07 March 2014
No. 1613


Helping African agribusinesses strengthen food value chains

Participants of the training program on ‘Development of agribusiness and food processing business incubation centres’ with the ICRISAT team. Photo: S Sharma, ICRISAT

“We are committed to work closely with our partners in Africa to boost the agri- and food-processing sectors across the continent through strategic interventions that strengthen value chains, promote food safety, develop innovative products and technologies, facilitate entrepreneurship, and ultimately help the smallholder farmers,” said ICRISAT Director General, Dr William Dar.

“Our mission is to make smallholder farmers in the drylands prosperous, not just self-sufficient. And that is why we are engaged in promoting an inclusive and technology-based entrepreneurship and agribusiness program,” Dr Dar added.

The Director General was speaking at the inaugural session of the ‘Development of agribusiness and food processing business incubation centres’ held from 18 February to 1 March at the ICRISAT headquarters.

Twenty-four food processing and agribusiness professionals from Africa from Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Mozambique, Angola, Cameroon, Ghana and Mali attended the training program organized by ICRISAT through its Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) Program under the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP).

The activity was part of ABI’s ongoing Food Processing Business Incubation Centre (FPBIC) Project supported by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India (MoFPI, GoI) under the India-Africa Forum Summit-II.

Ms Kiran Puri along with Dr CLL Gowda presenting a certificate of completion
to a participant. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

The activity was in line with ICRISAT’s South-South Initiative which aims to capitalize on the already established strong and successful India-Africa partnership, to strengthen the institute’s role as driver of prosperity and economic opportunities in the dryland tropics. The Initiative provides a platform for focused and systematic international relationships critical for a more effective and inclusive development cooperation between India and Africa.

Mrs Kiran Puri, Joint Secretary (Finance), MoFPI, GoI, attended the training’s valedictory program on 28 February as Chief Guest and spoke on the importance of the activity in setting standards in food manufacturing and in enhancing the food processing business incubation initiatives in Africa.

The two week program was designed taking into account the existing ground realities and gaps prevailing in the participating African countries with respect to setting up of food processing business incubators.

Participants were involved in dedicated sessions on food biotechnology and nutraceuticals, health and nutrition though modern biotechnology, probiotics and bioactive foods, nutrition research, challenges in development and commercialization of functional foods, combating health and nutrition challenges through a partnership approach, incubator planning, operations management, leadership, governance, financial, investments, and client scouting and engagement. Field visits were also organized to some of the agribusiness incubators under the Network of Indian Agri Business Incubators (NIABI).

Participants were also provided with hands on training on management practices for efficiently and profitably managing food business incubators.

Dr Kiran Sharma, Chief Executive Officer of the AIP stated that the training activity was in accord with ICRISAT’s vision of a prosperous, food secure and resilient dryland tropics. Mr SM Karuppanchetty, Chief Operating Officer of ABI Program stressed that the main focus of the bilateral project is the establishment of state of-the-art FIBCs wherein ICRISAT shall provide in-house training, hand-holding, mentoring and technical support to the staff deployed.  Mr Aravazhi Selvaraj, Manager, ABI Program gave a detailed overview of the training program to the participants.

Dr Dar receiving a token of appreciation from the participants of the training program.
Photo: S Sharma, ICRISAT

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Harnessing sweet sorghum’s potential as an alternative energy crop

Delegates touring the sweet sorghum fields on the campus. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

To further explore and harness the potential of sweet sorghum in enhancing income opportunities of the poor, smallholder farmers of the semi-arid tropics, over 80 delegates from 18 countries in the European Union, sub-Saharan Africa, South America, Asia and key players from the Indian national agricultural research system participated in the international workshop on sweet sorghum held at the ICRISAT headquarters on 3-7 March.

The international workshop was organized as part of the European Commission-funded project on “SweetFuel: sweet sorghum – an alternative energy crop” under its Seventh Framework Programme. The SweetFuel project involves seven countries and 10 organizations from research, academia and the private sector. ICRISAT is leading the development of drought-tolerant sweet sorghum cultivars with rainy and post-rainy season adaptation under this project.

