03 January 2014
No. 1604


Hybrid pigeonpea showing good potential in Africa

Dr A J Hingane of ICRISAT (left) explains the intricacies of pigeonpea crossing to a participant of the training program held in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: G Mukono, ICRISAT

Hybrid pigeonpea technology has great potential in Africa and is viable when applied with minor adjustments for adaptability to the cropping system and farmer/market preferences in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region. This was revealed at a training program organized by ICRISAT in Nairobi, Kenya from 9-13 December.

The training program was organized to build capacity in the ESA region about the pigeonpea technology, citing examples of its success in India. Eighteen participants from five countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda) including two representatives from private seed industry took part in the training program that emphasized on hybrid pigeonpea technology, seed production, integrated crop management and germplasm maintenance. Pigeonpea is an important source of food, nutrition and income in the region. It occupies about 933,000 ha in Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, Mozambique and Uganda with an average productivity of 873 kg/ha.

Robert Amayo from the National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI), Uganda making crosses in pigeonpea. Photo: G Mukono, ICRISAT

Dr NVPR Ganga Rao, Senior Scientist - Breeding (Grain Legumes), welcomed the participants. He then elaborated on the key messages from Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director - Grain Legumes on ICRISAT’s integrated pigeonpea breeding program and from Dr Moses Siambi, Director, ICRISAT-ESA. Dr Rao explained the importance of strategic partnerships to facilitate access to seed, improving productivity through integrated crop management practices and marketing following the Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) strategy.

Dr Sameer Kumar, Senior Scientist - Pigeonpea Breeding, briefed the participants on crop-specific traits, the evolution of hybrid breeding technology and its prospects, breeding and maintenance of hybrids and ongoing molecular breeding efforts. Dr Vijaya Kumar, Manager - Field Research Operations, elaborated on hybrid seed production technology and the performance of hybrids in various on-farm trials. Dr Anupama J Hingane, Special Project Scientist, explained the importance of pigeonpea biology including floral traits and their significance in hybridization to the participants.

National Agricultural Research System (NARS) partners presented the details of the ongoing research and development efforts in pigeonpea, the constraints being faced, as well as the opportunities and strategies to promote the crop in their respective countries. Among the challenges mentioned were the lack of technical capacity, poor linkages with markets and processing companies, non-functional seed systems, poor policies, lack of improved varieties in some countries, biotic and abiotic stresses and the farmer’s lack of awareness about the crop. Similarly, private seed industry representatives from Dryland Seeds and East African Seeds also shared their strategy on pigeonpea seed production and marketing.

Participants of the training program. Photo: ICRISAT

In Kenya, efforts in hybrid breeding have been made by Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) with support from ICRISAT. ICRISAT-Nairobi is working to convert African pigeonpea lines to CMS lines as well as isolating potential restorers.

Delivering the closing remarks, Dr Alastair Orr, Assistant Director, ICRISAT-ESA shared lessons learnt from the recent survey on pigeonpea adoption in Malawi.

The training program was conducted as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

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Scholars, analysts discuss impacts of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme

Dr M Bhattarai speaking on the ICRISAT-led component in the Scheme. Photo: ICRISAT

More than 30 research scholars and policy analysts from over 10 Research & Development institutions and universities across different states of India met up to discuss the implementation and changing dynamics of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme at a national workshop organized by ICRISAT.

The workshop on the Scheme and the Emerging rural context: Learning across the Indian States was conducted in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on 10-11 December in partnership with the Gujarat Institute of Development Research (GIDR). The scheme which covers 630 districts of India, aims to improve the overall livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable population, reduce their distress and destitution, reduce outmigration and improve access to food. It was started in 2006.

ICRISAT’s role in the Scheme involves a project on “Impacts of social safety nets on selected welfare indicators of rural households” being implemented in partnership with five research institutes across five states of India. It entails analyzing the Scheme’s impacts and effectiveness in reducing vulnerability (changes in income, employment, farm debt, and other social indicators), and serving as a social safety net in select villages of SAT India. The study sites are the villages where ICRISAT has been implementing the Village Dynamics in South Asia (VDSA) project for many years.

Apart from sharing their experiences in implementing the scheme and the challenges faced, the participants discussed the growing migration to urban areas, shift to non-farming opportunities and adaptation of lifestyles similar to that of urban areas and their impact on the Scheme’s implementation in rural areas.

On behalf of ICRISAT, Dr G Narendra Kumar, Director, Country Relations and Business Affairs (New Delhi) welcomed the workshop participants. Professor D Narasimha Reddy of the National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD), Hyderabad, delivered the keynote address and illustrated recent issues in the Scheme’s implementation across the states.

Dr Uttam Kumar Deb, Principal Scientist – Economics and Professor Keshab Das, Director-in-Charge, GIDR, gave insights into the Scheme’s impact on changing rural labour markets and agricultural labor wages. Dr Madhusudan Bhattarai, Principal Scientist – Economics and leader of ICRISAT’s project activities under the Scheme and social safety nets program, spoke on the ICRISAT-led component in the Scheme, and summarized the major activities undertaken.

The workshop was held as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Policy, Institutions and Markets.

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Latest agro-technologies showcased at KISAN 2013

ICRISAT staff interacting with visitors and potential clients at the stall in KISAN 2013, held in Pune. Photo: H Mane, ICRISAT

To promote entrepreneurship in the agri-business sector, ICRISAT’s Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) Program showcased agro-technologies that were ready for commercialization at the farmer platform, KISAN 2013, held on 12-18 December at Pune, India.

KISAN 2013 is a platform for farmers to come face-to-face with advanced technologies and innovations in the agricultural sector. This year saw over 100,000 visitors and 303 agro-companies from India and abroad showcasing their technologies on farm mechanization, pre- and post-harvest management of food crops, food processing, marketing and retailing.

The National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) is set up for handholding and mentoring of Business Planning & Development BPD Units of national agricultural research organizations. ICRISAT’s Agri-Business Incubation Program represented the Network of Indian Agri-Business Incubators (NIABI) highlighting the roles played by business incubators. From NIABI, the Business Planning & Development (BPD) Units of Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) and Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) also utilized this platform for promoting their incubation activities and technologies.

ICRISAT’s ABI client Spectrum Renewable Energy Pvt Ltd (on bio-fertilizer from sugarcane waste/bi-products) was able to create awareness, generate sales and prospects for new dealers.

About 500 people visited the ABI stall. About 50 potential leads were generated for technology commercialization support from NIABI. Some of the key leads were on food processing, farm ventures, agri-biotech ventures, seed production, institutional collaboration, apart from availing of incubation services from NIABI. Mr Suneel Vemu and Mr Harshvardhan Mane from the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) took part in the event.

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