20 December 2013
No. 1602

Tropical Legumes II project boosts crop yields in Tanzania

Farmers from Tanzania’s Babati District, including women, showing off to Drs Jeff Ehlers and
ES Monyo the motorbikes they purchased out of the profits made from the sale of pigeonpeas.

Tanzania is witnessing a sharp increase in the area under tropical legumes and their productivity. Technologies and linkages developed during Tropical Legumes II (TL II) project implementation have been the catalysts in the growth process.

Since its inception, TL II has helped expand pigeonpea area across the country from 125,000 ha in 2008 to 288,160 ha by 2011. Meanwhile, production doubled from 111,540 to 272,610 tons during the period and crop yield increased from 892 to 946 kg/ha.

“Our lives have changed positively. We have built new homes, our children now attend school and some of us have even ventured into new businesses,” farmers from Tanzania’s Babati District told Dr Jeff Ehlers, TL II Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation during his visit to their farms.

Dr J Ehlers at the ceremony to induct him into the local community at Babati District. Photo: E Monyo, ICRISAT

Dr Ehlers was accompanied by ICRISAT’s Dr Emmanuel Monyo, Project Coordinator, TL II and Dr Jean-Claude Rubyogo, Seed Systems Objective leader from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). The team visited project sites in the country on 6 - 8 December to interact with project partners and review the project’s progress.

Tanzania is one of the Gates Foundation’s anchor countries for the project, which is being jointly implemented by ICRISAT, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and CIAT in collaboration with 15 National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) partners in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Groundnut, cowpea, common bean, chickpea and pigeonpea are the project’s targeted crops in Tanzania.

The team visited pigeonpea and common bean farms in Babati and Bashamet areas, and held a meeting with the country’s project implementing partners. The farming system in the region is diverse with locals growing sorghum, pearl millet and maize, along with pigeonpea, groundnut, cowpea, beans and a few cash crops, including sunflower and simsim (sesame).

Farmers attributed the sharp increase in area and productivity of pigeonpea to the availability of new market class high-yielding varieties that were resistant to diseases. Prior to the introduction of the new wilt-resistant varieties, a significant proportion of the crop in the region used to be lost to fusarium wilt (Fusarium udum) every season, with yield declining to 400 kg/ha. But, as of now the yield is stable at around 950 kg/ha, farmers reported.

It was also reported that TL II led to an expansion in groundnut area in Tanzania from 470,670 to 675,230 ha and crop productivity from 340,770 to 651,400 tons.

Similarly, the area grown to cowpea increased from 130,165 to 218,080 ha and productivity from 84,610 to 172,740 tons; while the area grown to chickpea grew from 63,100 to 74,835 ha with productivity increasing from 36,160 to 71,180 tons. The national bean cultivation area also increased from 749,000 to1.2 million ha with production shooting up to 867,000 tons from 570,000 tons.

During the visit, the team also interacted with small traders who were acting as collection agents for large traders like the Export Trading Group and a subsidiary of TATA Holdings.
At a meeting held at Selian Agricultural Research Station, NARS partners in Tanzania briefed the team of the key achievements, challenges faced during project implementation, and their expectations from phase III of the project.

This project is being undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

back to top Back to top

Enhancing sweet potato production in Odisha, India

With an aim to promote sweet potato production and utilization through technical backstopping, capacity building and bringing policy changes to ensure food, nutrition and income among poor producers and consumers, the International Potato Center (CIP) initiated a four-year program called GAINS (Generating Advances in Incomes and Nutrition through sweet potato).

(R-L) Dr WD Dar with Drs J Parr, SK Chadha and S Attaluri at ICRISAT headquarters in India. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between CIP and the Government of Odisha at the ICRISAT headquarters in Hyderabad, India. ICRISAT also hosted the project’s inception workshop. ICRISAT Director General Dr William D. Dar congratulated the representatives of the Government of Odisha and CIP India after the launch. Dr Sreekanth Attaluri, CIP’s Program Director for Odisha informed that the program would be implemented in four districts of the state.

