13 December 2013
No. 1601

Celebrating partnerships and milestones for a prosperous and resilient dryland agriculture

Karnataka’s Honorable State Minister for Agriculture, Mr Krishna Byre Gowda delivering his address as Chief Guest at the 41st annual day celebration. Sharing the dais with him are (from left to right)
Dr CLL Gowda, Mr KMK Mukherjee, Dr Dar, Mr SV Ranganath and Mr SS Sharat Kumar.
Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

The power of sustainable partnership and convergence in pursuing science-led development to benefit smallholder farmers in the drylands was the highlight of ICRISAT’s 41st annual day celebration held at the headquarters on 9 December.

Bhoochetana or land rejuvenation – an innovative partnership program between ICRISAT, the Government of Karnataka (GoK), India and other local and international institutions – was recognized as this year’s Outstanding Research Partnership Awardee for Asia.

“Bhoochetana started with 0.2 million hectares in the first year and by the fourth year, has grown to cover 3.75 million hectares, with 4.75 million farming families harnessing the benefits of the program through increased agricultural productivity. The estimated net economic gains from Bhoochetana of around US$ 230 million prove that the potential of dryland agriculture can be unlocked to transform peoples’ lives through partnership and convergence,” said Karnataka’s Honorable State Minister for Agriculture, Mr Krishna Byre Gowda.

Speaking as Chief Guest at the annual day celebration, Mr Byre Gowda also thanked ICRISAT “for selecting the Karnataka state to put to the test the Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) strategy for reducing poverty and achieving food security sustainably, with very positive results.”

This years’ Outstanding Partnership Award for Asia was shared by the GoK-Bhoochetana team with the ICRISAT Bhoochetana team led by Dr Suhas Wani, Principal Scientist (Watersheds) and Acting Research Program Director for Resilient Dryland Systems.

“Our partnership with the Government of Karnataka is unique as it showed the world that achieving impact lies in translating inclusiveness and convergence into action, with all partners working together for the benefit of smallholder, marginal farmers,” said ICRISAT Director General Dr William D. Dar.

Dr Dar delivering his annual day message to staff members. Photos: PS Rao, ICRISAT

In his annual day message, Dr Dar also highlighted ICRISAT’s milestones in doing “science with a human face – caring for the poor while growing in strength, relevance and viability as a global research for development organization.”

“Each dollar invested in 10 out of the 16 Jewels of ICRISAT – our major interventions in the last 40 years across crops, regions and technologies – has yielded US$ 71 in return,” Dr Dar emphasized, citing ongoing impact assessment studies showing a high return on investment in ICRISAT over the years.

“We continue to make great strides in improving crop productivity and profitability by up-scaling and commercializing grain legumes and dryland cereals varieties and hybrids here in Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa. Our genome sequence work on pigeonpea and chickpea is recognized and highlighted all over the world. We also employ high-end science in our breeding programs to produce better crops suitable to the drylands,” Dr Dar added.

“ICRISAT has been fighting on behalf of a marginalized community. With rapid changes in the climate, the mission of ICRISAT has become even more critical,” said Mr KM Kaushik Mukherjee, Chief Secretary, GoK speaking as one of the event’s Special Guests. Mr SV Ranganath, Former Chief Secretary, GoK also delivered a message at the annual day program.

Other Outstanding Partnership Awards went to: Malawi’s Department of Agricultural Research Services along with Dr Moses Siambi and the Research Program – Grain Legumes team, Eastern and Southern Africa; and the Katsina State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, Nigeria with Dr Hakeem A Ajeigbe and the Research Program – Grain Legumes team, West and Central Africa.

With the theme ICRISAT and Partners: Key to Prosperity in the Drylands, the annual day celebration also included the presentation of Science and Resource Mobilization Awards, and release of new publications.

Following the event, Dr Dar, Mr Byre Gowda, Mr Mukherjee, Mr Ranganath, Dr CLL Gowda (ICRISAT Deputy Director General – Research) and Dr Wani interacted with 55 journalists and reporters representing various media organizations in a Press Meeting, further highlighting ICRISAT’s milestones in pursuit of a prosperous and resilient dryland agriculture, and the successes of the Bhoochetana program.

This year’s Loyalty Day Awards ceremony for ICRISAT staff was held on 6 December, in which a total of 162 staff members were honored across its offices in India (headquarters) and in Africa (Kenya, Mali, Niger, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria and Ethiopia).

