August
Issue No: 1760
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Feature stories


Feed The Future, USAID, features ICRISAT’s Digital Agriculture work as a case study

As part of a series on the integration of digital technologies into agricultural programs, ICRISAT’s work on digital agriculture was featured as a case study in a USAID publication. The case study examines different approaches to adoption and how digital tools impact organizational culture, operations, and programs.

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The study on ICRISAT traces the organization’s journey in use of digital tools which began in 2009 and went on to become a critical component of the organization’s mission in 2014 with the launch of Digital Agriculture research theme. This theme is now weaving digital tools across the organization’s research and implementation work which include the following initiatives.

Plantix identifies plant damage and provides diagnosis in either English, Hindi and Telugu or five other languages.

Plantix identifies plant damage and provides diagnosis in either English, Hindi and Telugu or five other languages.

The Sowing app and the Intelligent Agricultural Systems Advisory Tool (ISAT) deliver targeted and timely SMS messages to farmers about sowing and other farm management practices. The Sowing app is a partnership between ICRISAT, Microsoft India, and the Government of Andhra Pradesh. It is currently being scaled up in 13 districts. The ISAT pilot is in its second year and focuses on 700 groundnut farmers practicing rainfed agriculture in sandy soils with low rainfall.

The iHub is an incubator program at ICRISAT for agricultural technology start-ups. There are currently twelve of them including Plantix – a free mobile crop advisory app that successfully identifies common plant diseases in India and Kalgudi – a free online platform which creates feedback loops between farmers and researchers.

The LeasyScan is a phenotyping platform that automatically measures important characteristics related to leaf surface area and water stress of plants. It uses eight laser triangulation scanners and scales to create a database of 3D plant images and weights for up to 4,800 plants multiple times a day. The HarvestMaster records highly accurate measurements of grain weight and moisture characteristics for development of new varieties.

Besides the case study publication, do take a look at ICRISAT’s work on digital agriculture.


Smart Food pitch at Australian Parliament House by Joanna Kane Potaka

Smart Food pitch at Australian Parliament House by Joanna Kane Potaka

High-level Smart Food pitch at Crawford Fund Conference in Australia’s Parliament House

Australian Foreign Minister calls it an ‘exciting breakthrough’

Can we change global diets so they get smarter - more nutritious and more environment friendly with Smart Food? This was the pitch of ICRISAT’s Assistant Director General Joanna Kane-Potaka at the Crawford Fund annual conference 2018. Held at the Parliament House in Australia, Kane-Potaka said Smart Food, like millet and sorghum could tackle some of the biggest global issues of today.

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Photo: Crawford Fund

Photo: Crawford Fund

“Smart Food – food that is good for you, the planet and the farmer – can have a major impact on the mega-global issues of malnutrition, poverty and environmental degradation,” said Kane-Potaka, also Executive Director of the Smart Food initiative. Smart Food was on display at the conference in the Mural Hall of Parliament House and the initiative was selected as a top global food innovation in a competition run by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and USAID, according to a media release issued on the occasion.

The Crawford Fund’s annual conference has for close to 30 years drawn focus to issues for attention in Australia and globally on agricultural development and food security. The ‘Reshaping Agriculture for Better Nutrition: The Agriculture, Food, Nutrition, Health Nexus,’ the 2018 annual conference focuses on how we can we feed the world’s increasing population with a nourishing diet that promotes good health and at the same time minimizes further environmental impact? Key speakers at this year’s conference include, Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, John Anderson AO, Chair of the Crawford Fund, Alessandro Demaio, CEO, Eat Foundation, Dr Jessica Fanzo, Bloomberg & UN FAO, Prof Andrew Campbell, CEO ACIAR and many key leaders in agriculture and food security.

Julie Bishop, MP Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, speaking on Smart Food at the Crawford Fund’s annual conference. Photo: Crawford Fund

Julie Bishop, MP Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, speaking on Smart Food at the Crawford Fund’s annual conference. Photo: Crawford Fund

In her speech, Julie Bishop, recommended innovative solutions for better nutrition in the world and specifically referred to the Smart Food initiative of ICRISAT called it an exciting breakthrough and one of the innovations that could really make a difference.

On the role of Australia in promoting Smart Food, Kane-Potaka said the country had the right agroecology to be a leader in spreading this movement to benefit from what could be a new food trend. Explaining that millets and sorghum are traditional foods of many countries across Asia and Africa, they survived well in hot dry marginalized lands and were suitable for Australia’s agroecology, especially in time of minimal rainfall.  She encouraged Australians to consume more millets and sorghum, for their health benefits. Finger millet has three times more calcium than milk, pearl, little and barnyard millet have 2-4 times iron than meat and all millets and sorghum are gluten free with low glycemic index.

“The world needs to reduce the reliance on rice, wheat and maize which provide 50% of the world’s calories and protein but crowd out other nutritious, naturally climate-smart foods. Smart Food when eaten as staples in developing countries can have a major impact on the leading global issues.”

The Smart Food global campaign founded by ICRISAT is a global campaign for foods that ensure well-being of people and the environment along with better incomes for smallholder farmers of Asia and Africa.