Dr Julian Parr, CIP Director, Asia, and Dr Sanjeev Kumar Chadha, Director of Horticulture, Government of Odisha, were among those present at the event.

back to top Back to top

J Raghotham Reddy – William D Dar Student Scholarship Program launched

Drs Dar and AP Raju (2nd from right), launching the Student Scholarship Program. Also seen in the picture are Drs CLL Gowda and G Dileepkumar. Photo: ICRISAT

Graduate students require wide exposure and real-time experience to prepare for research careers in national and international organizations. ICRISAT has a record of forging ties with universities and academic institutions across the globe that allows graduate students to work in its research laboratories.

With a view to further expanding and formalizing this facility with State Agricultural Universities of the National Agricultural Research System (NARS), the J Raghotham Reddy - William D Dar Student Scholarship Program was launched at the ICRISAT headquarters recently. A formal agreement to this effect was made that aims to develop innovative platforms and novel programs to satisfy the on-going and emerging needs of students, faculty members and other stakeholders of the agricultural education system.

The Scholarship Program was launched by ICRISAT Director General Dr William D Dar and Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU) Vice Chancellor Mr A Padma Raju, during the Capacity Building Training Program on “Appropriate Technologies and Innovative Approaches for Agriculture Knowledge Sharing” held on 9-14 December 2013. They were accompanied by Deputy Director General- Research Dr CLL Gowda and Dr G Dileepkumar, Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation.

The Scholarship program that will benefit 15 students per year, has been named in honor of former Vice-Chancellor of ANGRAU J Raghotham Reddy and current Director General of ICRISAT, Dr William D Dar.

Addressing the participants of the workshop, Dr A Padma Raju said that while in the past, activities concentrated on education, the current agreement would use advanced and innovative approaches through four major activities: Virtual Classrooms and Technology Enhanced Learning, Preparing Future Faculty, Plant Doctors Program, and the J Raghotham Reddy – William D Dar Student Scholarship Program.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Dar said, “It will be informed young people of today who will be farmers of tomorrow and will feed the world. This is why it is incumbent upon us to enforce such partnerships among research institutes, higher educational institutes and other stakeholders.”

“These partnership programs will be empowering the youth and address the very concerns of today and tomorrow in smallholder agriculture. To empower the youth, you need to tap the power of science and technology and increase agricultural yield to meet the additional demand from 10 billion people by 2050,” he added.

The initiative was coordinated by Dr G Dileepkumar, Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation, ICRISAT and Dr K Veeranjaneyulu, University Librarian, ANGRAU.

back to top Back to top

ICRISAT Mali and Niger celebrate Annual Day

Dr F Waliyar addressing the ICRISAT staff and guests at Bamako, Mali. Photo: ICRISAT
Loyalty awardees with Dr F Waliyar at Bamako, Mali. Photo: ICRISAT

It was a day punctuated with team-building exercises and cultural events, as staff at ICRISAT Mali celebrated the Institute’s 41st anniversary on 11 December near Bamako.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Farid Waliyar, Director, ICRISAT West and Central Africa recalled some of the highlights of the year with regards to research for development initiatives and impacts on smallholder farmers. He also thanked the staff for their contributions, particularly during the existing security issues in the region. “Your courage and dedication have resulted in continued research,” he said.

Staff representative Bakary Sidibé praised the efforts of the ICRISAT management in improving their well-being. The event served as an opportunity for members of staff to exchange views and strengthen ties.

Dr M Gandah delivering his address at Niamey, Niger.

Also present on the occasion were representatives of fellow CGIAR institutions including the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Center for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), and The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC).

In Niamey, staff celebrated Annual Day on 13 December at the Park W, a major regional park in West Africa around the Niger River which runs through three countries (Niger, Benin and Burkina Faso).

In his welcome speech, Dr Waliyar thanked all the staff members, partners and Niger officials for their support. In his message, Dr Mahamadou Gandah, Country Representative, ICRISAT Niger, highlighted the year’s achievements and important visitors to the center. He also thanked ICRISAT Niamey staff and encouraged them to continue the good work. Several Sadoré staff members camped in tents by the river. Some took a canoe ride on the river looking out for wildlife.

The event was also attended by officials and partner representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRAN).

