27 December 2013 No. 1603



Integrated management of aflatoxin in groundnuts in Kita region, Mali

ICRISAT Scientific Officer Diallo Aoua Traoré training farmers on integrated aflatoxin management in Kouyou village of Kita region, Mali. Photo: ICRISAT

Ensuring that farmers produce safe crops and food is important. However, more than five billion people in the developing world are exposed to aflatoxins, poisonous toxins produced by fungi infecting crops such as groundnuts, that are unknowingly ingested by consuming contaminated foods. ICRISAT together with its partners such as the Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER) as part of a project with the Aga Khan Foundation in Mali, is helping farmers produce quality groundnut, free of aflatoxin, to enhance household consumption.

ICRISAT’s role involves supporting women groups in producing improved aflatoxin-free groundnut varieties which will be used to make a biofortified di-déguè, a local dish, which will be turned into a product known as Equinut.

In this context, as many as 1000 farmers took part in a training session on integrated management of aflatoxin in groundnut, organized at Kouyou village in Kita region of Mali on 5 November. Twelve field agents including eight from IER and four representing the agriculture sector of Kita, the Mayor of Kofèba and the Chief of the village of Kouyou attended the training program.

The training focused on farm management of aflatoxin, choice of field and variety, treatment, land preparation, timely planting, harvesting methods, drying and better conservation methods. Farmers were briefed on practices to reduce aflatoxin contamination and visited demonstration plots of five improved aflatoxin-resistant varieties (ICGV 94379, ICGV 91284, ICGV 91278, ICGV 91315 and ICGV 91279). During the field visit, producers appreciated the groundnut in plots that had received manure and lime, which were characterized by a good filling and a hard shell, compared to the control.

As part of the project, ICRISAT has set up trials on integrated management of aflatoxin involving 12 groups (6 each of women and men) in the villages of Kouyou, Toumoudoto, Fodébougou, Koféba, Douri and Massala in Kita region.

During the field day, ICRISAT Scientific Officers and technicians answered questions on aflatoxin management. The farmers were sensitized on the impact of aflatoxin on humans and animals as well as its adverse effects on the country’s economy.

At the end of the training, farmers from other villages expressed interest in being part of the project and sought for the following season ICRISAT’s improved groundnut seed varieties that are resistant to aflatoxin. The activity was part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health.

Radio Mande of Kita aired the proceedings of the training session.

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Remote sensing and GIS training course at ICRISAT – Ethiopia

Participants of the training program. Photo: ICRISAT

With the aim of creating awareness among a multidisciplinary team of researchers in the use of Geographical Information Systems and remote sensing and also on integrating multidisciplinary information, a training program was held at the ICRISAT office in Addis Ababa on 16 -20 December.

Participating in the training on ‘Introduction to applications of remote sensing and Geographical Information Systems (GIS)’ were 18 participants from Nairobi, Malawi, and different research stations of the Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research (EIAR). They were given handson training in the use of ArcGIS 10.0 and taken on a ground data collection training trip to the ICRISAT study site at Adulala watershed, 90 km from Addis Ababa.

The training stressed on the value of spatial information and giving a spatial dimension to data collected by scientists. Case studies were presented. Emphasis was laid on using remote sensing imagery for crop dominance mapping and using time series data to identify land use and changes in land use over a period of time. Spatial modeling using multiple sources of spatial information, especially the inclusion of socio-economic factors to identify suitable sites for interventions and watershed prioritization was demonstrated.

Dr Murali Krishna Gumma and Mr Irshad Ahmed of ICRISAT conducted the activity, which was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems.

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DG stresses on the need for science-based climate smart agriculture for the Philippines

Dr WD Dar and his wife Mrs Beatriz Dar (2nd from right) at the inauguration of new units of the Nueva Vizcaya Experimental Station. Photo: Celerina Miranda

“Cultivating legumes like pigeonpea is one of the best options for smallholder farmers in rainfed areas because of their resilience to drought and nutritional contribution that compliments rice and corn,” ICRISAT Director General Dr William D. Dar said.