Smart Food pitch at Australian Parliament House by Joanna Kane Potaka

Smart Food pitch at Australian Parliament House by Joanna Kane Potaka

In the media:
ABC story: http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2018-08-18/ancient-grain-millet-tackle-obesity-malnourish-drought-farmers/10126348
ABC radio Saturday AM: http://www.abc.net.au/radio/adelaide/programs/am/the-ancient-grain-that-could-help-farmers-in-drought/10135816
Farm on Line: https://www.farmonline.com.au/story/5597143/growing-the-list-of-cropping-staples-to-fuel-the-world/


A farmer in her maize plot in Bidi Bidi refugee camp Copyright: Panos

A farmer in her maize plot in Bidi Bidi refugee camp Copyright: Panos

Women farmers without phones vulnerable to climate risk

Women smallholders’ limited access to mobile phones and call credits could derail use of climate information services (CIS) for adapting to climate change risks, a study in Ghana suggests.

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According to the researchers, although CIS could help smallholders make informed decisions on use of strategies to become resilient to climate change, research on its use and impact among women and men smallholders in Sub-Saharan Africa is limited.

The objective of the study conducted in two districts of Ghana’s Upper West region was to assess the extent to which perceptions of climate change and access to CIS differ among men and women smallholders.

In November 2016, researchers randomly surveyed 900 smallholders, including 51 per cent who accessed climate information through mobile phone voice alerts and text messages delivered by Esoko, an information and communication technology company in Ghana, according to the study published in the journal Climate Change last month (5 July).

The researchers from Ghana and Mali also organised four focused group discussions, with each group having 20 participants and a mix of men and women smallholders to generate comments on perceptions and access to climate information.

“Women’s limited access to farm resources and the telephone device … is a threat to their ability to adapt to climate change risk.”

Robert Zougmoré, CCAFS, Mali

The study found that men and women had similar perceptions about climate change such as increased strong winds, temperatures, drought and flooding.

But according to the findings, those with access to telephones were about 12 times more likely to use CIS compared with those who did not have telephones.

“The higher probability that men will use climate information may be related to their ability to easily access telephone devices,” the researchers note in the paper. “A more significant number of men (about 35 per cent) than women (20 per cent) had access to mobile phones.”

Samuel Partey, study co-author and Mali-based researcher with the Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, tells SciDev.Net that there is a need for exploring various dissemination channels that address the constraints such as lack of credits from the banks, farming tools and seeds experienced by women.

“This will help improve women’s access and use of CIS so that they can play important roles in household climate change adaptation planning,” Partey says.

Robert Zougmoré, a co-author of the study and regional programme leader of CCAFS, Mali, adds, “Women’s limited access to farm resources and the telephone device … is a threat to their ability to adapt to climate change risk.”

Mavis Akuffobea, a research scientist at Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, agrees with the findings but says that women recognise the threat posed by climate change as a serious problem than men do.

Government policies addressing climate change should include gender-transformative approaches at all levels to support adaptation options for each unique climate distress event that reduce vulnerability of the different gender groups in times of crisis,” Akuffobea adds.


Release of the Hindi recipe book

Release of the Hindi recipe book

‘Historic’ India Millet Mission campaign to begin in September

The largest producer of millets in the world, India, will launch an intensive campaign to promote these ‘nutri-cereals’ all across the country, on the 28th of September. This was announced by Dr Ashok Dalwai, IAS, CEO, National Rainfed Area Authority at the Indian Institute of Millets Research here at the meeting to prepare roadmap for the national millet mission. The Union Agriculture Minister will formally flag off this campaign for the National Year of Millets, in Pune which will be followed by a number of activities over the next few months.

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Calling it a ‘historic’ day, Dr Dalwai said “We need to place some things on a pedestal to gain support. The mission will include focus on resource-poor farmers and the nutrition status of the country. However, we should ensure that the national campaign retains the advantages of millets as climate smart and environment friendly crops. Our decisions can lead to a new Green Revolution” he said.

Announcing plans for seed hubs for all millets millets, with Dr. B Rajender, IAS, Joint Secretary, National Food Security Mission said “The state governments will be involved in a big way, both for nutrition security, not just income security. Also there will be communication plans rolled out at the district and the local level to scale up this campaign.”

Sharing details of the roadmap for the national millet mission, Dr Vilas A Tonapi, Director, Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) shared data on how the productivity of millets has shown a good increase across the country, in spite of pressure on land. The activities through the year would be spearheaded by IIMR in partnership with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), State Agricultural Universities (SAU), National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and many other non-governmental, private and international organizations. Dr B Dayakar Rao, Principal Scientist IIMR presented details of the ‘road map’ of activities for India’s Year of Millets.

Dr Kiran K Sharma, Deputy Director General (Research), ICRISAT shared his concern about linking farmers and the markets. “By simply grading, cleaning and packaging, farmers could get double the income for millets. Now, there is a high increase prices of millets in stores; however, is the farmer getting the benefit?”

A number of representatives including from government research institutions, non-governmental organizations, scientists, processors and private companies participated in this day-long consultation.  At the open session in the meeting all participants shared their ideas and inputs for the roadmap for implementation of the millet mission. Ideas range from requirement for high-tech machinery to addressing shelf life of millets to need for more research allocation to add to the campaign.

