10 Oct 2014
No. 1644


ICRISAT-inspired Andhra Pradesh agriculture transformation strategy launched

Former President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam; Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Mr N Chandrababu Naidu, and ICRISAT Director General Dr William Dar, launching the Strategy Paper for ‘Mission on Primary Sector’.

The country is in need of a second green revolution and this can be achieved only through modern science and technology, said former President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, while releasing the Strategy Paper for Mission on Primary Sector developed by ICRISAT for the Andhra Pradesh Government.

The strategy paper “Agricultural Transformation in Andhra Pradesh: Equitable, Scientific, Prosperous and Climate Smart” was released at an event on 6 October by Dr Kalam, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Mr N Chandrababu Naidu, ICRISAT Director General Dr William Dar, Andhra Pradesh ministers and senior State Government officials. More than 16,000 farmers, Directors of National Research Institutions, Vice Chancellors of agricultural universities, and media personnel attended the event at Garudapuram village in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh, India.

The strategy stresses the transformation from sectoral to holistic approach, subsistence to marketable surplus and profitability, and from vulnerability to sustainability using science-led development through a consortium approach. The strategy paper also focuses on the need for upgrading delivery systems and agri-businesses through an effective governance and policy framework.

It also envisages bridging the large crop yield gaps, enhancing agriculture in the state through enabling policies, and promoting institutions for encouraging innovations in the area of crop production, value chain, market linkages and value additions.

Launching the Telugu book on the life of Dr William Dar.

“In order to address the goal of food security, India has to produce 350 million tons by 2030 as against the current production of 260 million tons in the country.  With the growing population and increasing income levels, the demand for food will increase along with growing scarcity of water and land for agricultural production,” said Dr Kalam.

He appreciated the technical support provided by ICRISAT and other institutions in preparing the strategy paper for the primary sector mission. The primary sector is one of the seven missions planned as part of the Swarnandhra Vision 2029 by Mr Naidu.

Speaking at the event, Dr Dar said the strategy would concentrate on empowering the farming sector by improving the quality of produce. Dr Dar also elaborated on Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) approach using science-led development and by building partnerships, including public private partnerships.

“Scientific agriculture needs to be strengthened and popularized by adopting a mission mode approach through the principle of convergence, capacity building and collective action,” Dr Dar added.

Based on the experiences and learnings of the Bhoochetana project, Dr Suhas P Wani, Director, ICRISAT Development Center (IDC), and Dr KV Raju, Assistant Director, IDC, assisted the State Government in preparing the strategy. 

Dr Kalam and Mr Naidu also launched the Telugu book ‘Nirupeda Kanchamlo Nindubhojanam (Life History of Dr William Dar)’ by Mr D Vizaibhaskar.

Mr Naidu in his address lauded the efforts of ICRISAT and thanked Dr Dar and his team for putting together the experiences as well as food practices from 55 countries across the globe for the benefit of smallholder farmers in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. He stated that the aspirational goal of the primary sector mission is to place the state as one of the top three states in agricultural development by 2022 and to make farmers prosperous through inclusive and sustainable development.

The Chief Minister also highlighted the use of rainwater harvesting and efficient use of water through sprinklers, drip systems, for drought proofing the State. He also stated that the government would provide necessary support by investing in cold storages and in linking farmers to the markets. Mr Naidu also emphasized on the use of new technologies in agriculture to enhance employment opportunities in rural areas for youth.

Dr Kalam and Mr Naidu along with other delegates visited the stall set up by ICRISAT and enquired of the technologies and products developed by ICRISAT.

Women farmers in attendance at the event.

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Moving from a donor relationship to a partner relationship

Dr Dar briefing the delegation on ICRISAT’s research for development activities.
Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

A team from the Tata trusts visited ICRISAT headquarters to explore ways of elevating the existing partnerships with ICRISAT. Tata trusts want to take a more holistic approach to development, incorporating agricultural livelihoods into other development needs like, education, health, drinking water and nutrition. This was identified by the Trusts as important for larger and more sustainable impact.

“Only a consortium approach with a multi-stakeholder partnership pursued in a big way with holistic components such as integrated watershed management, and the development and promotion of highly nutritious crops will help India’s indigenous, smallholder farmers,” ICRISAT Director General, Dr William Dar, said during his interaction with delegates of the Tata trusts.

