08 November 2013
No. 1596

A momentous week for ICRISAT at the 2013 World Agricultural Forum Congress

Rt. Honorable James Bolger (center), Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, agrees to be ICRISAT’s Ambassador of Goodwill. Congratulating him is Mr Prasanna Kumar Mohanty (left), Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh, and ICRISAT Board Chair Dr Nigel Poole (right).
Photo: J Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT

“The world will have to feed 10 billion people by 2050. Today, a billion people are hungry and about 3 billion are not eating well. To overcome poverty, hunger and malnutrition, science is an essential component that must be behind all our efforts. ICRISAT plays an important role in this, particularly in the resource-poor, marginal environments of the world. I am pleased and proud to be an Ambassador of Goodwill for the work of ICRISAT.”

These were the words of Rt. Hon. James Bolger, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Chair of the World Agricultural Forum (WAF) Advisory Board, in accepting to become ICRISAT’s Ambassador of Goodwill during his attendance to the WAF 2013 Congress held in Hyderabad, India on 4-7 November.

The announcement was made in a dinner hosted by Mr Prasanna Kumar Mohanty, Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh (AP) for ICRISAT senior management staff and scientists on 6 November as part of the WAF 2013 Congress.

Rt. Hon. Bolger now joins Mr Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and India’s Former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in helping ICRISAT promote the need for science-based agricultural solutions in improving the livelihoods and attaining food and nutrition security of smallholder farmers in poor countries of Asia and Africa.

Rt. Hon. Bolger at a dinner hosted by Mr PK Mohanty, AP Chief Secretary, with ICRISAT senior management staff and scientists. Photo: ICRISAT

In another significant development, Bayer CropScience Chief Executive Officer and Chair, Mr Liam Condon, visited the ICRISAT headquarters for the first time on 4 November, where he along with a high-level delegation from his company had the opportunity to see how ICRISAT is working in the dry tropics and to meet and interact with ICRISAT management and key scientists.

“I am impressed with the size and passion here at ICRISAT. Both the passion and quality of the work are something to be really proud of,” Mr Condon said in appreciation of the Institute’s research for development programs and activities.

In his keynote address at the WAF Congress the following day, Mr Condon noted about his visit to ICRISAT, particularly the “wonderful job ICRISAT is doing in making a great dent in overcoming poverty.” He also mentioned about the work that Bayer CropScience does with ICRISAT and HarvestPlus on millet, highlighting its importance as a highly nutritious, drought-tolerant crop for smallholder farmers. He spoke lengthily about Bayer’s agricultural solutions, which are very much in line with ICRISAT’s, under five areas:

1.  Lead innovations
2.  Enable farmers both large and small
3.  Drive a sustainable intensification
4.  Enhance human health through healthier food
5.  Extend partnerships.

Bayer, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, is a world-class innovation company in the fields of health care, agriculture and high-tech materials – using science to improve people’s lives and help address today’s daunting challenges of growing population, poverty, hunger and environmental degradation.

“This is a momentous week for ICRISAT,” said ICRISAT Director General William D Dar in a message sent from Africa where he was participating in some critical meetings and activities. “With food insecurity and malnutrition persisting as the greatest challenges facing humanity in the coming decades, I am glad that the WAF 2013 Congress has provided ICRISAT with a platform for us to gain more support in using scientific developments to make a difference in a sustainable way,” Dr Dar stressed.

In Dr Dar’s absence, Dr Nigel Poole (OBE), ICRISAT Board Chair, has flown over from the UK to lead the ICRISAT team in its week-long participation and engagement with partners and delegates at the WAF 2013 Congress. ICRISAT activities at the Congress were coordinated by Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka, Director, Strategic Marketing and Communication.

Dr Poole interacting with Bayer CropScience CEO Mr Liam Condon (Right) and members of his delegation. Photo: B Sreeram, ICRISAT
Mr Condon keenly observing ICRISAT crop germplasm display at SatVenture.
Photo: B Sreeram, ICRISAT

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World Agricultural Forum 2013 Congress
Reshaping agriculture for a sustainable and profitable smallholder farming

(L-R) Dignitaries lighting the lamp to inaugurate the WAF 2013 Congress at HICC, Hyderabad. Photo: RS Thomas

Agriculture experts, farmers, industry representatives and policy makers from different countries globally converged in Hyderabad, India for the World Agricultural Forum (WAF) Congress 2013 & Agri-Tech Trade Fair held on 4-7 November, the first time in Asia since the inception of the WAF in 1997.