A book of recipes in Hindi for millet based cuisine was released on the occasion. An MoU that had been signed between Nourish Inc technology and IIMR on licencing of millet value added products was also formally handed over at the program.

For more information, please contact:

Dr B Dayakar Rao at +91 98800 45728 or dayakar (at) millets (dot) res (dot) in
Jayashree Balasubramanian at +91 9840050444 or B (dot) Jayashree (at) cgiar (dot) org


(L-R) Dr Kiran K Sharma, Mr Harish Rao and Mr G Malsur. Photo: G Chander

(L-R) Dr Kiran K Sharma, Mr Harish Rao and Mr G Malsur. Photo: G Chander

Water impact: When over 15,000 tanks were restored, how did lives of smallholder farmers change?

Soil, water and socio-economic impact of Telangana state government’s Mission Kakatiya to be assessed by ICRISAT scientists

A unique mission of the state government of Telangana in India, that aims to restore over 46,000 tanks across the state, will now assess the impact it is making. With over 15,000 tanks, restored, the soil, water changes as well as how lives of smallholder farmers have been impacted will be assessed by ICRISAT.

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The ‘Mission Kakatiya’ of the Government of Telangana aims to improve minor irrigation infrastructure, strengthening community based irrigation management and with a comprehensive program for restoration of tanks. This scheme aims to restore around 46,531 tanks enumerated by the irrigation department. In Phase 1 and 2 of the project over 15,000 tanks have been restored.

An agreement for a scientific assessment of the impact of the first two phases of this initiative, was signed in August 2018, between the Ministry of Irrigation, Government of Telangana and ICRISAT.

Speaking at the formal signing, the Minister for Irrigation, Government of Telangana, T Harish Rao said, “There are a number of reported benefits including reports on in-bound migration following the desilting of water tanks. We look forward to understand also how the change in availability of water has affected reverse migration. We need to look at many parameters including sustainability, more than just in monetary terms.”

The partnership was signed by G Malsur, Commissioner Common Area Development Authority, Ministry of Irrigation and Dr Kiran K Sharma, Deputy Director General, (Acting), ICRISAT. “ICRISAT very much values the partnerships with the Government of Telangana in its development agenda,” said Dr Sharma. “This partnership project has immense significance in enumerating various benefits of the Mission Kakatiya Project, especially in promoting soil fertility and productivity, and the associated benefits on livelihoods of the smallholder farmers of Telangana.”

The two-year project will carry out economic assessment of benefits of ‘Mission Kakatiya’ to smallholder farmers to understand nutrient return to the soil and the productivity and profitability.  Through stratified sampling, nutrient content of silt from across 30 districts will be assessed.  Demonstration trials will be undertaken with different levels of silt along with balanced nutrient management for major crops. Overall 750 sites will be examined for soil and water health, besides crop diversity and impact on livelihood. Dr Girish Chander, Scientist, ICRISAT – IDC, who has been working on towards this initiative will work with the team to also analyse the silt made available for application on its suitability for and impact on farming in this region.


Photo: ICRISAT

Photo: ICRISAT

Talking nutrition with adolescents in tribal regions of Telangana

On World Tribal Day (August 9), we examine the importance of nutrition messaging in staving off debilitating malnutrition

India’s tribal population is generally at risk of malnutrition owing to its dependence on primitive agricultural practices, poverty, illiteracy, and poor personal and environmental hygienic practices. Lack of access to healthcare, poor communication, traditional beliefs and customs aggravate the situation. Our conversations with adolescents belonging to the Gond tribes from the erstwhile Adilabad district, in Telangana, have focused on nutrition outcomes, common dietary habits, and understanding nutrition and health behavior.

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Interviewing parents of adolescents Photo: ICRISAT

Interviewing parents of adolescents Photo: ICRISAT

Adolescence is a nutritionally crucial period, when dramatic increases in physical growth and development put greater pressure on the need for nutrients. In fact, call it a second opportunity to catch up on growth that will determine the rest of one’s adult life. So what is the level of nutrition knowledge and practices among tribal adolescents and how willing are they to participate in enhancing them?

A baseline survey conducted as part of the “Nutri-Food Basket” project implemented by ICRISAT in partnership mode and funded by the Government of Telangana and National Rural Health Mission, collected information on 16 villages, 79 anganwadi centers (rural mother & child care centres) and 1710 households in Utnoor mandal (administrative unit), where about 70% of the adolescent girls were underweight and 40% were anaemic. Following established protocols, discussions with them revealed that both boys and girls lack basic awareness about food, nutrition health and overall well-being. When asked which foods contained energy, vitamins or proteins, none of the adolescents who participated in the focus group discussions (FGDs) were able to properly categorize the different foods according to their nutrients.

A feedback session on nutrition messaging. Photo: ICRISAT

A feedback session on nutrition messaging. Photo: ICRISAT

The discussions also gave us an insight into the changed dietary preferences of people living in the tribal areas of Adilabad district. The supply of subsidized rice through the Public Distribution System (PDS) has led to a shift in consumption from highly nutritious millets to rice, which could also be attributed to a shift in cropping pattern from subsistence to commercial crops. Hardship in hand processing of millets, coupled with the absence of millet processors, and psychological factors such as the status associated with consuming rice over millets have led to a decrease in food diversity. Where a decade ago not much of outside or packaged food was consumed, now they are more commonly eaten by young children and adolescents, especially boys.

