06 Nov 2015
No. 1700




Next-gen land use information platform in Mali

Mr Bougouna Sogoba, Director AMEDD (L) discusses the rationale behind land resource management conventions with Mr Sylla (extreme R). Photo: Z. Diakité, ICRISAT

Authorities in Mali are looking forward to deploying next-generation land tenure information platform mLocGovTM for developing rural cadastres (a register showing details of ownership, boundaries and value of land in a district).

This platform provides by STARS project partner Manobi SA, is scaled up to pair a database of 63,148 parcels of land for the entire Molobala district with the biometric population census database available with each constituent commune. Next on the agenda is Kano State’s Bebeji Local Government Area in Nigeria with more than 260,000 parcels of land.

The new technology builds upon local mayors’ demonstrated interest in securing production plots for all farmers under their constituencies. Agile, computerized solutions constitute the last missing link towards effective transfer of competencies, giving them a significant head start in preventing future peri-urban conflicts and in implementing national land tenure management plans.

The lack of land security constitutes a key deterrent to sustainable investment in land resources by smallholders, communities and the local private sector. It disempowers them in both their internal operations and their transactions with urban and international investors, many of which are actually conducted without their knowledge. This is particularly prevalent in regions like Koutiala district, Sikasso region, Mali.

Transparent rural land tenure information services supported by high-resolution satellite imagery will benefit local governments and farmers. Smallholder farmers can capitalize on increased tenure security to invest in more sustainable land management practices, eventually leading to higher, more sustainable agricultural productivity while local governments can raise more revenues through taxation.

Over the past one and half years local authorities were able, in conjunction with the STARS project, to set a successful example of land conflict resolution through the establishment of land resource management conventions. These by-laws effectively eliminated the need for financially and socially straining court hearings to settle land conflicts between farmers. Developed with STARS partner AMEDD (Association Malienne d’Eveil au Développement Durable, Koutiala, Mali), they are the social pre-requisites to the establishment of imagery-based land tenure information services, themselves precursors of emergent and equitable land markets in rural Africa.

This initiative was made possible with the involvement of Prof Kalifa Goita, a Koutiala native who also heads the Center for Remote Sensing Research and Applications at Université de Sherbrooke (Canada).

The initiatives were showcased on 6 October for a visiting Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation delegation at a community meeting hosted by local authorities including two mayors and a half-dozen town counselors in Sukumba, Koutiala district, one of the STARS project sites in Mali.

The visit was chaired by Mr Cheick Sylla, the Governor of the Molobala arrondissement in the presence of elected representatives from the Koningue and Nafanga communes.

For more information: www.stars-project.org


STARS is a research project exploring ways to use remote sensing technology to improve agricultural practices in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The consortium, headed by University of Twente, includes an international group of research institutes: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia; University of Maryland, USA, in Tanzania and Uganda; International Maize and Wheat Improvement center (CIMMYT) in Bangladesh and Mexico and ICRISAT in Mali and Nigeria.

Investor: University of Twente (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded)

CGIAR Research Program: Dryland Systems

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Making wastewater safe for agricultural use through constructed wetlands


Addressing the issue of using untreated domestic and industrial wastewater for agriculture, a team under the Water4Crops project has developed and piloted ‘constructed wetlands’ as a decentralized business model to treat wastewater and render it safe for agricultural use.

Use of untreated water results in degraded soils due to accumulation of salts and heavy metals thus making them unfit for agriculture and also posing a serious health hazard to consumers.

Currently in India, industrial wastewater from SAB Miller India (brewery wastewater), Ugar Sugar Mills, KCP Sugar Mills and the fruit processing plant of Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd (JISL) are being treated and made safe for agricultural use. In addition to wetlands treatment, the project is also undertaking high transpiration plan systems (HTPS) for disposing treated industrial wastewater and at the same time using it for biomass production. A number of plant species like cattail, Napier grass, pearl millet, goatweed, water hyacinth and water lily are being evaluated for their role in treating domestic wastewater.

To promote the safe reuse of wastewater (domestic as well as industrial) in agriculture, an ICRISAT-led consortium of 11 partners in India and a mirror image project in Europe with 22 partners are implementing the project - Integrating bio-treated wastewater reuse with enhanced water use efficiency to support the green economy in EU and India (Water4Crops program).

At a recent project review and planning meet all components of the project were discussed. During the discussion, the need to enhance collaboration between EU and India in the area of constructed wetlands was highlighted. Dr Antonio Lopez, Coordinator, EU and Dr Suhas P Wani, Coordinator, India, urged the European and Indian partners to identify areas of collaboration for preparing joint papers emerging from the mirror image project. The Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, is also looking for exchange of technologies from the European side in the area of wastewater treatment.

