Jamie Oliver's foundation highlights millet as part of the global food revolution, changing the face of nutrition at home and abroad.
Link to Happenings story: https://icrisat.org/four-new-food-products-that-are-disrupting-traditional-supply-chains-in-media/
With our planet’s growing population, rapidly decreasing land availability and increasingly unpredictable climate, we need to take a closer look at how we feed ourselves. Are we making the most of the space we have? Are we growing food that’s water-efficient and low in waste? Are we getting as much nutritional bang for our buck as possible?
These questions have led a range of innovators to look for sustainable solutions, transforming the way we view, grow and consume food. Here are four LAUNCH Food innovators who are changing the face of nutrition at home and abroad – Entomo Farms, CoffeeFlour, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), and HarvestPlus.
Extract from Jamie’s Food Revolution blog. Read the full article here
Many people associate the word ‘millet’ with bird seed, the pale, straw-like grain we feed to pet budgies and parrots. What gets forgotten is that it’s also a key component in the diets of millions around the world, and has seen its popularity boom in recent years.
One of the advocates for millet as an alternative to more common grains such as wheat is the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT),which has launched its Smart Food initiative to help bring millet and other ‘smart foods’ back into the mainstream.
“We say a food is a ‘smart food’ if it meets three criteria: good for you, good for the planet, and good for the farmer,” says Joanna Kane-Potaka, coordinator of the Smart Food initiative and Strategic Marketing and Communications Director at ICRISAT.
“10 years ago, food security was one of the most challenging questions we were facing, but now we’ve expanded on that discussion to include the environmental and nutritional benefits of the food we grow.”
“At ICRISAT we work with farmers working in very arid environments, where people experience high levels of malnutrition and are more likely to be adversely affected by climate change. It became very obvious to us very quickly that the crops that are most suitable for growing in dry soils get the least funding. Instead, we see funding dedicated to growing crops such as rice or maize, which is lacking in terms of nutritional value, leading to a movement away from crops that have traditionally been grown in those areas, which are far more nutritious. This has led to communities in semi-arid tropics growing foods which are less suitable for the environment and lead to a less diverse diet for the local population.”
“We conducted research into traditional crops such as sorghum and millet, and found that not only are they easier to grow in arid conditions, which leads to increased food security, but they are also more nutritionally valuable than other staple crops.”
“Pearl millet is high in zinc, folic acid, and iron – in fact, the only food that is higher in iron are oysters. It’s such an important micronutrient, especially for women and girls who are at higher risks of developing anemia, which can affect their performance at work and school. Finger millet contains three times as much calcium as the equivalent amount of milk, so can be used as a weaning product for babies. It can also help young people and the elderly to develop strong and healthy bones.” “Not only that, but it’s extremely versatile. It can be made into a flour and used to bake cakes, biscuits and pizza dough. Left in its grain form, it’s a great addition to soups, or can be eaten in the same way as rice or couscous. You can even use it in porridge, as a replacement for rolled oats, or instead of rice in rice pudding.”
“However, crops like millet have a bit of a PR problem: not only are they underfunded, making them less commercially viable for farmers to grow, they’re seen as a ‘poor person’s food’.” “What we’ve been working on is changing the image of millet, collaborating with food manufacturers to create convenience products that are more accessible to a broader market. Having seen how popular other traditional grains such as quinoa have become in recent years, there’s no reason why millet might not be the next big thing!”
“The benefits of bringing crops such as millet and sorghum back into the mainstream won’t only be felt in developing countries; there will be huge benefits for people living in other countries that experience a dry climate, such as Australia. With the trend towards ancient grains and superfoods, I think the appetite for smart foods such as millet around the world will continue to grow.”
Our panel of experts give their ideas of how thirsty industries such as textiles and agriculture can save water.
Link to Happenings story: https://icrisat.org/9-ways-the-private-sector-can-use-water-more-efficiently/
Our panel of experts give their ideas of how thirsty industries such as textiles and agriculture can save water.
