20 Nov 2015
No. 1702




Solving fodder issues in Mali

Farmers in Flola village in Mali learn to operate the mobile chaff cutter that can process a cartload of fodder in 30 minutes, a task that takes an entire day when done manually. Photo: S Jarial, ICRISAT

Mobile chaff cutters adapted to local conditions and manufactured locally are helping farmers tackle the problems of fodder storage and disposal in Mali. At a demonstration in Flola village of Bougouni, participants saw how the chaff cutters could chop one cartload of fodder in 30 minutes. It takes one person an entire day to chop the same amount of fodder.

Chaff cutters can chop crop stalks and grasses and turn it into fodder for cattle, sheep and goats. Minor repairs can be handled easily as they are locally made. This opens up avenues for efficient fodder trading, conservation, storage and convenient handling.

Crop-livestock farmers are forced to dispose/burn the fodder rather than store it, as fodder is a bulky item which makes its storage, conservation, handling and trading difficult and costly. Later in the year, the farmers face fodder shortages. “Previously, 60% of it went to waste as only leaves were eaten and not stalks,” said Mr Modibo Soumare, a participating farmer. Thus, there was a need to design and develop an economical and cost-effective machine to address the fodder needs of farmers.

Locally adapted mobile chopper in Koutiala, Mali.
photo: K Traore, ICRISAT

Twenty-nine farmers representing 14 farmers’ organizations (Benkadi, Waratie, Tilabo, Touba, Union Elevage, CPC1, Wara Tchi, Baroni, Bioni, Nteninko, Foukanidjinatchi, Baintchi, Sougroubatie and Warden) participated in the demonstrations. Mr Dramane Djire and Mr Issa Diabate (manufacturers in Koutiala and Bougouni districts of southern Mali) demonstrated the machines.

Using the Innovation Platform approach, three machines were introduced in Bougouni and Koutiala by local manufacturers, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER), Association Malienne d’Eveil au Développement Durable (AMEDD), and ICRISAT. The next steps are demonstrations to farmer groups in selected Africa RISING (Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation) project villages.

The mobile chaff cutters are being introduced in the Africa RISING program in Mali through the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) Feed the Future initiative. Africa RISING aims to provide pathways out of hunger and poverty for smallholder families through sustainably intensified farming systems that sufficiently improve food, nutrition, and income security, particularly for women and children, and conserve or enhance the natural resource base.


Project: Africa RISING

Investor: United States Agency for International Development

Partners: International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER), Association Malienne d’Eveil au Développement Durable (AMEDD), and ICRISAT

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Pest management strategies in the face of climate change

Dr Sharma lectures at the Banaras Hindu University .

The major fallouts of climate change, namely increased temperatures and ultraviolet radiation, and low relative humidity may render many established pest control strategies less effective. Therefore there is an urgent need to address these issues for sustainable crop production and food security,” said Dr HC Sharma, Principal Scientist, Entomology, ICRISAT, during a lecture recently.

The relationship between the input costs and the resulting benefits will change as a result of changes in insect-plant interactions and the effectiveness of crop protection technologies.

This will have a major bearing on economic thresholds, as greater variability in climate will result in variable impact of pest damage on crop production.

Global warming and climate change will trigger major changes in geographical distribution and population dynamics of insect pests, insect-host plant interactions, activity and abundance of natural enemies, and efficacy of crop protection technologies. Changes in geographical distribution and incidence will affect both crop production and food security. Insect pests presently confined to tropical and subtropical regions will move to temperate regions along with a shift in the areas of production of their host plants; while distribution and relative abundance of some insect species vulnerable to high temperatures in the temperate regions may decrease as a result of global warming. The relative efficacy of pest control measures such as host-plant resistance, natural enemies, bio-pesticides, and synthetic chemicals is likely to change as a result of global warming and climate change. There is an urgent need to assess the efficacy of various Integrated Pest Management technologies under diverse environmental conditions, and develop appropriate strategies to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

Excerpts from Dr Sharma’s lecture ‘Climate change effects on arthropods: Implications for crop protection and food security’ delivered at the Centenary Celebrations Series Lecture at the Benares Hindu University, Varanasi, India.


