The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) continues its celebration of 50 years of scientific innovation and impact in drylands since its establishment in March 1972. The institute has held commemorative events at its global headquarters in India and across its African centers which include Malawi.
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By the The Hon. Dr Anxious J Masuka, Zimbabwe Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) continues to mark 50 years of scientific innovation and impact with celebrations held in Zimbabwe.
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The Hon. Dr Anxious J Masuka Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement graced the celebratory proceedings in Bulawayo and congratulated ICRISAT on winning the Africa Food Prize 2021 while lauding the Institute’s efforts in the fight against food insecurity and malnutrition.
“It is my singular honour and privilege to address all of you here present, gathered to celebrate this golden jubilee under the theme: “Championing Future Grains in Eastern and Southern Africa.
I am very happy to be a part of this milestone. It has been 50 years of scientific innovation and impact since ICRISAT was established on the 28th of March 1972.
Although ICRISAT as an organization was established in India on the 28th of March 1972, it did not hesitate to heed to a call made to it by the SADC head of states to open another home in Southern Africa, and therefore spearhead a program of improving sorghum and millet in the region which was called the Sorghum and Millet Improvement Program (SMIP).
It was in 1983 therefore that the SADC ICRISAT Sorghum and Millet Improvement Program was launched in Zimbabwe on land that was generously donated by the Government of Zimbabwe at Matopos Research station.
The SADC/ICRISAT Sorghum and Millet Improvement Program headquartered in Matopos, Zimbabwe was a partnership-based approach involving participating SADC governments and mainly funded by USAID.
The main aim of establishing ICRISAT was to address the problems of the looming food insecurity and nutrition in the region then and ICRISAT’s mandate is still very important now, especially with climate change issues.
The emphasis, therefore, was on food crops, especially small grains and legumes, those grown in the semi-arid and marginal areas of the region.
Through the SADC programs, ICRISAT in Zimbabwe focuses on future grains improvement, ICRISAT Malawi on Groundnut Improvement
ICRISAT pursues research for development to improve smallholder farming systems in the context of societal and environmental challenges;
ICRISAT’s research work over the years has resulted in:
Most smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe depend directly on rainfed agriculture for their livelihoods.
The major challenges these farmers face just like in most drylands in Sub-Saharan Africa are widespread poverty, hunger, and malnutrition in tandem with water scarcity, land degradation, and gender inequality.
Climate change processes are leading to increased water scarcity and declining crop yields, leaving the people vulnerable in the absence of appropriate technologies and risk management strategies.
For example, the 2021-2022 season was marked by a false start to the season in most areas of the country, late onset of the season in others followed by an unevenly distributed rainfall pattern both in space and time.
Findings from our first-round crop and livestock assessment report 2021-2022 season is pointing to average crop performance.
However, today we have all witnessed how the future grains (traditional grains) being promoted by ICRISAT have proven to be resilient and have managed to withstand the drought that was experienced this season. ICRISAT has demonstrated with no doubt that these crops are the crops for the future.
The Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement in collaboration with research and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has been working on increasing agricultural productivity, a move that is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals initiative of the United Nations (UN) which aims at ending hunger and food insecurity, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture, that is:
SDG 1: No poverty
SDG 2: Zero hunger
SDG 3: Good health and well being
SDG 13: Climate action
The Government of Zimbabwe aspires to transform the agricultural sector being largely driven by smallholder farmers.
Our Vision 2030; Towards a Prosperous & Empowered Upper Middle-Income Society by 2030” reflects the collective aspirations and determination of the people of Zimbabwe.
Fundamental on agriculture contribution to this vision under National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) is to increase food self-sufficiency from the current level of 45% to 100% and reduce food insecurity from the current peak of 59% in 2020 to less than 10% by 2025 and this can be achieved through ICRISAT’s full participation.
The Government of Zimbabwe has always emphasized the need to climate-proof Zimbabwean agriculture through growing of future grains (sorghum and millets) and other crops that will do well in the drier regions of the country.
Future grains such as sorghum, pearl and finger millet are ranked second staple cereal crops after maize in Zimbabwe and play a vital role in the country’s food security and nutrition
These future grains are less likely to fail in drought-prone areas and this make them a priority cereal to feed Zimbabwe especially in communities facing water shortages.
It is also important, especially in the face of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, to improve the country’s strategic grain reserves as already reviewed from 500,000 Mt to 1.5 million Mt to cover 2 to 3 bad seasons.
Future grains could therefore contribute about 200-300Mt to these strategic grain reserves and I call upon ICRISAT to work closely with the Government of Zimbabwe, and other key institutions, including academia and the private sector, to ensure the benefits of research quickly reach poorly-resourced communal farmers and help Zimbabwe achieve a middle-income economy by 2030.
I am pleased that ICRISAT has modernized its seed processing, preparation and grain quality data collection facilities with state-of-the-art machinery and equipment. I am happy to have commissioned the Seed Processing Unit today.
Ladies and gentlemen, efficient production of high-quality seed for research is an important activity for modern breeding and genebank programs. Only the best seed has to be made available to breeders in every generation of varietal development for a breeding program to meet its objectives.
The seed processing facility will therefore provide many benefits to breeding programs, including increased productivity and better seed quality for research purposes and seed storage.
This facility will enhance the capacity for efficiently collecting seed and grain data with required accuracy resulting in informed breeding decisions.
Overall, the processing workflow will be complemented with digitization for efficient tracking, tracing, and automation.
As we all witnessed and heard, mechanization of seed processing can cut down the time required to process the harvest from one hectare from a month to about 10 days
Ladies and gentlemen, I however would like to highlight that although the country has made inroads in improving future grains’ production, there are still challenges we face that need our joint efforts.
Data from the 2021 season showed very good progress in future grains production, with the area and production of these significantly increasing.
For example, production of the traditional grains in the 2020-2021 season was at 347 968 MT which is 128% more compared to 152 515 MT in 2019/2020.
We should not rest on our laurels but continue to work hard to improve the production and consumption of the future grains.
I challenge each one of us present here to work in partnerships so that we bridge some of the barriers to achieving higher adoption rates of future grains, especially in the drought-prone districts of Zimbabwe.
My challenge is that we need to work on
I specifically challenge ICRISAT in the short and medium-term, to work with the Government of Zimbabwe and partners for achieving the 200-300 Mt contribution to the strategic grain reserves in the country.
There is a need to work on improving the seed system so that smallholder farmers and the market have the right seeds to positively contribute to the strategic grain reserves in the country.
This could be mainly anchored by the ICRISAT Genebank which is a hub for genetic material.
I also challenge ICRISAT and all key stakeholders present here to look at the value chain approach, that is, from farm to fork, and to work with the private sector on mechanization of production, improving processing equipment, and other value addition equipment.
Lastly, ladies and gentlemen, I would also like to congratulate ICRISAT for being awarded the Africa Food Prize for 2021.
This award is a deep validation of your work commitment toward better agriculture and food systems in the drylands of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Congratulations to ICRISAT management and all staff for this well-deserved recognition of the long-term contribution to reducing hunger and changing the lives of small farm households across sub-Saharan Africa.
Amhlophe, Makorokoto, Congratulations to ICRISAT, and wishing you the best in the coming 50 years.”
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is celebrating its golden jubilee, in Kenya, marking 50 years of agricultural scientific innovation and impact since its establishment in 1972.
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The celebrations in Nairobi – home to the Institute’s regional offices in East and Southern Africa, build upon earlier festivities launched by the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi at ICRISAT’s global headquarters in Hyderabad, India in February.
ICRISAT which won the Africa Food Prize in 2021, has an illustrious history of developing higher yielding and drought tolerant crop varieties, essential to the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the semi-arid tropics.
The Institute’s specialty crops include sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet, groundnut, pigeonpea and chickpea which help underscore the food security of millions across the African Continent.