The FGDs and individual interviews conducted revealed the lacunae in nutrition knowledge among adolescents, their parents and their anganwadi teachers. The data collected reinforced the fact that lack of knowledge about nutrition was a reason for the prevalence of malnutrition in the area. Affordability also came up many times as a barrier to eating a diverse diet. While nutritional messaging may not directly affect the issue of affordability, creating awareness will make nutrition a priority for families once they are in a position of financial stability.

Interviewing a science teacher at the Lakkaram school in Adilabad. Photo: ICRISAT

Interviewing a science teacher at the Lakkaram school in Adilabad. Photo: ICRISAT

A pilot exercise was conducted to explore how nutrition messages on dietary diversity can be conveyed to increase the understanding of nutrition, especially among adolescents. Dietary diversity was selected as the topic since the results of the Nutri-Food basket baseline data had revealed low diet diversity scores, low hemoglobin levels as well as the prevalence of being underweight. The adolescents were given information pamphlets combining text and pictures for ease of visualization by all age groups. Given that folklore and oral traditions are popular in these tribal villages, they got to listen to a folksong with a nutrition message. Feedback was sought on their understanding of the message and the preferred communication method. We suggest the use of a combination of communication materials that include visually appealing posters, pamphlets, songs, folk dances and others to spread the message of good nutrition as well as attention to the placement, timing and frequency of dissemination.

These activities underlined the need to promote nutrition literacy and behavior change campaigns targeted at women, young children and adolescents in the tribal regions. Adolescent girls and boys should be given special emphasis and receive targeted interventions including new knowledge. Then knowledge could truly be power!

This activity is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC).

Adolescents with the pamphlet. Photo: ICRISAT

Adolescents with the pamphlet. Photo: ICRISAT

About the authors:

Dr. R Padmaja, Senior Scientist (Gender), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
Hermela Gebremarium, World Food Prize Borlaug Intern
Kavitha Kasala, Senior Scientific Officer, ICRISAT

Meetings and conferences


Dr Lilly Lim-Camacho (second from left) and Dr Jessica Bogard (far right) with women farmers at Aurapalle, Telangana, India.

Dr Lilly Lim-Camacho (second from left) and Dr Jessica Bogard (far right) with women farmers at Aurapalle, Telangana, India.

East African Community Vision 2050: Is it water-proof?

At a recent project planning meeting with the Lake Victoria Basin Commission at the East African Community, participating members agreed to quantify water security in the Victoria Basin until 2050, given dramatic changes in demography, food demand and climate. The Lake Victoria and its rivers are the lifeline for 35 million people but water resources degrade, with reasons also in agriculture. While the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) will deploy their macro models to the lake basin across five countries, ICRISAT explores the nexus between future water availability, rain-fed agriculture and fragility/resilience at meso and micro-level. Such foresight provides critical inputs to trans-border innovation and scaling of water-proof food production in future. Important lever: Direct links with policy and governance through the Council of Ministers. Picture shows Dr Ali Said Matano, Commission Executive Secretary (third from left) with IIASA and ICRISAT staff. The meeting was attended by Dr Michael Hauser (extreme right), Theme Leader, Markets, Institutions, Nutrition and Diversity.

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Dr Lilly Lim-Camacho (second from left) and Dr Jessica Bogard (far right) with women farmers at Aurapalle, Telangana, India.

Dr Lilly Lim-Camacho (second from left) and Dr Jessica Bogard (far right) with women farmers at Aurapalle, Telangana, India.

CSIRO and ICRISAT to team up for nutrition via better agricultural value chains

A team of scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia, visited ICRISAT to develop a joint work plan for collaborating on ‘Nutrition-oriented value chain interventions in developing countries’ on 20 August. Dr Brad Ridoutt, Principal Research Scientist;  Dr Lilly Lim-Camacho, Senior Research Scientist; and Dr Jessica Bogard, Nutrition Systems Scientist from CSIRO met with the Markets, Institutions, Nutrition and Diversity team.

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Signing of MoU between ICRISAT and Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences (ZAAS). Photo: Anjaiah Balammola. Photos: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Signing of MoU between ICRISAT and Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences (ZAAS). Photo: Anjaiah Balammola. Photos: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Tying up with one of China’s oldest agri-science academies to accelerate modern research pursuits

To foster joint academic and research pursuits and to explore future collaborative ventures, the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences (ZAAS), a non-profit agricultural research institution, signed an MoU with ICRISAT. The agreement facilitates the exchange of scientific materials, publications and information. Academic, research and other staff will participate in teaching, training, research for development programs and other agreed activities, especially in the fields of Genomics, Molecular Breeding and Phenomics.