We need to fundamentally change how we relate with water. Mere technical improvements will not create conditions for the substantial change that is demanded by prevailing challenges, especially those that climate change precipitates. Leo Saldanha, coordinator, Environment Support Group, Bangalore, India, @leofsaldanha, @E_S_
We should not consider wastewater as a waste but as a source of value. This is the core idea of Water4crops, one of the largest EU-India collaborative research projects. Industry effluents treated through specific biotechnological processes can provide water safe for reuse for irrigation, enriched in nutrients (what agronomists call irrigation water with high fertility value) that can boost yields. Water4crops’ research showed that the reuse of treated wastewater to irrigate fields could increase yields of up to 40% in vegetables such as okra, aubergine and chillies compared with those irrigated by fresh water. Suhas Pralhad Wani, research programme director, Asia, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Hyderabad, India, @ICRISAT
The private sector increasingly realises that environmental risks, such as water scarcity, translate into business risks. However, mitigating approaches may be challenging to operationalise. This is a gap that we can help close by providing better data and creating awareness of solutions that work. Katharina Felgenhauer, public-private partnerships, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Accra, Ghana, @IWMI_
Legislation in some countries, especially in Latin America, lag behind in what is needed. In Mexico there are a lot of restrictions to what you can do with treated water. For example, we treat 100% of our water, however, by law, we need to pour our water into contaminated water bodies, instead of being able to use it. There have been shifts in legislation around water in Latin America in the past 10 years that are interesting. These changes have been studied by the UN’s ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean). However, the study found that there is still a lot to do in bringing legislation up to date with current water issues such as climate change. Countries like the Netherlands are spearheading innovation around law development by working towards integrated water legislation. Carlos Hurtado, sustainable development of water resources manager, Femsa Foundation, Monterrey, Mexico, @FEMSA
Over the past six years Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) has worked with Swedish textile companies such as H&M, KhappAll and Indiska, which do not control their production chain. Most of them buy garments from privately owned factories in developing countries. If any one of them were to place pressure on one of these factory owners to improve water management practise the owner is likely to just to turn to the competition and supply them. SIWI convened the textile companies and the factory owners and could find out from the factory owners that their largest costs (after labour) were energy and chemicals. Then we could introduce ways of saving them energy and chemicals through improved manufacturing and increased recycling. This made the factory owners happy, but also led to reduced water use and less pollution. Anton Earle, director, Africa regional centre, SIWI, Pretoria, South Africa, @siwi_water
Senior level leadership/champions within companies can help drive improved performance on water resource management. For example, the WBCSD WASH in the workplace pledge has been signed by leading company CEOs such as Unilever and Diageo. This helps drive performance among peers and ultimately raises the bar. Ruth Romer, private sector adviser, WaterAid, London, UK, @WaterAidUK
Farmers tend to overestimate crop water requirements, which leads to wastage. We developed a water impact calculator to advice farmers on the optimal irrigation needs depending on crops. This was supported by a consortium of well-known agribusiness companies (Danone, Unilever, Nestlé, Coca-Cola) that has formed the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative. Suhas Pralhad Wani
Smart remote-controlled tamper-proof metres are critical to ensure responsible water use in industry. This requires community surveillance of water demand, use, reuse and disposal. No regulation that works independent of community surveillance is effective. So, yes, metres are as good as the democratic quality of the surveillance. Else, as in India, there will be widespread fudging in industrial use of water, and worse, in the disposal of untreated effluents and sewage, a problem that is plaguing environmental regulatory agencies, civic bodies and the courts too. So really, it is about water governance. The more democratic, accountable and transparent decisions relating to water are, the wiser will be the use of such waters. Leo Saldanha
The WWF water stewardship framework provides a great model for starting the journey towards more effective water resource management. Companies will be at different stages of progress along the stewardship journey and that is fine, the framework provides different entry points. The first step is awareness – companies should be aware of their water use and consumption and how this might impact the surrounding environment. Ruth Romer
Read the full Q&A here.
Farming was the only livelihood option left for Ochung Martin after the civil war in Uganda. He started growing several crops including groundnut, sorghum and cassava.
Link to Happenings story: https://icrisat.org/fighting-hunger-increasing-incomes-and-rebuilding-communities-in-post-war-uganda/
Ochung Martin’s Story.
Farming was the only livelihood option left for Ochung Martin after the civil war in Uganda. He started growing several crops including groundnut, sorghum and cassava. During this time, Ochung took on experimental farming by collaborating with research centers and became a ‘link farmer’ of a groundnut breeding program. For two years, Ochung set aside a plot on his field to test promising material lines and to multiply basic seeds of improved groundnut varieties Serenut 8 and Serenut 11. Having already harvested 1,092 kg, Ochung has 0.80 ha more of groundnut ready for harvest from which he expects a further 1,890 kgs.
The additional income gained from seed multiplication has boosted Ochungs’ economic and social status.
He built three semi-permanent structure houses for commercial and self-use. Another significant indicator of overall well-being is the access to quality education by his children.
As a result of the successful intervention in seed multiplication, Ochung dedicates most of his resources to expand his groundnut seed business, thus doing his part to strengthen the overall seed system in his community.
The groundnut breeding program is in collaboration with the National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI), a partner of the National Agricultural Research Systems.
The Success of Tukwatirile Wamu Youth Seed Farmer Group
The youth of Masaka, Uganda have organized themselves to produce quality bean seeds.
All 24 members in the group are registered as quality declared seed producers. The youth group produces several varieties of beans on their individual farms, which is then monitored by a seed inspector. The bean varieties grown are Nabe 1, 2, 4, 14, 15.
While the youth procure basic seed for multiplication from National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI), the uniqueness is their affiliation with the private sector such as CEDO Seed Company for seed sales. Such affiliations have greatly increased their seed business in addition to the amount they sell to their fellow farmers in the community. While the cost of 1 kg common bean is about UGX 2000 (USD 0.5), the same quantity of quality seed fetches a price of UGX 3000 (USD 0.8).
Producing and using improved bean seed has resulted in significant changes in the lives of these young farmers. While some have purchased motor bikes for farm and household use, others have built houses.