The four-day biennial global event witnessed the active participation of over 500 delegates from different countries worldwide. Thousands of farmers from the state of Andhra Pradesh were also given direct access to experts and researchers, and to knowledge, information, innovations and industry trends at the highly successful Agri-Tech Trade Fair.

With the theme “Reshaping agriculture for a sustainable future: focus on small farmholders,” the Congress aimed to provide a roadmap for re-positioning smallholder agriculture in the liberalizing and globalizing agro markets, and in bringing agriculture and farmers’ issues to the fore, once again alerting governments to initiate urgent policy interventions for making farming a viable profession. ICRISAT is one of the event knowledge partners of the WAF 2013.

Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr Tariq Anwar, inaugurated the Congress and in his address emphasized on the “need to make agriculture more remunerative”. He suggested “contract farming” for improving productivity levels.

Participants of the WAF 2013 Congress stand during the lighting of the lamp and invocation song.
Photo: RS Thomas

Speaking at the event, host State Andhra Pradesh’s Chief Minister Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy suggested that “measures should be contemplated in such a manner that a farmer too gets a sort of fixed income”. Increasing cost of agri-inputs, fertilizers, seeds and most importantly, lack of remunerative price for the agriculture produce, water and power scarcity – these problems need to be fixed. He called upon the WAF delegates to think of strategies to give hope to youth, so that they can go back to farming.

On 5 November, the congress featured the participation of Dr Nigel Poole, ICRISAT Board Chair, as a panelist in the round table event “Partnering solutions for smallholder farmers”. At the session, Dr Poole was able to present various ICRISAT partnership initiatives. One is the chickpea genome sequencing that can speed up getting better breeds to farmers, made possible only by partnering with 49 scientists from 23 organizations in 10 countries, coordinated by ICRISAT. The other is introducing improved peanut varieties in Mali and Niger with rural women, highly successful in improving their lives, but only by partnering with women’s groups, NGOs and government institutes to reach the farmers.

Dr Poole speaking at the round table discussion on partnerships. Photo: J Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT

Dr Poole further emphasized that “there is no silver bullet solution – we need a holistic approach and a portfolio of every possible solution and policy for the farmers. Public-private partnerships will be part of the solution.”

Dr Suhas P Wani, Assistant Research Program Director, Resilient Dryland Systems, in his presentation on “Implementing large-scale sustainable intensification: A holistic case study from India” illustrated the success of Bhoochetana (land rejuvenation) program in Karnataka, India.

The Bhoochetana program in Karnataka is a farmer participatory model that emerged from ICRISAT’s applied research alongside scaling up of long-term strategic on-station research on natural resource management in collaboration with local partners. It has improved rural livelihoods by increasing crop productivity through sustainable intensification and market-led diversification of systems resulting in an increase in farmers’ income in the state, earning a total net benefit of $230 M in four years.

Dr Wani concluded his talk by emphasizing on the “need for convergence of actions; partnership consortia, changing mindsets, coming up with proof of concepts, and leading a new paradigm for sustainable intensification in research for development.”
Dr Kiran K Sharma, Chief Executive Officer, Agribusiness and Innovation Platform, was among the panelists discussing “Encouraging and incubating entrepreneurship in agri-business” on 6 November.

Dr Wani addressing the delegates on the need for a holistic approach to large-scale sustainable intensification. Photos: J Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT

Dr Sharma highlighted some of the key elements to further promote entrepreneurship in agribusiness, which include: rigorous promotion of agribusiness opportunities, addressing backward linkage issues, more proactive implementation of government schemes, setting up of public-private partnership mechanisms with institutions that promote institutional collaboration, and support enterprises.

On the final day of the event, with Dr Poole as moderator, ICRISAT’s Dr CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General – Research; and Dr Cynthia M Bantilan, Research Program Director and Dr P Parthasarathy Rao, Assistant Research Program Director of Markets, Institutions and Policies took part in a round table session on “Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD)”. They were joined in the panel by Dr C Ramaswamy, President of ISAE and Ex Vice Chancellor of TNAU.

Dr K Sharma (2nd from left) as one of the panelists during the round table discussion on incubating entrepreneurship in agri-business. Photo: R Showkat, ICRISAT
Dr Poole and Dr Bantilan at the round table discussion on Inclusive Market-Oriented Development.
Photo: J Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT

The very interesting and well-run ICRISAT session deliberated on taking the value chain approach in IMOD by being ‘inclusive’ of the stakeholders in developing solutions, and ensuring that all stakeholders, including the smallholder farmers and the women, benefit from the development. Emphasis was also laid on providing all possible tools – information, knowledge, scientific innovations, market and credit access – in moving poor farmers from subsistence to a commercially oriented, profitable business.