Dr Dar was speaking during the Pigeonpea Field Day held on 13 December in Nueva Vizcaya Experimental Station, Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya, the Philippines, where he and Mrs Beatriz Dar inaugurated new units of the station. These included the agri-business building, cold storage, seed storage, milk processing center, livestock center, pests and diseases laboratory, and a guest house. Dr Dar stressed on the need for science-based climate smart agriculture for the Philippines.

More than 1000 representatives from various sectors including State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), line agencies of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Local Government Units (LGUs) and their key leaders like Congressman Carlos Padilla, Governor Ruth Padilla, Mayors and Vice Mayors of various municipalities, media, and farmers attended the event.

The session was coordinated by the station manager Mrs Celerina Miranda and the Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Center (RIARC) Manager Mr Roberto Olinares, supported by Regional Director (DA-Region 2) Dr Lucrecio Alviar.

Dr WD Dar at the milk processing center.
Photo: Celerina Miranda

Also attending the Field Day from ICRISAT were Drs Myer Mula, Scientist - Seed Systems and Rosana P Mula, Coordinator - Learning Systems Unit, who were there for a meeting of the national pigeonpea congress to be held in April 2014 at Quirino State University, Quirino Province.

Representatives from eight SUCs including Mariano Marcos State University, Tarlac State College of Agriculture, Pampanga State University, Benguet State University, Nueva Vizcaya State University, Isabela State University, Cagayan State University, and Quirino State University, discussed the mechanics and initial plans for the congress, with Director General Dr WD Dar providing guidance.

The key output of the proposed congress is to come up with a roadmap for upscaling pigeonpea.

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Africa RISING country planning meeting held in Mali

Community mobilization and innovation platforms; nutrition and value addition; natural resource management; and farm and field productivity and profitability were the major work packages discussed at a meeting of research and development partners from the Africa RISING project. This was held in Mali from 2-3 December in a bid to discuss and articulate a long-term vision and work plan for the project.

Participants working on the work package on community
mobilization and innovations platforms.
Photo: Tom van Mourik, ICRISAT

The meeting started off with a welcome note by Dr George Okwach, the Officer in Charge for the ICRISAT Regional Director, an introduction by country coordinator Dr Tom van Mourik, Special Project Scientist - HOPE Project and a presentation of preliminary inputs from partners by ICRISAT scientist Dr Birhanu Zemadim. This was followed by group discussions and suggestions on how to integrate better at the institutional, research topic and farm levels. Work plans were articulated from 2014 to 2016, specifying the project’s outputs, activities and deliverables. An action plan was made for finalizing the work plan with leaders and deputy leaders. Group discussions helped clarify a long-term vision and logical framework for the different work packages during the project’s duration.

Among the participants were Dr Asamoa Larbi, West Africa Director for Africa RISING at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA); representatives from local NGO and farmer organization partners -- Association Malienne d’Eveil au Développement (AMEDD), Association Malienne pour la Souverainété et la Sécurité Alimentaire (AMASSA) and Mouvement Biologique du Mali (MOBIOM); and scientists from the Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER), The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and ICRISAT.

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Enhancing the resilience of water supply and farming systems in Southeast Asia

A cross-cutting theme was mapped out on the development of multi-scale strategies to enhance the resilience of water supply and farming systems under increasing climate and development pressures in the major river basins of Southeast Asia. This was achieved at the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security’s (CCAFS) convergence meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand on 11-13 December.

The CCAFS’ Regional Program for Southeast Asia meeting involving focal persons and selected partners saw participants share updates in different CCAFS-funded or attributed projects and obtain insights on the climate change related work being done by the partners.

The participants drafted criteria for selecting climate smart villages (CSV). Synergies and possible joint topics were identified among the centers for the flagship projects call for CCAFS Theme 1-4 in 2014. The participants also deliberated on an impact pathway for CCAFS-SEA. An “ideas marketplace” served as a venue to select potential partners who made presentations on their work on climate change and interacted with participating CGIAR Centers.