To sustain their economic benefits, the youth have collectively strategized to postpone their sales to a later point to obtain higher prices. At the same time they collect seed at market price after harvest (when seeds are abundant and sell at lower prices), and sell later when supplies are lower and prices have risen. Half of the difference in sale price is returned to group members and the remaining half is kept for the group account.
The Tukwatirile Wamu Youth Seed Farmer Group is one of the seed producer groups affiliated with the bean breeding program of NaSARRI.
The Success of Loyokwo Groundnut Seed Farmers Group
The former war occupied zone in Nwoya district is ridden with land conflict which has left several families to face serious loss of livelihoods. However one farmer group stands out from the rest. The 30 member group with 77% women started farming on a 0.8 ha groundnut plot in 2016. They are producing groundnut varieties such as: Serenut 5R, Serenut 9T, Serenut 14R along with their preferred varieties: Serenut 9 (locally named ‘Aber’ meaning ‘very good’) and Serenut 5.
The group is well organized with a thorough distribution of tasks among group members where both women and men are assigned responsibilities. A ‘quality insurance committee’ has been set up to monitor and ensure production of quality seeds.
The farmer group is dedicated to rebuilding their community and regaining a prosperous life, which is visible in their interactions and on-farm practices like weeding and field keeping. The Loyokwo Groundnut Seed Farmer Group is supported by the NGO ZOA.
This NGO is implementing a post-war intervention project called ‘Land Security and Economic Development’ with help from the community. Gathering support from NaSARRI and partners, the NGO links farmers to access quality seeds. Adequate training on seed multiplication is also provided by project partners.
Currently in its first season of groundnut seed production, the group is keen on increasing the number of production sites and testing new lines especially, the high yielding, drought and rosette virus tolerant lines.
The Loyokwo Groundnut Seed Farmer Group has also built social kudos and their influential status means they are a channel to effectively communicate relevant messages to the community.
NaSARRI, a partner of the National Agricultural Research Systems has implemented a nationwide groundnut breeding program in Uganda.
Access to quality seeds diversifies income and improves living standards
After being involved in the improved bean seed production and use, farmers in Tanzania have experienced positive transformations in their living standards. For example.
Daudi Bukuku, a farmer in Mbozi district was trained on bean production in 2007/2008 and stepped up from using grain as seed to using high quality seed of improved varieties.
His productivity has quadrupled from 200 kg/0.4 ha to 800 kg/0.4 ha which he says has shifted him to be a middle-income earner. Producing and selling improved seeds has enabled him to own semi-permanent rental houses, produce biogas for sale and purchase a milling and sifting machine.
Charles Mbwana used to produce no more than 100 kg/0.4 ha, but access to high quality seeds of improved varieties and accompanying production packages has dramatically changed his situation. He now produces 800 kg/0.4 ha and the extra income has enabled him to invest in vans to provide a public transport service.
Neema Marasusahas experienced a fourfold increase in her productivity from 200 kg to 800 kg/0.4 ha. She uses the additional income towards educating her siblings and constructing her family house.
Through a strong public-private partnership in Uganda and Tanzania, ICRISAT is working towards extending groundnut and common bean innovations to smallholder farmers so they can secure harvests against drought and outbursts of pests while gaining higher yield and quality over preferred varieties. This endeavor is undertaken at a larger scale through the Tropical Legumes (TL) project, implemented in eight countries worldwide.
Unique ways of promoting sorghum through programs to sensitize school children and radio talk shows to link actors along the sorghum value chain were carried out alongside activities to prepare farmers for the 2017 cropping season in Nigeria.
Link to Happenings story: https://icrisat.org/creating-more-linkages-across-the-sorghum-value-chain/
Unique ways of promoting sorghum through programs to sensitize school children and radio talk shows to link actors along the sorghum value chain were carried out alongside activities to prepare farmers for the 2017 cropping season in Nigeria.
The activities encompassed much of the sorghum value chain from distribution of quality seed to farmers and linkages with seed companies and seed producers to developing entrepreneurship among women and youth.
The target regions were the four Staple Crop Processing Zones (SCPZs) of Adani-Omor, Bida-Badeggi, Kano-Jigawa and Kebbi-Sokoto.
Setting up sorghum demonstration plots
435 Plots for 120 communities in 126 Local Government Areas in 6 states
Sensitizing school children
Radio talk shows
Sensitizing school children
Radio talk shows
Linkage with offtakers
Production of sorghum seed was done in collaboration with:
Agreement in the pipeline:
ICRISAT will provide:
Special focus on women and youth
Shortage of quality seed led to the development of this strategic plan to ensure production and diffusion of improved quality sorghum seed
26 women groups with 577 members from Kano-Jigawa SCPZ were supported with 208 kg of seed of improved variety of Sorghum (CSR-01) to plant on a 26 ha plot and produce about 46.8 t of grain in the 2017 cropping season.
132 youths from Kano-Jigawa, Kebbi-Sokoto and Bida-Badeggi SCPZs were trained and linked to seed companies to make their venture profitable; 8 kg of foundation seed (for 1 ha plot) was provided to each of them
31 youths from Kano-Jigawa SCPZ were trained and supported with 240 kg seed of CSR-01
70 members of the Ajingi Development Association, a self-help youth organization, were trained and provided
60 kg of improved seed.