The meeting, co-chaired by Dr Lopez and Dr Wani, was held at Montpellier, France, during the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage Conference held on 15-16 October. The meeting was attended by partners from Europe and six partners from India – ICRISAT, SAB Miller India Ltd, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) Nagpur, University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) Dharwad, UAS Bengaluru and MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF).

Decentralized wastewater treatment as a business model is being piloted by an ICRISAT-led consortium in watershed projects implemented in 13 model watersheds supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Rural Development (Department of Land Resources). In addition, there are eight pilot sites under Bhoosamruddhi project in Karnataka and seven watersheds under corporate social responsibility initiatives.

The ICRISAT team comprised Dr SP Wani, Dr Aviraj Datta and Dr Amey Tilak.


Investor: Department of Biotechnology, Government of India

CGIAR Research Program: Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE)

Partners: The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), UAS Dharwad, UAS Bengaluru, MSSRF, NEERI, Euro India Research Centre (EIRC), JISL, SABMiller, Ugar Sugar, PRAJ Matrix, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and ION Exchange from India and 22 partners from EU.

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Kenyan farmers urged to adopt climate-smart food production strategies

School children eager to taste snacks made from finger millet and sorghum.

Various crop production technologies to meet climate change challenges were demonstrated to 200 farmers and several to agricultural officers at a recently held fair to celebrate World Food Day.

A message from Dr José Graziano da Silva, Director General FAO, urged farmers to change their food production strategies in view of extreme weather events due to changing climate. The message was read out by Ms Philigona A Ooko, Minister for Agriculture, Siaya County Government, Kenya. The view was reiterated by Mr Joseph Agoko, Chairperson, Siaya County Committee on Agriculture, who emphasized on the importance of including climate-smart sorghum, finger millet and groundnut in local farming systems to reduce risk of crop failure.

The fair provided a platform for the demonstration of different crop production technologies and also had on display smart food products and different agricultural machines.

Crop production technologies including row planting, plant spacing, fertilizer microdosing and cereal/legumes intercropping methods were demonstrated for sorghum, finger millet and groundnuts. Value-added smart food products such as sorghum and finger millet buns, chapatis, crackies and porridge were made on site for training local women. Siaya Groundnut Cooperative Society, supported by Kenya Agricultural Productivity and Agri-Business Project displayed groundnut products such as peanut butter, flour and other cooked products.

Ms Philigona is briefed on how a locally-made groundnut sheller works. Photos: D Otwani, ICRISAT

The Siaya Agricultural Technology Development Center displayed different agricultural machines such as a peanut sheller, peanut butter machine, sorghum thresher and animal feed mill, which are all locally fabricated and custom-made to fit varying farmer needs.

Eighty of the 200 farmers were women and they were joined by Ms Sarah Mango, Sub-County Agricultural Officer and 12 Ward agricultural officers from Gem Sub-County and Daniel Otwani of ICRISAT-Kalro field station Alupe, Busia.

The fair held on 16 October at Lihanda, East Gem Ward of Gem Sub-County, Siaya County was organized by USAID’s Feed the Future (FTF) project on Dryland Crops in collaboration with Millennium Village Project (MVP). It was hosted by a FTF/MVP project farmer, Jemima Achieng  Munani. The FTF project aims at enhancing food, nutrition and income security through improved seed access of dryland crops, training in good agricultural practices (GAPs) and improved postharvest handling techniques, diversification of household level utilization of dryland crops, improved value addition and linkage to product and input markets in 12 sub-counties in western, Rift Valley and eastern regions of Kenya.

The FTF – Dryland Crops project will hold several field days on improved agronomy and diversified household level uses of sorghum, finger millet and groundnuts in all the six wards of Gem Sub-County in December-January, when the crops reach maturity.


Project: Feed The Future (FTF) - Dryland Crops project

Investor: United States Agency for International Development (USAID) 

Partners: Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and Sub-County Agricultural Offices (SCAOs)

CGIAR Research Programs: Dryland Cereals and Grain Legumes

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Spreading awareness on aflatoxin management and improved groundnut production technologies in WCA

Media interacting with CEO of Heritage Seeds in Nantong village, Ghana.