Speaking from Nairobi, ICRISAT Director General, Dr. Jacqueline Hughes said she was delighted to be in Kenya to mark the historic occasion where she would be meeting with staff of the Institute along with local and national partners.
“Today we pay tribute to our local scientists, the National Agricultural Research Systems and other partners who work in close collaboration to deliver the improvements we continue to witness in dryland farming” said Dr. Hughes.
“Our 50th Anniversary is an occasion to not only celebrate the gains we have made to food security in Africa, but to rededicate ourselves to overcoming the challenges that lie ahead for smallholder farming communities, not the least the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.
“While the world grapples with these challenges there tragically remains one constant for dryland farming communities, and that is food insecurity and hunger.
“With our deep expertise in dryland farming and recent scientific advances, ICRISAT will continue to serve as global research leader to reduce poverty, hunger, malnutrition, environmental degradation while making farming profitable.
“We will also augment our scientific advances through new innovations and technology while working to influence good public policy – especially with a focus on women and youth who are central to developing a more equitable and sustainable agricultural sector” concluded Dr. Hughes.
ICRISAT and Kenya
ICRISAT’s association with Kenya commenced in 1982 with the Institute now collaborating with various partners including the Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organizations (KALRO), Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Fisheries and Cooperatives (MoALF), National and County governments, CGIAR centers, NGOs, development partners and the private sector.
Some of the successful multidisciplinary initiatives implemented in Kenya led by ICRISAT include:
For more on our work in Kenya click here
Dr William Dollante Dar, Secretary of Agriculture, Republic of the Philippines has visited the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India to explore cooperation to diversify the nation’s food systems.
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Dr Dar who served as ICRISAT Director General from 2000-2015, said the Department of Agriculture in the Philippines was eager to explore areas for increased collaboration with ICRISAT given its specialist knowledge in agri-food systems.
During his visit to ICRISAT, Dr Dar was briefed on the latest scientific innovations being developed to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the drylands of Asia and Africa.
Dr Dar expressed his confidence in the work of ICRISAT and said the Department was looking forward to partnering with the Institute to tap into the vast potential of new crops that could diversify food systems in the Philippines while opening new economic opportunities.
“Considering the impacts of climate change and the need for resilient and sustainable crops, we are looking forward to diversification in our food systems. ICRISAT is a very relevant institute to help us achieve this and by extension our sustainable development goals”
“We are pursuing a partnership with ICRISAT for the introduction of new varieties of sorghum with a focus on food and feed for livestock and poultry along with groundnut and pigeonpea as an alternate source of protein,” said Dr Dar.
Dr Arvind Kumar, ICRISAT Deputy Director General – Research, paid tribute to Dr Dar’s 15 years of service and legacy as a former ICRISAT Director General. Dr Kumar acknowledged his illustrious contribution to the institute with the development of the Agribusiness Innovation Platform (AIP), Centre of Excellence in Genomics and System Biology (CEGSB), and the Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops(PTTC) being among the many initiatives undertaken during Dr Dar’s tenure.
Dr William D Dar’s message for ICRISAT. Watch here:
Dr Arvind Kumar, DDG-Research met Dr Srivari Chandrasekhar, the newly appointed Secretary of the Department of Science & Technology (DST) in New Delhi. The meeting focussed on ICRISAT’s scientific innovations and impact in the drylands of Asia and Africa. To further strengthen the relationship between ICRISAT and DST, discussions were held to identify the areas of interest for further advancing the partnership in research.
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Dr Chandrasekhar also accepted the invitation to visit ICRISAT at the earliest opportunity available.
The Department of Science & Technology plays a pivotal role in funding and promoting science and technology in basic and strategic areas of research in India. ICRISAT and DST are committed to providing scientific solutions to various stakeholders in the agriculture sector, meeting the present and future needs.
The Department of Science & Technology (DST) is the nodal department for organising, coordinating and promoting Science &Technology activities in India. The ICRISAT and DST, Govt of India have many commonalities. While ICRISAT provides Science based solutions for transforming agri-food production for enhanced profitability, nutrition and climate resilience in drylands, the Department of Science & Technology plays a pivotal role in funding and promotion of science & technology in basic and strategic areas of research in India. Both the organizations believe in and work for advancing the science for providing solutions to farmers, consumers, industry and a range of stakeholders meeting the present and future needs. Recently Dr Srivari Chandrasekhar is appointed as Secretary of the Dept. of Science & Technology, Govt of India. ICRISAT team led by Dr Arvind Kumar, DDG-Research met the Secretary, DST in New Delhi and congratulated for his elevation. This occasion was used to present ICRISAT’s vision, mission and achievements drylands of Africa and Asia and identified areas of interest for further advancing the research with support from DST. Upon invitation by ICRISAT, Dr Chandrasekhar agreed to visit ICRISAT at the earliest possible opportunity.
ICRISAT signed an MoU with Copenhagen University’s department of plant and environmental sciences to build sustainable agri-food systems and contribute to the India-Denmark Green Strategic Partnership. The MoU was signed at the outset of a four-days’ workshop on ‘Establishing a Danish-Indian partnership on Smart Plant Protection (SPP)’ and a round table discussion on sustainable agri-food systems and technologies held between May 16-20, 2022.
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The roundtable was attended by 27 key delegates from the University of Copenhagen, Borlaug Institute for South Asia, Danish Embassy, New Delhi, Echo Network, CEO 21st Bio, Novo Nordisk Foundation, Innovation Foundation Denmark, Good Food Institute – India among many other leading scientists from ICRISAT and other local institutes. The growing multi-facetted crisis in the global food system emphasizes the need for investments in Research and Development (R&D). Advances in R&D must be systematically disseminated, translated, and re-developed and R&D must increasingly be focused on problems and conditions from across the globe.
The Danish-Indian partnership on Smart Plant Protection (SPP) explored potential areas of collaboration where Danish strong points could provide transformational partnerships with Indian R&D partners. It was inaugurated with scientists from ICRISAT and the University of Copenhagen discussing synergies focusing on climate change, pests and disease management, digital tech, early warning systems and more.
As part of the deliberations, the delegates visited farmers of Lakshmipoor on pest management. Scientists from the Crop Protection and Seed Health Cluster of ICRISAT along with their counterparts from the University of Copenhagen discussed plant protection with farmers.
As many as 75 local farmers quizzed the researchers on how to deal with the pests and diseases destroying their crops. An inspiring discussion flowed, showcasing the need for a Danish-Indian partnership on smart plant protection.
The delegates also visited the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad to discuss various agri-food systems and technologies. During the workshop, five start-ups presented their ideas on sustainable agri-food systems and technologies.
The roundtable discussions on sustainable agri-food systems and technologies were steered by Dr Jacqueline d’Arros Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT who emphasised that the partnership with the Danish government is with a larger goal of addressing the need for high yields, sustainability, healthy diets, climate change mitigation, equity and diversity inclusion.
Prof Prabhu Pingali, ICRISAT governing board chair and professor at Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition spoke on emerging food system challenges and technology interventions.
“The per capita consumption of staple calories has been declining quite steadily in India. The other big challenge in the food systems in India is the rising levels of undernutrition. We’re still having high levels of child stunting. Simultaneously, the country has seen a dramatic rise in obesity levels. In my opinion, the problem of undernourishment and over nourishment has pretty much the same solution. That is, improved access and adaptability to food diversity, food quality and more nutritious food,” said Prof Pingali.
Terming pests as a global issue, Pramod Aggarwal of Borlaug Institute for South Asia said – “Of late, we have been seeing lots of transboundary pests. We saw fall Armyworm coming from the African side, wheat blasts and dessert locusts anand it has been disturbing our food systems and ultimately food security.”