Linkages with agro-dealers
Workshops and trainings
Workshops with stakeholders and National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) partners on improved sorghum husbandry and capacity enhancement/pre-season training of farmers, EAs and field technicians were conducted.
Training courses on financial management and effective Monitoring and Evaluation were held for the project staff.
Technical training: This is for lead farmers and EAs on good agronomic practices (GAP) and post-harvest losses.
Food processing and product development: Women/youth groups will be trained with special emphasis on food fortification and nutritional benefits.
Mechanization of farms: Small-scale equipment like hand-planter, multi-thresher, etc., will be introduced for reduction in drudgery, job creation and income generation.
The outstanding performance of market-preferred varieties of sorghum encouraged farmers to invest in its production.
Commercial seed sales and linkages with agro-dealers were low
Need for enhancing the technical knowledge of agro-dealers
These issues were discussed at a review and planning meeting that had an impressive attendance of all farmers and LGA officials of the regions.
To address high malnutrition among children in four poverty-stricken districts in Bangladesh, a pilot project with partners across the peanut value chain was launched recently.
Link to Happenings story: https://icrisat.org/peanut-based-nutritional-supplement-for-school-children-in-bangladesh/
“The project builds an ecosystem of partnerships to deliver nutritional and livelihood outcomes on a large scale through innovations along the peanut value chain. It brings together Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) and ICRISAT, partners in science of discovery; and partners like NGOs and processing industries in the science of delivery,” said Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, at the launch.
The new project will emulate a successful model of public-private partnership implemented by Christy Friedgram Industries (CFI)-Tamil Nadu, India, to achieve nutritional outcomes among the target population, and build on the outputs of earlier collaboration between BARI and ICRISAT.
The innovations to be introduced include:
Peanut-based food supplements: Three energy- protein- and micronutrient-dense products were identified for acceptability studies – multi-millet peanut bar (30% peanuts) developed by CFI; peanut cookies (26% peanuts), and peanut-based spread (36% peanuts) developed by the NutriPlus Knowledge (NPK) Program of ICRISAT. An acceptability study was carried out jointly by ICRISAT and BARI, for all the three products among a representative sample of school children (5 to 10 years of age) in Belgasha Government Primary School, Jamalpur District, Bangladesh. The acceptability study showed that multi-millet peanut bar and peanut cookies are acceptable to the school children and preferred over the peanut spread.
The products will be further refined at NPK Program by incorporating locally available grains from Bangladesh and the technology will be transferred to PRAN Agroindustries (PRAN) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for local production.
Innovation in breeding: PRAN prefers bold kernel peanuts in its processing, so BARI will test advanced breeding lines that combine bold kernels with foliar fungal disease resistance and early maturity. High oleics are also preferred by PRAN for their shelf life; this will also be tested by BARI.
Dr BK Goswami, Director Support Service, BARI, noted that 10 peanut varieties were released in Bangladesh and the collaboration between BARI and ICRISAT had resulted in the release of five advanced breeding lines selected from international nurseries shared by ICRISAT (see table). In this pilot project, the short duration varieties ICGV 94322, ICGV 96342 and ICGV 96346 will be used.
ICRISAT’s peanut breeding program, along with the genomics and pathology groups, has successfully combined foliar fungal disease resistance with early maturity. Extensive field phenotyping for early maturity based on cumulative thermal time (CTT) and seed size enabled to combine these two traits. More recently, high oleic lines in Spanish and Virginia types were developed at ICRISAT using near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) phenotyping and single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) based genotyping. “Process innovation in breeding and testing pipelines enabled combining desirable traits in a single variety,” said Dr P Janila, Principal Investigator of the project and Senior Scientist – Groundnut Breeding, Crop Improvement, Asia Program, ICRISAT.
Introducing crop management techniques: Integrated crop management (ICM) includes seed treatment and application of gypsum for enhanced yields, while good management practices (GMP) include drying of pods upside down to avoid contact with soil and appropriate storage. Monitoring of aflatoxin contamination along the value chain will be done using ELISA kits to ensure
Improved seed systems: A model wherein the processing industry arranges supply of seeds of improved varieties to the farmers, and later buys the commodity from the farmers will be promoted in this project in collaboration with BARI, PRAN and the NGO – Agriculture Development Foundation (ADF). BARI and ADF will be involved in seed supply and enhancing adoption of ICM and GMP. This model enables farmers to procure quality seed of improved varieties and the processor is able to source quality peanuts.
The project launch and work plan meeting was held at Dhaka from 4-5 July with over 40 stakeholders from BARI, PRAN, ICRISAT, Bangladesh Institute of Research and Training on Applied Nutrition (BIRTAN), Department of Agriculture and Extension (DAE), the SAARC office, and local NGOs – International Development Enterprises (iDE) and ADF.
Dr SM Bokhtiar, Director, SAARC Agriculture Center, said that there was a possibility of expanding the project to other SAARC countries. Dr PM Gaur, Theme Leader – Crop Improvement, Asia Program, ICRISAT, said that this is a unique project that encompasses innovations along the complete value chain, from farmer to consumer.
