11 Dec 2015
No. 1705




Strengthening seed supply chains in Kenya

Farmers receive pigeonpea seed packs in Makueni county, Kenya. Photo: ICRISAT

Underdeveloped seed systems and poor accessibility to seeds has been blamed for the low adoption of improved varieties released over the years in eastern Africa. To counter this, close to 3,500 Kenyan farmers were provided seeds of improved varieties of sorghum, finger millet, pearl millet, groundnut and pigeonpea.

To increase production of high quality seed and ensure that farmers, especially women and youth, have access to seed of improved varieties, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Kenya, in partnership with ICRISAT is working in seven counties in the country – Busia, Keiyo Marakwet, Siaya, Kitui, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi and Mbeere. “Our efforts are to empower farmers to engage more profitably in production and the entire value chains of sorghum, millets and groundnut and pigeonpea,” said Mr Patrick Audi, Project Coordinator of the Accelerated Value Chain Development (AVCD) Program.

Since the start of the project in October 2015, farmers in the target counties have been introduced to improved varieties and agronomic practices using lead/model farms as field schools for training farmers.  “High quality seed alone cannot improve productivity,” Mr Audi explained.

“To realize the yield potential for high quality seed, it has to be accompanied with better crop management practices such as good seedbed preparation, timely planting, spacing, fertilizer application, weed control, integrated pest and disease management and improved postharvest handling techniques,” he adds.  Post-planting monitoring efforts are ongoing to ensure that good agricultural practices are followed by farmers.

The AVCD is a three year project being implemented by International Potato Center (CIP), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and ICRISAT with the objective to enhance resilience, agricultural productivity, food and nutrition security and overall economic welfare of actors along the value chains of livestock, dairy, root crops and drought tolerant crops in Kenya. ICRISAT’s approach is to stimulate utilization of nutrient dense cereals and legumes and support farmers to produce enough to meet the increasing demand.


Project: Feed the Future Kenya Accelerated Value Chain Development Program

Investor: Feed the Future

CGIAR Research Program: Dryland Cereals and Grain Legumes

Partners: International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Potato Center (CIP), Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Egerton University, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries

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Showcasing innovations for the Kofa community in Nigeria

Demonstration of the animal-drawn single row groundnut harvester. Photo: A Whitbread, ICRISAT

Demonstrations of an animal-drawn single row groundnut harvester and a drone for data collection were the highlights at a field day in Nigeria.

The drone used in the Kofa STARS (Spurring a Transformation for Agriculture through Remote Sensing) project showed how the data obtained is used to generate advisory services for farmers on crop health management (fertilizers, disease and insect pests, drought, erosion, etc).  

Various other farm and post-harvest implements such as multipurpose seed planters, multipurpose threshers (sorghum, millet, maize), hammer mills (for grains), groundnut grinder/oil extraction machines and sorghum/millet stalk choppers were also demonstrated.

In his address, Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, ICRISAT Nigeria Country Representative, said that the machines are meant to assist farmers, women groups and youth not just in their personal farming ventures, but also to be used as a source of income by hiring them out. He encouraged the youth to consider a career in agriculture which included providing services for different agricultural operations.

The animal-drawn groundnut harvester was designed by Mr Aliyu Adinoyi, Senior Research Technician, ICRISAT.

The field day was attended by over 168 participants including 38 women farmers; scientists from Zonal Advanced Space Technology Application Laboratory (ZASTAL) led by the Officer in Charge, Dr Ibrahim Tudunwada; partners from Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA) led by Dr Sani Momale, representative of Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority; representatives of College of Agriculture, Danbatta; and traditional leaders from Kofa and other communities.

The event, held on 19 November, was organized by CDA, ZASTAL and ICRISAT. Dr Anthony Whitbread, Director, Research Program - Resilient Dryland Systems, who was on an official visit to Nigeria was the special guest.

Dr Whitbread also delivered a talk ‘Strategic and tactical climate risk management in rainfed semi-arid cereal systems: Examples from Australia and India’ at the Student Studio, Faculty of Agriculture Bayero University Kano, Nigeria. It was attended by over 100 participants including scientists, students and staff of CDA and faculty of Agriculture, Bayero University Kano, Nigeria.