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Dr Lao Hongwu, President of ZAAS, who led the 6-member delegation from China, said, “I am excited to see this upstream science for product development at ICRISAT’s Centre of Excellence in Genomics and Systems Biology (CEGSB) and we look forward to see this happening at our academy as well, in collaboration with ICRISAT. Research at ZAAS focuses mainly on basic agricultural research and applications, high-tech agricultural innovation and service mechanism, covering almost all aspects of agricultural sciences except tea and fishery, to provide service and assistance for rural development of Zhejiang province and beyond. ZAAS will be celebrating its 110th anniversary this yearend

Dr Peter Carberry, Director General (Acting), ICRISAT, welcomed the collaboration between the two leading research institutes in Asia. On a more curious note, he enquired if the research publications are all in Chinese and was told that the English versions are also available. The host of the event, Dr Rajeev K Varshney, Research Program Director-Genetic Gains, ICRISAT, said, “Our collaboration with ZAAS will be a ‘win-win’ for accelerating product development by utilizing the expertise of both the institutes.”

The delegation comprising of officials from various ZAAS institutes included Dr Dai Jie, Office Director; Dr Li Guojing, Institute Director, Research Fellow, Institute of Vegetables; Dr Wang Jianjun, Deputy Director of Institute, Research Fellow, Institute of Crops and Nuclear Technology Utilization; Dr Xu Pei, Research Fellow, Institute of Vegetables; and Dr Qi Yongbin, Associate Research Fellow, Institute of Crops and Nuclear Technology Utilization. From ICRISAT, Dr Kiran K Sharma, DDG- Research (Acting) and several senior scientists and managers were present during the MoU signing on August 6. During this two-day visit, the ZAAS delegation interacted with Dr Pooran Gaur, Research Program Director – Asia, Dr Anthony Whitbread, Research Program Director – Innovation Systems for the Drylands and Dr Warwick Easdown, Regional Director-South/Central Asia, World Vegetable Center and scientists from their respective Research Programs. This is a step forward from Dr Varshney’s visit to ZAAS last year to explore the possibilities of collaborations, where the ZAAS leadership expressed their interest in interdisciplinary research collaborations with ICRISAT.

Seminar on the role of orphan genes specific to cowpea

Dr Xu Pei, one of the delegates, delivered a seminar titled ‘Orphan genes are involved in drought adaptations and ecoclimatic-oriented selections in domesticated cowpea’.

Orphan Genes (OGs) are genes that are restricted to a single species or a particular taxonomic group. So far, little is known about functions of OGs in domesticated crops. The study on OG-environmental adaptation relationships in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) identified 578 expressed cowpea OGs, of which 73.2% were predicted to be non-coding. Transcriptomic analyses revealed a strikingly high rate of OGs that were drought-inducible in roots only, as compared with conserved genes. Co-expression analysis further revealed the possible involvement of OGs in known stress response pathways.

Dr Xu Pei’s research finding indicated the orphan genes (OGs) are a valuable resource for identifying new genes related to species-characteristic environmental adaptations, and fosters a new insight that artificial selections on OGs might have contributed to balancing the adaptive and agronomical traits in domesticated crops in various ecoclimatic conditions.


ICRISAT team with Prof Shubo Wan (3rd from right), President, SAAS; Dr Hongjun Zhao (2nd from right), Director, SPRI; and Dr Xingjun Wang (5th from right), Director, Biotechnology Research Center, Jinan, along with other researchers from SAAS, China.

ICRISAT team with Prof Shubo Wan (3rd from right), President, SAAS; Dr Hongjun Zhao (2nd from right), Director, SPRI; and Dr Xingjun Wang (5th from right), Director, Biotechnology Research Center, Jinan, along with other researchers from SAAS, China.

China’s crop scientists keen on greater genomic research collaboration with ICRISAT

Accelerating the development of improved varieties of select crops using genomic technologies was one of the key topics discussed by China’s leading crop scientists during a recent trip made by ICRISAT’s Genetic Gains team to the country.

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Great interest was expressed in deploying modern genomics-based breeding and low-cost marker technology developed by ICRISAT in their crop breeding programs by Prof Shubo Wan, President of Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS) and Shandong Peanut Research Institute (SPRI). A detailed project-planning meeting was also conducted for the recently sanctioned project (on peanut genomics and molecular breeding) between the Biotechnology Research Centre (BRC) of SAAS, Jinan and ICRISAT, funded by the Natural Science Fund (NSF), China.

ICRISAT team at ICRISAT-SAAS Joint Laboratory for Peanut Biotechnology with Dr Hongjun Zhao (middle), Director, SPRI, Qingdao

ICRISAT team at ICRISAT-SAAS Joint Laboratory for Peanut Biotechnology with Dr Hongjun Zhao (middle), Director, SPRI, Qingdao

The visit was mainly to review and strengthen collaborations with the Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS) and is a follow-up to the visit of the Chinese team to ICRISAT in 2015. Past successful collaborations include the setting up of ICRISAT-SAAS joint Laboratory for Peanut Research in 2014 at SPRI, Qingdao

The ICRISAT team led by Dr Rajeev K Varshney, Research Program Director-Genetic Gains, comprised of scientists Dr Manish Pandey, Arun K Pandey and Rakesh Kumar. The team visited research institutes such as National Centre for Gene Research, Shanghai (led by Prof Bin Han); Biotechnology Research Centre, Jinan (led by Dr Xingjun Wang); SAAS, Jinan (led by Prof Wan Shubo); SPRI, Qingdao (led by Dr Hongjun Zhao, DrXiaoyuan Chi and Dr Mei Yuan); and BGI- Qingdao (led by Mr Liu Xin). The team visited several field trials of these institutes to gain insights on high-quality research and its applications in the development of new products for the benefit of the farming community. The team also participated in a one-day international workshop.