About the project location
Identification of target sites for the project was based on two criteria. First, poverty and malnutrition are high; second, peanut is an important crop cultivated in the target regions and PRAN currently sources its peanuts from these sites. The districts – Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Panchagarh and Jamalpur – are situated in northern Bangladesh. River erosion is a natural phenomenon here and thousands of families become landless in these districts during August–November. The lack of income reduces their ability to cover their nutrition requirement. According to the World Food Programme, 40 million people – a quarter of the population in Bangladesh – remain food insecure and 11 million suffer from acute hunger.
Remote sensing and Geographical Information System (GIS) tools are being introduced to facilitate editing, processing and analyzing geospatial data.
Link to Happenings story: https://icrisat.org/popularizing-digital-agriculture-in-nigeria/
A multidisciplinary team of 35 national researchers were trained on modern tools such as ERDASR 2015 and QGIS. Special emphasis was laid on using remote sensing imagery for crop dominance mapping and monitoring using time series data. Analysis of, and changes in, land use over time was also demonstrated.
Spatial modeling using multiple sources of information, especially the inclusion of socio-economic factors for identification of suitable sites for interventions and watershed prioritization was demonstrated. Participants also undertook a data collection field study to better understand the applications of the new tools and prepared a land use/land cover map of Kano (see map).
Special emphasis was laid on using remote sensing imagery for crop dominance mapping and monitoring using time series data. Analysis of, and changes in, land use over time was also demonstrated.
Spatial modeling using multiple sources of information, especially the inclusion of socio-economic factors for identification of suitable sites for interventions and watershed prioritization was demonstrated. Participants were provided with copies of recommended reading material and relevant published papers.
The five day training was organized at the Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA), Bayero University, Kano in collaboration with ICRISAT, Kano led by Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, Country Representative-Nigeria, ICRISAT,
Dr Anthony Whitbread, Research Program Director – Innovation Systems for the Drylands, ICRISAT and Dr Murali Krishna Gumma, Head – GIS & Remote Sensing Lab, ICRISAT.
The participants in the training included soil scientists, crop modelers, economists and geographers.
The workshop was inaugurated by Dr Nasir Yusuf Gawuna, Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Kano State, Prof Adamu Tanko, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Bayero University Kano (BUK). ICRISAT in collaboration with the Centre for Dryland Agriculture, BUK, organized the training from 10-15 July.
Dr Murali Krishna Gumma, Head – GIS & Remote Sensing Lab, ICRISAT; Irshad Ahmed, Lead scientific officer, RS & GIS lab, ICRISAT; Ismail Rafi, Senior Associate GIS, ICRISAT; Dr Anthony Whitbread, Research Program Director – Innovation Systems for the Drylands, ICRISAT; Prof Jibrin M Jibrin and Dr Murtala M Badamasi, CDA, Bayero University Kano Nigeria were involved in making this course possible as part of the capacity building in geospatial tools.
This activity was undertaken as part of the CGIAR research program on Dryland Systems and ICRISAT-Nigeria office.
A training program on improving the basal diet of livestock, which mainly comprises of crop residues, was held for field veterinarians from the Indian state of Karnataka. This was for the Bhoosamruddhi project – a collaborative project between the Government of Karnataka (GoK) and CGIAR centers, led by ICRISAT.
Link to Happenings story: https://icrisat.org/training-on-feed-based-intensification-options-to-improve-dairy-animal-performance/
Crop residues are major feed resources for smallholder livestock production. ICRISAT in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works at improving fodder value of key crops (see box) at source through inclusion of crop residue fodder traits (quantity and quality) in new cultivar breeding, selection and dissemination work. The ICRISAT-ILRI collaboration concentrates on ICRISAT mandate crops – sorghum, pearl millet, groundnut, chickpea and pigeonpea, while ILRI’s collaboration with other institutes focuses on crops such as maize, wheat, rice, sweet potato, mung bean, vegetable soybean, minor millets, etc.
The training focused on improving the quality of the basal diet – i.e. of the crop residues – and laid emphasis on exploring ways for improving livestock rations by fortification and densification. The objective was to make best use of feed resources in a context-specific manner, including supplementation and combination of different diet constituents, and physical feed forms such as feed blocks, feed pellets and feed mash.
Field veterinarians from four districts of Karnataka (Bidar, Chikballapur, Dharward and Udupi) were exposed to feed-based intensification (through cultivar selection of dual-purpose crops, chopping and supplementation), ways to address fodder deficit by linking fodder surplus-deficit areas (through feed-processing entrepreneurial ventures) and fodder preservation in the form of silage and hay. They were also trained in smallholder silage making through a live demonstration on the process.
ILRI scientists explained to the participants the use of near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) tool for phenotyping of various crop cultivars for fodder quality analysis and invitro digestibility studies. More than 30 field veterinarians and district heads of the Department of Veterinary & Animal Husbandry, Government of Karnataka, attended the training held on 4 July at ICRISAT headquarters.