Staff members enjoyed various games including bowling, tennis and scrabble and danced to some local tunes. The celebration concluded with the presentation of Loyalty Awards to staff. This year’s anniversary organizing committee was chaired by Dr Moses Osiru, Senior Scientist, Legume/Cereal Pathology.


back to top Back to top

CGIAR doubles funding to $1 billion in five years

ICRISAT empowers women to access climate-resilient groundnut varieties. Photo: ICRISAT

CGIAR, the world’s largest agriculture research partnership, announced its funding has doubled from $500 million in 2008 to $1 billion in 2013. Officials say harvesting the fruits of this historic commitment could, among other benefits, lift 150 million people in Asia out of poverty by boosting rice production, provide 12 million African households with sustainable irrigation, save 1.7 million hectares of forest from destruction, and give 50 million poor people access to highly nutritious food crops.

“The challenge of producing more nutritious food to feed 9 billion people in 2050 while climate change threatens to roll back years of development progress making some agricultural lands unproductive cannot be underestimated,” said Rachel Kyte, Chair of the CGIAR Fund Council and World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development. “Climate change disproportionately hurts the poor and most vulnerable.”

“Investment in CGIAR pays big dividends, making it one of the ‘best bets’ for sustainably eradicating poverty, hunger and malnutrition,” said Carlos Pérez del Castillo, Chair of the CGIAR Consortium Board. “With a proven track record for large-scale development impacts, few investments, if any, make more economic and humanitarian sense than do investments in CGIAR.”

CGIAR works with hundreds of partners to develop innovative solutions, tools, and technologies for the benefit of the world’s poorest people. It seeks to bring cutting edge science to bear on a wide range of issues facing millions of farmers and other poor smallholders in developing countries who collectively generate nearly 70 percent of the world’s food production.

“The $1 billion in funding will help finance CGIAR’s 16 global research programs and accelerate the development of scientific, policy and technological advances needed to overcome complex challenges – such as climate change, water scarcity, land degradation, and chronic malnutrition, greatly improving the well-being of millions of poor families across the developing world,” said Frank Rijsberman, CEO of the CGIAR Consortium.

Some of the potential impacts from the CGIAR Research Programs include:

  • By 2035, research on rice will increase farmers’ yields and lower prices for poor consumers, lifting 150 million people out of poverty and reducing the number of undernourished people in Asia by 62 million.
  • By 2020, 12 million households in Africa will have access to sustainable irrigation, thanks to research on water, land and ecosystems.
  • By 2022, research will help increase harvests of grain legumes—a key source of protein for the poor – in low-income countries in five regions, improving their nutrition from 2.1 million tons of extra protein.
  • By 2018, 50 million people will have access to staple food crops specifically bred to be rich in key vitamins and minerals – namely, iron, zinc or vitamin A – in an effort to combat malnutrition.
  • By 2020, research on forest, trees and agroforestry will prevent deforestation on 0.5 to 1.7 million hectares, reducing carbon emissions by 0.16 to 0.68 billion tons per year.
  • By 2022, fish production and fish farm employment will increase by 30% in Egypt, doubling the productivity of more than 6,000 fish farms.

“With this new funding, CGIAR is better positioned than ever before to produce world-class science to meet the needs of small-scale farmers, fishers and foresters,” said Jonathan Wadsworth, Executive Secretary of the CGIAR Fund Council, a decision-making body of donors and other stakeholders. “CGIAR is committed to ensuring that every dollar received will efficiently deliver more and better benefits for the poor.”

For more than 40 years, CGIAR and its partners have transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of people with the tangible outcomes of agriculture research, including improved crop varieties, sustainable farming methods, new fish strains, novel livestock vaccines, climate-smart solutions, and incisive policy analysis.

Examples include:

  • Drought tolerant maize has increased farmers’ yields by 20-30%, benefiting 20 million people in 13 African countries.
  • ”Scuba rice,” which can survive under water for two weeks, is protecting the harvests, incomes, and food security of poor farmers and consumers across monsoon Asia.
    • Newly developed potato varieties that withstand late blight disease and yielded eight times more than native varieties in the region have made the difference between having enough to eat or not in the Paucartambo province of Peru, where late blight threatened to devastate staple food supplies.
  • By integrating food crops with trees that draw nitrogen from the air and transfer it to the soil, an innovative agroforestry practice captures carbon and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, while improving soil fertility, rainwater use efficiency, and yields by up to 400% for maize in the Sahel region.
  • Across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Egypt, Nepal, and Pakistan, high-yielding wheat varieties resistant to Ug99, a highly virulent disease, have protected the livelihoods and food security of 500,000 farming families.
  • In eastern Africa, a vaccine against East Coast fever, a deadly disease of cattle, has saved 620,000 calves, benefiting up to 50,000 poor households that rely on cattle for food and income. The vaccine could benefit 20 million more people in the region, with annual benefits of $270 million.

