For four decades now, ICRISAT and the Government of Andhra Pradesh have been actively working together to end poverty, hunger and environmental degradation in the State – a partnership that has generated pro-poor agricultural innovations and investments and enhanced agricultural productivity and improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
Elevating the partnership to better achieve impacts and further boost the State’s sustainable and inclusive agricultural growth, an official delegation from the Andhra Pradesh State Government led by Honorable Agriculture Minister Mr Kanna Lakshminarayana visited ICRISAT on 24 May.
The delegation sought to have a better appreciation of ICRISAT’s new programs and initiatives and to further explore areas for collaboration, and was welcomed by Director General William Dar who highlighted ICRISAT’s contributions in improving productivity and profitability of the State’s smallholder agriculture.
The visit also served as an opportunity for ICRISAT to present to the delegation four proposed initiatives to boost rainfed agriculture in the State, namely: 1) Increasing productivity and profitability of groundnut cultivation; 2) Promoting high-yielding pigeonpea hybrids; 3) Soil health mapping and knowledge sharing; and 4) Increased productivity of sorghum in the rice-fallow system.
Agriculture Minister Lakshminarayana acknowledged the impacts of ICRISAT’s research for development activities with various partners in Andhra Pradesh, particularly in making the smallholder farmers’ food and nutrition security and improved livelihoods firmly at the center of the partnerships. He gave a positive indication to discuss the proposed initiatives with the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
Other members of the Andhra Pradesh delegation includes: Mr Anil C Punetha, Principal Secretary, Agriculture; Mr Madhusudhan Rao, Agricultural Commissioner; and Dr A Padma Raju, Vice Chancellor, Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU), Dr R Sudhakara Rao, Director of Research, and Dr Aldas Jannaiah, member of the university board, ANGRAU.
ICRISAT’s Drs CLL Gowda (Research Program Director - Grain Legumes), Suhas P Wani (Assistant Research Director, Resilient Dryland Systems), and Guntuku Dileepkumar (Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation) joined Dr Dar in receiving the delegation. The visitors also had interactions with other ICRISAT scientists in mapping out plans and strategies related to the proposed initiatives.
Development of repositories for open educational resources is gaining momentum. To better understand recent practices in the areas of agriculture and rural development, a two-day workshop on “Emerging Practices of Open Educational Resources” was held at the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), Hyderabad on 16-17 May.
Inaugurating the workshop, Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) said, “Skill enhancement through open educational resources in higher education using cutting edge technology will give access and also improve imparting of higher education to a large population in India.” Dr SL Goswami, Director, NAARM, elaborated on the use of the state-of-the-art technology in training through electronic resources. Dr V Balaji of the Commonwealth of Learning, Canada spoke on the latest trends in open educational resources.
Dr Rameshwar Singh, Project Director, Directorate of Knowledge Management in Agriculture, ICAR highlighted the Council’s initiatives for improving access to open educational resources in India’s 12th Five Year Plan and also through the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP).
ICRISAT’s Dr Dileepkumar outlined the global initiatives at ICRISAT to interact with other national and international organizations to make available open educational resources. Later he met with DDG Education and NAARM Director to lay out a roadmap to further develop and improve availability of open educational resources in agricultural education under the umbrella of ICAR-ICRISAT collaborative projects.
Following a demonstration phase of the Bhoochetana model in 14 districts of Andhra Pradesh in the last two seasons, a scaling-up planning workshop was held on 27 May at the ICRISAT headquarters.
In his inaugural address, Director General William Dar spoke about how the soil test-based nutrient management scheme for enhancing productivity of the Andhra Pradesh Rural Livelihood Program (APRLP) has been adopted and has improved livelihoods of the rural poor in Karnataka State, benefiting more than three million families. He expressed hope that the success of the Bhoochetana program in Karnataka will be replicated in Andhra Pradesh.
Dr Dar also acknowledged the leaderships of Mr Anil C Punetha, Andhra Pradesh Principal Secretary (Agriculture) and Mr K Madhusudhana Rao, Commissioner (Agriculture) in championing Bhoochetana to attain new heights of success and to benefit millions of farmers in the State.
Mr Punetha in his address to the participants stressed that the impact of Bhoochetana will largely depend on the commitment and dedication of the staff of the State’s Agriculture Department in meeting field-level gaps to benefit the farmers, in partnership with ICRISAT. Mr Rao, on the other hand, sought greater participation from all stakeholders in Bhoochetana to improve productivity as well as incomes of the farmers.
Dr Suhas P Wani in his overview presentation of the program and the challenges ahead in the scaling-up process stated that the key is for all stakeholders – from farmers to policy makers – to own the program through internalization and enhanced awareness.
The results of the 2012 kharif and rabi season cropping demonstrated that in spite of unfavorable rainfall situation, yields of different crops increased up to 56%, and that the program will need to build on these results and take it forward. There is also an urgent need to undertake reliable soil mapping of the State at the earliest time.
In all, 215 participants from 22 districts of Andhra Pradesh from the Department of Agriculture participated in the planning workshop. Bhoochetana will be scaled up in 14 districts covering 0.26 million ha area in the coming year. During the demonstration phase, 100 ha in each mandal will cover 0.037 million ha during the demonstration phase.
The ICRISAT pigeonpea breeding team has taken a new initiative of encouraging women farmers of Odisha State, India to produce high value crop of hybrid seed. Under this program, women farmers will produce commercial seed of pigeonpea hybrid ICPH 2740 under the direct supervision of Dr Anupama Hingane, Special Project Scientist, Pigeonpea Breeding in collaboration with Dr Chanda G Goodrich, Principal Scientist, Empower Women. This activity will be implemented under the ongoing pigeonpea project in Odisha, led by Dr Myer Mula.
ICRISAT scientists visited four key villages of Naupada and Kalahandi districts from 4-6 May to interact with the women farmers. The response received from the rural women as well as men was encouraging as two non-government organizations and nine self-help groups expressed their willingness to join this endeavor. A total of 137 women farmers will be involved in the hybrid seed production. Before sowing a training program for the selected women farmers will be held. The production and marketing of hybrid seed will not only enhance women’s knowledge and skill, but also help them in achieving about 200% higher returns for their hard work.