Contributing to the discussions on navigating to a nutritious and climate-smart food system, Nanna Roos, associate professor at the University of Copenhagen said – “We are dealing with both undernutrition and overnutrition. So, the starting point here is more of a double burden of an unbalanced diet. The transition of the food systems should be healthy and sustainable at the same time.”
With investments by the Danish government in sustainable agriculture R&D and private Danish foundations rapidly increasing to create international research groups and consortia in specialized agricultural fields, Jakob Williams Oerberg, counsellor of innovation, research and higher education at the Danish Embassy in New Delhi said that the collaboration between ICRISAT and University of Copenhagen can accelerate the research into building more resilient and sustainable agri-food systems and technologies.
During the four-day event, brainstorming sessions were held that led to the building of a roadmap for future collaborations.
Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT addressed the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) on the 13th of May 2022 to share ways in which international and national agricultural institutes could collaborate to deliver better food security and nutrition outcomes to support national development agendas and the Sustainable Development Goals.
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The event gathered research leaders from various Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) centers across the country including Dr V Venkatasubramanian, Director, Agricultural Technology Application Research Institute, Bengaluru; Dr A.K. Singh, Director, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi; and Dr Janki Sharan Mishra, Director, ICAR-Directorate of Weed Research, Jabalpur.
Dr Hughes reflected on ICRISAT’s five decades of experience in supporting dryland agrifood systems in Africa and Asia supported by its global strategic partnerships, networks and evolving frameworks for institutional cooperation.
“Collaboration between national and international agricultural institutes coalesces our relative strengths and knowledge toward achieving our missions, and provides a unique competitive advantage in which to access global funding and other resources required to support research to reduce poverty, hunger, malnutrition, and environmental degradation in the drylands,” said Dr. Hughes.
“Partnerships built on more flexible and more agile frameworks for cooperation are critical to overcome the dynamic challenges of building resilient and sustainable food systems.
International centers including ICRISAT facilitate intra-and inter-country knowledge sharing and learning and will continue to leverage strengths and opportunities around programs and projects that align with priorities of host governments, including the Government of India, and with our global research agenda,” said Dr. Hughes.
The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have announced a partnership to jointly implement capacity development programs in education and training, youth employment and entrepreneurship, research and innovation, public engagement and policy advocacy to improve resilience against the impacts of climate change.
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“AIMS is excited to welcome ICRISAT in our network of strategic industry partners. Together we will build the capacity of young Africans and other stakeholders to de-risk the agricultural value chains, improve the management of climate and other investment risks, and foster inclusive contractual agriculture,” said Lydie Hakizimana, AIMS CEO.
In 2017, AIMS launched the Mathematical Sciences for Climate Resilience (MS4CR)program with support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
The goal of the MS4CR program is to increase the contribution of African Mathematical Scientists to finding solutions to climate change related challenges in Africa through training, research and internships.
As one of the key pillars of the MS4CR program, the MS4CR Internship Program’s main goal is the provision of 100 internships for AIMS students or alumni and the establishment of 20 strategic partnerships over 5 years in the field of climate change. ICRISAT has significantly contributed toward achieving the objectives of the MS4CR Internship Program.
Building upon the successes of the implementation of the ongoing partnership with ICRISAT and Manobi Africa, AIMS was recently endorsed by USAID and NASA to join the consortium of organizations for the SERVIR West Africa Phase 2.
AIMS will develop and implement a Small Innovation Grants Program (SIGP) over 5 years to support the emergence of quality Earth Observation services in West Africa.
Since 2015 ICRISAT and its partners have invested significant resources in the hosting of 50 MS4CR and cooperative program scholars representing 12 African countries, several of which have subsequently been hired to meet their growing needs for skilled human resources in applied mathematics, computing and data science, and artificial intelligence applied to smallholder agriculture, climate science and systems analysis and modelling” said Dr Jacqueline d’Arros Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT.
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is leading the implementation of the second phase of SERVIR West Africa 2 (SERVIR WA 2) over a five-year period.
SERVIR WA 2 connects “space to village” by helping West African countries use satellite data to address critical challenges in food security and agriculture, water and hydro-climatic disasters, weather and climate, land cover and land use change, and ecosystems services.
ICRISAT and other regional and national leading organizations, USAID and NASA SERVIR activities are being implemented in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.
The SERVIR West Africa Hub was established in 2016 in partnership with several West African institutions as well as international universities and organizations. The consortium is comprised of the African Regional Institute for Geospatial Information Science and Technology (AFRIGIST, Ile-Ife, Nigeria), the Agrometeorology, Hydrology, Meteorology Regional Center (AGRHYMET, Niamey, Niger), the Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Services (CERSGIS, Accra, Ghana), the Centre de Suivi Écologique (CSE, Dakar, Senegal), the Institut Supérieur d’Études Spatiales et des Télécommunications (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso), and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS).
The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, both at Columbia University, and the University of Florida are also part of the consortium.
Founded in 2003, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is a pan-African network of centres of excellence for post-graduate training in mathematical sciences, research, and public engagement in STEM. With centres in South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, and Rwanda, AIMS is leading Africa’s socio-economic transformation through innovative scientific training, cutting-edge research, strategic foresight, and policy design.
Deputy Director General, Partnership for Delivery of IITA visits ICRISAT in Mali
Dr, Kenton Dashiell, Deputy Director General, Partnership for Delivery, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) visited ICRISAT in Mali on 11th April to meet with Dr. Ramadjita Tabo, Regional Director, ICRISAT-West and Central Africa.
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Dr Dashiell congratulated ICRISAT for winning the Africa Food Prize Award in 2021 prior to being briefed by Dr. Tabo about ICRISAT’s progress in the region with regards to crop improvements through modernizing breeding infrastructure.
Dr Dashiell was also apprised on ICRISAT’s research program, structured under three areas, Accelerated Crop Improvement, Enabling Systems Transformation and Resilient Farm and Food Systems -managed by three Global Program Directors and two Regional Directors in East and Southern Africa and West and Central Africa.
As part of its ongoing partnership efforts in the Sahel region, Dr Tabo reiterated that ICRISAT and IITA are both involved in the implementation of the AfDB funded TAAT (Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation) program.
ICRISAT is currently hosting a team of IITA staff in Bamako and Niamey who are in charge of the implementation of the CSAT project (Climate Smart Agriculture Technologies) funded by the Embassy of Norway. This team is also benefiting from the contribution of scientists from ICRISAT in the arena of breeding and monitoring.
Dr Dashiell was also briefed about the new leadership at ICRISAT, including the appointment of Director General, Dr Jacqueline Hughes and Deputy Director General-Research, Dr. Arvind Kumar, the celebration of ICRISAT’s 50th Anniversary and the upcoming International Year of Millets in 2023.
“With its new research structure, the Institute continues to bring its scientific expertise to the fore with the approval of SERVIR 2 WA – a 5-year 15 million dollar project funded by USAID to be implemented in six countries in West Africa namely Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal” said. Dr. Tabo.
Dr. Dashiell reiterated that ICRISAT is its key partner in the drylands and emphasized the role of the natural synergies between ICRISAT and IITA operating in the region.
He stressed the need to continue to improve collaboration through joint project proposal development and project delivery.
Following his meeting with ICRISAT Regional Director, Dr Dashiell met with the IITA team in Mali, hosted at the campus in Samanko.
“IITA has a long productive partnership with ICRISAT. Dr. Tabo and I have been working together since 1991 in Kano, Nigeria. Congratulations to the ICRISAT team in Mali for their excellent work” wrote Dr. Kenton Dashiell (who was a soybean breeder based at IITA-Ibadan and Dr Tabo, Agronomist based at ICRISAT-Kano at that time) in the ICRISAT visitors book.