Mr Krishna Byre Gowda, Dr Dar and Mr SV Ranganath interacting with members of the media at the ICRISAT headquarters. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

back to top Back to top

ICRISAT 41st Annual Day celebration in pictures


back to top Back to top

ICRISAT fosters 10 years of Agribusiness Incubation

Dr Dar with Dr PM Boopathi (2nd from right). Also seen (from L-R) are Drs KK Sharma, JA Chowdary, and Mr SM Karuppanchetty, CEO, Agribusiness Incubator Program, ICRISAT. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

"We needed to create a vehicle that could be multi-faceted in harnessing the potential of entrepreneurship for the farming community,” Director General, Dr William     D. Dar said of ICRISAT’s Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program. Dr Dar was speaking at the tenth anniversary celebration of ABI on 5 December.

Dr Dar added that ICRISAT began the ABI program in 2003 under the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP), with a focus on accelerating technology exchange by nurturing agriculture-based commercial enterprises.

In ten years of its operations, ABI has become a self-sustaining entity within ICRISAT, an agribusiness incubator model replicated at different locations in India in partnership with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), and scaled-up to a global level, especially in Africa and Asia, through partnership with various R&D agencies.

The event, “ABI@10”, was organized at the ICRISAT headquarters to recognize and felicitate the efforts of the scientists, partners, clients and stakeholders who have been a part of this program since its inception.

In his welcome address, Dr Kiran Sharma, Chief Executive Officer, AIP, highlighted the importance of ABI as a unique initiative of ICRISAT which facilitates the creation of competitive agribusiness enterprises through technology development and commercialization. He thanked the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India for their support in establishing the Agri-Business Incubator at ICRISAT.

Among the participants and other distinguished guests at the event were, Dr JA Chowdary, Co-Chair, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Andhra Pradesh State Council; and Dr P Murugesa Boopathi, Former Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

A session on “Success Stories from ABI” as a platform for sharing and exchange of ideas; and a Brainstorming Session on opportunities for enhancing ABI’s activities, particularly in developing a conceptual framework for Public-Private Partnership incubators were also held.

Since its inception, ABI has supported over 200 agribusiness ventures and benefited over 500,000 farmers in Andhra Pradesh and neighboring states. It has also identified and supported some very good innovative products and technologies and taken them to the market. ABI has facilitated commercialization of more than 100 agro-technologies, extending its handholding and mentoring services to the 22 Business Planning and Development units set-up under the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) of ICAR.

ABI has successfully taken its co-business incubation services to Africa by partnering with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in implementing the Universities, Businesses and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) project. Under this project, ABI is mentoring and handholding six value-chain agribusiness innovation and incubation consortia spread across five countries in Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.

The ABI team with ICRISAT management and staff, and guests. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

back to top Back to top

aWhere data management tool launched

Dr Dar launching the aWhere data management platform. Also seen are Mr J Pollock, Drs G Dileepkumar and C Srinivasarao. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

The “ICRISAT aWhere data management platform” was launched during the workshop on “Orientation to Data Management Platforms for Agricultural Research and Extension” on 5-6 December at the ICRISAT headquarters.

The platform was designed and developed over the past two years to support the Tropical Legumes II and HOPE (Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement of Sorghum and Millets) project data management activities.

Leading the launch was ICRISAT Director General Dr William D. Dar, along with Drs CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General  for Research; Dileepkumar Guntuku, Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovations (KSI); and Mr Jim Pollock, Vice President, aWhere Inc.

“The outcome of implementing any platform should be to ensure that the benefits are translated into real actions on the ground; to elevate productivity, give opportunity to farmers to have remunerative agriculture, and sustain the environment. It is critical that we have a very systematic way of managing data to feed not only the billion hungry and poor today but over 9 billion people by 2050,” said Dr Dar in his inaugural message.

At the event, Mr J Pollock provided an orientation to the aWhere data management platform, followed by hands on session on features and functionalities.

About 37 scientists, faculty extension agents and nongovernment organization personnel attended the workshop. Dr CLL Gowda, in his address to the participants, emphasized on data management policy implementation, importance of the data management platform, and its use in agricultural research.

Dr G Dileepkumar also highlighted major challenges in implementing data management activities in  agriculture research.

The workshop was organized by the Data Management Unit of KSI and coordinated by Drs Chukka Srinivasarao, Senior Manager, Data Management Unit and Abhishek Rathore, Senior Scientist – Biometrics.