“CGIAR has a strong track record in delivering solutions, building resilience, and helping people all over the world to grow more nutritious food and thrive in the face of the challenges,” said Kyte. “The new funding will take CGIAR’s work to the next level and be crucial in global efforts to enhance food and nutrition security in a world of climate change.”

CGIAR Milestone Video:


CGIAR Milestone Images: http://bit.ly/1hME0mC

back to top Back to top

Training program on impact assessment of research and development projects for up-scaling and higher impacts

Impact assessment of new technologies/innovations and measuring their contributions in improving the welfare gain of smallholder farmers is a challenging task. ICRISAT and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) jointly organized a training program on “Impact assessment of research and development projects for up-scaling and higher impacts” at the ICRISAT gheadquarters on 27-30 November. The program focused on training and building the capacity of middle level scientists/economists of ICAR and the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) on impact assessment of new technologies and innovations.

Welcoming the participants, Dr Cynthia Bantilan, Research Program Director – Markets, Institutions and Policies (MIP) stated that capacity building in impact assessment is of highest priority, as the NARS, ICAR and State Agricultural Universities are frequently required to evaluate the economic impact of new technologies on welfare gains of the poor. She also highlighted the importance of quantitative and qualitative tools in measuring impacts.
Delivering the inaugural message, Dr CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General – Research, ICRISAT highlighted the need to strengthen capacity for impact assessment.

Dr Ramesh Chand, Director, National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP), in his special address reiterated the relevance and importance of the training programs towards quantifying the explicit and implicit benefits of technologies. “There is a need to build the capacity of young scientists to carry out rigorous impact analysis of research and development projects to estimate returns to investment,” he said. Dr Jeff Davis, consultant, spoke on his experiences in impact assessment.

The resource persons shared their rich experiences in impact assessment with the participants. The challenges, key issues and practical difficulties in measuring the contributions of technologies and their impacts were thoroughly discussed with empirical case studies. Dr Anjani Kumar explained adoption and impact of technologies using the economic surplus approach while Dr Nagaraj spoke on ways of estimating impact assessment focusing on adoption and ex post impact assessment. Dr Kizito Mazvimavi, Head – Impact Assessment, explained about the methods followed in ICRISAT for assessing its 16 Jewels (the Institute’s major interventions in the last 40 years across crops, regions and technologies). The role of randomized control treatments and some case studies were explained by Urmy Sukla from J-PAL, South Asia. Dr MG Chandrakanth spoke on inclusive methodologies to measure the contributions of tangible and intangible benefits from technologies and natural resource management. Other resource persons from ICRISAT included Drs Madhu Bhattarai, Urmy Sukhla, and Shailander Kumar.

The training program served as a “Trainers of Training (TOT) Program”, as the participants can further pass on information about the tools and techniques to other scholars in their respective institutes. The participants also visited Kothapally watershed to study and operationalize the concepts and empirical tools of impact assessment. The training is expected to be expanded to Africa and the whole of Asia the following year.

Participants of the training program on Impact assessment of research and development projects for up-scaling and higher impacts. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

back to top Back to top

ICRISAT and Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences ink agreement on peanut research

During the signing of the MoU. Photo: B Anjaiah, ICRISAT

A high-level delegation from Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS), China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ICRISAT to foster collaborative research on peanut.

China and India are the two largest producers of peanut in the world. Shandong is the largest peanut growing province in China. ICRISAT has been collaborating with the Shandong Peanut Research Institute (SPRI) since several years. The visit by Dr Rajeev K Varshney, Research Program Director - Grain Legumes to SPRI in June 2013 catalyzed this visit by the delegation.

Dr Lin Zhao, President, SAAS and Dr CLL Gowda, ICRISAT’s Deputy Director General - Research, on behalf of Director General Dr William D. Dar, signed the MoU which is aimed at providing more strength to collaborative research on a large scale for uplifting the socio-economic status of poor farmers, particularly in Asia.