Strategies to reach close to 250,000 smallholder farmers’ households in Nigeria, 350,000 in Mali and 200,000 in Ghana from 2015 to 2018 were discussed with media personnel at a series of training sessions and field visits in their respective countries. The aim was to create awareness and promote activities on improved groundnut production technologies and aflatoxin management in all three countries to support the implementation of the USAID-funded Groundnut Upscaling Project. The meetings were attended by around 70 media personnel including community radio, print media, TV and drama producers. Officials of various ministries, subject experts, agronomists and extension agents also participated. The trainings comprised a mix of methodologies like presentations, group discussions, visits to labs, fields and meetings with farmers.


Media during field visit to meet and interact with farmers,
Wakoro village, Mali. Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT

Dr Daniel Kelema, General Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, highlighted the importance of groundnut in Mali’s agricultural production systems and emphasized on the need to inform the public about aflatoxin, which has a major impact on food security, health and trade.

Mr Souleymane, representing the Minister of Numeric Economy, Information and Communication, said, “To achieve our goal of reducing crop contamination with aflatoxin, we need a synergy of concerted actions with media people and communicators to help producers access good information on improved groundnut production technologies, methods and practices for the wellbeing of the Malian consumer.”

The participants visited the ICRISAT pathology lab, attended sessions on media planning and communication strategies and met with a seed producer and women’s groups in Marako village who are using improved groundnut growing technologies and aflatoxin management practices.

The training was attended by 19 media professionals in addition to representatives of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene.


“This is the first time in Nigeria that media professionals have sat together with agricultural technicians for a one-to-one exchange,” said Mr Muhammad Ahmad Adamu of the Green Sahel, an NGO, who attended the training at Kano. The event brought together 35 participants.

Prof Olufunmilola Alabi explains importance of preventing
aflatoxin contamination to media, Kano, Nigeria.
Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT

In his inaugural speech Mr Yaram D Ndirpaya of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), emphasized the importance of value additions in the new groundnut value chain in Nigeria. Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, ICRISAT Country Representative, Nigeria, stated that ICRISAT is partnering with a number of organizations in Nigeria to restore the groundnut pyramids of Kano but this time, the pyramids should be constructed by developing the capacities of actors of the groundnut value chain.

This will help increase incomes and help farm families incorporate groundnut and groundnut-based products into their daily meals.

Participants attended presentations, worked in groups to design media products and develop key messages for targeted actors of the groundnut value chain and visited the Wasai community of the Minjibir Local Government Area of Kano State.


The training was attended by 15 media professionals who discussed communication principles, strategies for technology dissemination in agriculture and media planning activities in working groups. They also travelled to Nantong village to visit a farmer’s field where the groundnut variety Obolo is being grown under the supervision of Heritage Seeds (implementing partner of the groundnut upscaling project in Ghana).

Key people and organizations involved

Ms Fatou Diawara from Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments (ANSSA), Mali; Professor Olufunmilola Alabi, Department of Crop Protection, Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Nigeria; Dr William Boakye-Acheampong, Northern Region Director, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana; Dr Mumuni Abdulai, Deputy Director, Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), Ghana; Dr Richard Oteng-Frimpong, Groundnut breeder, SARI; Dr Saaka Buah, SARI; Dr Mumuni Abdulai, Pathologist, SARI and Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Peanut Productivity and Mycotoxin Control (PMIL); Ms Cynthia Nagale, Women in Agriculture Development (WIAD), a unit under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana; Dr Paul Tanzubil, Country Project Manager, Ghana; Ms Grace Sebugah, USAID Agriculture Specialist based in Tamale, Ghana; and resource persons from the Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA), the Federal University of Agriculture, Makaurdi (FUAM), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA); the Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER) and ICRISAT.


Project: Increasing Groundnut Productivity of Smallholder Farmers in Ghana, Mali and Nigeria

Investor: USAID as part of the Feed the Future (FtF) initiative

CGIAR Research Program: Grain Legumes

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Nurturing next-generation scientists


ICRISAT’s commitment to knowledge sharing and its success in designing and offering training courses for making effective use of modern technologies in breeding was highlighted at a workshop held at Osmania University, Hyderabad, India.

The course included lectures and demonstrations on Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) data and Omics approaches for crop improvement, Whole Genome Re-Sequencing, Genotyping-By-Sequencing, Transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) and data analysis. Representative of partner organisations Illumina/Premas Life Sciences and Imperial Life Sciences conducted lectures and demonstrations on NGS technologies.

Dr Peter Carberry, Deputy Director General-Research, ICRISAT, emphasized on the importance of workshops for nurturing the next generation of scientists. To enhance collaborative research and utilize the knowledge gained, he offered the expertise and state-of-art genomics facilities at ICRISAT to advance plant biology research.

Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director- Grain Legumes and Director, Centre of Excellence in Genomics (CEG), emphasized on the need to deploy modern genomics tools for crop improvement to ensure increase in productivity to face the future global food crisis arising due to increasing population and rapid climate change.

The Alumni Association of Genetics, Osmania University, Hyderabad, in collaboration with ICRISAT organized the five-day workshop on ‘Functional Genomics: Hands on Training in RT PCR, Microarray, NGS and Data Analysis’ from 26-30 October at Osmania University and ICRISAT headquarters. A total of 25 participants attended including professors and students with diverse backgrounds ranging from plant physiology and breeding to human diagnostics.

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Strengthening breeding data management for ICRISAT and partners


To strengthen experimental planning, data management and data analysis skills of ICRISAT cereals and legume breeders, technical staff, research scholars and partners in ESA (Nairobi, Kenya and Debre-Zeit, Ethiopia) a series of training-cum-adoption workshops on the Breeding Management System (BMS) of Integrated Breeding Platform (IBP) was organized.

BMS is a data management tool to help breeders manage their day-to-day activities through all phases of breeding programs.

It is useful for diverse breeding applications including: project planning, germplasm management, germplasm evaluation, molecular analysis, data analysis, and breeding decision support.

Participants were exposed to experimental designs, generation of field maps, selection of parents for crossing, barcode labels, nurseries advancement, templates for handheld devices, streamlining pedigree management, pedigree curation and standardization. Cloud-based solutions were explored and participants appreciated the advantage of having a central database backup and recovery system in the cloud. The use of hand-held devices for data collection from field experiments was very enthusiastically received.

At Nairobi, 10 participants working on sorghum, millet and pigeonpea attended the workshop while at Debre-Zeit a total of 25 participants from different NARS organizations representing chickpea, sorghum, millet and tef breeding attended the workshop, conducted by  a team from ICRISAT led by Dr Abhishek Rathore together with Dr Sarita Pandey, Dr Vikas Singh and Mr Praveen Reddy.

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Dr Rajeev Varshney felicitated by Aligarh Muslim University

Dr Varshney being felicitated by Vice Chancellor Lt General (Retd) Zameer Uddin Shah (right) and Pro Vice Chancellor Brigadier (Retd) Syed Ahmad Ali (left). Photo: AMU

Dr Rajeev Varshney was felicitated by his Alma Mater – Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) for being awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award – 2015. Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah (retd), Vice Chancellor, AMU, said Dr Varshney is the third alumni of AMU who was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award. Dr Varshney completed his BSc in 1993 and MSc in 1995 from AMU. Addressing the gathering Dr Varshney highlighted the importance of working in the area of agriculture. He said that there is a need for genomics and modern breeding for crop improvement. “We need digital revolution in various areas of agriculture and we need to understand that the major bulk of our population still lives on agriculture,” said Dr Varshney.    

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This webinar the first in our exciting new series will appeal to policy makers, academics, those working in the development community and anyone with an interest in adaptation and wellbeing in semi-arid regions.

Register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4217424608369414146

New publications

Poverty reduction approach in South Asia: Rejuvenating centuries old water bodies to improve rural livelihoods, A case of Karnataka state, India

Authors: Raju KV, Gaur A and Wani SP

Abstract: South Asian countries are endowed with large numbers of ancient village tanks, which serve as huge reservoirs. The inherent network of natural water streams and canals in the command areas connect these tanks to supply water to agricultural fields. People in the rural areas use these tanks to harvest and store monsoon rainwater for multiple uses which include agriculture, livestock, fishing, domestic use and recharge of domestic drinking wells.

Over the last few decades, several Indian states have made enormous efforts to rejuvenate these tanks by involving local user groups. This paper, reviews the traditional water bodies in South Asia, describes tanks and their dimensions in the Indian context and analyzes the community based approach adopted in the State of Karnataka in South India. It reviews the status, main components of design, execution, key achievements, impacts, benefits and critical lessons learnt. http://oar.icrisat.org/9105/

Acidification in Rhizospheric Soil of Field-Grown Sorghum Decreases Nitrification Activity