Complementing its active participation at the WAF 2013, ICRISAT  featured as one of the 140 Agri-Tech Trade Fair exhibitors at the venue. ICRISAT’s exhibition booth on “Working on scientific innovations across the whole value chain” mapped out the works of ICRISAT and partners in bringing not just one part of the solution – but by analyzing key problems and opportunities – covering along the whole value chain towards sustainable on-farm intensification and building agribusinesses.

(from center, L-R) Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Tariq Anwar (center), Rt. Hon. Bolger, Dr Baker, AP Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, AP Minister for Agriculture Kanna Lakshminarayana were among the first high-profile visitors to the ICRISAT stall. Photo: RS Thomas

AP Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy was the first among the high-profile visitors to the stall set up during the event, lauding ICRISAT for its service in the field of agricultural research. The Chief Minister was accompanied by Union Minister of State for Agriculture; Tariq Anwar; AP Minister for Agriculture Kanna Lakshminarayana; Rt. Hon. Bolger, and Dr Kenneth M Baker, Chair, WAF.

Over 3,500 visitors, mostly farmers from the state of Andhra Pradesh, packed the ICRISAT stall during the four-day event, with inquiries on seed varieties and on other aspects of agriculture and allied sectors. Several visitors eagerly picked up ICRISAT information materials. Farmers from remote parts of Andhra Pradesh expressed appreciation of ICRISAT’s efforts to publish literature in the local language ‘Telugu’.

“We are happy to see information booklets in the local language at such an international event. I was trying to find some help on groundnut crop and this information will be of good use to me,” Y Ramulu, a farmer from Sircilla of Karimnagar district said.
The WAF is a policy neutral and internationally inclusive agriculture forum that brings together leaders from the private sector with policy makers and key policy influencers to focus on providing food, fuel, fiber and water to the world’s growing population.

The WAF is a recognized global organization that brings world leaders together from across value chains and between public and private sectors and civil society to promote a food secure world.

Dr Poole and Ms Kane-Potaka with Dr Denise Burrell (right), Global Farm Extension Manager, Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd and one of the Congress speakers. Photo: R Showkat, ICRISAT
G Pardhasaradhi (Manager, Soil and Plant Analytical Laboratory, ICRISAT) explaining about the Bhoochetana project to the media at the ICRISAT stall. Photo: R Showkat, ICRISAT

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ICRISAT–WAF 2013: In pictures

Members of the WAF organizing committee were invited to lunch and a brief tour of ICRISAT on 4 November, as an excellent opportunity to show how the Institute works in the dry tropics of Asia and Africa. The tour covered an overview of ICRISAT at the SATVenture (museum); Genomics lab, where showing how ICRISAT works with partners really took the visitors’ attention; Village Level Studies, where they showed great appreciation of the insights learnt from the work and rich information generated; the Genebank; field demonstrations; and the Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops. Photos show the visitors at the Genomics Lab (left), and at the field demonstration (right). Photos: B Sreeram, ICRISAT
  Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Minister Mr K Lakshminarayana, joining the WAF organizing committee for lunch in a brief visit to ICRISAT on 4 November, shown here interacting with ICRISAT’s Dr HC Sharma, Dr CLL Gowda, and Dr P Parthasarathy Rao (L-R).
Photo: B Sreeram, ICRISAT
Board Chair Dr Nigel Poole met with Mr Krishna Byre Gowda, Honorable Minister for Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, at a breakfast hosted by Deputy Director General – Research Dr CLL Gowda at the ICRISAT headquarters on 6 November. The areas of discussion varied, with Bhoochetana figuring prominently. Dr Poole was able to appreciate the level of commitment by the Agriculture Minister and the Karnataka Government in enhancing the food production capacity and improving livelihoods of the smallholder farmers in the dryland areas. Photo: ICRISAT  
  Mr Sharad Khurana and Mr RS Mahala of PHI Seeds Private Ltd (Pioneer) at the rainout shelter for phenotyping. “This is a very useful visit. We knew the organization but did not know how rich the information was. ICRISAT is really doing great work and we only really came to understand this by coming and seeing it,” they commented after the visit. Photo: MM Sharma, ICRISAT