In 2017-18, ILRI will work in 10 villages covering 100 farmers and demonstrate the impact of feed-based intensification, commercial fodder production and smallholder silage making. It is expected that the Department will use the experience in these 10 villages to scale up the program throughout the state. Besides the above work, ILRI will also support the government to pilot small- and medium-scale enterprises to produce and supply complete feed /hay /silage, based on context, in a business mode. Towards all of the above, the participants prepared a work plan at the end of the training.
Examples of ICRISAT’s work on improving fodder value of its mandate crops
In 2002, ICRISAT introduced an early maturing, high yielding and drought-tolerant groundnut variety (ICGV91114), which produced 15% higher pod yields, 17% more haulm and better quality fodder than the locally grown variety. Farmers who fed their cows and buffalo the improved fodder saw their milk production immediately increase by 11%. A subsequent impact study estimated that adopters of the new variety earned around USD 970 from the sales of groundnut and milk—four times more than from growing the local variety.
In the case of sorghum, it was found that sorghum stover from 1 ha (3.6 ton Dry Matter) with 3% units increase in digestibility can produce 345 liters of additional milk, which generates an additional income of ₹ 8,294/- to the farmer (since digestibility is more, intake will also be more and additional milk production will be 682 liters).
Training sessions on how to create field books, manage nurseries and archive data using the breeding management system (BMS) were conducted for technicians from Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia as part of the Tropical Legumes III (TL III) project activities.
Link to Happenings story: https://icrisat.org/data-management-for-facilitating-better-crop-breeding-decisions/
The training focused on five major areas –
Use of BMS: Importance of data management and use of BMS as a tool.
Germplasm management: Searching and creating a germplasm list.
Trial field management: Creating trial field book, field map, field scorer, exporting trial book for data collection and importing trial data.
Nursery management: Creating nursery book, developing crosses, generating unique barcodes, exporting nursery book from BMS, collecting and importing nursery observation data.
Data collection: Use of handheld devices for recording data.
Urging participants to use the BMS, Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, said, “Having been in your situation 20 years ago, I know data archiving is difficult, but what I can assure you after two or three seasons is that you will start seeing the benefit.”
Dr Moses Siambi, Research Program Director – Eastern & Southern Africa and Country Representative, Kenya, ICRISAT, emphasized on technicians being equipped to carry out preliminary analysis of data along with efficient collection of data. “You will be the master trainers, who will train colleagues at their workstations,” he said.
“BMS minimizes errors generated when analyzing data and hence we need to embrace it,” said Dr Chris Ojiewo, Theme Leader – Seed Systems & Project Coordinator – TL III, Genetic Gains Program.
The training held from 3-7 July at Nairobi, Kenya, had 18 participants and was facilitated by Dr Abhishek Rathore, Mr Anil Kumar and Mr Praveen Reddy from the Statistics, Bio-Informatics & Data Management theme, ICRISAT.
A workshop designed to engage key stakeholders in dialogues on how transformational innovation can help the agri-food system meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other challenges was held at ICRISAT recently. This is the third workshop in an ongoing series.
The purpose of the workshop on ‘Agri-food systems innovation: Reframing the conversation’ was not to arrive at answers to how agri-food systems innovation should proceed, but rather to discuss how core elements of the agri-food system are locking it into incremental and radical innovation rather than opening up transformational innovation opportunities. In other words, how can the meta-narrative on agri-food system innovation be changed so that new pathways of action, research, and policy can be opened up to advance a transformation agenda?
To achieve this, workshop delegates explored the following topics:
The workshop posed as many questions as it offered answers. The overarching questions are what is transformational change, what does it look like, and for whom? Throughout the workshop, delegates raised a number of recurring themes for consideration. These were:
Taking into consideration these key messages and themes, along with activities initiated from previous workshops and the available resources within the CGIAR Independent Science & Partnership Council (ISPC) / Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) partnership, the following actions have been proposed as priorities following the workshop:
Dr Peter Carberry, Deputy Director General-Research, ICRISAT, concluded the workshop sharing that the workshop had spurred new ideas that he plans to implement at ICRISAT. He spoke of strengthening ICRISAT’s role as a leading broker of scale-out programs in Asia and Africa. “To demonstrate quality research resulting from these close-to-development activities, ICRISAT needs to undertake cross-program analysis of the available large datasets, extract higher-level learnings and publish such in quality journals,” he said. He followed this by challenging workshop delegates to think about what they can do.
The workshop hosted by ICRISAT was held from 27-29 June in Hyderabad, India.
Dr Nighisty Ghezae,
Director, The International Foundation for Science (IFS), Sweden
Dr Andy Hall,
Senior Principal Researcher, CSIRO, Australia
Mr Krishna Byre Gowda, Minister of Agriculture for State, Government of Karnataka, inaugurated the ICRISAT stall exhibiting several millet-based cooked foods at a two-day workshop organized by the Government of Karnataka in Bengaluru. A team led by Ms Vani Anamdas, Manager, Housing and Food Service, ICRISAT, participated in the workshop held from 8-9 July to create awareness among people from all walks of life to incorporate millets in their daily diet. Dignitaries who visited the stall included Mr M Krishnappa, Minister for Housing, Karnataka and Mr Priya Krishna MLA. The stall attracted many visitors. The Millet Melodies app featuring recipes shared by ICRISAT was widely reported in the local media.
