15) ICRISAT incubates agri-business projects in Mozambique

After establishing a successful Agri-Business Incubator (ABI) at its global headquarters at Patancheru, India, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics is initiating a similar incubator in Mozambique, in collaboration with the Institute of Agricultural Research of Mozambique (IIAM). Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, and Dr Calisto Bias, Director General of IIAM, signed the Letter of Intent for establishing the Farm Business Incubator in Mozambique.

The collaboration will explore the possibilities for IIAM & ICRISAT to develop the Farm Business Incubator together, share best practices, transfer technology, support the development of services or products in both regions or interact with the market possibilities in Mozambique and India.

Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, who was on a visit to Mozambique, said that by taking the idea of the Farm Business Incubator to Mozambique, the Institute can carry forward to this great African nation the successful lessons learned in India in linking the poor dryland farmers to the market through agri-enterprise.

ICRISAT and IIAM conducted a feasibility study in Mozambique and developed a business model for the Farm Business Incubator at IIAM. A key management team from IIAM had visited India recently and studied the functioning of the Agri-Business Incubator at ICRISAT.

When the Farm Business Incubator becomes a reality it will be among the earliest of its kind in Africa and would have the primary objective would to develop agri-enterprise that will benefit Mozambique 's agriculture, animal husbandry and food processing.

ICRISAT, an international agricultural research institute under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), has been collaborating with IIAM and other partners on projects to improve agricultural productivity. Since 2001, ICRISAT has had an office at Maputo.

The Agri-Business Incubator at ICRISAT, Patancheru, India, has facilitated the transition of many agri enterprises from idea to reality. One of the successful agri-business ideas facilitated is the project on producing ethanol from sweet sorghum. Research by ICRISAT scientists developed sorghum varieties and hybrids that have higher amount of sugar-rich juice in their stalks. Through the Agri-Business Incubator, ICRISAT linked with a private sector company Rusni Distilleries which established a distillery to convert the sweet sorghum juice to ethanol.

Currently ICRISAT is helping a Rusni subsidiary company Rusni Biofuels Ltd. to establish an ethanol from sweet sorghum plant in Mozambique. This plant will produce 100,000 liters of ethanol with an investment of around US$30 million, benefiting 5,000 smallholder farmers and cover 20,000 hectares through captive and contract farming.

ICRISAT and Rusni will collaborate with Petromoc, the major national petroleum company of Mozambique, to enhance marketability and ensure successful implementation of project.

According to Dr Carlos Dominguez, ICRISAT's Representative in Mozambique, the new collaborations agreed upon during Dr Dar's visit to Mozambique will strengthen the existing collaboration that ICRISAT has with partners.

ICRISAT's achievements in Mozambique include the development of guidelines for planning local seed systems interventions; creating the profile of the seed systems in place in the 58 districts of country; producing and marketing foundation seeds of improved varieties; and helping the national agricultural system to implement Good Agricultural Practices.

For further information, contact Dr Carlos Dominguez at icrisatmoz(at)panintra(dot)com.

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