Project: Genes/QTLs identification for late leaf spot resistance from wild Arachis species and development of marker-assisted selection techniques

Funder: Natural Science Fund (NSF), China

Partners: Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences and ICRISAT

CRP: Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals

This work contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goal
17-partnerships-goals

Trainings and Workshops


Enhancing potential of African partners in the food processing sector

As part of an initiative of the Government of India under India Africa Forum Summit III, ICRISAT’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform organized three training programs to enhance the potential of African partners in the food processing sector. The trainings were for senior and middle level technical staff and management personnel from the food and agricultural sector from government departments, ministries and food processing industries.

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Dr Tilahun Amede, Country Representative, ICRISAT-Ethiopia, addressing participants. Photo: ICRISAT

Dr Tilahun Amede, Country Representative, ICRISAT-Ethiopia, addressing participants. Photo: ICRISAT

Modern, cutting-edge, collaborative – management of breeding data receives a boost across Africa

A hackathon, data migration and capacity building – it was a busy month for ICRISAT’s efforts to modernize databases and strengthen breeding data management. Crop breeding programs can be much more effective with modern data management tools. This is just what a workshop series across Africa with National Agricultural Research System (NARS) partners and ICRISAT staff aimed to do.

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Debre Zeyit, Ethiopia; 35 participants; 16-20 July

For data management, a week-long workshop in Ethiopia, focused on hands-on training, preparing germplasm data from existing materials in Breeding Management System (BMS). It was a good opportunity for participants to prepare for the season, especially as they learnt to use electronic hand-held devices and capture field data. Significantly, data related to 38 trials and 4 nurseries  were uploaded in just one week, giving a boost to the work on important crops for the semi-arid tropics – chickpea, groundnut and common bean, specific crops under TL III project and sorghum and finger millet under HOPE II project.

Lilongwe, Malawi; 18 participants; 23-27 July

It was task time at Lilongwe as participants at this workshop spent time migrating data into the BMS and exploring advanced features including field maps, barcode label and electronic data capture using tablet devices.  Staff from ICRISAT breeding programs in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, besides staff from two Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutions – the Indian Institute of Millets Research (ICAR-IIMR), Hyderabad and the Indian Institute of Pulses Research (ICAR-IIPR), Kanpur, participated in the workshop.

Participants at the Hackathon. Photo: ICRISAT

Participants at the Hackathon. Photo: ICRISAT

An innovative two-day ‘hackathon’ encouraged ICRISAT staff in Africa, to bring high quality research datasets to open access under FAIR (findability, accessibility, interoperability and reuse) principles, The result – nearly 35 high quality datasets from across Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Zimbabwe were submitted to ICRISAT open data repository with CGIAR core metadata standards. These datasets are now available as global public goods. This is part of a series started at ICRISAT headquarters in India for organizing data and capacity building of the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture.

The workshops and hackathon were conducted by the Statistics, Bioinformatics and Data Management unit of ICRISAT, led by Dr Abhishek Rathore, Theme Leader.

Announcement


Farmers with the SAMSORG 47 ZAUNA INUWA variety

Farmers with the SAMSORG 47 ZAUNA INUWA variety

Seeding agricultural growth: Optimal support goes beyond MSP

Nigeria’s National Committee on Variety Naming, Registration and Release on 26 July 2018, approved the registration and release of two medium-maturing sorghum varieties, SAMSORG 47 as ZAUNA-INUWA, SAMSORG 48 as KAURA BORNU, and an early medium-maturing variety, SAMSORG 49 as CF35:5, in Nigeria.

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Nigeria’s National Committee on Variety Naming, Registration and Release on 26 July 2018, approved the registration and release of two medium-maturing sorghum varieties, SAMSORG 47 as ZAUNA-INUWA, SAMSORG 48 as KAURA BORNU, and an early medium-maturing variety, SAMSORG 49 as CF35:5, in Nigeria.

SAMSORG 47 (ZAUNA INUWA) was developed from indigenous sorghum germplasm materials through pure-line head-to-row selection. It has desirable agronomic traits such as medium and uniform height, long and semi-compact panicles with bold testa-free yellow grain and stay green tendencies. It is suitable for the Sudan and Northern Guinea Savanah zone with a yield potential of 4.8 t/ha.

SAMSORG 48 (KAURA BORNU) was developed from sorghum germplasm materials indigenous to North-Eastern Nigeria. Head-to-row selection was carried out in 2012-2014 focusing on grain yield, uniformity in height, panicle type and grain quality. It has been recommended for cultivation in the Sudan and Northern Guinea Savannah.

Farmers standing with the SAMSORG 48 KAURA BORNU variety

SAMSORG 49 (CF35:5) was obtained from an exchange of exortic sorghum breeding lines from ICRISAT Mali and identified through farmer participatory variety selection for its earliness, medium-sized grain, stay-green tendency during the pearl millet and sorghum improvement (PROMISO) project in 2006-2009 and HOPE I (2010-2015) and HOPE II projects at Kebbi, Kano, Sokoto, Jigawa and Zamfara states. Its earliness comes in handy in hunger interventions since it matures when most other sorghum varieties are yet to mature in the field. It has been released for cultivation in the Sudan-Sahel zone and has a yield potential of 2.8 t/ha.