Major effects of climate change

  • Effects on arthropod diversity and extinction of species
  • Change in geographic distribution and population dynamics of insect pests
  • Altered profiles of pollinators/scavengers
    • Extinction, and or emergence of new pollinators/ scavengers
    • Changes in composition of pollinators
    • Asynchrony in pollinator activity and plant phenology
    • Landscape changes due to change in pollinators and scavengers
  • Effects on expression of resistance to insect pests
  • Reduced activity and abundance of natural enemies
  • Reduced efficacy of biopesticides and synthetic insecticides.

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Need to strengthen postrainy sorghum seed systems in India

Mr Srivastava and Mr Parthasarathi at the ICRISAT stall. Photo: ICRISAT

Dr Kumar dwelt on the achievements (see box) of the Innovative Seed Consortium and added that in order to sustain the seed consortium interventions varietal de-notification is the first step. He said a baseline survey reconfirmed that old varieties still have a major share in the seed market and continued seed production of old varieties by state corporations is counterproductive. He suggested de-notifying old and obsolete varieties irrespective of whether they are from public or private sector to allow seed multiplication of released improved cultivars.

The other points that were touched upon included:

  • Increasing Seed Replacement Rate;
  • Targeting technologies as per the biophysical conditions and farmers’/market preferences.
  • For example, in Maharashtra, Phule Vasudha has been identified as best suited for deep soils; P Suchithra for medium soils and P Anuradha for shallow soils;
  • Mechanization of crop/seed production using seed-cum-fertilizer drill, harvester and thresher;
  • Scientific storage of seed using triple-layered
    plastic bags;
  • Introduction of hybrids in seed chain;
  • Policy and funding support including provision of funds and support for seed multiplication and dissemination activities at least for three years; and extending the subsidies in seed production to new varieties of postrainy sorghum.


ICRISAT’s pigeonpea (ICPH 2740, ICPL 88039, Asha, Maruthi) and groundnut varieties (ICGV 000350, ICGV 000351, ICGV 91114) generated a lot of interest among farmer participants, who also enquired about its availability and point of purchase.


Results from early adoption studies in Maharashtra

Synergies from institutional and technological interventions through partnership enabled:

  • Increased productivity (28-35%)
  • Reduced yield gaps (25-35%)
  • Enhanced income (33-44%)

Each farmer trained under HOPE project reached out to 5-6 new farmers (secondary diffusion)

Line departments like Department of Agriculture/seed corporations play a crucial role in efficient delivery of inputs.

Mr Avinash K Srivastava, Special Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India and Mr C Parthasarathi, IAS, Chairman of the 8th National Seed Congress and Agriculture Production Commissioner and Secretary, Agriculture and Cooperative Department, Government of Telangana, visited the stall. Mr Srivastava appreciated the work of ICRISAT in pulses and said that there was a need for more research and introduction of high-yielding varieties in pigeonpea.

At the 8th National Seed Congress, ICRISAT was represented by Dr Peter Carberry, Deputy Director General-Research, who chaired two technical sessions; Dr Kumar and the Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) Program of ICRISAT Agribusiness and Innovation Platform who put up a stall showcasing ICRISAT success stories, technologies and improved cultivars of five mandate crops developed in partnership efforts led by ICRISAT.

The Congress, held at Hyderabad during 27-29 October, was jointly organized by the Government of Telangana and Government of India and had more than 500 participants from private sector, public sector, academia, policy makers, farmers and students.

The 8th National Seed Congress appealed to the Telangana State government to formulate policies for the promotion of seed industry, and suggested developing seed cooperative clusters and nodal seed villages. Awareness programs on good quality seed production and measures for encouraging seed were also proposed at the event.

