30 May 2014
No. 1625


Gender Forum launched at ICRISAT

Stills from the film “A Day in the Life...” screened at the ICRISAT Gender Forum launch. Yadamma (inset) leading a self-help group meeting. The Forum seeks to move away from the current ‘Women in Development’ approach and focus on the inequitable power relation between genders.

As part of ICRISAT’s commitment towards integrating a gender transformative approach in agricultural research, the ICRISAT Gender Forum was launched. The Forum seeks to integrate gender in agricultural research leading to more effective development outcomes and impacts. The Forum would focus on understanding how gendered power relations result in inclusion or exclusion and move from a ‘Women in Development’ approach to a “Gender and Development’ approach and finally to a transformative approach which involves refocussing on power relations that sustain inequity.

ICRISAT is celebrating 2014 as ICRISAT’s Year of Gender.

In his message, ICRISAT Director General Dr William D Dar stressed on the critical need to make agricultural practices and research more gender inclusive for more equitable distribution of benefits (from agriculture) among marginalized groups such as women agriculturalists and smallholder farmers.

Dr Dar delivering his address. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Citing the example of SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) and drawing cues from their work, Dr Dar mentioned how rural women have today become “the face and focus of our work at ICRISAT as changing migration and employment trends have diminished differences among categorizations of smallholder farmers and women involved in agriculture”. He further elaborated on the emerging role of women as ‘community change agents’, and women centric programs as conduits for effective change towards equitable power and gender relations.

Dr Cynthia Bantilan, Research Program Director, Markets, Institutions and Policies, ICRISAT, highlighted the importance of such an initiative in the context of ongoing research at the institute while introducing the recently appointed regional ICRISAT gender specialists Dr Wenda Bauchspies for CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals based in West and Central Africa (WCA); Dr Esther Njunga-Mungai for CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes based in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA); and Dr R Padmaja for MIP based in South Asia. 

Drs Shoba Sivasankar, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals and Noel Ellis, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes, briefly talked about how gender research priorities were being integrated into the programs and product lines of the respective CGIAR Research Programs.

Dr R Padmaja representing the ICRISAT component of the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets explained how strategic gender research is expected to translate into larger development outcomes such as food security, nutrition and improved health, increased income and gender equity across the CGIAR Research Programs.

The highlight of the event was the screening of a short documentary film entitled, “A Day in the Life…” which portrayed the societal complexities and challenges faced by rural women in agriculture. The film is an inspiring story of one such woman, Yadamma from Aurepalle village in India, who managed to break out of this cycle of intergenerational poverty. Yadamma has been part of the Village Level Studies, and her life has been documented as part of the project surveys, since 1975.

The project is currently funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The film, which was screened at the International Women’s Film Festival held earlier this year in Hyderabad, was introduced by Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka, Director, Strategic Marketing and Communication. She noted the importance of communicating success stories that focus on the whole story, not just the good parts, and can tell the farmer’s story and not just the institute’s story, which this video aimed to achieve.

The next ICRISAT Gender Forum event is scheduled to be held in July in either WCA or ESA.

The Gender Forum was formally launched on 26 May by ICRISAT Director General Dr William D Dar. In addition to staff who took part in the event at the headquarters, ICRISAT gender specialists and the scientists and staff in WCA and ESA joined in virtually through KSIConnect.

Participants of the event. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT


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Celebrating four decades of ICRISAT-Nepal R4D partnerships

ICRISAT and Nepal’s fruitful partnership in research for development (R4D) efforts has increased productivity and production of grain legumes, improving income, food and nutrition of smallholder farmers in Nepal.

Dr DB Gurung honoring Dr Dar. Also seen in the picture is Dr CLL Gowda. Photo: ICRISAT

Significant achievements of this current partnership include: release of 16 improved cultivars of grain legumes (8 chickpea, 6 groundnut and 2 pigeonpea) in Nepal, identification of farmer-preferred cultivars through farmer-participatory varietal selection trials, refinement and promotion of integrated crop management (ICM) practices for grain legumes, development of community-based and village level seed systems and knowledge empowerment of researchers, extension personnel and farmers.

“Four decades of ICRISAT-Nepal R4D partnerships on grain legumes” was celebrated in Kathmandu, Nepal on 21 May. The program was jointly organized by ICRISAT and the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC). It was co-chaired by Dr William Dar, Director General, ICRISAT and Dr Dil Bahadur Gurung, Executive Director, NARC.

Dr Dar in his address emphasized on the role of partnerships in improving livelihoods of smallholder farmers using the power of science and technology. He added that, ICRISAT would support the work of NARC with a vision to double the productivity of smallholder farmers in Nepal. Dr Gurung appreciated the support of ICRISAT, especially in supply of germplasm and improved breeding materials, support in promoting adoption of improved cultivars and integrated crop management (ICM) practices in Nepal and training of NARC researchers at ICRISAT. He also requested ICRISAT’s support to Nepal in emerging areas of Biotechnology and Information Technology.