“Sweet sorghum is a climate-versatile and multipurpose crop for food, feed and fuel in India and in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the focus areas of ICRISAT’s research-for-development initiatives. It has the distinction of being one of the top 10 crops that feed the world and has the potential to contribute immensely to global energy security,” ICRISAT Director General, Dr William Dar said at the inaugural session of the workshop.

Dr Serge Braconnier from the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and Coordinator of the SweetFuel project gave an overview of the project and the activities by partners.

Dr Vincent Vadez, Assistant Program Director – Dryland Cereals, ICRISAT stated that drought-tolerant sweet sorghum could be a game changer in the semi-arid tropics, while Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director – Grain Legumes suggested that the crop’s multipurpose feedstock productivity could be improved through targeted trait improvement using genomics and phenomics.

The event also marked the release of the Policy Brief on “Policy Options for Promotion of Sweet Sorghum for Ethanol Production in India” prepared by ICRISAT’s Dr P Parthasarathy Rao and the crop improvement team working on sweet sorghum. Fourteen high-quality presentations were made at the session covering topics including sweet sorghum breeding, genomics, genetic engineering, biochemical pathways, commercialization in different countries, value chains, biofuel networks, microbial fuel cells and policy issues.

The event was followed by a one-day regional workshop on sweet sorghum and a three-day SweetFuel project concluding workshop designed to assess the progress made over the past five years and to develop a roadmap for sweet sorghum research-for-development. Dr P Srinivasa Rao, Senior Scientist, Sorghum Breeding, Research Program – Dryland Cereals organized the event.

The SweetFuel project is being undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals.

Releasing the Policy Brief on “Policy Options for Promotion of Sweet Sorghum for Ethanol Production in India”. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

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Tropical Legumes II gains ground in Bihar and Odisha

Drs J Ehlers and E Monyo interacting with farmers in Bihar.

Farmers in the Indian states of Bihar and Odisha have largely benefitted from access to improved cultivars/hybrids and their production technologies, facilitated by the Tropical Legumes II (TL II) project.

Dr Jeff Ehlers, Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Dr Emmanuel Monyo, Coordinator, TL II Project, visited the project sites in Bihar with ICRISAT’s Dr Pooran Gaur and in Odisha with Dr P Janila on 23-26 February.

Bihar and Odisha are the new target states included in phase 2 of TL II. The major activities under the phase include identification of suitable cultivars (also hybrids in case of pigeonpea) and production technologies for chickpea, groundnut and pigeonpea through farmer-participatory varietal selection (FPVS) trials; enhancing availability of quality seed by strengthening formal and informal seed systems; and knowledge empowerment of farmers through various awareness activities and training programs.

In Bihar, the team visited the FPVS trials and seed production programs on farmers’ fields of chickpea and pigeonpea in Kotwali, Rajaun, Sujal Kora, and Tilaunda villages. Dr Ravi Gopal Singh (Director for Research), Dr Rafat Sultana (Principal Investigator for Pigeonpea) and Dr Ramesh Gupta (Principal Investigator for Chickpea) from the Bihar Agricultural University (BAU), Sabour, accompanied the team on field visits.

Improved varieties/hybrids introduced under the project showed significant superiority over the local varieties grown by farmers. The heat tolerant chickpea variety JG 14 was preferred by the farmers because of its high productivity and good-quality seed. Similarly in pigeonpea, hybrid ICPH 2740 and cultivar ICP 7035 were preferred by farmers.
In Odisha, the team visited Breeder Seed (BS) production plots of ICGV 91114 (Devi) groundnut variety organized by the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) in three villages (Mathasahi, Dakshianagaon, and Singbarampur) of Puri District.

ICGV 91114 is a farmer-preferred variety identified under a previous International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) project. Currently under TL II this variety is being popularized among farmers in the state through demonstrations and support to formal and informal seed systems.