This work was carried out as part of the Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement of Sorghum and Millets II (HOPE II) project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation under the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC).


Dr Jacques Wery, Deputy Director General-Research, International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA),

On Public Private Partnerships

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New projects


Utilization of introgression lines derived from wild Cajanus species for pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) improvement

Funder: Norwegian Development Cooperation (NORAD) through Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT)

Grant Period: 1 July 2018 – 30 September 2020

Principal Investigator: Dr Shivali Sharma

Quest for Resilience of (Agro) pastoral Communities in the AFAR through Water Spreading Weir-based Farming and Land use

Funder: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ)

Grant Period: 1 July 2018 – 27 February 2021

Principal Investigator: Dr Tilahun Amede

Farming System-specific Biofortification for Increased Yield and Improved Human Nutrition in the Ethiopian Highlands

Funder: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ)

Grant Period:  1 July 2018 – 30 June 2020

Principal Investigator: Dr Tilahun Amede

Identifying the genomic regions and genes for drought and heat tolerance in groundnut

Funder: Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) – National Agricultural Science Fund (NASF), Government of India

Grant Period: 1 August 2018 – 31 July 2021

Research Program: Genetic Gains

PrincipaI Investigator: Dr Manish K Pandey

Enhancing Groundnut Productivity in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka through Farmer Acceptable Climate Smart Strategies and Weather Based Crop Management Advisories

Funder: Earth System Sciences Organization (ESSO), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Government of India through Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune

Grant Period: 1 August 2018 – 31 July 2021

Research Program: ICRISAT Development Center, Asia

PrincipaI Investigator: Drs AVR Kesava Rao and Sreenath Dixit

Economic Assessment of Mission Kakatiya in terms of Plant Nutrients Equivalent, Increased Yields and Farmers Income

Funder: Irrigation and Command Area Development Department, Government of Telangana

Grant Period: 3 August 2018 – 2 August 2020

Research Program:  ICRISAT Development Center, Asia

PrincipaI Investigator: Dr Sreenath Dixit

New publications


Mapping rootable depth and root zone plant-available water holding capacity of the soil of sub-Saharan Africa

Authors:  Leenaars JGB, Claessens L, Heuvelink GBM, Hengl T, Ruiperez González M, van Bussel LGJ, Guilpart N, Yang H and Cassman KG

Published: 2018, Geoderma (TSI), 324. pp. 18-36. ISSN 00167061.

http://oar.icrisat.org/10533/

Mental models of soil management for food security in peri-urban India

Authors: Friedrichsen CN, Daroub SH, Monroe MC, Stepp JR and Wani SP

Published: 2018, Urban Agriculture & Regional Food Systems, 3 (1). pp. 1-16. ISSN 2575-1220

http://oar.icrisat.org/10534/

Minerals content of extruded fish feeds containing cricket (Acheta domesticus) and black soldier fly larvae (Hermetia illucens) fractions

Authors:  Irungu FG, Mutungi CM, Faraj AK, Affognon HD, Tanga C, Ekesi S, Nakimbugwe D and Fiaboe KKM

Published: 2018, International Aquatic Research. pp. 1-13. ISSN 2008-4935

http://oar.icrisat.org/10535/

Vegetation changes in the Miombo Woodlands in Northwestern Zimbabwe: A case study of Nkayi District 1990 to 2017

Authors:  Chirima A, Mundy P, Ncube N and Van Rooyen AF

Published: 2018, Vegetation. InTech, pp. 43-57. ISBN 978-953-51-3830-3

http://oar.icrisat.org/10536/

Pattern of genetic inheritance of morphological and agronomic traits of sorghum associated with resistance to sorghum shoot fly, Atherigona soccata

Authors: Riyazaddin M, Ashok Kumar A, Munghate RS, Gaddameedi A, Kavi Kishor PB and Sharma HC

Published: 2018, Euphytica (TSI), 214(2) (32). pp. 1-20. ISSN 0014-2336

http://oar.icrisat.org/10537/

Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) contrasting for the transpiration response to vapour pressure deficit also differ in their dependence on the symplastic and apoplastic water transport pathways

Authors: Tharanya M, Sivasakthi K, Barzana G, Kholova J, Thirunalasundari T and Vadez V

Published: 2018, Functional Plant Biology (TSI). pp. 1-18. ISSN 1445-4408

http://oar.icrisat.org/10538/

Postharvest insect resistance in maize

Authors: López-Castillo LM, Silva-Fernández SE, Winkler R, Bergvinson D, Arnason JT and García-Lara S

Published: 2018, Journal of Stored Products Research (TSI), 77. pp. 66-76. ISSN 0022474X

http://oar.icrisat.org/10539/

Protein, calcium, zinc, and iron contents of finger millet grain response to varietal differences and phosphorus application in Kenya

Authors: Wafula WN, Korir N, Ojulong H, Siambi M and Gweyi-Onyango J

Published: 2018, Agronomy (TSI), 8(2) (24). pp. 1-9. ISSN 2073-4395

http://oar.icrisat.org/10540/

Stress inducible overexpression of AtHDG11 leads to improved drought and salt stress tolerance in peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.)

