beans harvest. However, she is optimistic of harvesting 300 kg and 100 kg each from her 0.5 acre of Seremi 2 and Okelo Ociba, respectively. She has adopted row planting and used only 1.0 kg seed of Seremi 2, and expects to sell about 200 kg grain of Seremi  and 50 kg grain of local finger millet Okelo Ociba in the local market at Uganda shs 1000 (US$ 0.4) per kg and Uganda shs 700 (US$ 0.28) per kg, respectively. The early-maturing Seremi 2 fetches a high price and is most preferred in the market because it is blast resistant, easier to thresh, has better food qualities and is higher yielding than the local Okelo Ociba.

The second field day in Ayer with 145 farmers (65% women), was held on the 8-acre farm of 65-year-old Mr Francis Chan, where he has grown Seremi 2, maize, pigeonpea, cassava, beans, and grazing pasture. He has also adopted row planting and expects to harvest 1,200 kg of grain from Seremi 2 this month. He began planting Seremi 2 in the long rains of 2011 when he received a one-fourth kilogram mini-seed pack from the project. Chan expects to support his five-member household by selling 1000 kg grain of Seremi 2 in the local grain market at Uganda shs 1.0 m (US$ 400).

Farmers reported that the improved practice of row planting being promoted by the project made weeding very easy, and that men readily participated in it compared to the traditional system where back-breaking weeding was done only by women. Finger millet threshing was rated as the second most difficult task after planting and farmers sought the project’s assistance in accessing mechanical finger millet planters and threshers. 

About 25% of the farmers said they had heard of Seremi 2 while about 10% said they were growing it. They felt that the limited diffusion and use of the improved variety was due to inaccessibility to quality seed and information on positive attributes and management practices, for which they sought the project’s intervention.

SHARE Director Robert Opio said they would start to promote value addition, collective marketing and a warehouse receipt system for finger millet from next year. ICRISAT and NARO promised to obtain mechanical planters and threshers for testing and adaptation.

Among those present during the field day were officials of 11 farmer producer groups with a membership of 107 farmers, Victoria Seed, SHARE, agro-dealers, local government and religious leaders and ICRISAT represented by Henry Ojulong and Patrick Audi and NARO represented by Robert Olupot.

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ICRISAT Malawi hosts Gambia delegation exploring groundnut diversification

ICRISAT staff show the visitors a simple technology to speed up the groundnut stripping process. Photo: H Charlie, ICRISAT

On 11 July, ICRISAT in Lilongwe, Malawi hosted eight visitors from Gambia who were visiting the country to learn about diversification of groundnut for human consumption and trade.

In Gambia, groundnuts are mainly used for oil extraction. In order to meet the increasing market demand in their country, the visitors were particularly keen on exploring the potential of varieties available in Malawi, learning about the different processes and alternative products and their market, and the management and mitigation practices for aflatoxin contamination.

The visitors included Gambia’s President of the Jubo Group, Executive Secretary of Agricultural Service Business Plan Association, President of the Seed Growers Association, President of the Cooperative Primary Marketing Society, Program Officer of the Ministry of Trade and Employment, Quality Control Manager of Gambia Groundnut Corporation, Principal Research Officer of the National Agricultural Research Institute, and Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture Food Technology Services.

The delegation was welcomed by ICRISAT Country Representative for Malawi, Dr Moses Siambi and Principal Scientist Patrick Okori. The group toured the pathology and molecular laboratories and was briefed about technologies for aflatoxin diagnosis, pathotyping of Aspergillus flavus, seed handling, processing and breeding.

The visit was arranged by the International Trade Centre, Geneva.

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ICRISAT to collaborate with Advanta Ltd

Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

ICRISAT and Advanta Ltd, Hyderabad signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a three-year period that will include cross-visits for teaching; training and research for development; and the development of collaborative research work plans. These will be in the areas of transgenic events and screening and validation; genotyping gene sequencing and SNP marker discovery; knowledge and information sharing on sorghum SNP markers; data management and processes for field trials, molecular and genetic data, training in statistical methods; and sharing of germplasm for further research. The MoU was signed and exchanged between  Director General William Dar and Advanta CEO VR Kaundinya. Also present during the signing were ICRISAT and Advanta scientists and senior staff.

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