Transforming smallholder irrigation into profitable and self-sustaining systems in Southern Africa
Principal investigator: Andre van Rooyen
Funder: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) thru Australian National University
Africa RISING – Scaling niche-specific Input delivery systems in the Ethiopian highlands (INiches)
Principal investigator: Tilahun Amede
Funder: USAID thru ILRI
Project to Support Climate Smart Agriculture in Niger – Projet d’Appui à l’Agriculture Sensible aux risques Climatiques (PASEC)
Principal investigator: Malick Niango Ba
Funder: World Bank thru National Coordination Unit, Government of Niger
Mid-way through a meeting between local farmers and close to 30 national and provincial level participants attending a three-day country strategy development workshop with ICRISAT in Zimbabwe, someone asks the golden question
“Is this irrigation scheme making money for farmers?”
There is no hesitation in her voice as Sihle Sibanda (40), a single mother and chair of the Silalatshani Irrigation Scheme for the last six years, sits up on her knees, her hands clasped to her chest, and answers for the group: “Because of this irrigation scheme, I have a 21-year-old daughter in her second year of university.” The 13 other farmers gathered under the trees nod solemnly.
For many, including project leader, Dr A.F. van Rooyen, this single statement encapsulates it all.
And indeed the Silalatshani Irrigation Scheme, which aims to increase water productivity through on-farm monitoring, adaptive management and Agricultural Innovation Platforms, is a poster child for successful projects in this semi-arid province in south-western Zimbabwe, addressing issues from gender empowerment and capacity building to self-determination and learning.
“It’s a scheme which starts at the micro level, with nutrients, and ends at the macro: with national policy on how we manage water,” says Dr van Rooyen, a sentiment underpinned by the irrigation scheme’s marketing committee secretary, Mr Sergent Nkomo, who tells the gathering: “We are always learning.”
At the beginning of the information day, and once introductions have been made, Sergent demonstrates this learning by taking time to explain the functions of the water and solute monitoring tools which have been introduced to the scheme by the project partner, CSIRO, from Australia. ACIAR, the project funder, recently extended funding for the project for a further four years.
The Chameleon, named by the farmers for its ability to change colour according to moisture availability, and the Full Stop, a water front detector designed to measure nutrients at different depths, as nutrients are flushed through the profile if “over-irrigated”, are used in conjunction with one another to provide information on when to irrigate, and ultimately increase water and soil productivity.
Sergent, a third generation farmer, says his foreparents worked on this scheme, one of the oldest in the country. “And we are now working on it, but we can see that there’s a big difference between how our parents did it and now. Growing up, I knew it was Friday so we must irrigate. We didn’t think of fertilizer being washed away when using excessive water. Education has given us the power to change things,” he says.
In Sergent’s capacity as marketing committee secretary, and under the auspices and guidance of the Agritex Extension officer, Mr Stanley Dube, the farmers have now moved away from the previous crop rotation and are now investing in cash crops such as garlic, sweet potato, groundnuts and sugar beans, and are learning how to source their own markets.
“Since the Innovation Platforms in the irrigation schemes, we’ve seen many changes take place; for example, farmers are no longer sticking to the cropping calendar, but rather looking for crops and markets which earn them more money,” says Mr Dube
“We give farmers that freedom to choose, to determine their own future, and what we’re finding is that they are on one hand cutting down on their water usage by almost half using the Chameleons and Full Stops, and on the other they are finding the confidence and capacity to find new markets for themselves,” he says. This new found confidence is reflected in the farmers’ enthusiasm for the continued use of these tools that they clearly indicated their preparedness to pay for to access. This, he said, allayed fears of national policy makers that the farmers were developing a culture of dependency.
According to Dr van Rooyen, “When people say that organizations must give farmers the capacity to make their own market linkages, that is exactly what the IP is doing. We are not advocating people to drop this crop, or take up that one. Through the IP, which includes all stakeholders from the farmers to the water authority, the agricultural extension officers and the market players, the farmers find a way, based on information and learning to make their own decisions on what to grow and where to invest,” he adds.
“In terms of finding their own markets, it’s been a real game changer. Now farmers have the capacity to look for those markets, to invite market players themselves and build their own knowledge base, developing social skills to make their own contacts…and contracts. If you want to draw up a contract with them, they want to be part of the draft of that contract; they are no longer willing to put their signature on anything without fully understanding or being a part of it.”
By no means, however, does this mean the irrigation scheme is devoid of challenges for the farmers. They include issues with the local water management authority, tenure issues, lack of inputs, unpredictable weather, a shortage of markets and a shortage of the Chameleons, meaning the few they have need to be shared out by many farmers. However what emerged beyond the conversations was that this was a united and strong body of farmers, not only able to work together but to express their views freely, articulately and with the dialogue open with all stakeholders, especially the water management authorities, and to pull together and speak with one voice to avoid a situation where they needed to receive drought relief like many other areas in the country.
