25 Jul 2014
No. 1633


One Agriculture-One Science

A new partnership to revitalize global agricultural education

(L-R) Dr Dar with Dr Jack Payne and Dr Mary Holz-Clause, University of Connecticut. Photo: IFAS, UFL

An international partnership across India, Africa and the USA has formed the ‘One Agriculture-One Science: A Global Education Consortium’ initiative aimed at revitalizing global agricultural education, capacity building and technology transfer. This has been made possible with the collaboration of ICRISAT and top universities from these continents.

The initiative was launched at an expert consultation workshop jointly organized by ICRISAT, the University of Florida (UF), Michigan State University and Iowa State University, at the UF, Gainesville, Florida, USA on 17-18 July. 

“One Agriculture-One Science is a common platform to comprehensively address gaps in agricultural education with the latest advancements in technology and knowledge flow strategies,”  said Dr William D Dar, Director General, ICRISAT,  at the launch.

“The task of revitalizing global agricultural education requires all of us to work together in developing an educational and capacity building road map focused on how we can better contribute to global food and nutritional security through a global education consortium for development,” Dr Dar continued.

‘One Agriculture-One Science’ is a consortium of agricultural education institutes, research organizations and other related agencies. It will bring various disciplines in agricultural education such as crop, livestock, fisheries, natural resource management, etc. under one roof. The consortium will focus on addressing changes and adaptations required for agricultural education to meet development goals, particularly the attainment of food and nutritional security and sustainable agricultural production in developing countries.

The consortium will provide a common platform to address pressing global food security, accessibility and affordability challenges through partnerships and knowledge networks. Participating institutions will offer short courses, student scholarship programs and collaborative research opportunities to address these challenges.

Experts from land grant state universities in the USA, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the African Green Revolution Alliance (AGRA), the Regional University Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM, a consortium of 42 universities across 19 countries in Africa), US Department of Agriculture, US Agency for International Development, and CGIAR centers attended the launch.

“As a land grant university engaged worldwide, we at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) know that our relationships with our international partners are reciprocal, that sometimes we experience reverse technology transfer,” said Dr Jack Payne, Senior Vice-President, UF, Gainesville.

“Beyond UF-IFAS Global, we have ambitious plans for addressing perhaps the grandest challenge of our time: How to feed a projected 9.2 billion people by 2050 and do it in a safe, secure, nutritious and sustainable way and that our collaborations yield more discovery and contribute to the global mission,” emphasized Dr Payne.

“The One Agriculture-One Science partnership will see the formation of a consortium of international educators including select universities in the USA, international and regional organizations, and universities in interested regions, especially from the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa),” said Dr K Ramesh Reddy, Graduate Research Professor and Chair of Soil and Water Science Department, UF-IFAS.

“The initiative is a strategic coalition of partners anchored on innovative knowledge networks, public-private partnerships, and novel educational approaches to revitalize global agricultural education to better contribute to food and nutritional security,” stressed Dr Dileepkumar Guntuku, Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation, ICRISAT.

A dedicated website for this initiative was also launched http://www.oneagriculture.org/

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Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration

“A land without trees is like a people without hope.” - Ancient Niger proverb 

A young farmer practicing Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration Photo: ICRISAT

The Dan Saga, Maradi region located in south-central Niger Republic, where Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) is practiced has not only seen a remarkable rise in its green cover (over 200 million new trees established on 5 million ha of degraded land), but also improvements in agricultural and environmental conditions.

Three farmers from this region travelled to Sadoré village to share their experiences during the Farmer-to-Farmer learning meet on community-based FMNR hosted by the ICRISAT Sahelian Center Sadoré during 8-9 July. Dr Patrice Savadogo led the meet.

The objective of the meet was to raise awareness on the benefits of trees and encourage farmers to take up FMNR in order to counteract environmental degradation and promote livelihood diversification. Apart from the physical practice of restoring and managing trees on degraded land, FMNR also involves raising awareness and behavioral change. This farmer-to-farmer exchange focused on the knowledge of FMNR, the main advantages of this approach and the typical constraints.

The farmers were positive about the initiative and agreed to form a local learning alliance for FMNR.

The initiative was taken up under the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems.

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Participatory video extension – Peer learning made more effective

The participatory video extension approach extends the peer learning approach among farmers while overcoming the barriers of space and time. The best management practices and knowledge of farmers can be captured as small video capsules and used to train fellow farmers in other locations.

At the training program. Photo: ICRISAT

Experience demonstrates the importance and usefulness of educating farmers by transferring scientific knowledge in digitized form and taking it to the farmers through participatory video extension approaches. “Visualization is more effective than listening,” said Khadheer, a Village Network Associate (VNA) from Thimmapur village, Mahabubnagar district, Telangana, India.

To encourage and train the local community to produce their own videos ICRISAT in collaboration with Digital Green organised a two-day training program on 16-17 July at Addakal village, Mahabubnagar district.

“The videos are tailored to meet locally relevant agricultural needs, and are always produced in the local language,” said Ms BS Vijayalalitha, Program Manager - Training, Digital Green.

Innovative ICT tools such as battery operated pico-projectors or projectors integrated with mobile phones are used. Once a week village residents who have been trained as video mediators facilitate the screenings to engage groups of farmers with the videos and with one another in an interactive learning process.

“This training program will be very helpful in disseminating agriculture and related information to the farmers in SHG meetings in their villages,” said Ms Vimalamma, VNA from Janampet village.

Twenty-five participants from 20 villages attended the training program.

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Proven ways to bridge the gap between lab and farm

When taking technologies from lab to farm it is critical to pay attention to the way we take the message to the farmers, what means we adopt to enhance awareness, demonstrate the techologies under their conditions, ensure availability of the necessary inputs at right time and above all, demonstrate the economic viability of the technologies, said Dr Suhas P Wani, Assistant Research Program Director - Resilient Dryland Systems, ICRISAT.

He was delivering the Dr Ashok S Juwarkar Memorial Lecture at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur, India on 14 July.

“The need for adopting a holistic approach by dissolving sectoral and disciplinary boundaries and providing integrated solutions to the farmers is the key for ensuring benefits to smallholder farmers,” said Dr Wani.

Currently, crop yields are far lower (two to five fold) than the achievable potential yields and this knowledge gap needs to be bridged by using innovative solutions in terms of institutions and polices to benefit the farmers.

This point was illustrated by detailing the results of the Bhoochetana initiative in Karnataka which has reached more than four million smallholder farming families in four years. Farmers under this initiative are experiencing 20-66% increased crop yields.

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ICRISAT at global events

Genomics applications in crop improvement and nitrogen fixation in grain legume crops were the main areas of focus at the joint conference of the 6th International Food Legumes Research Conference (IFLRC VI) and 7th International Conference on Legume Genetics and Genomics (ICLGG VII).

Dr CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General-Research, ICRISAT, in his lead presentation on ‘Impact oriented legume seed systems in developing countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia’ highlighted the importance of strengthening the seed systems of legume crops. He identified the major bottlenecks in legumes seeds systems and stressed on the need for fine-tuning successful models to suit local conditions. Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director, Grain Legumes, ICRISAT, was the keynote speaker. He presented the work of ICRISAT and partners on ‘The 1000 Pulse Genome Sequencing Initiative: Connecting Genes to Traits’ emphasizing the importance of genomics tools and integrated breeding for improving the genetic gain in chickpea and pigeonpea. ICRISAT was represented by a team of scientists at the joint conference hosted by the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada from July 7-11. The ICLGG VIII conference in 2016 will be held in Jining, China, and IFLRC VII will be hosted at Rabat, Morocco.

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