Dr YG Khadka, Director, Crops and Horticulture Sciences, NARC welcomed the participants at the event. Dr CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General-Research, who had a long association with the National Grain Legumes Research Program (NGLRP), particularly as Coordinator of Cereals Legumes Asia Network (CLAN), gave a historical perspective of the partnership that began in 1975 and presented some achievements. There were several ICRISAT-Nepal collaborative projects in Nepal for which the financial support came from various sources such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Department for International Development (DFID), and Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

At the event, Dr Dar was honored by Dr DB Gurung, for his continuous efforts to strengthen the ICRISAT-Nepal partnerships. Other research managers and scientists from ICRISAT honored by NARC for their significant contributions in grain legumes R4D activities in Nepal included Drs CLL Gowda; Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director-Grain Legumes; Pooran Gaur, Assistant Research Program Director-Grain Legumes; HD Upadhyaya, Head-Gene Bank; and GV Ranga Rao, Special Project Scientist.

Dr DB Gurung was presented a plaque of honor by Dr Dar for his strong support in pushing ICRISAT-Nepal partnership to greater heights. Under his leadership, the IFAD-supported project on ‘Sustainable Management of Crop-based Production Systems for Raising Agricultural Productivity in Rainfed Asia’ made excellent progress in Nepal.

Seven eminent scientists, Drs Maheshwar P Bharati, Ram Pratap Sah, Bharatendu Mishra, NS Jodha, Ram Krishna Neupane, Yagya Prasad Giri and Nawal Kishor Yadav, who significantly contributed to the development and promotion of the ICRISAT-Nepal partnership for R4D in grain legumes in Nepal, were also recognized. Dr MP Bharati was instrumental in the establishment of the NGLRP in Nepal and was the first Country Coordinator for legumes in Nepal. Drs MP Bharati and RP Sah were also Executive Directors of NARC and contributed significantly to enhance the R4D partnership in Nepal.

Participants of the event. Photo: ICRISAT

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Innovation Platform to boost resilience of dryland systems in Rajasthan, India

Stakeholders brainstorming session at the workshop. Photos: S Kumar, ICRISAT
ICRISAT staff finalizing interventions with participation from farmers.

In order to boost the resilience of dryland systems, strategies such as rainwater harvesting for high-value crops, development of agro-forestry-horti systems , and village-level seed production were identified as  priority interventions in Rajasthan, India. 

At a workshop organized by ICRISAT and its partners Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti and the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI) on 22 May at the CAZRI headquarters, participants deliberated on issues related to enhancing dryland farming in the region and potential strategies for achieving convergence among major stakeholders.

The interventions and convergence are proposed to be taken up under the Local Innovation Platform for Western Rajasthan. This platform is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems work in South Asia where ICRISAT is operational in eight action sites in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Barmer districts of the state.

Dr MM Roy, Director, CAZRI, in his inaugural address appreciated the concept of the innovation platform, which would act as a hub for stimulating technical and institutional innovation for dryland system intensification and resilience building. He also highlighted the on-ground interventions of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems.

Sessions at the workshop were chaired by Directors of CAZRI, Arid Forest Research Institute (AFRI) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Zone-VI. Participants identified key elements to be considered for institutionalizing common property resource management such as community pastures and community rainwater harvesting structures. 

Participants stressed that the planning horizon of such programs (CGIAR Research Programs) should be at least three years to enjoy effective partnerships and outcomes and provided feedback on improving the future implementation of the program.

The stakeholders represented a cross-section of institutions such as CGIAR partner institutes; National Agricultural Research Systems; various State Departments; Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and local non-governmental organizations.
Drs Shalander Kumar and T Ramilan from ICRISAT facilitated this event.

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IFAD-ICRISAT project benefits smallholder farmers in South and Southeast Asia

Participants of the annual project review meeting. Photos: ICRISAT

The project “Sustainable Management of Crop-based Production Systems for Raising Agricultural Productivity in Rainfed Asia” has benefited smallholder farmers by innovating resilient cropping systems, scaling up innovations and capacity building.

At the annual project review meeting it was concluded that the project has shown good progress in each of its four components: (1) Designing resilient productive cropping systems, (2) Technical support and scaling out and up of innovations, (3) Inclusive market-oriented development, and (4) Building of capacity within National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) and among farmers.

Thirty delegates from four target countries (India, Nepal, Vietnam and Lao PDR) met in Kathmandu, Nepal on 20-22 May to review the progress and map the way ahead. Dr YG Khadka, Director, Crops and Horticulture Sciences, Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) welcomed the participants.