Project: Spurring a Transformation for Agriculture through Remote Sensing (STARS project)

Investor: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

CGIAR Research Program: Resilient Dryland Systems

Partners: Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA), Zonal Advanced Space Technology Application Laboratory (ZASTAL) and ICRISAT

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Field Notes
It’s the ‘time away from home’ that women consider in Ethiopia

Ethiopian women at a training program. Photo: M Beyene, EIAR - Debre-Zeit

A qualitative study launched by ICRISAT’s Gender Research team to unravel the reasons behind the low turnout of women in agricultural training events in Ethiopia’s Shewa region brought to light important gender issues.

Chickpea farming is common in this region besides wheat, teff, barley and faba beans. In the Tropical Legumes III (TLIII) project, the team working on chickpea has a policy whereby every male farmer attending any training event has to be accompanied by his wife. Despite this, a training group of about 70 participants would have only 5-6 women. Women work in the chickpea fields but are not allowed to attend trainings.

ICRISAT, with the support of staff from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) in Debre-Zeit worked with a vignette based guide, to facilitate discussions that followed the life of a young Ethiopian couple, Gete and Getachew, through various life events; exploring their decision making processes, their negotiation processes and the reasons behind their decisions. The tool also explored the social and cultural rules at play between the couple, the society in which they live (represented by parents and relatives) as well as development agents (represented by agricultural officials and civil leaders).  Women and men participants had their discussions separately.

In one of the meetings, the women participants had been in discussion for about one hour when they started indicating with their hands that their hearts were pounding. Research Associate Millicent Liani, who didn’t understand the local language, was concerned what was happening to the participants. The women were already requesting to go back home. They were concerned that they may not be able to explain to their husbands where they were. They said that their husbands would ask: “Where have you been all this time?” Interestingly, the male participants opined that: “A good woman/wife should go to the market running and come back home very fast. She should not have other people’s numbers in her cell phone”.

We realized that ‘time away from home’ and the approval of their spouses was one of the key drivers in women’s decision to attend a training. Women expressed the need to participate in agricultural trainings, for they have specific roles they play in the production of chickpea. They would benefit from more information but are hampered by cultural norms. In this region women have a very restricted freedom of movement and women have to account for their ‘time away from home’. Culture has ingrained the enforcement of this rule into the definition of a ‘good wife/good woman’. Women are expected to operate in the ‘private space’ and hardly in the ‘public space’ unless accompanied by male relatives.

It is well documented that acquiring agricultural knowledge by women farmers in smallholder systems is a critical driver for improving agricultural production, closing gender gaps in agricultural productivity, with extended gains in enhancing household food security, nutrition security as well as income generation. These are important goals in the strategic results framework of the CGIAR as well as the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Women participation, is therefore an important ‘gender indicator’ to track, not only to understand the realities of the lives of women farmers but importantly to start exploring innovative approaches we can use to deliver information and understand how to integrate them into trainings for women in rural Ethiopia and other regions with similar cultural norms.

The study was conducted during November 2015.

Contributed by Esther Mwihaki Njuguna, Scientist - Gender Research and Policies (Grain Legumes) .


Project: Gender Strategy of the CRP Grain Legumes

Investor: CRP Grain Legumes/Gender Program

Partners: Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Debre Zeit Agricultural Research Center

CGIAR Research Program: Grain Legumes.