During their meeting, Dr Tabo and Dr Dashiell were joined by Dr. Tahirou Abdoulaye (Director, IITA Sahel Africa Hub and manager of the CSAT Mali and Niger projects), and Ms Agathe Diama, Senior Manager, Regional Communications and Information.
A key meeting was convened between the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics and National Agriculture Research System (NARS) partners to discuss future of the AVISA project in eastern and southern Africa.
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Dr Jacqueline Hughes, ICRISAT Director General, and Dr Arvind Kumar, ICRISAT Deputy Director General- Research assured the institute’s commitment toward implementation of AVISA project across Africa to partners from the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARO), National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) and the Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research (EIAR).
The Director General of ICRISAT spoke about the institute’s mission to reduce poverty, hunger, malnutrition, and environmental degradation in the dryland tropics, elaborated on the decision to become an autonomous body and the other changes taking place in the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Dr Jacqueline Hughes said, “ICRISAT declined to join the unified governance for the one CGIAR but remains an independent center under the CGIAR considering there was no clear place for the dryland legumes and cereals in the one CGIAR and opportunities for funding these crops were also ambiguous.”
“ICRISAT’s standing comes with implications including some donors terminating some funding under projects like AVISA and funding coming through sub-contracts, and USAID Washington. However, funding is coming in and new donors are showing interest in supporting ICRISAT’s research work.”
“It was anticipated that by end of December 2021, ICRISAT’s eligibility as a CGIAR center would no longer be tenable and hence, cease to exist as a partner of one CGIAR like any other organizations for example NARO, TARI, EIAR, ICIPE, CIFO-ICRAF, World Vegetable Center, ICPA, INBA etc. Some of the CGIAR centers have been reorganized internally as a result of these reforms but ICRISAT remains as it was and remains a strong partner for the NARS,” said Dr Hughes.
Dr Arvind Kumar, ICRISAT DDG-R highlighted ICRISAT and partners’ efforts for a resilient food system in drylands across Africa. He assured that ICRISAT will continue to work with NARS partners on research on different traits and seed systems, will fulfill its role in AVISA and utilize other resources and bring new donors.
NARS leadership acknowledged ICRISAT’s contribution for achieving sustainable agriculture in the drylands. Dr Mkamilo, the Director General of TARI spoke highly of his two-decade-old association with ICRISAT. He said that TARI has a mandate to conduct research but cannot transform agriculture alone and without help from partners like ICRISAT. NARO’s Dr Ambrose said, “ICRISAT comes to the top of our minds for best crop varieties and its focus on the ground to deliver. The institute has also supported NARS in the training of scientists and capacity building. We have built a relationship with ICRISAT over a long time and cannot be discarded.”
Dr Tai Tadesses appealed for partnerships in the future and highlighted the impact of collaborative efforts and said, “In the past 12 years, EIAR has worked with ICRISAT in HOPE project supported by BMGF, that has transformed over 12,000 households.”
With an aim to enhance use of chickpea germplasm in India’s crop improvement, ICRISAT Genebank organized a germplasm field day at its global headquarters in Patancheru and displayed chickpea germplasm diversity and trait-specific sources to various researchers participating in the event.
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Chickpea researchers got an opportunity to observe in person and select desirable germplasm among over 10,000 accessions that originated in more than 50 countries. This included pangenebank accessions from ICRISAT genebank (>3,500 accessions) and ICAR-NBPGR (1,500 accessions), 292 highly diverse reference set collection, 2,200 accessions of whole-genome sequenced, and 223 superior haplotypes.
Twenty-one researchers from eleven Indian institutions participated in the event:
ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi and Hyderabad, ICAR-Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Kanpur, Bihar Agricultural University, Bhagalpur, University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Jammu, Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Raipur, Haryana Agriculture University, Hisar, Rajasthan Agricultural Research Institute Durgapura, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Glocal University Training & Research Center, Hyderabad, and Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University, Nandyal.
Dr Kuldeep Singh, Head – Genebank, ICRISAT, welcomed the participants, and explained the importance of germplasm conservation and laid stress on the use of diverse germplasm in crop improvement. He also emphasized on other research areas in chickpea, including the use of superior haplotypes for yield-related traits, identified at ICRISAT through the whole-genome sequencing of 3,366 accessions.
Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General – Research ICRISAT, emphasized the importance of germplasm in trait improvement. The ICRISAT and ICAR-NBPGR genebanks are leading, with one of the largest efforts on phenotypic and genomic characterization of over 5,000 chickpea germplasm, translating these efforts to integrate in the breeding pipeline for chickpea improvement.
Dr Patrick Okori, Cluster Leader – Seed Systems, ICRISAT, while addressing the participants shared that, “The project supported by DBT, India will help to improve chickpea productivity in the country and across the globe. Diversifying the cropping system in Africa, with crops like chickpea which grow in a short time, can help us effectively address the issue of malnutrition.”
About ICRISAT Genebank: With over 129,000 germplasm accessions assembled from 144 countries through donations and/or collection missions, ICRISAT has one of the largest international genebanks. It serves as a world repository of germplasm of 11 crops namely chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut, sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet, foxtail millet, little millet, kodo millet, proso millet and barnyard millet.
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), project, ‘Transforming Irrigation systems in Southern Africa (TISA)’, has won the 2022 EFMD Excellence in Practice Gold Award in the Ecosystem Development category. The project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and in collaboration with the University of South Australia (UniSA) and the Australian National University for “Transforming small irrigation farm businesses and their irrigator corporations from underperforming to sustainable business units.”
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Dr. André Rooyen, Deputy Regional Director, ICRISAT’s East and Southern Africa (ESA) says,
“The award exemplifies the importance of embracing complexity in research and development, the transformative potential of multiple leverage points, and the value of functional partnerships to make it all happen.
It is an honor to be part of this team, but upon it rests a great responsibility to learn from it and to scale these lessons,’” adds Dr. André.
Professor Andrew Campbell, Chief Executive Officer, ACIAR adds that it is an honor for ACIAR and its partners to be recognized in the EFMD Excellence in Practice Awards, which celebrate some of the most outstanding and impactful leadership, learning, and development in the world.
“The award is an important recognition for the work of ACIAR and our partners to reduce poverty and enhance sustainable agricultural development through science partnerships., adds Professor Campbell.
ACIAR has invested in Transforming Irrigation in Southern Africa since 2013. This innovative partnership has brought together African and Australian researchers to help farmers and the governments of Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe to achieve their development objectives. Professor Campbell noted that the government statutory authority is proud that this research has helped farmers improve water management, delivering better livelihoods for women, the poor, and youth in irrigation communities in these nations.
ACIAR invests in and manages strategic partnerships with public and private research institutions to improve agricultural productivity, sustainability, and food systems’ resilience in partner countries.
Congratulating the winners, Jan Ginneberge, Senior Advisor at EFMD Corporate Services, notes that it was interesting to read how organizations keep adapting to an unpredictable context and how new standard practices begin to shape. The award ceremony will be held during the EFMD Executive Development Conference between 4-6th October 2022.
Governments and donors across Africa invest in the massive expansion of irrigated agriculture, assuming this will reduce poverty for smallholder farmers and increase food security. However, irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced many challenges especially irrigation failing to provide an adequate return on investment, weak market integration and weak water governance institutions, and significant degradation and abandonment of irrigated land. While there are real opportunities to expand the area under irrigation, there is a need to increase existing schemes’ physical and economic land and water productivity.
Dr Ramesh Singh, principal scientist – soil and water conservation at the ICRISAT Development Center bagged the Bhagirath Samman Award by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government in India. He received this award for his outstanding contribution to doubling of farmers income through natural resource management in eight locations across seven districts of UP, Bundelkhand region between 2018 and 2022. The award was presented to him on May 15, 2022.