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Bhoochetana: Achieving large-scale adoption in agriculture

Launching the second topic in the 100 Voices series. This series captures diverse views on how large-scale adoption of integrated soil management practices in agriculture was achieved in the Indian state of Karnataka through the Bhoochetana project.

“The Government of Karnataka’s Department of Agriculture has adopted the Bhoochetana project on a large scale, trying to raise awareness amongst farmers on managing their soils better, paying attention to soil health, so that overall yield enhancements benefit the farmer. In my view ownership within the government setup or within the institutional framework and the leadership they provide to this project would be critical in upscaling this to a wider section of the farming community.”

Mr Krishna Byre Gowda, Agriculture Minister, Government of Karnataka

“Micronutrient application helps increase soil fertility and increases the capacity to keep soil moisture locked. We are finding a difference in the flowers, fruits, buds and yield.”

Ms Mahadevi Morbad, Garag village, Dharwad District

“This program accomplished the replenishment of soils, revitalizing the soils, to enhance  productivity in rainfed areas of Karnataka. The concept of integrated nutrient management in rainfed agriculture was taken to a large number of farmers simultaneously and large scale program adoption was a key point in the success of this program.”

Ms Deepaja SM, Joint Director of Agriculture, Crop Development

“The major drivers of success in Bhoochetana include this scaling up initiative which has reached more than 4 million farmers over the last four or five years. It benefited the farmers by increasing their crop yields by 20-66% and helped the state of Karnataka achieve an annual growth rate of more than 5% in the state since 2009.”

Dr Suhas Wani, Director, ICRISAT Development Center

View the 100 Voices video interviews – http://www.icrisat.org/icrisat-100voices-bhoochetana.htm

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Research partners in China keen to take on other crops

Dr Varshney was felicitated by Dr Shubo and officials from SAAS and SPRI on winning the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award-2015, India’s highest science and technology award.

The Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS) seeks to strengthen its collaboration with ICRISAT and is looking forward to support on other crops as well as capacity building. SAAS currently receives support from ICRISAT in peanut genomics and breeding.

Dr Wan Shubo, President, SAAS, made this statement at a meeting to discuss the ongoing collaborative research between ICRISAT, SAAS and Shandong Peanut Research Institute (SPRI).

Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director and Director, Centre of Excellence in Genomics (CEG), ICRISAT, who is international advisor for SPRI, attended the meeting.

Currently, SPRI-SAAS and ICRISAT are in the process of establishing a joint biotech laboratory at SPRI, Qingdao. Dr Varshney together with Dr Yanlin Shu from SPRI, Xuan Xian Liang from Oilcrops Research Institute of Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Shuping Wang of Shofine Seeds Co. and other colleagues from China, USA and ICRISAT are engaged in sequencing the A genome of peanut.

“In the last two years we have witnessed tremendous progress in peanut research at SPRI and this is the result of collaboration with ICRISAT, said Dr Li Gui Zhu, Director General, SPRI.

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Ethiopian farmers try out new chickpea variety

Participants at the field day. photo: C Ojiewo, ICRISAT

At a field day organized at East Belessa, Gondar, to create awareness on Ejere, a chickpea variety that is new to the area, farmers expressed their interest to engage in seed production in the coming season after seeing its performance. The Habru variety, introduced earlier, had increased the productivity of chickpea in East Belessa District from an average of 0.6-0.7 t per ha (for the local variety) to 2.4 t per ha.

To meet next year’s demand for seed, farmers have been grouped into two clusters, one producing Ejere and the other producing the Habru variety. The Habru variety will be grown on 10 ha while Ejere on 12.5 ha. The seeds will be certified by the Amhara Seed Laboratory.