Dr Pooran Gaur, Assistant Director, Grain Legumes, ICRISAT, and Project Coordinator, gave an overview of the project and the highlights of the progress made in 2013-14. He thanked the partners for effectively implementing the project activities as per approved work plans and enhancing activities on Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) and capacity building as per recommendations of the IFAD Review Mission.

The project activities are being implemented by the Jharkhand Tribal Development Society (JTDS) and Birsa Agricultural University (BAU) in Jharkhand, India; Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (RVSKVV) in Madhya Pradesh, India; State Project Management Unit of Mitigating Poverty in Western Rajasthan (MPOWER), in Rajasthan, India; Sustainable Natural Resource Management and Productivity Enhancement Project (SNRMPEP) in Laos; NARC in Nepal; and by Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS) in Vietnam.

Drought forecasting and drought adaptation and mitigating strategies for the target regions are important components of the IFAD project. Sessions on Drought forecasting and ICT tools were conducted during which Drs AVR Kesava Rao and G Murali Krishna from Research Program - Resilient Dryland Systems, ICRISAT made presentations on ‘Drought characterization, monitoring, and forecasting using climate data’ and ‘Remote Sensing Application in Agriculture’ respectively. To elucidate the concept of IMOD, Dr M Srinivas Rao, Markets, Institutions and Policies, made a brief presentation and helped participants include the IMOD strategy in the work plan.

The other key participants included Drs Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director – Grain Legumes, HD Upadhyaya, GV Ranga Rao, and S Srinivasan from ICRISAT; Dr VS Gautam, Dr PK Singh, Mr JS Mertia, and Mr Manoj Sinha from India; Dr YP Giri, Dr DB Gharti and Mr Rajendra Darai from Nepal; and Ms Nguyen Trang from Vietnam.

The activity was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and the project is supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

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Combating soil-borne diseases and aflatoxins in groundnut

Dr Farid Waliyar exchanging the MoU signed between ICRISAT and PPRI-VAAS with Dr Pham Thi Vuong, Acting Director General of PPRI. (Right) Participants visiting a groundnut field in Vinh Phuc Province. Photos: H Sudini, ICRISAT and PRI-VAAS

The need for groundnut researchers to uplift the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Asian countries by devising strategies to combat soil-borne diseases and aflatoxins, was discussed at the 3-day international workshop organized by ICRISAT on ‘Management of Groundnut Diseases’.

The workshop was organized in partnership with the Oil Crops Research Institute (OCRI) of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) in Hanoi, Vietnam on 12-14 May and was hosted by the Plant Protection Research Institute (PPRI) of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS).

At the opening ceremony of the workshop, ICRISAT’s Dr Farid Waliyar, former Director for West and Central Africa, reiterated the importance of groundnut as a major protein source in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Further, he explained the role of major biotic constraints, including aflatoxin contamination, in hampering groundnut productivity worldwide.

He also affirmed the importance of training workshops and thanked the organizers of this workshop, the PPRI and the financial support from CAAS represented by Prof Liao Boshou.

On the eve of the workshop, ICRISAT entered into an MoU with PPRI for mutual cooperation and agreement in research for development.

A total of 35 participants (from Vietnam, China, India, Thailand, and Indonesia) shared and discussed the groundnut status reports from their respective countries. Drs Hari Kishan Sudini and P Janila from ICRISAT participated as resource persons.

A field trip was organized on the third day for participants to witness peanut scab disease, an emerging groundnut disease in Vietnam.

This workshop was organized as part of Window-3 bilateral support to the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

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Boosting research activities on pearl millet in South Asia

Forty scientists from ICRISAT and partner State Agriculture Universities (SAUs), and representatives of the private sector reviewed the progress of the Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) Project Phase-I (2009-2013), and devised work plans for the on-going Supplemental Phase (2014-2015) on 23 May at the ICRISAT headquarters.

Speaking at the project’s Review and Planning Meeting, ICRISAT Director General Dr William D Dar, emphasized that micronutrient traits should be mainstreamed in the pearl millet breeding program to combine both high grain yield and higher levels of micronutrient content in future cultivars to address both food security and micronutrient malnutrition.

Discussions on activities for the supplemental phase of the project and finalization of work plans for 2014-2015 saw active participation by all the participants. Partners from both public and private sectors appreciated the efforts made in the project to identify promising hybrids and generation of promising breeding materials for marginal environments of India.

Drs HP Yadav, Project Coordinator, All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project (AICPMIP) and Stefania Grando, Research Program Director-Dryland Cereals, ICRISAT, co-chaired the sessions on review and planning activities in the Indian States of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana.

ICRISAT’s Drs N Nagaraj, Rajan Sharma and SK Gupta presented the progress reports and briefed the participants about the planned activities for 2014.

Dr Shoba Sivasankar, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals also contributed to the discussions and ICRISAT’s Mr MS Raju provided the financial update to the group.

The HOPE project in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The activity was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals.

Participants of the meeting. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

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