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While on an official trip to Mali, Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, met President Ibrahim Boubacar Kéita. Dr Tabo is also seen in the picture.
The Prime Minister of Niger His Excellency Brigi Rafini with Dr David Bergvinson.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Niger, Ms Kane Boulama Aichatou with Dr Bergvinson.
Maidagi Allembeye, Minister of Agriculture, Niger, with Dr Bergvinson.
Mr Olumeko, Representative of the Permanent Secretary (center) with Dr Bergvinson and Dr Tabo and key staff of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
Dr Akinwumi Adesina (second from left), Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nigeria and ICRISAT Goodwill Ambassador, at the launch of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program Phase 1 (ATASP-1).
ICRISAT offices in Mali, Niger and Nigeria organized sessions in their respective stations for the signing of the culture and values banner. Dr Ramadjita Tabo, ICRISAT Director West and Central Africa, addressed the staff and also briefed them on the GPM..
Mr Bougouna Sogoba, Director AMEDD (L) discusses land resource management conventions with  Mr Cheick Sylla, Governor of Molobala arrondissement (extreme R). Authorities in Mali are looking to deploy next-gen land tenure information platform..
Strategies to reach close to 800,000 smallholder farmers’ households in Nigeria, Mali and Ghana from 2015 to 2018 were discussed with media personnel at a series of training sessions and field visits in their respective countries..
Mr Ajay Kumar Sharma, Indian Ambassador to the Republic of Mali with Dr Ramadjita Tabo (right) visiting an exhibit stand at an Open House organized at ICRISAT-Mali. Participants at the newly-inaugurated technology park in Flola village, Bougouni district. New IPs and technology parks were established in Koutiala and Bougouni districts of Sikasso region.
Peer-to-peer learning among farmers is helping spread new concepts and techniques of sorghum and millet production among farmers in Sikasso and Mopti regions of Mali..
Participants at the newly-inaugurated technology park in Flola village, Bougouni district. New IPs and technology parks were established in Koutiala and Bougouni districts of Sikasso region..

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More farmers and FPOs to adopt hybrid pigeonpea technology

Farmers during the field visit to Agriculture Research Station in Tandur. Photo: ICRISAT

Farmers and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) from Maharashtra, India, expressed their interest to grow commercial pigeonpea hybrids and take up seed production during the 2016 cropping season. This was the outcome of a recent training program that demonstrated the superior performance of hybrid pigeonpea (ICPH 2740) that is resistant to major diseases like Fusarium wilt and Sterility mosaic.

ICPH 2740 is being cultivated in more than 20,000 ha in Maharashtra. Farmers have reported 20-25% higher yield than local varieties. This was achieved through a project that is being implemented since 2014 by the Department of Agriculture (DoA), Maharashtra, through Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY). ICRISAT is supporting this initiative by providing quality hybrid seed, monitoring of on-farm trials and building the capacities of officers and farmers through training programs.

Mr Haribhau Baptiwale, Deputy Director, Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA), informed that ICPH 2740 is performing very well under irrigated conditions in Maharashtra yielding around 2 to 4 tons/ha and is replacing local varieties that are sensitive to wilt and sterility mosaic diseases.

Emphasizing that pigeonpea hybrids have a huge potential of yielding more than 3-4 tons/ha, Mr SM Pundkar, General Manager (Production), MAHABEEJ, said, there is a need for quality seed to be made easily available to farmers and assured their company’s support in this regard.

Dr Rajeev Varshney, Director, Research Program-Grain Legumes, ICRISAT, spoke about the SSR marker based purity testing kit that is available in public domain for maintaining genetic purity of hybrid seeds developed by ICRISAT.

ICRISAT staff Dr CV Sameer Kumar, Senior Scientist, Pigeonpea Breeding; Dr Anupama J Hingane, Special Project Scientist, Pigeonpea Breeding and Project Coordinator; Mr Vijaykumar, Senior Manager; Mr Rameshwar Telangre, Scientific Officer, Pathology-Grain-legumes; and Dr GV Ranga Rao, Special Project Scientist-IPM; oriented the participants and addressed their queries.

During their visit to the ICRISAT research fields, participants were briefed on hybrid pigeonpea technology and various experimental hybrids developed in short and medium maturity group. A field trip to Tandur was organized to demonstrate on-farm performance of ICPH 2740 in farmer Mr Somi Reddy’s field. Participants also got an opportunity to visit the Agriculture Research Station in Tandur where Dr Sudhakar Chourat, Senior Scientist, Agronomy, briefed them about transplanting technology and other agronomic implementations like drip irrigation, square planting, etc, to be considered in hybrid pigeonpea technology.

