26 Dec 2014
No. 1655


Philippines Congress commends Dr William Dar

Dr Dar receiving the commendation from Deputy Speaker Carlos Padilla (2nd from left). With them are Nueva Vizcaya Governor Ruth Padilla (1st from left) and Ms Beatriz Dar. Photo: ICRISAT

The House of Representatives of the Philippines, led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., has commended former agriculture secretary William D Dar for his “exemplary public service to our country and in appreciation of his notable achievements as a recipient of the prestigious Agriculture Leadership Award during the 7th International Leadership Summit 2014 in New Delhi, India.”

Dr Dar received his commendation – contained in Resolution No. 164, adopted by the House of Representatives on 11 December – from Deputy Speaker Carlos M Padilla during a launch of a farmers’ livelihood program in Nueva Vizcaya, on 22 December, witnessed by Nueva Vizcaya Governor Ruth Padilla and Ms Beatriz Dar.

“On behalf of my family and ICRISAT, I humbly acknowledge the commendation of the members of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Belmonte and Deputy Speaker Padilla,” said Dr Dar, who concludes an unprecedented 15-year term on 31 December as Director General ICRISAT. 

“I share this honor with millions of small Filipino farmers, whom I will serve again starting next year,” he added. Early this month, Dr Dar also received from President Aquino a Pamana ng Pilipino Award, along with 32 other outstanding Filipinos overseas, for “his exemplary leadership in successfully extending the frontiers of science and technology to ensure food security for all, and for his staunch advocacy of the important role of professional horticulturists in this endeavor.”

Dr Dar said he will share his management and technical experience with Filipino farmers to transform barren rainfed and drylands into productive, sustainable and climate-smart farms through the Inang Lupa social movement.

“Inang Lupa aims to enhance the country’s food, nutrition and energy security, increase the productivity and incomes of small farmers through soil rejuvenation, sustainable and integrated natural resource management, use of improved cultivars and hybrids, and advocating for relevant policies and reforms in agriculture,” he said.

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42nd Annual Day
Celebrations at ICRISAT West and Central Africa

Participants at the opening ceremony of the celebrations at Mali. Photo: ICRISAT


Team spirit, mutual respect and constructive criticism at the work place are important to further the goals of the organization, said Dr George E Okwach, Project Manager - HOPE project for Sorghum and Millets (Dryland Cereals). He was speaking on behalf of Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Director ICRISAT - West and Central Africa, at ICRISAT-Mali’s annual day celebrations. He thanked the staff for the achievements in 2014 and exhorted them to further the goals of ICRISAT.

The presentation of the Loyalty Awards was a high point during the celebrations. On behalf of Dr Tabo, Dr Okwach presented awards to the following staff: Mr Amadou Belemgoabga Bila (5 years), Dr Eva Weltzien Rattunde (25 years), Mr Ibrahima Sissoko (25 years), Mr Boubacar Camara M (25 years), and Ms Diarra Abibata Ouattara (25 years).

Informal recognition awards were presented to those who excelled in the areas of learning and training, contribution to partnership, rational utilization of resources, advance planning, flexibility, commitment, and contribution to strengthening good relationships in the working environment.

Dr Robert Zougmore, Regional Program Leader - CCAFS (Dryland Cereals), who chaired the organizing committee for the celebrations, explained that the event had to be kept simple due to Ebola outbreak. In view of the situation, the games and activities that were planned outside of the Samanko research station were scaled down and held within the research station.

However, the active participation of all ICRISAT staff and staff from partner institutions like World Agroforestry Centre and Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center livened  up the celebrations.


The annual day celebrations at Sadoré saw the staff of ICRISAT-Niger bond over games and activities that were planned for the day. The celebration started with a walk followed by an aerobic session.

In his annual message, Dr Tabo highlighted the year’s achievements and important contributions of ICRISAT-Niger to the research in the region. He also introduced Dr Ba N Malick, the new ICRISAT Country Representative in Niger, to the staff and urged them to continue working together as a team. Dr Tabo exhorted the staff to adhere to the institute policies and procedures, use resources judiciously and respect each other.

Dr Tabo promised to continue strengthening infrastructure and human resources in ICRISAT centers in West and Central Africa and improve the working conditions of the staff.

This year, 14 staff members were given Loyalty Awards. Informal recognition awards were given to Mr Amadou Issa Kalilou, Supervisor, Training and Visitors Center, while Mr Saidou Abdousallam received the resource mobilization award on behalf of Dr Patrice Sawadogo, ICRAF-ICRISAT Agroforestry scientist.

Dr Tabo also presented a plaque from the Director General Dr William D Dar to Dr Mahamadou Gandah which was received by Mr Daouda Tondi on behalf of Dr Gandah’s family. One-minute silence was observed in memory of Dr Gandah (former ICRISAT Country Representative) and in remembrance of colleagues who died during the year.

As part of the annual day tradition, new staff members were invited to plant trees. Other activities involved staff members in team games such as volley ball, football, Pétanque, Scrabble, Ludo and card games.


As part of the annual day celebrations, staff at Nigeria enjoyed a day out with their families at Minjibir Resort. Students on industrial training, and representatives of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture  International Livestock Research Institute, and Institute for Agricultural Research - Kano, also participated.

The program started off with cake-cutting followed by a group photo, lunch, snacks and games. The event saw family members bond over various fun activities. The event also included presentation of souvenirs to all staff, family members and security personnel working in the campus.