Three years ago, the Tropical Legumes II (TL II) project started work in the new intervention districts of East and West Belessa which have an average annual rainfall of about 650 mm. Farmers’ participatory varietal selection was conducted and the Habru variety that performed well in farmers’ fields was promoted. Under the TL III project, Gondar Agricultural Research Center has been implementing innovative ways of seed security in the area by clustering together farmers producing the same variety. After inspection and certification by the Amhara Seed Laboratory, the farmers are then linked to multipurpose cooperatives who buy and then sell the seed to other farmers at affordable prices.

At the field day, farmers requested the scientists to support them to solve tef and sorghum production challenges, especially with regard to Striga. Another major challenge for researchers and policy makers included creating linkages to reliable markets because as production increases, farmers will be challenged to profitably sell their produce.

The field day, held on 31 October, had 14 women and 83 men participants. They included farmers, development agents, woreda (district) officials, subject specialists, Zonal Agriculture and Bureau of Agriculture staff and representatives from research organizations.


Project: Tropical Legumes III

Investor: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

CGIAR Research Program: Grain Legumes

Partners: Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Amhara Regional Research Institute, Gondar Research Center and ICRISAT

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Dr CL Laxmipathi Gowda, former Deputy Director General - Research, ICRISAT, was elected Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) at the Annual Meeting held at Minneapolis, USA, on 16 November. ASA seeks to foster the transfer of knowledge and practices dedicated to advancing the field of agronomy in relation to soils, crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

In January this year, Dr Laxmipathi Gowda was elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) based in New Delhi. NAAS is a national level body in India devoted to agricultural sciences.

Dr Rajeev K Varshney, Research Program Director and Director, Centre of Excellence in Genomics was conferred the Fellowship of the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, on 17 November. This recognition is given to about 0.3% of the society’s active and emeritus members for their professional achievements and meritorious service.

ICRISAT congratulates Dr Gowda and Dr Varshney on their achievements.

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New publication

State of Farm Economy in Poor States in India: Needed push for transformation

Author: Ranjit Kumar

Published: 2015. LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, Germany. 141 pp.

Abstract: The monograph highlights the trends and pattern of agricultural growth in three backward states - Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, in India. The bottlenecks in physical infrastructure and service delivery are the major stumbling blocks in rapid transformation of farm economy in these states. In the recent past, economic growth has been faster compared to previous many years. However, the pace of growth is still slow to catch up with the other advanced states’ economic growth in rural areas. The net income earned from farming in these states is very disappointing, as the predominantly smallholder farmers in the region have poor access to 3 Is - Infrastructure, Institutional credit and Information. This forces the poor smallholders to face climate vagaries as well as market risks on their own, thus pushing them deeper into the poverty trap. Therefore, multi-pronged strategies focusing on skill development of farmers, improvement of rural infrastructure, and innovation in delivery of different services like credit, extension, etc, are urgently needed to uplift the economic status of the poor smallholders in the region. http://oar.icrisat.org/9134/

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Readers’ comments

Short duration varieties of pigeonpea have been available but lack of extension activities restrict the introduction. Therefore the efforts of ICRISAT in introducing short duration pigeonpea varieties (duration 120 days) in Rajasthan is worth appreciating. I am not sure it is a good idea to popularize the concept of ‘one village one variety’, in case of any disease/pest occurrence the poor farmers in the villagers will suffer. Therefore, in my view, more than one variety should be grown in one village. Even if the crop is grown for seed purpose, only 100 meters isolation distance is required. But for seed production additional requirements like field inspection for rouging, etc, is needed. 

– Dr Pramod K Agrawal
Managing Director, Prasha Agri Consultants Pvt Ltd

Pigeonpea with its superb qualities of drought tolerance,  high protein and being a multipurpose crop can bring about ‘grey revolution’ in rainfed semi-arid tropics, same as Mexican wheat did for irrigated areas if we can control Helicoverpa.

– DS Bisht

With water scarcity hitting farmers as well as urban population and successive droughts, such innovation of recycling and use of wastewater will boost agriculture as well as benefit the urban population. Just brilliant.

– Dr Deepak Jadhav

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