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He worked on an ICRISAT-led and executed project consortium supported by RKVY, the government of UP eight locations. The Bundelkhand region was chosen for this project as it is one of the very intense water-scarce regions, a hot spot of poverty, malnutrition, land degradation and out-migration. To address these issues, the government of UP had assigned an ambitious initiative to be implemented by an ICRISAT-led consortium across all seven districts of the Bundelkhand region.
A baseline survey covering 1,403 households from 20 villages was carried out across seven districts to capture demographic characteristics, land use, cropping system, water resources availability, livestock status, income sources and food consumption pattern along with soil and rainfall characterization. Between May 2017 and June 2018, ICRISAT worked towards rapport building with the community.
A large-scale rainwater harvesting (RWH) plan was developed and implemented in a phased manner in pilot sites from May 2019 onwards. This effort created about 2.5 million cubic meters (MCM) storage capacity. Besides, large-scale field bunding was developed on about 6,000 acres to enhance soil moisture availability and control land degradation.
This enhanced storage capacity and benefited more than 10,000 farming families across the project. All the pilot sites have been developed as benchmark sites for long term monitoring of a range of impact parameters (biophysical, hydrological, socio-economic) for realizing the potential of combining landscape and field-scale interventions in the dryland ecosystem. For ensuring the sustainability of impacts created under this initiative, local institutions were created, nurtured and empowered with the help of the department of agriculture.
In addition, the convergence of departmental schemes such as khet-talab, solar pump, SCSP, and mini kit of seeds of improved varieties have benefited more than 1,000 farming families.
The International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) was honoured at the award ceremony organized by the Joint Farmers Association Forum (JFAF) and Ari District, Ninga Emirate, for being instrumental in transforming the lives of many farmers to become self-employed and self-reliant and, enhance food security. Dr Hakeem Ayinde Ajeigbe, Nigeria Country Representative, ICRISAT was conferred with a merit award and the traditional title of Dokajin Ari.
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ICRISAT’s Dr Angarawai Ignatius, Abubakar H Inuwa, Jerome Jonah, Tukur Abdulazeez and Hafsat Ibrahim were also recognized for their individual efforts toward promotion and development of agriculture.
The award ceremony was attended by the District Head of Ningi (Sarkin Ari), Alhaji Muhd Kilishi Musa and other dignitaries including Alhaji Ja’afaru Ilela, Program Manager, Bauchi State Agricultural Development Program (BASDP); Alhaji Aminu Sarkin-Aska, Deputy Chairman, Ningi LGA; Alhaji Ubale Garba Taura, Chiroman Taura; Dr Abubakar Musa, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria; women, youth and farmer groups.
Sarkin Ari, Alhaji Muhd Kilishi recognized ICRISAT’s contribution in agricultural research and said, “ICRISAT has improved technology and machinery used for agriculture, crop production, seed production techniques, crop-livestock integration, product development, processing and household nutrition and safe use of agrochemicals.”
Dr Ajeigbe, Nigeria Country Representative, ICRISAT said the people of Ningi, Ningi Emirate, and Ganjuwa Local Government Areas benefited from several projects led by ICRISAT such as Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE), Tropical Legumes Phase 3 (TL3), Nurturing Africa’s Digital Revolution for Agriculture (NADIRA), Transforming African Agriculture through Technologies (TAAT), and Accelerated Variety Improvement and Seed system in Africa (AVISA).
ICRISAT training activities in the Emirate have transformed the capacity building of women in grain processing, and further improved household nutrition and income generation. ICRISAT has led to changes in ruminant animal producers and, pastoralists on the use of stover crusher to increase the utilization of the stover by ruminants, ruminant feed formulation and formation of mineral block (mineral salt lick) as a possible potential remedy to the increasing farmer-herder conflicts in the country.
Progress toward achieving Sustainable Development Goals on hunger reduction — without any change in current food production practices — will hinder India’s efforts to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and hold the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, says agricultural economist Prabhu Pingali.
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“Over the past half a century, rising food-grain productivity in India has resulted in major progress in hunger reduction, at least in terms of calorie sufficiency. Staple grain-centric agricultural policies, especially price supports and input subsidies, contributed to the quantum leap in food grain supplies. However, we also saw a rapid degradation of the environmental resource base and rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” said Pingali, Director at Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition (TCI).
Pingali cautioned that under a business-as-usual scenario, the current push for doubling productivity will further aggravate these environmental and climate tradeoffs, but a “zero-hunger, zero-carbon” (ZHZC) food system could “explicitly minimise the trade-offs between hunger reduction and GHG emissions by adopting effective climate mitigation strategies.”
Zero-hunger, zero-carbon food system is one that pursues the goal of zero hunger through enhancing productivity growth while at the same time maintaining net-zero carbon emissions from agricultural production, processing and movement along the food value chain.
Agriculture is responsible for nearly 20% of India’s emissions, with livestock and rice cultivation its biggest contributors. Between 1990 and 2014, agricultural emissions rose 25%. Compounding its commitment to climate action by leaving forests intact and expanding plantations and land-based mitigation projects such as renewables, is India’s urgency to attend to the insidious nature of challenges of malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies.
While India has made substantial progress in hunger reduction in terms of meeting calorie requirements, its progress in reducing “hidden hunger”, that is micronutrient deficiencies, has been limited.
“As a result, we see stubbornly high levels of child stunting and wasting and high levels of anemia among adult women. At the same time, we are starting to observe rising obesity trends. Promoting food system diversity and enhancing access and affordability of nutrient-rich food for poor populations is an essential component of the strategy to address hidden hunger,” notes Pingali who has worked extensively on agriculture for nutrition for over 30 years.
“Investments in rural markets and value chain investments are crucial for enhancing the supply of diverse foods for urban and rural consumers. Also important, is an agricultural policy that shifts away from its traditional focus on staple grains to one that expands the food basket and ensures year-round supply. Finally, we need investments in clean drinking water, sanitation and other public health facilities in order to address the problem of child malnutrition and adult health,” he said.
Moving towards a zero-carbon food system speaks to opportunities available in the transitions including diversification of production systems. The rising demand for food diversity provides farmers with market-led incentives to diversify their production systems from their traditional focus on staple grains.
“Diversification out of paddy rice cultivation, in particular, could have significant climate mitigation benefits in terms of reducing methane emissions. For rice and wheat production systems there are opportunities to reduce carbon emissions through zero-tillage systems, better management of crop residues, more efficient use of fertilisers and water, and in general adopting smarter farming practices. There are also opportunities for promoting livestock husbandry and fodder management practices that are more climate-friendly,” said Pingali.
However, any climate solution that focuses exclusively on mitigation without addressing small farm adaptation to climate change will not be directly meeting the needs of marginal small farm communities. “Moreover, small farm communities need technical, financial and extension support for successfully adopting climate-friendly technologies. Marginalised agricultural communities bear the brunt of the adverse impacts of climate change. Rising temperatures adversely impact their crop yields, especially for those living in the drylands. Increased frequency of events such as floods and drought add to the riskiness of food production by small farmers on marginal lands,” he added.
India is currently in throes of a record-breaking heatwave, scorching its wheat harvest and raising concerns over the country’s offer to stem the food stock shortfall following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even as the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) warned in a report of 40% of the world’s land being degraded in its quest for food and natural resources and currently nearly half of the world’s land area is under agriculture.
Meanwhile, another UN report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, on climate mitigation, underscores that the Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Uses (AFOLU) sector which contributed to 13-21% of total greenhouse gas emissions between 2010 and 2019, offers considerable opportunities to reduce GHG emissions by a “concerted, rapid, and sustained effort by all stakeholders, from policy-makers and investors to landowners and managers.” According to the IPCC, AFOLU can provide 20% to 30% of the global mitigation needed for a 1.5 or 2°C pathway by 2050, though it cannot be a substitute for delayed action in reducing emissions in other sectors.
