18 Sep 2015
No. 1692




Indian youth from IT sector show interest in agribusiness

AIP staff interacting with visitors and potential clients at the ICRISAT stall at a mega startup event in Hyderabad, India. Photos: V Suneel, ICRISAT

Youth from the Information Technology (IT) industry are being attracted towards agribusiness and sought information on organic farming, precision farming and IT applications in agriculture.

They were keen on venturing into agribusinesses and adopting scientific methods and practices to make agriculture sustainable on farms in their villages. Other areas of interest for all participants included – protected cultivation, farm planning and technical support from ICRISAT, millet-based food processing technologies, Internet of Things – IT and internet-based applications in agriculture like mobile apps for agriculture information, weather forecast, market information, online trading, etc.

These youngsters visited the ICRISAT-Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) stall at August Fest 2015, a mega startup event, held in Hyderabad, India. At the fest they signed up for the ‘Crawl’ – a visit to the ICRISAT-Agri-Business Incubation (ABI)  program. Youngsters from the IT sector accounted for 75% of the 55 participants.

During their visit to ICRISAT, the participants were oriented on the business opportunities available in agriculture and were provided information on the start-ups they were interested in. The visiting group also interacted with three ICRISAT-ABI Program clients who shared their experiences. A competition was also organized for best ideas. Five ideas were presented and two were declared winners.

The Crawl was held at ICRISAT-India, on 30 August. As a follow-up, the ICRISAT-ABI program is in the process of engaging with four to five participants to incubate start-ups. Based on requests of the participants, two training programs, one on precision farming and the other on organic farming, are being planned.

Agribusiness boot camp

ICRISAT-AIP organized a one-day boot camp for its private sector partners on Business Development and Fund Raising.

The partners are into various businesses that include production and export of gherkins; manufacturing and marketing of  sorghum and millet-based snack foods; greenhouse farming and  goat farming; farm ventures; marketing of water softener for agricultural use; marketing and export of bio charcoal; vegetable packhouse business; Farmer Producer Organization (FPO) formation and seed production; and business development of Agromate, a telemetric electronic device, which can control a motor pump using a mobile phone. They are currently supported by ICRISAT-ABI’s start-up business incubation program with technical support from the NutriPlus Knowledge Program of AIP.

Besides mentor-led sessions on marketing, start-up funding and Telangana State Industrial Policy, the camp also provided a platform for sharing and exchange of ideas for business and technical support, mentorship, funding and marketing support.

The event was held on 13 August and was attended by 10 partners.

Ms Madhavi Pomar, Ms Dibyajyoti Borgohain and Ms Satram Jayanthi manufacture and market sorghum crispies, a snack food.
Photo: S Punna, ICRISAT
Mr A Solomon Reddy produces and exports gherkins. (R) Ms K Padmavati Annapurna markets Smart Brkfast - a millet-based snack food.

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New profiles added to Exploreit

With 35 new profiles added, EXPLOREit now features profiles and resources on 50 locations where ICRISAT has undertaken research work.

The new profiles cover 6 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa; 10 countries in West and Central Africa; 6 in Asia; and 13 states in India.

They provide a rich collection of the challenges and achievements, publications, research projects, stories, videos and data sources of these countries or states.

See http://exploreit.icrisat.org/ - ICRISAT’s scientific information platform which covers profiles of all the topics, crops, systems and geographic areas ICRISAT has worked in over the decades.

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Kothapally village, India
Changing the face of drinking water and wastewater solutions

Dr Bergvinson inaugurates the drinking water purification unit. photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

For decades, rural areas have benefited from development agencies putting in water pumps to tap bore water for drinking. This still has risks of contamination, so the ICRISAT Development Center is piloting a self-sustaining model for filtered drinking water.

This pilot project, at Kothapally village in India, involves a community-dug bore well with a pump to take the water to a reverse osmosis and sterilization machine. The village is expected to cover the costs of maintenance and hire of an operator by selling water to the villagers at ₹ 5 (7.5 US cents) for 20 liters. The water purification plant currently runs off the power grid but the future plan is to have it run on solar energy.

Earlier, women in the village walked 2-3 km to fetch drinking water from an agricultural bore well from January till July. Through the watershed work that the ICRISAT-led consortium undertook in Kothapally, the village was able to access drinking water within the village due to increased water availability all through the year. Although set up especially for drinking purposes, this was a component in the watershed development work as it needed to integrate with the water needs of the farm and ensure there was enough water recharge.

As the village has progressed with the many agricultural and related livelihood options, they can now afford to establish a new and deeper bore well along with more sophisticated water treatment, to produce safe drinking water.

Wastewater treatment plants

The village president at the inauguration.

Similarly, through the India-EU project on Water for Crops (W4C) supported by the Department of Biotechnology, IDC has established decentralized domestic wastewater treatment plants using constructed wetlands in this watershed. Through this facility, wastewater is treated and made safe for agricultural use.