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The ICRISAT–WAF Field Tour

  Ten people came on the ICRISAT tour for the delegates on 7 November composed of, among others, a journalist from France, two officials of the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries, an Australian researcher based in Sri Lanka, farmers, university professors and a student. The successful tour covered: the SATVenture for overview; Village level Studies; ICT; Genomics Lab; Genebank; phenotyping, and farm tour. They were very impressed with the works of ICRISAT, and many are intending to follow up and visit again with more colleagues.
At the rainout shelter for phenotyping.
Photo: J Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT
Premila, a farmer delegate, listening intently to Dr Vincent Vadez, Assistant Program Director - Dryland Cereals, about the lysimeter facility for phenotyping. She owns a 5.5 acre of land. Her neighboring cotton farmers’ crops in the area have been completely destroyed by recent rains. Her farm, however, remained resilient as it was planted with pigeonpea and is under crop-livestock integration system. Photo: J Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT  
At the ICT facility connecting to women farmers in the village.. Photo: J Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT
“It had been my dream to visit ICRISAT and now my dream has come true,” said this university professor. Photo: J Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT

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Steering Committees of CGIAR Research Programs on Dryland Cereals and on Grain Legumes meet in Nairobi

(L-R) Yilma Kebede, Patrick Audi (ICRISAT), Abdulkadir Aydogan and William D Dar with staff of the Seed Production Unit of the Katumani Research Center of KARI in Machakos near Nairobi, Kenya.

Members of the Steering Committees of the CGIAR Research Programs on Dryland Cereals and on Grain Legumes, both led by ICRISAT, met for the second time in Nairobi on 1 and 2 November. The steering committees provide overall strategic direction, inputs for enhancement of operation and building strategic alliances with partners, and monitor the progress of the programs. Its members include the Director Generals (or designates) of the CGIAR centers, donor representatives and other partners.

Dr William D Dar as the Director General of the lead center, chaired the committees. As members of the Steering Committees for both the research programs, Dr Mahmoud Solh, Director General, International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and Dr Swapan Datta, Deputy Director General for Research, Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) attended both the meetings.

Dr Shoba Sivasankar, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals and Dr Noel Ellis, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes presented the progress report, gender research strategy, resource mobilization plan and up-scaling strategy of their respective research programs to the committee. Mr Rajesh Agrawal, Assistant Director General-Finance, presented the financial report for the year 2013, and the budget for 2014. Dr CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General – Research, ICRISAT was present in both the meetings.

Both the committees underlined the need for the research programs to  actively involve development partners throughout the value chain. They advised the research programs to be strategic while preparing the second phase proposal and iterated that they should actively engage in the generation of bilateral funding.

The committees discussed the importance of baseline data and the critical analyses of existing projects and activities in setting targets for the Intermediate Development Outcomes (IDO) of the programs. Geospatial analytical and gender research capabilities and plans were also discussed, as were strategies for synergistic interactions between the CGIAR Research Programs.

Members of the Steering Committees of the CGIAR Research Programs on Grain Legumes and on Dryland Cereals visit Dryland Seed Limited in Machakos.

The members had an opportunity to see how the research programs engage with partner organizations for up-and out-scaling during their joint visit to local partners and enterprises involved in the seed supply chain – Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI)-Katumani Research Station, KARI Seed Unit; Dryland Seed Limited in Machakos; and Smart Logistics Solutions Ltd. Smart Logistics is an exemplar of IMOD in practice for sorghum smallholder farmers and, it was noted, poised to act similarly for chickpea farmers in the region. Its founder and Chief Executive Officer Rose Mutuku introduced the company and its activities to the members.

Dr Bernard Hubert, President, Agropolis International; Dr Abdolalli Ghaffari, Director General, DARI, Iran; and Dr Yilma Kebede, Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) were the other steering committee members who attended the meeting for Dryland Cereals. Dr Pedro Luiz Oliveira de Almeida Machado, Director General - Embrapa Rice and Beans was in attendance.

Similarly, Dr Ruben Echeverria, Director General, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT);
Dr Abdulkadir Aydogan, General Directorate of Agricultural Research (GDAR), Turkey and Dr Pedro Machado were the other steering committee members present in the Grain Legumes’ meeting.

Dr Nteranya Sanginga, Director General, IITA and Dr Jeffrey Ehlers, Program Officer, Gates Foundation participated electronically. Dr Abdolalli Ghaffari and Dr Yilma Kebede were also in attendance.

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