Mr Biswanath Sinha, Associate Director at Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, reiterated their commitment to convergence, collective action and capacity building in research for development activities.

The visiting team was briefed on ICRISAT’s Smart Foods campaign, which is aimed at building a stronger scientific case for more support to millets and focused on the need to build a new and modern image around what have been the traditional crops and foods in several regions of the world. The importance ICRISAT attaches to these nutri-cereals for diversity in both diet and on-farm, and their appropriateness for fighting poverty and food insecurity was acknowledged by the visiting team.

Dr Suhas P Wani, Director, ICRISAT Development Center briefed the team on using community watershed as the entry point and growth engine for a holistic approach for sustainable development of dryland areas, and developing them under a public-private partnership model. This is part of the large scale scaling up work of the ICRISAT Development Center.

The lessons learnt during the past collaborations between ICRISAT and the Tata trusts were shared by Mr Ganesh Neelam, Development Manager, Sir Ratan Tata Trust.

Mr Lakshman Sethuram, Senior Manager, Sir Dorabji Tata trust, showed keen interest in understanding the working of the NutriPlus Knowledge (NPK) program of ICRISAT.

To intensify their joint efforts for finding innovative solutions to fight poverty, malnutrition and food insecurity, ICRISAT and the visiting team, explored possible opportunities for product development and bioavailability research.

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Ensuring food biosafety and quality for nutritional security

Drs WD Dar and RS Paroda (right picture) addressing the participants of the training program.
Photos: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Further steps must be taken towards implementing appropriate biosafety and food quality standards by enhancing the technical skills of laboratory personnel from the developing countries of Asia and Africa. The ultimate goal is to ensure Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) by leveraging on the potential of the agribusiness and food processing sectors in Asia and Africa, ICRISAT Director General Dr William D Dar said.

Dr Dar was speaking at the training program on “Analytical Techniques in Nutrition, Food Safety and Biosafety” organized by ICRISAT in association with the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutes (APAARI). The Director General, in his address, highlighted that such capacity building activities are part of ICRISAT’s efforts to help develop mechanisms to link the smallholder farmers to markets, and make them resilient and sustainable in the long run.

During the two-week training program, the participants were provided hands-on training in understanding Genetically Engineered Food safety assessment; risk analysis for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – concepts, methods, and issues; use of GMOs under containment, confined, and limited field trials; post-release monitoring of GMOs; and allergenicity and toxicity assessment in GM crops.

The participants were also exposed to nutritional analysis, sessions on laboratory accreditation (ISO/IEC 17025:2005), rules and regulations in the food industry and their implications on international trade. Hands-on training on different analytical aspects of food testing was arranged at the National Collateral Management Services Ltd (NCML), Hyderabad.

Addressing the participants, Dr RS Paroda, Executive Secretary, APAARI, stressed on the importance of establishing accredited laboratories, especially in the public sector, and their need in the current global scenario. Dr JL Karihaloo, Coordinator, Biotechnology Program (APCoAB), APAARI also spoke on APAARI’s activities in biosafety, with special emphasis on the role of GMOs in addressing food and nutritional security.

Dr Kiran Sharma, Director - Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops (PTTC) said, “Food safety starts from post-harvest handling through storage, processing, distribution and consumption. Appropriate interventions across the food value chain can prevent contamination and outbreak of food-borne diseases. Nutritional security is not possible without  food safety and biosafety,” he emphasized.

Giving feedback on the training program, Dr Miladis Mabutol Afidchao from Philippines said: “The training program covered the most recent and important aspects of nutrition, food and biosafety. We  look forward to greater exposure to specific areas of analytical testing.”

Another participant, Mr Sydney Phiri of Zambia said:  “We learnt a lot on better scientific practices and new technologies for food and biosafety. The technical part of the process and analysis as well as the principles behind the analysis were explained to us well.”

The training program was supported by the Research Programs on Dryland Cereals and Grain Legumes and was coordinated by PTTC and the NutriPlus Knowledge  Program of the ICRISAT Agribusiness Innovation Platform. Eighteen participants from Nepal, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Thailand, Syria, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe  attended the training at the ICRISAT headquarters.