The ICRISAT Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, reviewed the station’s achievements during 2014.

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Securing Africa’s entrepreneurial future through agribusiness

Ms Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union, with a bracelet made of banana fiber paper beads at the UniBRAIN stall. Photo: B Kumar, ICRISAT

Providing a platform for promoting agribusiness entrepreneurship will lead to sustainable agricultural development in Africa. The African Agribusiness Incubator Network (AAIN) aims to bring together agribusiness incubators, incubator leaders, managers, and partner with both state and non-state actors at continental levels. It aims to provide Africa a strong policy platform that can engage globally with other incubators and organizations for mutual benefit.

“AAIN aims to be a world-class networking and advocacy platform that encourages entrepreneurship, innovations in agriculture through the establishment of incubators, leading to sustainable agricultural development in Africa. It aims to make agribusinesses global, sustainable and flourish in Africa in the future,” said Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) at the recently held AAIN conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

AAIN was formed recently by the Universities, Business & Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN), interest group which aims to work together as a pan-African community of agribusiness incubators. ICRISAT is a key partner in the UniBRAIN project which supports the establishment of value chain incubators in African countries to commercialize agricultural technologies and produce graduates with entrepreneurial and business skills.

An AAIN workshop was held on the sidelines of FARA@15. FARA brought together key industry players including its program partners to review the progress made at country, sub-regional and continental levels and decide on milestones for Africa’s future over the next decade through science-led agricultural transformation.

Mr SM Karuppanchetty, COO, Agri-Business Incubator (ABI)-ICRISAT, shared his experiences and lessons on handholding the 22 Business Planning and Development (BPD) units of the Network of Indian Agribusiness Incubators (NIABI) in India as a possible approach in expanding the UniBRAIN and the AAIN network in Africa.

The annual conference of the AAIN was also held on the sidelines of FARA@15. Dr Kiran Sharma, CEO, Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP)-ICRISAT, presented a special address on behalf of Dr William Dar, Director General ICRISAT, on Inclusive Market Oriented Development (IMOD) through Agribusiness in Africa.

“Through the IMOD approach in Africa, ABI-ICRISAT, through UniBRAIN has handheld six Agribusiness Innovation Incubator Consortia (AIICs). These AIICs have supported 188 incubatees, commercialized 35 agro-technologies, created 831 jobs and benefitted 240 interns. Further, 138 universities have adopted the new agribusiness education curriculum framework of UniBRAIN and 24 new countries have expressed interest to start new AIICs.

We look forward to working closely with different partners in Africa to further strengthen the agri- and food-processing sector through strategic interventions to strengthen value chains, promote food safety and development of innovative products and technologies, facilitate entrepreneurship and ultimately help the smallholder farmers,” said Dr Sharma. Operational guidelines and membership facilitation into AAIN were among the key areas that were discussed. The conference resulted in the submission of 46 new membership applications on the same day.

The annual conference was preceded by the UniBRAIN steering committee meet where lessons were drawn from milestones reached and discussions were held to come up with solutions that set the strategy for delivering sustainable solutions for the progress of UniBRAIN incubators. The steering committee members also visited the Timbali Business Incubator, Nelspruit, South Africa on a study tour.

In February 2015 ABI proposes to organize a training program for the managerial staff of AIICs at the Timbali Business Incubator, Nelspruit, South Africa.

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Groundnut varieties to meet confectionery and food market demands

Panel discussion at the Industries Interface Meeting. Photo: ICRISAT

There is an urgent need to develop and deploy groundnut varieties to suit the needs of the confectionery and food industry. Developing varieties with market-preferred traits will enable enhanced livelihoods and profits to stakeholders of the groundnut value chain. 

The panel discussion at the Industries Interface Meeting of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) brought out important issues requiring research inputs. Besides aflatoxin contamination, other quality aspects such as uniform size of kernel, blanchability, long shelf-life, high oleate and absence of sprouting are considered important quality considerations by the industry.

Varietal mixtures is another major challenge faced by the industry. The panel noted that public-private partnerships and contract farming may be explored to achieve quality seed supply. The panel also observed that the outputs of the interface meeting will be useful for research prioritization and appreciated ICAR for its support to host Industry Days for commodities.

Dr P Janila, Senior Scientist - Groundnut Breeding, ICRISAT in her presentation on ‘Groundnut varieties for confectionery uses’, informed the group about new varieties from ICRISAT for food uses, confections and enhanced nutritional quality. The high oleate groundnut lines developed recently in partnership with Indian NARS were of interest to the industry.

Agricultural Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) of Government of India has taken measures to monitor aflatoxin contamination of consignments through its peanut.net (http://www.apeda.gov.in/apedawebsite/GroundNut/GroundNut.htm) and the Indian Oilseeds and Products Export Promotion Council (IOPEPC) is supporting quality monitoring.

India produced 9.47 million tons of groundnut pods in 2013, of which 0.5 million tons of kernels were exported. The aflatoxin and quality monitoring systems of APEDA and IOPEPC helped India promote export of groundnuts.

The aim of the meeting was to deliberate research and policy issues concerning groundnut markets and was a platform to bring together diverse actors that included groundnut exporters, processing and seed industries, export promotion councils, and groundnut researchers.

The meeting was hosted by Directorate of Groundnut Research at Junagadh, India.

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