TCI recently launched the Achieve Zero-Hunger, Zero-Carbon Food Systems. In an initial meeting, researchers discussed evidence on climate impacts on Bihar’s agriculture and carbon emissions from current production practices in the run-up to a detailed assessment of the prospects for a ZHZC food system in Bihar, followed up by other eastern Indian states, such as Jharkhand and Odisha.
The challenge lies in making these technologies and management practices economically viable for smallholder systems, and in addressing the constraints they face in adopting more climate-resilient production systems. Examples of zero-carbon techniques and approaches used within food systems are solar-powered irrigation systems, conservation tillage systems, and improved water management systems for rice cultivation. But there are no state or national-level food systems that have achieved net-zero carbon.
“Most of these are discrete interventions that have not made a significant difference to the underlying system. There has also been limited attention to simultaneously addressing the dual goals of zero hunger and zero carbon. Identifying pathways that minimise the tradeoffs between hunger reduction and climate mitigation is the central objective of our initiative,” added Pingali.
But what would a zero-hunger, zero-carbon food system look like?
There is no one model for a zero-hunger, zero-carbon food system. “Specific interventions vary by agroecology and farming systems, including smallholder livestock systems. The common element is reducing carbon emissions by being smarter and more efficient in the choice of products produced and inputs used, especially energy, water, and fertilisers.”
“Incentives for changing production practices depend on a policy environment that encourages—or at least does not discourage—change, such as subsidy-free fertilisers, power, water and other inputs. Also important is a food price policy that does not aggravate the hunger-climate tradeoffs.”
Working with community-based organisations is one way to enable the transition is just for communities because it ensures climate-friendly agricultural technologies and practices are successfully adopted in a way that benefits smallholders.
“Farmer Producer Organisations and Women’s Self-Help Groups ought to be seen as partners in promoting zero-carbon strategies for crop and livestock production systems and value chains. Bihar, through its Jeevika program, has been a leader in popularising Women’s Self-Help Groups across the state. That’s definitely a platform that climate-smart farming can be built upon,” Pingali said.
Pingali who is also the Governing Board Chair at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), a CGIAR Research Center, also spotlighted the role of CGIAR institutions in potentially having a big impact in making Indian agriculture resilient to climate change.
“ICRISAT, headquartered in Hyderabad, has a long history of working on dryland crops such as millets and sorghum. These crops can help sustain the food security of the poor populations living in arid and semi-arid regions of India. Work on drought-tolerant crops and management practices such as conservation tillage and efficient water management help farmers adapt to climate change. It is true that India has strong agricultural research institutes. ICRISAT and the CGIAR centers work in partnership with Indian institutes and are crucial conduits for bringing global knowledge and research advances for addressing the problems of Indian agriculture and food security in the face of climate change,” he added.
Over nine million Kenyans are pastoralists out of a total population of 50 million. Together they hold livestock worth over US$1 billion. Livestock is their source of food, health, and wealth.
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But livestock also causes conflicts. In some Kenyan communities, clashes between farmers and pastoralists erupt due to the scramble for fodder, water and space. Farms encroach on rangelands while livestock invade farms.
These complex conflicts, which are rooted in history, respond to politics, and peak during droughts. The year 2021 was particularly.
State and non-state actors engage in peace building, conflict resolution and reconciliation. What if they include livestock markets in peace-building? Could they mitigate conflicts between farmers and herders?
We believe they can.
We conducted research to understand how a different way of valuing the price of livestock could contribute to peace building. We did our research among livestock buyers in the Kerio Valley, Kenya, an area known for protracted communal conflicts.
The mechanisms influencing livestock pricing in Kenya have been studied extensively. In traditional price building, livestock values are determined through ad hoc negotiations.
But there is another system: the use of quality-based payments. Here, the price of an animal is determined through its weight, breed and health. Such systematic grading of animals is widely used in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.
In our view, quality-based payments for livestock would set off a virtuous cycle. Firstly, it would lead to premium prices for livestock. This, in turn, could encourage pastoralists to reduce herd sizes, improve animal husbandry and increase forage demand. The end result would be farmers producing forage and trading in meat, milk and manure with herders. More forage would minimise the pressure on rangelands, improve animal health, lowers animal mortality during the dry season, and stabilise prices.
Also, improved feeding systems would result in lower greenhouse gas emissions.
If co-designed with livestock buyers and sellers, we argue that markets will create better feeding systems and these, in turn, would address multiple goals of income, stability, environmental health and climate security.
The outcome, in our view, would be reduced conflict.
Our paper sets out what needs to happen for Kenyan livestock markets to transition towards quality-based payments. Our findings point to three levers that would enable a switch to quality-based payments.
First, livestock buyers must adopt trading behaviour. For example, they would have to weigh animals to determine prices. Weighing also gives pastoralists a fair value for their animals. Weighing is acceptable to butchers. But not to brokers, who buy two to three animals for sale to intermediate traders. They often use the absence of weighing scales as an argument against quality-based payments.
There are also complex cultural resentments of weighing among herders. Herders see price negotiations as part and parcel of their culture.
Similarly, traders also have a number of concerns, including the fact that weighing may expose their profit margins to herders. Traders are also concerned about the quality of the weighing scales, and the fact that it may not account for offal which meat inspectors tend to condemn due to parasite infestation.
Our second major finding was that quality-based payments only work if there is proper parasite and disease control as well as improved transport network.
The poor health of animals affects the whole value chain. This is because diseased animals are sold at every possible opportunity, prices are affected, and other animals are at risk of contracting diseases when infected animals are taken to a market.
Above all, trekking undermines animal immunity and increases the risk of spreading infectious diseases. For instance, cattle trek for three to four days and up to 200 km between the primary and terminal markets. They’re exhausted when they arrive at the market.
Using quality-based payments would necessitate enhanced veterinary and extension services for proper parasite and disease control as well as better transport. The transport infrastructure should be improved to encourage trucks to reach primary livestock markets. This would reduce the trekking of animals and related hardships.
The third finding is that quality definitions in the livestock trade need reframing. The cultural purposes often inform the standard definition of livestock quality. For example, the traditional consensus on the value of improved breeds leading to higher production and productivity is not necessarily important for the pastoral community.
Kenyan pastoralists prefer local breeds to improved breeds, arguing that large and heavy animals as well as those with long hooves cannot tolerate high temperatures or trek to distant grazing lands or to the market.
Therefore, the achievement of quality-based payments for livestock in socially, economically and environmentally fragile drylands is conditioned on agreeing on a broader definition of livestock quality. This should capture the animal’s physical and health attributes, its weather and trekking-tolerance and its purpose.
Markets alone will not solve historical grievances, ethnic tensions, cattle raids, and land tenure disputes. However, markets get people together, provide conversation space, and build trust. Livestock markets could foster cooperation between conflict parties, thus improving social cohesion. Markets paying for quality could open such a backdoor to peace-building.
(Authored by John Mugonya, Consultant, Global Research Program on Enabling Systems Transformation and Michael Hauser, Principal Scientist and Associate Professor, ICRISAT-Nairobi for The Conversation)
Water hyacinth is one of the world’s worst weeds. Its infestation in water bodies receiving wastewater from nearby human settlements is a chronic problem across tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. However, researchers at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have enhanced the value of water hyacinth biomass by adapting aerobic composting, a process that decomposes organic matter using microorganisms that require oxygen.
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This can in turn promote pisciculture or fish farming wherein the compost harvested through water hyacinth biomass can be used as food in fish tanks or artificial enclosures such as fishponds for commercial breeding of fishes. Increased availability of good quality compost also fosters improved soil health.
Investment vs return
Setting up of rural enterprise would require an investment of about Rs 60,000 mainly towards equipment costs for size reduction and sieving operations. The production cost inclusive of labour cost and input cost for about 11.5 tons of aerobic compost is about Rs 32,500.