This pilot could be critical for the future in providing clean drinking water in rural areas. Untreated bore water commonly has natural contaminants and sometimes agricultural chemicals seep into the water.

Nitrates are one example of agricultural runoffs that are particularly dangerous for unborn babies and children. Such a pilot initiative for integrated water management, addresses the multiple issues of health, drinking water as well as improving livelihoods.

The pilot was launched by Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, on 4 September, along with the gathering of the village community.

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Extension agent recognized for promoting dry season groundnut cultivation in Nigeria

Mr Muhammed Abdullahi Abubakar (L) presents a
motorcycle to Mr AbdulSalam (R).i. Photo: ICRISAT

To encourage farmers to explore production of groundnut seed in the dry season, Mr Mohammed Sadisu AbdulSalam organized farmers to produce seeds of Samnut 24 (an early-maturing rosette-resistant variety) in the inland valleys and irrigation scheme areas in Ningi Local Government Area (LGA).

Over 1,000 farmers in Ningi LGA in particular and Bauchi State in general, planted groundnut in the dry season (mid-January to May) of 2015 compared to 25 farmers in 2013. Also, the produce came in May when seed, food and feed price were at their peak.

For his achievements Mr AbdulSalam, Extension Agent of Ningi LGA, Bauchi State, was felicitated by the state governor, His Excellency Mr Muhammed Abdullahi Abubakar, in a ceremony to flag off the 2015 planting season. He was presented a motorcycle and certificate.

Previous attempts to cultivate groundnut failed because of virus and the fact that the groundnut matured in the rainy season. The early-maturing Samnut 24 came to the rescue of the farmers this year. When ICRISAT started implementation of the Nigeria Groundnut Value Chain, the first major challenge was providing seeds of improved varieties. A decision was taken to explore production of groundnut seed by outgrowers in the dry season.

The impact was noticed by Dr Aliyu Gital, Program Manager of Bauchi State Agricultural Development Project, who nominated Mr AbdulSalam (seconded to ICRISAT since 2012) for the award because of the profit made by farmers from all classes, including civil servants, traditional rulers and even politicians.

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New publications

Adoptability of sustainable intensification technologies in dryland smallholder farming systems of West Africa

Authors: Woittiez LS, Descheemaeker, K and Giller KE

Published: 2015. Research Report No. 64. ICRISAT, Patancheru, Telangana, India.

Abstract: Agricultural intensification in Africa is a necessary development, if rural poverty is to be reduced and sufficient food is to be produced for the increasing and urbanizing populations. For agriculture to be sustainable in the long run, the intensification process should not greatly reduce environmental quality or degrade natural vegetation; hence the term ‘sustainable agricultural intensification’ has been defined as a change in the production system towards increased input use leading to increased productivity, according to agroecological principles and without adverse environmental impacts or the cultivation of new land. http://oar.icrisat.org/8992/


Grain Legumes Production, Consumption and Trade Trends in Developing Countries

Authors: Nedumaran S, Abinaya P, Jyosthnaa P, Shraavya B, Rao P and Bantilan C

Published: 2015. Working Paper Series No. 60. ICRISAT, Patancheru, Telangana, India.

Abstract: Grain legumes play an important nutritional role in the diet of millions of people in the developing countries and are thus sometimes referred to as the poor person’s meat. Since legumes are vital sources of protein, calcium, iron, phosphorus and other minerals, they form a significant part of the diet of vegetarians since the other food items they consume don’t contain much protein (Latham 1997).

Legumes are multipurpose crops and are consumed either directly as food or in various processed forms or as feed in many farming systems (Gowda et al. 1997). The legume crops are often grown as rotation crops with cereals because of their role in nitrogen fixation. However, over the past few decades, the yields and production of legume crops have been stagnant in the developing countries. Agricultural research and development efforts in many of these countries have concentrated on increasing cereal yields and production and lowering crop losses in order to achieve food security. Due to the diverse roles played by grain legume crops in farming systems and nutritional security, the research on legume crops will have significant impacts on nutritional security and soil fertility, especially in the developing countries. http://oar.icrisat.org/8991/

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Readers’ Comments

Thanks for the update of ICRISAT research activities and new initiatives. Working with the Andhra Pradesh Government in all the districts of the state will bring about a technology revolution. Its impact will be visible and will make agriculture a profitable business particularly for young people interested in modern methods of farming.

Dr Sain Dass, Former Director,
Indian Institute of Maize Research
(formerly Directorate of Maize Research)

It is astonishing to note that about 33% of the rural population is consuming outside packaged food or food prepared by street vendors. This change in food habits might result in health problems. This study would help technocrats and bureaucrats to focus on popularizing millets which are available plenty in rural India and can prevent health maladies of India’s rural populace.

Dr P Gurumurthy, Associate Professor and Head,
Division of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry,
Agricultural College, Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh

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