About 34 representatives from collaborating CGIAR Consortium Centers including ICRISAT, Bioversity International, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Potato Centre (CIP), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), World Agroforestry Centre, WorldFish and CCAFSSEA, took part in the meeting.

Representing ICRISAT, Mr AVR Kesava Rao, Scientist (Agroclimatology), Resilient Dryland Systems, presented the outputs of climate change related activities taken up by ICRISAT in India, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

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Building capacity of developing country scientists across Africa and Asia, in integrated breeding of grain legumes

Participants of the training course. Photo: ICRISAT

About 26 delegates representing 15 countries from Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Laos, Myanmar and Philippines,) and Africa (Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia) were trained in ‘Pre-breeding and crop improvement in grain legumes’ at ICRISATPatancheru from 9-20 December.

The course was aimed at updating legume breeders working in developing countries on recent developments in integrated breeding of three grain legumes – chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut.

Welcoming the participants, Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director – Grain Legumes emphasized the importance of integrating novel breeding tools and approaches in breeding programs for greater efficiency. In his inaugural address, Dr CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General – Research underlined the urgency to enhance the production of legumes to meet the growing demand and the need to modernize breeding programs.

The training session was organized by the Research Program on Grain Legumes and supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes. It included lectures, demonstrations, field visits and laboratory experiments, and was coordinated by Dr Pooran Gaur, Assistant Research Program Director – Grain Legumes.

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ICRISAT Nigeria celebrates Annual Day

The Institute’s 41st anniversary was celebrated at the ICRISAT Nigeria office in Kano on 19 December with a large turnout of dignitaries from Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Bauchi and Kaduna States of Nigeria and representatives of the Federal and Kano State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

KTARDA representatives holding up the Outstanding
Partnership Award presented by Dr F Waliyar.
Photo: Dr Patrice, ICRISAT

Delivering the welcome address, ICRISAT Nigeria country representative Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe thanked the partners for their support and enumerated some of the successful projects and activities implemented by the station during 2013. Among the ones highlighted were the successful implementation of 2198 on-farm trials and demonstrations in six states reaching over 8000 farmers in Kano State and the official release of groundnut varieties SAMNUT 25 and SAMNUT 26 and pearl millet variety PE05984.

Speaking at the event, Dr Farid Waliyar, Director, ICRISAT West and Central Africa, thanked the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for the trust they have placed in ICRISAT. He also gave away the Outstanding Partnership Award to Katsina State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KTARDA), Nigeria, on behalf of ICRISAT Director General Dr William D Dar.

The occasion was celebrated with messages from major partners and the recognition of partners.

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Invigorating teams through personal improvement and positive thinking

A scene from ‘A day in the life of a field investigator’,
a play enacted during the workshop. Photo: ICRISAT

According to noted American industrialist Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. If everyone is moving forward, then success takes care of itself”.

Following this belief, ICRISAT’s Research Program on Markets, Institutions and Policies (MIP) organized a residential team building workshop from 19-20 December at ICRISAT headquarters in Patancheru, India.

This workshop was flagged off by Dr MCS Bantilan, Research Program Director, MIP. The program featured personal empowerment and the wholesome aspects of learning intervention based on two concepts – (1) since everyone is born equal, it is ‘listening’ that creates the difference between each other and (2) the ‘life cycle of thought’ leads us to the present disposition and our ability to change the same improves our outlook.

Mr Sharat Kumar, Director, Human Resources and Operations (HRO), Dr Surya Kant Sharma (Head, HRO), and Mr AJ Rama Rao, (Head, HRS) were among those who took part in the event.

“The six dimensions of positive climate in an organization are—flexibility, responsibility, standards, rewards, clarity and team,” said Mr Sharat Kumar, who went on to discuss the goals, roles, processes and relationships in team building.