An interaction was organized in Singhbarampur village where farmers shared constraints on crop production with the team, highlighting that timely availability of quality seed of groundnut and other pulses was very crucial to them. Dr J Ehlers and team also met with Prof Manoranjan Kar, Vice Chancellor and Dr P K Das, Dean of Research, OUAT. Project partners from the university, Drs Damodar Parida, Senapathi, Kedareswar Pradhan, Dayanidhi Mishra and Debdutt Behura were also present at the meeting.

Progress made in groundnut, chickpea and pigeonpea under the TL II project was discussed. Dr Parida explained how the germplasm and segregating populations received from ICRISAT helped them strengthen the groundnut breeding pipeline at OUAT in the past two years. He also informed that ICGV 02266 is a preferred variety of groundnut with superior performance in several trails and thus would like to propose it for release in the state.

Dr J Ehlers appreciated the enthusiasm of scientists and officials from the project partners in implementing the project activities and in facilitating farmers’ access to improved cultivars/hybrids and production technologies.

The TL II Project is being implemented under the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

The team visiting a breeder seed production plot of ICGV 91114 (Devi) in Puri district of Odisha.

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CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes elects first chair of Independent Advisory Committee

(From L to R) Dr O Ndoye, Dr SH Sabaghpour, Dr J Mulila-Mitti, Dr RS Paroda,
Prof K Siddique and Prof F Wachira at the IAC meeting.
Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Dr Rajendra Singh Paroda, Executive Secretary of the Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), has been elected as the first Chair of the Independent Advisory Committee (IAC) of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes. The committee held its first meeting at the ICRISAT headquarters on 20-21 February.

Dr Paroda, a recipient of the Padma Bhushan – a prestigious civilian award in India, has made significant contributions in the field of crop science and towards strengthening the national agricultural research systems in India and in Central Asia and the Caucasus. He has headed and chaired several organizations including the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

The IAC which is part of the governance and management structure of the Research Program provides external orientation and guidance in prioritizing research for development strategies, activities, and resource allocation. It was organized in August 2013 with members from a broad representation of disciplines and regions within the Research Program’s focus and priorities.

Members of the committee in attendance at the meeting were Prof Kadambot Siddique, Chair and Director of the Institute of Agriculture, University of Western Australia; Dr Joyce Mulila-Mitti, Crops Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Accra, Ghana; Dr Ousmane Ndoye, Program Manager, West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD), Senegal; Dr Sayyed Hossain Sabaghpour, Director General, Agricultural Research and Natural Resources Center of Hamedan Province, Iran; and Prof Francis Wachira, Deputy Executive Director, Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), Uganda.

Other members namely, Prof Fred Muehlbauer from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Grain Legume Genetics and Physiology Research Unit, Washington State University; and Dr Jill Findeis, Director, Division of Applied Social Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, were unable to attend the meeting.

In his interaction with the IAC, ICRISAT Director General, Dr William Dar stressed on the potential of and the need to promote grain legumes. “The farm gate value of grain legumes is US$24 million which is the same as that of wheat, and the economic benefit of grain legumes is almost US$5 billion,” Dr Dar said. He also highlighted the productivity, dietary and environment performance of grain legumes.

“After the green revolution and attaining food security, we need nutrition security for the future. Therefore this program is all the more important, also to achieve environmental sustainability” said Dr Paroda. (Click http://goo.gl/HjHqxR to view  Dr Paroda’s message)

Steering committee members, Dr Jeffrey Ehlers, Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Dr Asnake Fikre, Director of Crop Research Process, Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research, also interacted with the committee.

Dr Noel Ellis, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes facilitated the interaction presenting the overall vision and overview of the current activities, plans and finances of the program. The Product Line Coordinators also briefed the delegates on the ongoing activities of the Research Program.

Dr Emmanuel Monyo, Tropical Legumes II Coordinator and Prof Douglas Cook of the University of California – Davis explained the synergy between the recently initiated bilateral USDA-funded chickpea project and the Research Program.

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Saskatchewan Pulse Growers explore possible collaboration opportunities with ICRISAT

With keen interest to enhance collaboration with ICRISAT in the area of chickpea genomics and breeding, a high-level delegation from the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers visited the ICRISAT headquarters on 17 February. 