In the words of Stanley Dube, the meaning of the name Silalatshani is to rest on the grass, but since the project came along four years ago, there has been no more resting.
“As the women told me themselves not long after the project began, ‘Like our crops, we have grown,” adds Dr van Rooyen.’
What the field day participants had to say
“I was impressed by the fact that the farmers have adopted the tools so well and have cut back by half the opportunities to irrigate. The tools have obviously worked well and although there is still a great deal of work to be done, they are on the right track.”
Rebecca Manzou, Deputy Director, Meteorological Service Department
“Although they are having challenges, particularly with the issue of water from the management board, it is good to see how well they have adopted the IP process and the devices, which have clearly added value. The challenge will be supplying them with enough devices to service all the farmers, but it was gratifying to hear them say, when asked, that in using the tools they have seen the returns on their investments in terms of saving labour, increasing income, improving their farming methods and increasing their learning, and that they would be quite willing to pay for them.”
Austin Masikinye, Chief Met Officer Matabeleland North Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate
“I asked the question about gender in the discussion with the Agritex officers before meeting the farmers, and I was gratified when we arrived at the meeting to see the women farmers not only present, but also so strong and so confident. The project has clearly empowered them.”
Tariro Chipeperi, Deputy Director Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development.
About the author
Freelance writer/Media consultant
ICRISAT will be collaborating with Cambridge University’s TIGR2ESS program which was awarded new funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund last week. TIGR2ESS is part of the Cambridge Global Food Security Research initiative which also includes the Cambridge Centre for Crop Science. ICRISAT will work with key partners to ensure agricultural research developments reach smallholder farmers in India.
Cambridge Global Food Security is a Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge which aims to use an interdisciplinary approach to address the challenge of ensuring all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and preferences for an active and healthy life.
New crop sciences research center at NIAB in Cambridge to also focus on legumes and ‘orphan crops’
The inclusion of legumes and the so-called ‘orphan crops’ in the research portfolio of the newly- launched Cambridge Centre for Crop Science (3CS) was hailed as a step in the right direction by the leadership of ICRISAT.
The new center developed by the University of Cambridge in collaboration with the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) is funded by The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). With £16.9m from the HEFCE-managed UK Research Partnership Investment Fund and additional funding from the National Institute of Agricultural Botany Trust, the 3CS will focus on impact: working with industrial partners to translate the University’s strong fundamental plant research into outputs for the farmer, processor and consumer.
While 3CS will make significant contributions to the main globally-traded crops such as wheat and rice, there will be a focus on advances in the genetics and agronomy of other UK crops, such as potato and legumes, and so-called ‘orphan crops’: those that lag behind in technological advances but are vital for smallholder farmers across the developing world, said the release from NIAB.
I am delighted and excited by the announcement by the UK Higher Education Funding Council of significant funding for a new Cambridge Centre for Crop Science (3CS) developed by the University of Cambridge in collaboration with NIAB. This will be a major new research and development facility located at NIAB in Cambridge. 3CS will facilitate connectivity and partnerships between scientists, producers and the food industry both nationally and internationally to help sustainably address the global challenges of the role of agriculture in economic growth, food security, hunger and malnutrition. I am sure it will rapidly develop into a major international centre of excellence for training as well as the delivery of better products and services. Over the last three years ICRISAT, the University of Cambridge and NIAB have been forging closer links and have several active collaborative research programs. As a Trustee of NIAB and Chair of the Governing Board of ICRISAT, I look forward to our partnerships developing and we wish the 3CS every success.
Dr Nigel Kerby, MBE
Governing Board Chair ICRISAT
The delivery of both public goods and economic growth is an essential agenda for today’s plant scientists, with the need to produce sufficient healthy nutritious food without harming the environment being at the top of the international agenda.
Dr Tina Barsby
CEO and Director
3CS innovations will generate new crops and new ways of growing crops for food, fuels, industrial feedstocks and pharmaceuticals.
Professor Sir David Baulcombe
Head of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences
and the Project Lead for the University
Recognizing the outstanding scientific achievements in Chickpea genomics and molecular breeding, the Telangana Academy of Sciences has honored Dr Mahendar Thudi, Senior Scientist-Chickpea Genomics, ICRISAT with a Fellowship. On an annual basis, the Academy honors scientists in recognition of their contributions to scientific excellence.
The election of the Fellows is by nomination done by Fellows of the Academy. Dr Thudi was felicitated on July 1, 2017 in Hyderabad by Dr Mohan Rao, President of the Telangana Academy of Sciences.
Dr Bhogireddy Sailaja, DBT-Research Associate, Genetic Gains Program, ICRISAT, has been awarded the ‘Jawaharlal Nehru Award for P.G. Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Agricultural and Allied Sciences 2016’ in the Biotechnology category. The award recognizes her significant contribution towards the improvement of rice productivity despite high temperature stress induced by climate change. The award was presented by Mr Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, and Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and ICRISAT Governing Board Member, at the 89th ICAR Foundation Day, on July 16.