The two-day training program brought together 45 officers from the Department of Agriculture, Maharashtra and State Seed Corporation (MAHABEEJ) along with 30 farmers from FPOs, scientists from Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) and private seed companies. The DoA officers will play a crucial role in promoting new technologies to farmers and MAHABEEJ will lead in commercialization of hybrid seed production.

The training was organized at ICRISAT-India on 27 and 28 November.

At ICRISAT research fields.
Photos: PS Rao, ICRISAT
Participants at the training program.


Project: Promotion of Hybrid Pigeon pea (ICPH2740) through Production programme Under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY)

Investor: Department of Agriculture, Government of Maharashtra

Partners: Maharashtra State Seeds Corporation Ltd (MAHABEEJ)

CGIAR Research Program: Grain Legumes

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New partnerships for Climate Change Adaptation

Mr Chakravarthi and Dr Bergvinson at the MoU signing.
Photo: S Punna, ICRISAT

Environment Protection Training and Research Institute (EPTRI) and ICRISAT have agreed to work together for research and capacity development in the field of climate change adaptation and mitigation in agriculture. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect was signed during the visit of Mr Kalyan Chakravarthi, Director General, EPTRI, to ICRISAT on 26 November.

During a meeting with ICRISAT directors and scientific staff, Mr Chakravarthi said that EPTRI has a mandate to prepare the Telangana state action plan for climate change in all the sectors. As agriculture is the most vulnerable sector, he said EPTRI is committed to conducting pioneering research and scaling up proven climate smart agricultural strategies towards building resilience of smallholder farmers to climate risk.

Dr Anthony Whitbread, Director, Research Program Resilient Dryland Systems explained briefly about the new joint proposal on ‘Resilient Agricultural Households through Adaptation to Climate Change in Telanagana’ submitted for funding under National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change. Several ideas for collaboration through external funding sources were also discussed.

EPTRI, based in Hyderabad, has been appointed by the Telangana state government as a nodal agency for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

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Dr Rajeev Varshney, Director, Research Program-Grain Legumes and Director, Centre of Excellence in Genomics, ICRISAT, was elected Fellow of The National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI), the oldest science academy of India, founded in 1930.

The fellowship was conferred on 7 December at the 85th Annual General Meeting of NASI in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, recognizing his significant contribution towards generating and deploying genomic resources for accelerating basic research and developing superior lines in so-called orphan legume crops, chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut.

Dr Varshney has the rare honor of being a Fellow of all the three leading science academies of India – the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) and NASI.

Hima Bindu Kudapa receiving medal and certificate from
Dr Akhilesh K. Tyagi, President, NASI.

Dr Hima Bindu Kudapa, Scientist (Genomics and Molecular Breeding), has been conferred the NASI-Young Scientist Platinum Jubilee Award 2015 by The National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI) based on her significant contribution in development of genomics resources and using them for understanding the mechanism of stress tolerance in legumes. The award is conferred to scientists under 35 with notable research contribution to science. She is one among top 15 scientists in India who made significant contribution in different fields of science and technology.

ICRISAT congratulates Dr Varshney and Dr Hima Bindu Kudapa on their achievements.

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New publications

Groundnut Production Performance in Bangladesh: A District Level Analysis

Authors: Uttam Deb and Soumitra Pramanik

Published: 2015. Economic Affairs 60(3): 391-400

Abstract: This study analyzes the performance of groundnut production in Bangladesh in the 1990s and 2000s, both at the district and national level. Production performance was measured in terms of growth and variability. Annual compound rate of growth was estimated to know the growth performance. Cuddy-Della Valle index was used to estimate variability. Analysis showed that both area and production of groundnut at the national level declined in the 1990s but production increased afterwards. In the late 2000s, groundnut production increased by 31% although area under groundnut was same as in the late 1990s. Increase in groundnut yield (by 373 kg/ha or 32%) contributed towards increase in groundnut production in the late 2000s. The study concludes that groundnut breeders should focus more on yield increase rather than on reduction in variability in yield. Increase in yield potential through research is expected to result in higher production and profit to the farmers and thereby encourage farmers to allocate more area for groundnut cultivation.


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