The delegation from the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers in a meeting
with Dr Dar and ICRISAT senior staff. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

The delegation composed of Ms Jean Harrington, Director, Board of Directors; Mr Lee Moats, Vice Chair, Board of Directors; Mr Carl Potts, Executive Director; Ms Rachel Kehrig, Director of Communications and Market Promotion; and Dr Ravi Chibbar, University of Saskatchewan met with ICRISAT Director General, Dr William Dar, and Dr CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General for Research and discussed possible opportunities for collaboration.

During the visit, Dr Potts appreciated the efforts of ICRISAT in applying high-end science in its breeding program. The delegation also interacted with the Research Program on Grain Legumes team led by Dr Rajeev K Varshney, Research Program Director; and toured the Centre of Excellence in Genomics.

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Tradeoff Analysis to support informed policy decision making for Eastern and Southern Africa

To assess the socio-economic impacts of climate change on smallholder farming systems in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) – Eastern Africa held a review workshop at ICRISAT Nairobi in Kenya on 19-22 February.

Implications of expected climate changes in the productivity of smallholder farming systems and their effects on farm household income and food security were assessed using the Tradeoff Analysis Minimum Data (TOA-MD) methodology. Changes in crop productivity were derived from crop yields simulated by crop models (DSSAT and APSIM) using observed and downscaled future global climate model (GCM) data, and management inputs from farm surveys.

The economic analysis to assess impacts on household incomes, employment and poverty was conducted on simulated yields with climate predictions by five GCMs for mid-century period under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 8.5. The analysis was structured to determine: sensitivity of current agricultural production systems to climate change; impact of climate change on future agricultural production systems; and benefits of climate change adaptations.

Results of the analysis on Embu county in Kenya, based on the APSIM-simulated yields, indicated that if climate changes and farmers maintain the current technology, between 16% and 29.1% would gain from climate change, while the remaining would lose. The DSSAT model predicted a higher percentage of gainers ranging from 28.1% to 37.8%.

After adaptation to climate change through identified management practices, APSIM results show that the percentage gainers would increase to about 60.5% in all the GCMs. This increase in gainers is accompanied by an increase in net farm returns of between 227% and 235%. Poverty rates would also diminish, from a mean of around 32.1% without adaptation to 21.4%.
During the meeting datasets were reviewed and additional tools were built to automate the process for each country to address socio-economic impacts of climate change on agricultural systems in Eastern and Southern Africa.

The activity was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

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Mapping the progress of the India-Morocco Food Legumes Initiative

IMFLI team inspecting a pigeonpea research farm at Tandur, Andhra Pradesh. Photo: ICRISAT

Factors influencing legume productivity and production and more effective exchanges of information across farming communities and researchers under south-south collaboration were the subjects of deliberation during the Office Chérifien des Phosphates Foundation (OCPF) India-Morocco Food Legumes Initiative (IMFLI) Project Progress Review and Planning Meeting.

Project collaborators from ICRISAT, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Area (ICARDA), MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), and other Moroccan partners took part in the meeting held at the ICRISAT headquarters on 27-28 January. Highlighted during the meeting was the need for partners to reach areas beyond project locations to serve more farmers in the region.

The India-Morocco Food Legumes Initiative covers nine legumes in India (chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut, lentil, greengram, blackgram, fababean, drypea and grasspea) across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal, Tripura, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh. ICRISAT is working on chickpea and pigeonpea crop in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, and the institute’s progress in taking new varieties of these crops to farmers’ fields in a big way was recognized at the meeting.

The OCPF was represented at the meeting by Dr Abderrahmane Lyamani, Director, Agricultural Development Program; Mrs Hassina Moukhariq and Mr Imadeddine Rouini, Project Managers, Agricultural Development Program; and Dr SA Patil, Advisor of OCPF in India.

ICRISAT representatives included: Dr HC Sharma who chaired the inaugural session; Dr GV Ranga Rao who gave an overview of ICRISAT’s progress on the project; and Dr Ch Ravinder Reddy, who presented the progress made in establishing integrated seed system models for chickpea and pigeonpea and project coordination and monitoring methods in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Representatives of partner organizations were: Dr D Vishnuvardhan Reddy , Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS) in Palem; and Dr KP Viswanatha, University of Agriculture Sciences (UAS), Raichur.