Aside from Dr Zhao, the SAAS team composed of Mr Run Tian Zhao (Vice-Governor of Shandong Province), Dr Guoliang Zhang (Deputy Director General, Shandong Provincial Foreign Affairs Office), Mr Jikang Feng (Vice Director, Shandong Provincial Department of Agriculture), Mr Chengjun Hou (Party Secretary and Council Director), Dr Ligui Zhu (Director General, SPRI), Mr Ding Zhen (Asian Division, The Foreign Affairs Office, Shandong Provincial People’s Government), Dr Qingxuan Gong and Dr Mei Yuan of SPRI, visited ICRISAT on 17 December.

back to top Back to top

Meeting reviews Water4Crops project work plan

The first joint meeting of the India-European Union Water4Crops Project, executed as twin projects “Water4Crops-EU” and “Water4Crops-India” was held at the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), Bari, Italy on 1-4 December.

Dr SP Wani at the meeting. Photo: ICRISAT

ICRISAT is leading the Indian part of the project supported by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, which is aimed at addressing the issues of recycling, resource recovery and efficient use of treated wastewater in agriculture. The Indian consortium comprises 17 partners including private corporates and national research institutions, while the EU consortium has representatives from 22 research institutions and corporates in EU countries.

Dr Suhas P Wani, Acting Research Program Director, Resilient Dryland Systems, ICRISAT and Dr Antonio Lopez, Leader, EU Consortium, gave a joint presentation on the progress in different ‘Work Packages’ in India and Europe and also took stock of the deliverables as per the planned document.

Delegates at the meeting identified work plans for the next three years, discussed opportunities for student and scientist exchanges, and contemplated on specific training/capacity building activities. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is to be signed on a project involving public-private partnerships in wastewater treatment and safe and efficient use of treated wastewater in agriculture between ICRISAT and CIHEAM.

The meeting attended by over 50 participants from India and Europe was organized by Dr Antonio Lopez.

back to top Back to top

Training to integrate gender into work plans in ICRISAT-led CGIAR Research Programs

To strengthen the capacities of the Product Line Coordinators of the CGIAR Research Programs on Dryland Cereals and on Grain Legumes; and for senior scientists of ICRISAT to mainstream and integrate gender into their work plans and activities, a training workshop was organized between 9-13 December in Hyderabad.

Participants of the workshop. Photo: S Nagaraji, ICRISAT

The training conducted over five days was based on four modules that helped the participants to understand gender as a social construct, and also introduced them to different tools, methods and process for developing results, activities and inputs and monitoring & evaluation. The participants also went on a field visit to Adarsha Watershed in Kothapally village of Ranga Reddy district to practically test these tools and to understand the gender related issues directly from the farmers through group discussions.

“The workshop was important not only from the CGIAR Research Program point of view where we are expected by the Consortium Office and Fund Council to integrate gender in all our priorities and activities to contribute towards a genuine positive impact in closing the gender inequality gap but also more importantly to make their work genuinely impactful at the ground level,” said Dr Chanda Goodrich, Principal Scientist, Empower Women. She along with Dr Barun Gurung, former Director, PRGA (System-wide Program for Participatory Research and Gender Analysis, CIAT) and with Ms Sweta Agrawal of ICRISAT led the training program.

“Integration of gender balancing strategies within research for development is important for maximum adoption of research outputs, and consequently for the delivery of outcomes, from the CGIAR Research Programs on Grain Legumes and on Dryland Cereals,” said Dr Shoba Sivasankar, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals.

“Twelve participants including seven RMC members from both the research programs attended the training. This demonstrates the current interest in increasing our understanding of and engagement with the gender issues that underlie both research programs,” said Dr Noel Ellis, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

“The field trip was very interesting and the way in which the women and men farmers were responding to the participants was amazing. It was a two-way process; even the farmers asked interesting questions to the participants,” said Ms Sweta Agrawal.

The participants felt that the training provided them a systematic approach to include gender aspects while developing and implementing projects.

The two CGIAR Research Programs led by ICRISAT recently submitted their Gender Strategies to the Consortium Office.

back to top Back to top