Participants of the workshop on “Orientation to Data Management Platforms for Agricultural Research and Extension”. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

back to top Back to top

Research Management Committee of CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes maps out future activities

Delegates of the Research Management Committee meeting of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Members of the Research Management Committee of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes met for the first time at the ICRISAT headquarters on 4-5 December to map out activities for 2014-15 and for phase II of the program.

While putting together the ideas and work plan for the next phase, the members took stock of the progress and the gaps. The committee also brainstormed on the budget, gender strategy, monitoring and evaluation plans, and communication outreach plans that the program should adopt.

The CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes led by ICRISAT in partnership with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and several other public and private partners, works on eight crops across four regions including South and Southeast Asia, Central & West Asia and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa.

The Product Lines (PL) of the research program are categorized thematically, cross-cutting the regions and crops. Effectively managing the complex structure and focusing on the research for development activities was the primary focus of the discussions.

The Research Management Committee members include eight Product Line Coordinators, Directors of USAID’s Feed the Future Innovation Labs for Collaborative Research on Peanut and Mycotoxins, and the Legume Innovation Lab. Updates on the research activities by each Product Line Coordinator were reported at the meeting.

Speaking at the meeting, ICRISAT Director General Dr William D. Dar stated that the program’s success depended on the impact it creates.

Dr Noel Ellis, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes chaired and led the discussions. Planning the research activities to achieve socio-economic and development impacts was one of the underlining focus of the discourse.

Drs Steve Beebe from CIAT, and Michel Ghanem and Shiv Agrawal from ICARDA contributed to the discussions.

Dr Patrick Okori from ICRISAT Malawi, and Drs Pooran Gaur and Rajeev Varshney from the ICRISAT headquarters brought in their research and management experiences to the discussion table.

Drs S Gopalakrishnan and CV Sameer Kumar actively participated in the meeting as the focal points for Product Lines 4 and 8, respectively.

back to top Back to top

Philippine Bhoochetana kicks off
Capacity building and technical assistance to enhance agricultural productivity in two pilot provinces mapped out

Scientists, researchers, and media representatives from The Philippines with Drs Dar and SP Wani. Photo: ICRISAT

The Bhoochetana principles and approaches for natural resources management promise to boost agricultural productivity in the Philippine rainfed areas. In a series of capacity building and technical assistance workshops from 9 November to 7 December, about 21 scientists, researchers, and media representatives have undergone intensive incubation and exposure at the ICRISAT headquarters and in Karnataka on the adoption of the Bhoochetana approach in the two pilot provinces of the Philippines – Quezon and Zamboanga.

Under the ICRISAT and the Philippines’ Bureau of Agricultural Research – Department of Agriculture (DA-BAR) partnership program called Inang Lupa (mother land), the series of activities aimed to: finalize detailed work plans for 2014 and 2015 by project site; gain broader perspectives to successfully implement the program in the Philippines; collect, share and exchange knowledge and information to support the program; and enhance the knowledge of the team members and increase their level of confidence in the program in significantly improving productivity and sustainability of Philippine agriculture.

The Inang Lupa movement was also created by the workshop participants as a social movement that will support the implementation of the program advocating soil analysis and mapping, agricultural productivity enhancement, promoting market-driven technologies, capacity building and public awareness. The movement envisions to help promote the development of science-based, farmer-centric and climate-smart agriculture through the Inang Lupa program.

The ICRISAT – DA-BAR program to adopt the Bhoochetana principles and approach in strategic rainfed areas of the Philippines aims to improve rural livelihoods by increasing productivity of selected crops in the pilot provinces through sustainable intensification and market-led diversification of systems resulting in an increase in farmers’ income by 20% in three years.

The capacity building and technical assistance workshops were organized by the Research Program on Resilient Dryland Systems headed by Dr Suhas Wani and facilitated by Dr Junel B Soriano, Visiting Scientist with assistance from the Learning Systems Unit of KSI.

back to top Back to top

Strengthening capacity on impact assessment measurements

As part of capacity building measures among staff on research costs, welfare benefits and impacts through return on investments (ROI), ICRISAT’s Impact Assessment Office organized a two-day training workshop 3-4 December.

Participants were trained primarily on economic surplus model and a menu-driven software package known as DREAM model used for evaluating economic impacts of agricultural research programs.

Professor Alex Winter-Nelson of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics
at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA, was the principal resource person supported by Dr Kizito Mazvimavi, Head, ICRISAT’s Impact Assessment Office. 