The meeting was followed by a traveling workshop to project locations in Andhra Pradesh (Kodangal, in cooperation with RARS, Palem), Karnataka (with UAS Raichur), West Bengal (with Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya), and Tripura (with the State Department of Agriculture).

The activity was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

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Scoping mission identifies key WLE investment areas in Chinyanja Triangle

Participants of the scoping mission. Photo: ICRISAT

To identify strategic partnerships for collaborative work and harvest regional expert ideas in the Chinyanja Triangle, 23 experts from 12 different research centers and institutions recently took part in a scoping mission supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE).

Key investment areas were identified in the Chinyanja Triangle inside the Zambezi basin covering southern and central Malawi, central Mozambique and eastern Zambia. The area has endemic poverty with many marginalized and vulnerable people, limited institutional and human capacity, coupled with extreme environmental variability, and often with high natural resource degradation. Yet it has great potential to increase food security and reduce poverty.

The region is a predominantly dry, semi-arid environment where sorghum and millet are produced along with pigeonpea and potato. Livestock, particularly goats and cattle, are an integral part of this system and serve as a means to overcome drought years.

The team of experts also identified entry points for the WLE research program to reverse resources degradation, improve agricultural productivity and create local capacity to improve resilience and ecosystem services.

The team started the 2000 km tour in Lilongwe, followed by a visit to Blantyre, where the team was briefed on the initiatives of Total Landcare, a strong local NGO working on conservation agriculture among other things. A visit to the ESCOM Hydroelectric Power Station/Dam on Shire River helped the team study the costs of poorly managed watersheds and the costs and efficiencies of the main hydropower source of Malawi, which is producing almost 95% of the country’s power supply.

The team visiting the ESCOM Hydroelectric Power Station.

After crossing the Malawi border to Mozambique, the team visited an abandoned water reservoir in Moatize, where limited market access discouraged farmers from utilizing the water resources. The group later met with the extension head of Angonia district in Mozambique, where it learned the consequences of charcoal making and the overwhelming expansion of tobacco as a cash crop at the expense of food and other crops. 

A feedback session towards the end of the trip allowed the participants to map the way forward. The team was divided into three smaller groups based on their major areas of interest and each group presented their field findings and recommendations.

ICRISAT along with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Nairobi, and Malawi organized the scoping study and the participating institutions included the International Water Management Institute (IWMI-Pretoria); International Potato Centre (CIP); Bioversity International (BI- Nairobi); World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF-Tanzania); Worldfish Centre, Malawi; Instituto de Investigacau Agraria de Mozambique, (Institute of Agricultural Research of Mozambique [IIAM]); Zambia  Agricultural  Research  Institute  (ZARI),  Department  of  Agricultural Research, Zambia; Total Land Care Malawi (TLC); CIRAD-UEM Mozambique; and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Bunda College, Malawi.

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New prospects on postrainy sorghum research and dissemination

Dr Dar examining the improved postrainy sorghum hybrid developed at ICRISAT. Photo: ICRISAT

New prospects in the diversification of the genetic base of postrainy sorghum in India are underway. This was demonstrated during the Sorghum Scientists’ Field Day held on 17-18 February at ICRISAT Patancheru.

The efforts of ICRISAT and partners in the genetic diversification of postrainy sorghum seed parents by combing various landraces or their derivatives, have resulted in a good number of postrainy sorghum hybrids with higher grain yield (by 25-30%) and farmers’ preferred quality traits. Improved seed parents and pollen parents with reduced height were also developed to elevate hybrid breeding efforts. All these materials were shown to partners in India, and seed materials were shared, during the Field Day.

In attendance during the event were ICRISAT Director General, Dr William Dar; Deputy Director General for Research, Dr CLL Gowda; and Research Program Director - Dryland Cereals, Dr Stefania Grando who joined partners in India in visiting the sorghum fields showcasing these materials. They expressed appreciation to the sorghum team for the materials’ diversity and superiority in terms of yield and quality vis-à-vis the controls.