Authors: Banavath JN, Chakradhar T, Pandit V, Konduru S, Guduru KK, Akila CS, Podha S and Puli COR

Published: 2018, Frontiers in Chemistry (TSI), 6 (34). pp. 1-22. ISSN 2296-2646

http://oar.icrisat.org/10541/

Towards defining heterotic gene pools in pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.]

Authors: Radhika Ramya A, Lal Ahamed M, Satyavathi CT, Rathore A, Katiyar P, Bhasker Raj AG, Kumar S, Gupta R, Mahendrakar MD, Yadav RS and Srivastava RK

Published: 2018, Frontiers in Plant Science (TSI), 8 (1934). pp. 1-11. ISSN 1664-462X

http://oar.icrisat.org/10542/

Genetic variability studies in forage type hybrid parents of pearl millet

Authors: Govintharaj P, Gupta SK, Maheswaran M and Sumathi P

Published: 2018, Electronic Journal of Plant Breeding, 8 (4). pp. 1265-1274. ISSN 0975-928X

http://oar.icrisat.org/10544/

Improving pearl millet for drought tolerance – Retrospect and prospects

Authors: Yadav OP, Singh DV, Vadez V, Gupta SK, Rajpurohit BS and Shekhawat PS

Published: 2018, Indian Journal of Genetics and Plant Breeding (TSI), 77 (4). pp. 464-474. ISSN 0019-5200

http://oar.icrisat.org/10545/

Phenotypic and molecular diversity-based prediction of heterosis in pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum L. (R.) Br.)

Authors: Gupta SK, Nepolean T, Shaikh CG, Rai KN, Hash CT, Das RR and Rathore A

Published: 2018, The Crop Journal. pp. 1-11. ISSN 22145141

http://oar.icrisat.org/10546/

Incidence and within field dispersion pattern of pod borer, Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in chickpea in Ethiopia

Authors: Damte T and Ojiewo CO

Published: 2018, Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection, 50 (17-18). pp. 868-884. ISSN 0323-5408

http://oar.icrisat.org/10547/

Assessing impacts of projected climate on pigeonpea crop at Gulbarga

Authors: Rao AVRK, Wani SP, Srinivas K, Singh P, Bairagi SD and Ramadevi O

Published: 2018, Journal of Agrometeorology, 15. pp. 32-37. ISSN 0972-1665

http://oar.icrisat.org/10548/

Impacts of 1.5 versus 2.0 °C on cereal yields in the West African Sudan Savanna

Authors: Faye B, Webber H, Naab JB, MacCarthy DS, Adam M, Ewert F, Lamers JPA, Schleussner CF, Ruane A, Gessner U, Hoogenboom G, Boote K, Shelia V, Saeed F, Wisser D, Hadir S, Laux P and Gaiser T

Published: 2018, Environmental Research Letters (TSI), 13 (3). pp. 1-13. ISSN 1748-9326

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Bedding additives reduce ammonia emission and improve crop N uptake after soil application of solid cattle manure

Authors: Shah GA, Shah GM, Rashid MI, Groot JCJ, Traore B and Lantinga EA

Published: 2018, Journal of Environmental Management (TSI), 209. pp. 195-204. ISSN 03014797

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Analysis of multi-location data of hybrid rice trials reveals complex genotype by environment interaction

Authors: Ponnuswamy R, Rathore A, Vemula A, Das RR, Singh AK, Balakrishnan D, Arremsetty HS, Vemuri RB and Ram T

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Can scenario planning catalyse transformational change? Evaluating a climate change policy case study in Mali

Authors: Totin E, Butler JR, Sidibé A, Partey ST, Thornton PK and Tabo R

Published: 2018, Futures (TSI), 96. pp. 44-56. ISSN 00163287

http://oar.icrisat.org/10564/

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Water project offers hope to farmers in Myanmar’s central dry zone

When Colombo, Sri Lanka-founded IWMI in partnership with the German NGO Welthungerhilfe (WHH), India-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Myanmar’s National Engineering and Planning Services arrived in December 2016 with funding of approximately $1.1 million, giving farmers an incentive to work together where none had existed before presented a huge challenge. Read more

India Millet Mission campaign to begin in September

India, the largest producer of millets in the world, will launch an intensive campaign to promote the ‘nutri-cereal’ across the country starting from September 28, in Pune. At a meeting held at the Indian Institute of Millets Research in Hyderabad to prepare a roadmap for the national millet mission, Dr Ashok Dalwai, CEO of the National Rainfed Area Authority, announced the campaign. Read more

ICRISAT and ICAR recommend steps for increasing domestic production of pulses

Recommendations include a multi-pronged approach where high quality seeds should be made available to farmers along with making it more profitable for them to grow pulses. Read more

Nutri cereals to be promoted across the country from Sept 28

An intensive campaign to promote nutricereals’ across the country will be launched on September 28. This was announced Ashok Dalwai, CEO, National Rainfed Area Authority at the Indian Institute of Millets Research here at the meeting to prepare roadmap for the national millet mission. Read more

ICRISAT to study impact of Mission Kakatiya

ICRISAT will make a comprehensive study on the three phases of Mission Kakatiya and submit a report to the Telangana Government. Read more

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