The aerobic compost thus produced would generate yearly net revenue of Rs 3,01,320. The sell value for final aerobic compost is Rs 5 per kg as against Rs 30-40 for other compost available in the market. The capital can be recovered in 2.4 months.
How was the value of water hyacinth enhanced?
Led by Dr Aviraj Datta, scientist-wastewater management, the team of researchers (Rajesh Pasumarthi, PK Mishra and Sreenath Dixit), harvested water hyacinth manually using fishing nets from community ponds spread around Duggal village in Satyabadi block, Puri district, Odisha, India.
The harvested biomass was kept overnight to drain the excess water. A sample of fresh biomass was collected for analysis. About 1,000 kg of water hyacinth biomass was mixed with one kg of Madhyam culture (mixture of several microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes etc.), 300 kg of paddy straw and 300 kg of cow dung. Heap turning and watering were carried out every 10 days to facilitate proper mixing, heat dissipation and maintain adequate moisture. The compost samples were collected for analysis after 52 days of the complete process.
Analysis of compost
Considering water hyacinth is known for its high nutrient uptake capacity, the analysis found that the cellulose and hemicellulose constitute 58.6% of its biomass making it highly amenable to composting.
“The plant tissue analysis of the plant biomass revealed high phosphate, sulfur and calcium concentration in the biomass making it an attractive substrate for compost preparation. However, as the moisture content in the biomass is high co-composting, a combination of water hyacinth biomass, paddy straw and cow-dung in a 3:1:1 ratio (fresh weight basis) was found most suitable,” read a paper presentation, that was recently recognized as the best “best presentation in the session on the circular economy” at the International Conference SuWaM-2022 organized by Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
Further, the compost samples collected from several heaps were analyzed and a consistently high carbon/nitrogen (CN) ratio was observed highlighting its good fertilizer potential. The average CN ratio observed for the aerobic compost was 6:7.
Interestingly, good concentrations of micronutrients such as zinc and boron were also observed. The addition of any chemical fertilizer for further enrichment of the compost thus produced such rock-phosphate was avoided to ensure the product remains ‘organic’.
The government of Kenya together with partners has applauded ICRISAT for its 50 years of scientific innovation and impact in the drylands. During the 50th anniversary celebrations in Kenya, Principal Secretary, State Department for Development of the Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs), Micah Powon, praised ICRISAT’s work, in partnership with the government and other stakeholders, in building resilient agri-food systems through which millions of lives have been transformed economically and nutrition-wise. Mr Micah Powon noted that with the already established partnerships, the country is in the process of realizing food and nutrition security as well as boosting incomes to improve the livelihoods of the people.
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“This is especially through the development of hundreds of improved seed varieties and several agricultural technologies for the semi-arid areas,” the Principal Secretary expounded adding that for a very long time, a huge number of Drought Tolerant Crops (DTCs) farmers used to recycle seeds but today, there is a notable number that has adopted the improved varieties of dryland cereals and legumes.
The Government of Kenya recognizes the potential contribution of ASALs towards the achievement of Vision 2030 Strategy, a long-term development blueprint motivated by a collective aspiration for a better society by the year 2030. According to Powon, this demonstrates a shared vision with ICRISAT in ensuring that Kenyans living in the ASALs are food and nutrition secure and can generate income from farming.
“Through various joint projects, ICRISAT has built systems to link farmers to markets and a good example is Feed the Future-Accelerated Value Chain Development (FtF-AVCD) project funded by USAID, which helped establish 38 aggregation centers in six ASAL counties; 6000 farmers were successfully linked to markets, specifically in Elgeyo Marakwet County, where groundnut farmers earned KShs 25 million from sales through this initiative,” Powon said.
The Principal Secretary assured ICRISAT of the government’s commitment to continue the collaboration, especially to support development of research infrastructure
ICRISAT Director General, Dr. Jacqueline Hughes, noted that building inclusive, sustainable, and resilient food systems and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a priority for ICRISAT in sub-Saharan Africa.
“As ICRISAT moves forwards into the next 50 years, we strongly believe that partnerships are the only way in which global challenges can be tackled, and the best local solutions created. Partnerships are critical at all steps of agricultural research and innovation for development to: Better understand local and diverse needs; Advocate for appropriate approaches and solutions; Produce cutting edge science; Ensure sustainable solutions; and Assure uptake and scaling,” explained Dr. Hughes.
The Director General assured partners and donors of ICRISAT’s commitment to building on our 50 years of research, impact, and experience as well as on the coveted Africa Food Prize 2021 award. “We are already building the momentum for the UN International Year of Millets 2023 and are already planning with India and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on what we can do, with our partners, and on timelines. I assure you that ICRISAT will transcend research and delivery boundaries to build productive, resilient, sustainable, inclusive, healthy and profitable food systems for the drylands,” added the Director General.
“Urbanization and rising incomes are changing food choices, changing lifestyles and dietary habits, therefore give rise to new opportunities and food processors can cash in on these opportunities by developing ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat products with forgotten crops as the primary ingredient,” Dr Jacqueline Hughes, ICRISAT Director General said.
Dr. Malu Ndavi, Lead Technical Specialist Management of Agricultural Research grants at International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said that with the ongoing challenges of climate change, environmental conservation is very important. Additionally, Dr. Ndavi stressed on the need to attract youth into agriculture through digitalization of agriculture which will help tackle unemployment.
He emphasized on strategic partnership noting that donors like the European Union is pushing a lot on sub-regional bodies like ASARECA, CCARDESA, CORAF, and FARA as they harmonize engagements with National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in various regions. He added that north-south, south-south partnerships, are key in agricultural research and innovation for development.
Prof. Richard Mulwa, acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, Planning and Development at Egerton University testified that the university has done a lot of research in partnership with ICRISAT to not only enhance uptake of DTCs in ASALs but also introduce the crops where they were not traditionally grown.
“Egerton has worked with ICRISAT to enhance food security in the dry areas of Rift Valley region especially Kerio Valley and Baringo through interventions such as distribution of improved varieties of DTCs among other Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Post Harvesting Practices (PHH),” narrated Prof. Mulwa. Notably, with support from Tropical Legumes II and III Projects, Egerton managed to release four varieties of chickpea that are now grown in Bomet and Baringo, participated in the release of one pigeonpea variety that is being produced in Marigat and Kerio Valley, and sponsored 25 students for training on various agricultural concentrations especially crop breeding. The learning institution has also released two finger millets varieties in partnership with ICRISAT.
Mrs. Catherine Mbili from Kathonzweni, Makueni County, has embraced farming of DTCs and is now making better income. She cultivates sorghum, millets, and green grams on her two-acre farm and trains farmers on cultivating DTCs. This is after undergoing training on GAPs and PHH by ICRISAT through FtF-AVCD program in 2015. Mrs. Mbili testified that through a farmer group that she and other farmers stablished, Twone Mbee Mukolekya, they do collective marketing, value addition of DTCs and village saving and lending. ICRISAT supplied the group with foundation seeds which they initially did not have access to. They sold the seeds to the locals, and even though the group cannot meet the demands, they are able to lessen the challenge of seed shortage.
Through DTCs that are highly nutritious, Twone Mbee Mukolekya help families meet their nutritional value hence fight malnutrition, but also contributes towards attaining food security since the farmers harvest high yields and sell the surplus, thereby improving the living standards of the farmers and their families.