Postrainy sorghum grown on 4.5 million ha in India is highly prized for its food and fodder value. The large-scale seed production and distribution efforts of improved cultivars by the Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) Project supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have increased grain yield by 40% and fodder yield by 25% in more than 40,000 participating farmers in Maharashtra state in India in the last five years. Through the innovative ‘Seed Consortium’ scheme involving the farmers, NARS, Department of Agriculture, Mahabeej (a public sector seed agency) and ICRISAT,  improved seeds will reach more than 100,000 ha (involving about 80,000 farmers) in 2014 postrainy season.

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Improving the adaptive capacity of smallholder farmers in Mali

Participants of the stakeholders’ meeting. Photo: ICRISAT

ICRISAT’s West and Central Africa (WCA) Regional Office based in Mali is currently working on two new initiatives: to enhance the sorghum and millet Value chain; and to develop resilient-smart technologies to improve the adaptive capacity of smallholder farmers.

Stakeholders of the initiatives met on 18 February to discuss best practices for increasing the productivity and production of sorghum and millet in the targeted areas at scale and to link to ongoing activities that would enhance any part of the sorghum and millet value chain, including but not limited to seed multiplication and input access, enhancing agronomic practices, harvest and post-harvest practices, markets and nutrition.

Due to the importance of sorghum and millet in the farming systems, ICRISAT has selected Mopti and Sikasso regions of Mali as the key target areas for the initiative to enhance the use of available sorghum and millet technologies.

The technologies will include not only improved sorghum and millet cultivars and hybrids, but also the transfer of supportive and complementary aspects for integrated soil fertility, land and water management and the use of mixed farming including crop-livestock integration. The one-day meeting of stakeholders reflected on previous and on-going efforts in line with the proposed initiatives and to develop a coherent strategy for implementation.

The meeting also discussed efforts to enhance the resilience of farming households, amid the threat of climate change. The discussions also focused on how to build a strategy to enhance farmer adaptation to climate change through dissemination of resilient-smart technologies to improve the adaptive capacity of smallholder farmers.

Two concept notes will now be submitted to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – Mali Accelerated Economic Growth Program by ICRISAT and partners.

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Pearl millet biofortification trials reviewed

Participants of the pearl millet biofortification review and planning meeting. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Twenty-five researchers from public and private sector partner organizations under the HarvestPlus-supported pearl millet biofortification program recently reviewed the biofortification trials conducted in 2013 and mapped out plans for 2014.

ICRISAT organized the HarvestPlus-supported pearl millet biofortification review and planning meeting on 27 February at its headquarters in Patancheru. Delegates from HarvestPlus - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) participated in the meeting.

Welcoming the participants, Dr CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General for Research, lauded the impact of the pearl millet partnership, which has led to about 7% annual increase in pearl millet productivity during the last 15 years, and has effectively contained downy mildew. He also underscored the substantial progress made in enhancing iron content in pearl millet with continued support from the partners. This was clearly reflected in the development, testing and quick release of an improved high-iron pearl millet variety ICTP 8203 Fe (Dhanshakti). The variety has now been approved by the Central Variety Release Committee of the Government of India for cultivation in all pearl millet growing states of the country.

Dr Wolfgang Pfeiffer, Director for Operations, HarvestPlus, made a presentation on “HarvestPlus phase-III” which aims at demonstrating the viability of biofortification as an intervention, scaling-up delivery, and strengthening the pipeline of biofortified varieties in target countries.

Dr HP Yadav, Project Coordinator, All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project (AICPMIP), mentioned that starting 2014, AICPMIP plans to conduct a separate biofortification hybrid trial for which the candidate entries will be identified in the upcoming AICPMIP workshop scheduled  for 13-15 March in Jaipur.

The workshop presentations included an overview of pearl millet biofortification research by Dr KN Rai, and brief reports from all the participating centers that included five State Agricultural Universities and 14 Pearl Millet Hybrid Parents Research Consortium seed companies.

The activity was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health.

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