Mr Shiva Kumar, Principal Consultant – Envision Sattyaalayah, who was the resource person, gave an introduction to ‘Communication fundamentals’ in the first session of the workshop, wherein he stressed on KISS—‘keep it short and simple’ and strengthened his talk by laying emphasis on building confidence and conviction in conversations.

The theme of the second day’s exercise was ‘Positive thinking—Personal effectiveness grid’ to help staff act on their strengths and overcome specific limitations. Groups discussed a case study on decision making and problem solving. The session concluded with a general discussion about ‘Knowing yourself’.

A cultural show and the enactment of the Nativity play enlivened the proceedings of the team-building exercise.

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Partners trained in Statistical Analysis System in Nigeria

In its quest to empower its research partners with in-depth knowledge of the Statistical Analysis System (SAS), ICRISAT and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) organized a training course that brought together 26 scientists and researchers from different institutions of learning, and research centres.

ICRISAT facilitated the participation of 16 participants from the Centre for Dryland Agriculture, Bayero University, Kano; the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Lake Chad Research Institute, Maiduguri, Institute of Agricultural Research, Samaru; and ICRISAT Nigeria. The SAS software was installed on each participant’s computer to ensure ease of learning.

The resource persons for the training were from the Biometric unit/Capacity Development Office, IITA, Ibadan. The activity was undertaken from 16-20 December.

Participants of the training program. Photo: J Jonah, ICRISAT

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Utilizing the power of science and technology to enhance capacities of scientists

At the inaugural: Dr WD Dar with Dr A Padma Raju,
Vice Chancellor, Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University
(2nd from left). Also seen are Drs CLL Gowda and
G Dileepkumar. Photo: ICRISAT

“To understand and utilize the power of science and technology, there is need to enhance the capacities of scientists, scholars and all other stakeholders. This is where capacity building workshops will play a key role as the empowered youth, scholars, scientists and other stakeholders of today will educate the farmers and help enhance agricultural productivity to feed 10 billion people by 2050,” said Director General Dr William D Dar.

Dr Dar was speaking at the 6-day capacity building training program organized by the Knowledge Sharing and Innovation (KSI) program of ICRISAT from 9-14 December, attended by around 56 participants from 7 countries. Dr G Dileepkumar, Global Leader Knowledge Sharing and Innovation, briefed the participants on the capacity building program.

Delivering the welcome message, ICRISAT Deputy Director General-Research, Dr CLL Gowda, said, “The extension systems that used to be there 30-40 years ago have slowly lost their relevance. The farming community is left in many ways to fend for itself. We expect that the use of new ICT tools will change this situation and the farming community will be able to receive information first hand. We are in the process of enhancing these capacities; hence this capacity building workshop”. During the workshop, Dr Christine Geith, Assistant Provost & Executive Director, Global Knowledge & Learning Innovations, Michigan State University, introduced the participants to “Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS)”.

Dr P Rosana Mula, Coordinator - Learning Systems Unit (LSU), ICRISAT, provided an orientation on ICRISAT’s newly developed AgED Open Courseware platform. Mr Srinivas Reddy and B Praveen from Digital Green, an NGO, discussed the role of participatory extension videos in agriculture knowledge sharing for farmers.

Dr G Dileepkumar interacting with farmers at
Kommireddypalli in Mahabubnagar district. Photo: ICRISAT

Dr K Ramesh Reddy, University of Florida, highlighted the importance of reusable learning objects (RLOs) in higher education and introduced the Global Education Platform on International Education Center, an initiative started by ICRISAT and the University of Florida.

Mr Venkatesh Sharma, Director, Virtual Studio Pvt Ltd spoke on the recent trends and emerging opportunities in agriculture knowledge sharing while Mr Pradyut J Modi, Head, ISU introduced the participants to KSIConnect and provided them with a demonstration of it. The participants also visited the telepresence room for a real time experience of KSIConnect.

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