ICRISAT Director General Dr William D. Dar in his inaugural message stressed on ex-ante analysis to know more of the potential returns of a dollar that might be invested in research programs. He also pointed out the need to figure out means to calculate the returns that could be attributed only to extension services. 
Being aware of the limitations of the economic surplus model, Dr Dar also called for the development of alternative economic models that could be more appropriate for non-crop improvement projects such as open access repository (OAR) and watershed management programs.

Dr CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General for Research, discussed the research costing in crop improvement activities in ICRISAT. He advised participants to take into account the administrative costs, on farm and off farm costs, tertiary services costs while reporting research costs. 

Ms Supriya Bansal, Head/Financial Controller, presented the details of the financial record maintenance procedure at ICRISAT and the challenges arising in financial records necessary for impact assessment. Dr Nagaraj, Principal Scientist – Markets, Institutions and Policies, spoke on the challenges in data availability for impact measurements, while Dr Abhishek Rathore, Senior Scientist – Biometrics, introduced participants to data management approaches.

Participants of the workshop. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

back to top Back to top

Cooperative League of the USA visits ICRISAT Niamey

With an objective to explore possible collaborations, a team from the Cooperative League of the USA (CLUSA) visited ICRISAT Niamey, Niger, on 21 November. Dr Mahamadou Gandah, ICRISAT Country Representative briefed the visitors of ICRISAT Niamey’s human resources, research activities and facilities.

Members of the CLUSA team during their visit to ICRISAT-Niamey. Photo: ICRISAT

The CLUSA team expressed its interest in working with ICRISAT on bio-fortified millet to reduce micronutrient (iron, iodine, Vitamin A) deficiencies. They explored possible collaborations between ICRISAT and the Agricultural Development, Health and Nutrition project particularly in millet breeding and on ICRISAT’s technologies such as Bioreclamation of Degraded Land (BDL), irrigation, training, seed multiplication and conservation farming.

The group comprised of Karl Rosenberg, Regional Director for West and Central Africa; Papa M D Sène, Senior Technical Advisor based in Dakar; and John Heermans III, Team Leader (Chef d’équipe) based in Niamey REGIS-ER.

back to top Back to top

ICRISAT forges partnership with IAM-Bari, Italy

Dr Dar with Dr M Digiaro during the signing of the MoU. Also seen are Dr Toufic Elbeaino (2nd from right) along with ICRISAT senior staff. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

In an attempt to strengthen research perspectives on pigeonpea sterility mosaic virus, the causal agent of sterility mosaic disease (SMD) in pigeonpea, and its comprehensive management, ICRISAT opened up new vistas by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (IAM-Bari), Italy.

IAM BARI is the Italian operating facility of the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), based in Paris.

During the signing, ICRISAT Director General Dr William D. Dar said, “International cooperation by European Union countries is vital in addressing the issues of smallholder farmers in the dryland tropics of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.”

The Memorandum of Understanding also opened the doors for both organizations to collaborate on other thematic fields such as integrated pest management, soil and water resources management, and sustainable agriculture and rural development.

ICRISAT’s Drs CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General for Research; Rajeev K Varshney, Research Program Director – Grain Legumes; Hari Kishan Sudini, Senior Scientist – Groundnut Pathology; and Mr Sharath Kumar, Director, Human Resources and Operations, were joined by Drs Toufic Elbeaino and Michele Digiaro from CIHEAM during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

back to top Back to top

ICRISAT Nigeria Country Representative honored with traditional title

Dr Ajeigbe with women farmers. Photo: ICRISAT

The Ningi Local Government Area (LGA) of Bauchi State, Nigeria, honored Dr Hakeem A Ajeigbe, ICRISAT Country Representative to Nigeria, with the traditional title ‘Dukajin Ningi’ (fighter of poverty and hunger).

The title was conferred to Dr Ajeigbe by the District Head of Ningi Alhaji Mohammed Kilishi Musa during a sorghum farmers’ field day on 21 November in Barki Ladi Village, Ningi LGA. The field day witnessed a large turnout of farmer groups, agricultural extension agents, traditional rulers, and Kano State Ministries for local government.

At the event, Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Ningi LGA presented the welcome address and appreciated the efforts and programs of ICRISAT in the region. “The farmers here really appreciate the clear difference between improved technologies (seed and agronomic practices) and traditional systems they are used to, while cultivating sorghum,” he said.