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Sharing lessons and solutions across countries and across value chains

Group work on the quality and policy improvements Photo: ICRISAT

In a first of its kind, a cross-country workshop was conducted across two crop value chains and across two countries – pigeonpea in Tanzania and groundnut in Uganda. To improve the value chains of both crops a set of recommendations emerged at the two-day workshop held in Tanzania. Some of the main recommendations were:

To agree on a set of simple standards that provide premiums to producers of quality products tailored to market needs. The agreed standards should be implemented in consultation with all market actors. A simple testing and payment structure should be aligned to this. 

All countries in East Africa needed to take a common stand on aflatoxin contamination and common approaches and policies should be adopted. A regional aflatoxin coordination and advocacy body may be called for.

More evidence is needed to support the inclusion of groundnut and pigeonpea in the strategies of target governments. The importance of including local government in the policy discourse should not be overlooked and neither should private sector actors be excluded, particularly influential stakeholders such as commodity traders and exporters.

This is the first time stakeholders of two value chains from two countries had come together to discuss constraints and opportunities, and to identify common themes. The identified common themes for both value chains were – farmers’ behavioural change, policy and quality standards as well as seed production and seed systems. The workshop aimed at facilitating documentation of common lessons and entry points for upgrading the value chains by bringing together stakeholders from two countries and two crops.

Focus on quality and policy interventions

During the workshop it emerged that the areas of strategic intervention are similar in both settings and the same methodology for the development of demonstrations and trainings can be used for both crops and in both countries, especially as both crops are legumes. Even in the area of improved seed availability and adoption by farmers, the approaches to improve the value chain performance can be used in both value chains and countries. Policy and quality related issues should be implemented at the level of the East African Community but the development should include governments at the local level. This includes a common stand in East Africa on aflatoxin to ensure the highest possible effect and some regional aflatoxin coordination and advocacy body.

One encouraging development that emerged from the review of pigeonpea was the realization that some NGOs are now participating in the value chain to support the development, and the emergence of local processing facilities for dal production.

The workshop was held recently in Arusha, Tanzania. Led by Kai Mausch from ICRISAT Nairobi, the workshop was facilitated by Joachim Webe (ValueLinks specialist) and expert inputs were provided by the team leaders of the individual value chains – Prof Ben Bennet (Natural Resource Institute, Greenwich) for pigeonpea Tanzania and Prof Johnny Mugisha (Makerere University, Kampala) for groundnut in Uganda. This workshop was organized under the EC-IFAD project ‘Enhancing Productivity of Groundnut and Pigeonpea Cropping Systems in Eastern Africa’ under the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

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ICRISAT@Global Events

Participants of the workshop. Photo: ICRISAT

Progress on pearl millet genome sequencing and chickpea re-sequencing at ICRISAT was presented at the 9th International Conference on Genomics (ICG-9) held in Shenzhen, China.

“We are very close to seeing the use of genome sequencing for pearl millet improvement,” said ICRISAT’s Dr Stefania Grando, Research Program Director – Dryland Cereals at the inaugural session of the 3rd International Pearl Millet Genome Sequencing Consortium (IPMGSC) workshop. Dr Xun Xu, Director- Research, BGI-Shenzhen, China highlighted the efforts and outcomes of the collaboration between BGI-Shenzhen and ICRISAT.

Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director – Grain Legumes on behalf of the Consortium, highlighted the progress in pearl millet genome sequencing, genome assembly, comparison of pearl millet genome with other sequenced cereal genomes, re-sequencing of 963 pearl millet accessions (including 345 pearl millet inbred genome-wide association panel, 38 parental lines of mapping populations and 580 B and R lines), diversity analysis and hap map. A presentation on re-sequencing of 129 chickpea varieties was made by Ms Anu Chitikineni in which she detailed trends and patterns in chickpea varieties released during the last four decades.

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Readers’ comments

The Open Data Kit if used at different locations might be of great help to collate huge sets of data. Good work. Keep it up. – Deepak R Jadhav

I compliment the services of ICRISAT for development of farm research. Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) is indeed a great strategy. Hope this would be a way forward to the Indian farming community. – P Gurumurthy, Sr Scientist & Head, DAATT Centre, Vizianagaram, AP

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