ICRISAT works closely with Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives (MoALFC), the Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), State Department for Development of the ASALs (SDDA) along with the private sector and other key stakeholders to build resilient livelihoods, capacitate farmers with climate-smart agricultural technologies among them resilient varieties of sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet, groundnut, pigeonpea and chickpea. Through collaboration with KALRO, ICRISAT has released 13 varieties comprising of sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet, and pigeon pea which are now helping meet food and nutrition needs and have become income generators in Kenya and beyond. Future collaborative research activities between KALRO and ICRISAT will continue to focus on bilateral research in various fields, sharing and exchange of germplasm and breeding lines, infrastructural improvement and training at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
ICRISAT developed its Strategic Plan 2021-2025 with a vision for a prosperous, food secure, and resilient dryland tropics. The Plan aligns with Kenyan government efforts towards achieving one of the four pillars of the President’s Big Four Agenda −food security− and Vision 2030’s Third Medium Term Plan which is currently being driven by the Big Four Agenda.
Lack of storage facilities coupled with the lack of technologies for value addition to the vegetable production for the farmers of Semiliguda, a block known for its vegetable cultivation, in Koraput, Odisha, is causing grave concerns. During the post-rainy season, these farmers become vulnerable to the fluctuating vegetable prices leading to income losses.
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In order to build resilience, low-cost solar dryers have been introduced in project villages by the World Vegetable Center, a consortium partner, in the ongoing ICRISAT-led project funded by Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM). The dryer was introduced with Maa Mangala self-help Group (SHG) group in Pungar village. The members of the group were trained to maintain and operate these solar dryers. Because of the increase in demand, second dryer was installed for the same SHG.
This solar dryer dries the vegetables at temperatures below 60oC, thus preserving the colour, flavour and nutrient value of the vegetables. It was found most suited for drying tomato, mango, ginger and turmeric.
The dryer reduced the risk of highly fluctuating market price in tomato farming. In semiliguda, tomato price fluctuates between ₹ 5 to ₹ 50 per kg, however, the cost of dried tomato slices remains relatively stable between ₹ 40 to ₹ 60 per kg. (1 kg fresh tomato can produce approximately 220 gm of dried slices). It takes about
4-5 days for tomato to dry with these solar dryers in Semiliguda. The time required for drying depends on the solar radiation available and may vary with change of season or location.
On seeing the great potential and the ease of use, five more SHGs – Maa Gangamaa (Rajput), Maa Sarala (Pitaguda), Maa Santi (Sriramput), Salmi, Kapilaswar and Maa Tarani (Aligaon) – expressed their interest for solar dryers.
The International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) with support of the Food Agriculture Organization – Benefit Sharing Fund (FAO-BSF) has undertaken the project for ‘Harnessing dryland legume and cereals genetic resource for food and nutrition security and resilient farming systems in Malawi and Zambia’. Under this project, several activities aimed at improving farmers’ resilience to climate change have been implemented in the last three years.
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The project is being implemented in Central Malawi and Eastern Zambia, in partnership with the Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS) and the Department of Agricultural Extension Services in Malawi and Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI), Farmers Out-grower Foundation and Mthilakubili Cooperative in Zambia.
The project is making strides in improving agricultural production systems by integrating technological packages as a possible pathway to food and nutrition security and adaptation to climate variability. The efforts have led to introduction of improved groundnut and pigeon pea varieties, enhanced access to seeds of improved varieties, promotion of best fit cropping systems and capacity building in Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
Key project achievements include:
During the field day in Mchinji-Malawi, Mr Weston Dalitsani, a DAES representative, acknowledged ICRISAT and FAO-BSF project for the technologies and scientific knowledge that proved to be a gamechanger in addressing major production challenges like the Groundnut Rosette Disease (GRD), low soil fertility and climate variability. He urged farmers to participate in CSBs to acquire seed, adopt better allied agronomy like double row planting and pigeon pea intercropping to manage their lands better. He also pledged to continue working with farmers even after project life to ensure these technologies reach out to more and more farmers. (Dr James Mwololo, ESA groundnut breeder, is the Principal Investigator of the project supported by Wills Munthali, Senior Scientific officer).
Groundnut Network Group – Asia is a platform of public and private sector partners along the groundnut value chain to engage in groundnut Product design, development, testing, and delivery. The GNG-A is also a platform for continued knowledge sharing on new tools and technologies that can be used in groundnut breeding and testing to enhance rate of genetic gains for key target traits, as well as share practices of selection by phenotyping and genotyping for the key traits.
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The consultations held in 2019 with the stakeholder of GNG-A provided the information that went into the designing of the Target Product Profiles (TPPs) and prioritized key industry traits like kernel size and kernel size distribution and blanchability in the groundnut breeding pipeline. Besides, the market studies conducted in Myanmar and India guided the market segmentation and TPP design. Fourth meeting of GNG-A was held on 5th April 2022. Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General-Research in his opening remarks suggested the need for all the stakeholder from seed and food industry and researchers to collaborate effectively to promote the high oleic value chain in India.
The key discussion was around the technical aspects including field visit the screening nursery for drought tolerance under managed stress environment.Early maturity (90-95 days) screening nursery that uses destructive sampling method and Cumulative Thermal Time (CTT) to determine the days based on accumulated heat units, and seed processing facility (SPF) which has NIRS to assess the genetic purity in the high oleic seed production chain. The protocols standardized for Blanchability and kernel size distribution and CT to determine shelling outturn and kernel mass were also shared.
The Multi Environment Testing ( MET) conducted by the partners is valuable and the best practices for METs, data analysis and data-driven decision were discussed. The importance and practices to ensure the genetic purity in high oleic seed chain was shared with all the stakeholders. Advanced breeding line of groundnut in the field and a seed display was also arranged under the field visit.
Dr M Manjurul Kadir, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Bangladesh; Dr Nguyen Xuan Thu, Director, Legume Research and Development Centre, Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (LRDC –VAAS), Vietnam; Dr Maw Maw Naing, Department of Agricultural Research (DAR), Myanmar; Dr Priya Jayantha, Grain Legume and Oil Crops Research and Development Centre (GLORDC), Sri Lanka; Dr Mehran Gholami, Deputy of Agriculture & Natural Resources Research and Education Center of Guilan Province, Iran; Dr Praharaj, Director, ICAR-Directorate of Groundnut Research; Dr Kim Eang Tho, Deputy Director, Division of Research and Extension Royal University of Agriculture Phnom Penh, Cambodia presented on the groundnut markets and varietal requirement in the respective countries.
Dr. Manjurul, also noted that all capacity building programs that hosted groundnut researchers at ICRISAT for hands-on training have always been very useful and have upgraded our skills. Discussing the progress on testing and variety release in Myanmar, Dr Naing informed that ICGV 00005 is identified as promising foliar fungal disease resistant lines that will be commercialized soon.
Participants: Partners from 7 countries viz., Asia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, Iran, Srilanka, Laos, India and Cambodia representing research institutes, state agricultural universities, seed Corporations, private seed companies and private seed processors.
Applications are now open for the seed support scheme initiated by the Government of India. The Agribusiness Incubator (ABI) of the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad, has invited applications from AgTech startups under the NIDHI-Seed Support Scheme (NIDHI-SSS).
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NIDHI-SSS is supported by the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), the Department of Science and Technology (DST), and the Government of India.
Under the scheme, ABI-ICRISAT will offer:
“We aim to support technology-driven innovative start-ups in agriculture and allied sectors that can contribute to our mission of a food secure and resilient drylands. We are looking to engage with early revenue stage start-ups with product-market fit and clarity on their value proposition. The seed fund will enable them to accelerate their commercialization activities.” said Aravazhi Selvaraj, Head, ABI-ICRISAT.
Startups selected for incubation will be evaluated as per scheme criteria to receive funding up to Rs 50 lakh.
The last date for submission of the application is April 30, 2022.
Apply now: https://bit.ly/ABI_NIDHI_SSS
The Agribusiness Incubator was established by ICRISAT in 2003, with the support of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. Over the years, the Incubator has supported 106 start-ups that have generated over 3,200 direct jobs. The incubatees have gone on to raise US $50million in follow-up support funding.