In his address, Dr Ajeigbe commended the people of Ningi LGA for their immense support for ICRISAT programs and activities in the region. He said ICRISAT is currently working with five farmer groups in each of seven villages in Ningi LGA. Each farmer group has 20 to 25 farmers.

Dr Ajeigbe also informed the gathering that in addition to the groundnut production in the rainy season, ICRISAT in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources has just concluded training of groundnut farmers in Kano, Jigawa, Katsina and Bauchi States for dry season groundnut seed production.

Others present at the event included Mr Alhaji Aliyu Gital, the Project Manager, Bauchi State Agricultural Development Programme and Mr Alhaji Saidu Saleh, the Caretaker Chairman Ningi LGA.

back to top Back to top

International agricultural institutes lay emphasis on community seed production system

Dr E Monyo chairing a session.
Photo: MG Mula, ICRISAT
Dr M Mula during his paper presentation.
Photo: E Monyo, ICRISAT

With focus on finding means and ways to involve smallholder farmers in seed production, a three-day “Expert Consultation Workshop on Community Seed Production” was held at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 9-11 December.

Seed system support in developing countries has always emphasized on strengthening public sector institutions including agricultural research centers, extension services, and state-owned seed corporations. The private sector, on the other hand, dominates the cereal and vegetable seed market especially on hybrids. At this juncture, community seed production system (CSPS) plays an important role and fulfills the need for seed production that is neither purely commercial nor farmer managed, thus, occupying the space between traditional farmer seed management and commercial seed production.

About 36 representatives of various international and national agricultural institutes, nongovernment organizations, and universities, including The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux International (CABI), International Fund for Agricultural Development, Royal Tropical Institute, Agricultural Green Revolution for Africa Program for Africa Seed Systems, Community-Based Seed Production, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Integrated Seed Sector Development, local seed businesses, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Debre Zeit Agricultural Research Center (DZARC), Hiroshima University, Japan, and Wageningen University, The Netherlands, took part in the event.

The workshop served as a platform to help understand CSPS practices worldwide. The participants agreed to craft a roadmap and develop strategies for enhancing effective uptake and implementation of CSPS in developing countries which would contribute to improved and sustainable crop production, food security and rural livelihoods. The workshop also explored the scope, opportunities and challenges in CSPS.

The workshop was organized by ICRISAT along with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

ICRISAT’s Drs Myer Mula (Scientist – Seed Systems) and Emmanuel Monyo (Tropical Legumes II Coordinator) chaired the sessions on “Introductory and Global Perspectives of CSPS” and “CSPS Initiatives, Experiences and Lessons in Latin America, Asia and Africa,” respectively. Dr Mula also presented a paper on “Legumes Seed System in Asia: A Case in India,” which focused on pigeonpea community seed system.

back to top Back to top

Workshop highlights smallholder farmer value chains and market linkages

"There is no doubt that linking farmers to markets is critical for improved livelihood of smallholder farmers and beneficial for the consumers, but these farmers face serious disadvantages in the marketing of their produce. As a result, they are often bypassed in the process of transformation of agriculture and agri-food and marketing systems,” Director General Dr William D. Dar said.

Dr PG Chengappa addressing the audience on ‘Emerging and innovative value chains’. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Dr Dar was speaking at the “Training and brainstorming workshop on small farmer value chains and market linkages” organized under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) – ICRISAT Collaborative Program on Capacity Building.

Over 25 participants from ICAR, State Agricultural Universities, development partners, nongovernment organizations and private sector took part in the workshop organized by ICRISAT’s Markets, Institutions and Polices at the headquarters 2-4 December.

Dr Dar further stated that markets have become a focus of policy goals like inclusive growth as they determine the welfare of consumers and producers. He also stressed upon the need to imbibe the culture of “inclusiveness” and to keep the concerns of the small and marginal farmers as core to output marketing strategies to ensure a win-win opportunity to harness rural growth and corporate profitability.

Dr PG Chengappa, ICAR National Professor, former Vice-Chancellor of University of Agricultural Sciences Bangalore, in his address, spoke of “Emerging and innovative value chains.”

The faculty for the training workshop was drawn from the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management, National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), Amity Global Business School, and organizations like ITC Ltd, Digital Green, NCDEX and Agri-Business and Innovation Platform of ICRISAT (Dr Kiran Sharma, Mr SM Karuppanchetty, and Dr Saikat Dutta Mazumdar).

back to top Back to top