Authors: Watanabe T, Satish PV, Sahrawat KL, Wani SP and Osman Ito

Published: 2015. Japan Agricultural Research Quarterly: JARQ 49(3), 245-253

Abstract: To date, most studies on biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) in sorghum have been performed with plants grown in hydroponic systems. However, the current study was conducted to determine whether or not sorghum inhibits nitrification in fields of Alfisols, and clarify the mechanism that results in inhibition of soil nitrification in the field. Nitrification activity in the rhizosphere of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) i.e. soil attached to its roots within a few millimeters was measured and compared with those in adjacent bulk soil. Sweet sorghum (6 varieties) and grain sorghum (3 varieties) were cultivated in 4 Alfisol fields in a semi-arid tropical region of India during the 2010 or 2011 rainy seasons. Soil samples were collected three times during the growing season. Nitrification activity in the rhizospheric soil was significantly lower than that in the bulk soil during 8 out of 12 samplings while the pH (H2O, 1:2) of the rhizospheric soil was significantly lower than that of the bulk soil in 10 out of 12 samplings. Acidification of the soil by sulfuric acid decreased the nitrification activity to a comparable extent, as emerged in the rhizospheric soils. Our results indicate that acidification of soil around roots would be one of the main causes of nitrification inhibition by sorghum in the field. http://oar.icrisat.org/9108/

Shallow Wells: An untapped resource to improve agricultural productivity in Southern Mali

Authors: Zemadim B, Guedessou C and Tabo R

Published: 2015. Africa Rising, 39. pp. 1-2

Abstract: A major constraint to agricultural productivity is the amount of rainfall and its intra and inter-annual variability. The rainy season is short and varies in length, with the number of rainy days varying from year to year. High evaporation losses (up to 50% of annual rainfall) results in soil water shortage during the growing season, when rains are erratic. Hence water scarcity is rampant heightening the risk of agricultural productivity. Farmers have little control over the environment and they mostly can neither irrigate nor drain excess water. As an effort to improve agricultural productivity through water availability in different seasons, a study was conducted to understand the recharging capacity of shallow wells in different seasons in southern Mali.  http://oar.icrisat.org/9111/

Quantification of Risk Associated with Technology Adoption in Dryland Systems of South Asia – A Household Level Analysis in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan States of India

Authors: Palanisami K, Haileslassie A, Kakumanu Krishna Reddy, Ranganathan CR, Wani SP, Craufurd P and Kumar Shalander

Abstract: Climate change increasingly becomes a challenge for smallholder farmers. Strategies that will help farmers to cope with vulnerability are important. These strategies comprise a variety of interventions ranging from technical, institutional to policy. This study is an in-depth analysis of household level climate change shocks, farmers’ perception of vulnerability, adaptation strategies they followed and risk in technology adoption. A baseline survey was conducted in the dryland system action sites in three states of India: Andhra Pradesh (Kurnool and Anantapur districts); Karnataka (Bijapur district) and Rajasthan (Jaisalmer, Barmer and Jodhpur districts) in 2012-13 for 2011-12 production season. A total of 1,019 farmers were surveyed. http://oar.icrisat.org/8979/

Mapping of household vulnerability and identification of adaptation strategies in dryland systems of South Asia

Authors: Palanisami K, Kakumanu KR, Ranganathan CR, Haileslassie A and Wani SP

Abstract: The overall objectives of the present study are to map the vulnerability at household level and examine the level of coping strategies adopted by them and to investigate the impact of different adaptation strategies in reducing the level of vulnerability in the South Asian Dryland Systems action sites. The study covers six districts in three states of India: Andhra Pradesh (Kurnool and Anantapur districts); Karnataka (Bijapur district) and Rajasthan (Jaisalmer, Barmer and Jodhpur districts). The data was collected from farmers in 15 villages located in the action districts. A total of 1,019 farmers were randomly selected, and the survey was executed during 2012-13 and the data collected was related to the production year of 2011-12. http://oar.icrisat.org/9120/

Climate Change, Gender and Adaptation Strategies in Dryland Systems of South Asia – A Household Level Analysis in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan States of India

Authors: Palanisami K, Haileslassie A, Kakumanu Krishna Reddy, Ranganathan CR, Wani SP, Craufurd P and Kumar Shalander

Abstract: The main objective of the study was to investigate the linkages between gender and climate change. More specifically the study focused on gender-wise perceptions of climate change, understanding coping strategies followed by gender, participation of gender in decision-making and vulnerability of male and female households to poverty. The analysis was carried out during 2012-13 based on a survey of 1,019 randomly sampled households in six districts of Andhra Pradesh (Anantapur and Kurnool), Karnataka (Bijapur), and western Rajasthan (Jaisalmer, Barmer and Jodhpur) as action sites. http://oar.icrisat.org/8978/

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