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November
Issue No: 1928
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Governing Board meeting


Screenshot of the virtual meeting of ICRISAT’s Governing Board on 24 September 2021. Image: R Tan, ICRISAT

Screenshot of the virtual meeting of ICRISAT’s Governing Board on 24 September 2021. Image: R Tan, ICRISAT

The 100th ICRISAT Governing Board meeting convened

The 100th meeting of the ICRISAT Governing Board, which was recently convened, has endorsed the initiatives designed to progress the Institute’s strategic vision. The annual budget for 2022 was also approved in the meeting. This was the fifth Board meeting convened virtually since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Prof Prabhu Pingali, Chair, ICRISAT Governing Board (GB), expressed his delight at his recent visit to the HQ in Hyderabad. He said it was a great opportunity to interact with the staff in the field and in labs, and to get an idea about the latest progress on the ground.

“I’m impressed with the way management have succeeded in continuing operations despite the many challenges due to the pandemic; the systems put in place will hopefully address any future ‘waves’ or ‘peaks’,” he said.

In briefing the meeting on the International Year of Millets (IYM) in 2023, Prof Pingali underscored its significance as a great opportunity for ICRISAT to showcase its work and its strong partnership with the Government of India. “As a Board, we stand firmly with the Indian government to promote IYM2023,” he said.

On behalf of all Board members, Prof Pingali thanked Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka, former Asst Director General, ICRISAT, and Executive Director, Smart Food, for her immense contribution towards building up the Smart Food initiative and also for her contributions over the past nine years.

Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Vice Chair, ICRISAT Governing Board. Image: R Tan, ICRISAT

Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Vice Chair, ICRISAT Governing Board. Image: R Tan, ICRISAT

Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Vice Chair, ICRISAT GB, congratulated the Institute for winning the Africa Food Prize. He remarked that while Indian agriculture has performed well despite the impacts of COVID-19, there were several goals yet to be met such as breaking yield ceilings, mainstreaming millets, arresting decline in crop-growing areas and establishing sustainable food systems. He urged the Board to delve deeper into these challenges so as to develop solutions which would propel ICRISAT to further significance in the dryland regions.

Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT, presented an update over the past 4+ months across the areas of finance, operations and administration; strategies for sustainable agricultural R4D; collaborative relationships and long-term support for research in the drylands. She welcomed Ms Anita Pirani, Director, Business Development, and Mr Ramon Peachey, Director, Communications, to the organization.

“Our Annual Report 2020, the Strategic Plan (2021-25) and the rolling Medium-Term Plan (2021-23) are all out now,” said Dr Hughes. “This means that we’re well positioned to take our work forward to deliver on our mission and vision, and to target the SDGs – Zero Hunger, No Poverty, Climate Action, SDG 5b (in the Gender Equality goal) and Partnerships (SDG17).”

Among other things, Dr Hughes updated the Board about the upcoming golden jubilee celebrations for ICRISAT’s 50th year in 2022. She mentioned that the staff had contributed over 240 ideas for celebrating the momentous occasion and they were all being looked into by a special committee.

In mentioning the Africa Food Prize that was awarded to ICRISAT this year, she thanked the current Board and its predecessors for their support and guidance, especially Drs CLL Gowda and Rajeev Varshney, who were the Principal Investigators for key segments of the Tropical Legumes project, for which the award was given.

“For collaborative relationships, we’re continuing to build stronger links with our partners, including the Government of India, NARS partners, the private sector, etc. on different fora and the research team is making huge efforts to do this,” she said.

Dr Hughes also announced a new Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) signed with the World Food Programme (WFP) in New Delhi on 23 September 2021. “WFP, a Nobel Prize winner, is now linked with an Africa Food Prize winner: this is significant,” said Dr Hughes, thanking Dr Arabinda Padhee for his contribution in this regard. “This is our third MoU with WFP; We have one in Mali, one with Italy in Somalia and now one in India,” she said.

Subsequently, other research teams presented their reports to the Board which were deliberated upon and endorsed.

Media releases


Photo: ICRISAT

Photo: ICRISAT

Large study shows regular millet consumption can combat anemia

A new study has shown that regular consumption of millets can improve hemoglobin and serum ferritin levels to reduce iron deficiency anemia, which is rising globally. The recently published research, a meta-analysis of 22 studies on humans and eight laboratory studies on millets consumption and anemia, was undertaken by seven organizations across four countries and was led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

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Photo: ICRISAT

Photo: ICRISAT

A new study has shown that regular consumption of millets can improve hemoglobin and serum ferritin levels to reduce iron deficiency anemia, which is rising globally. The recently published research, a meta-analysis of 22 studies on humans and eight laboratory studies on millets consumption and anemia, was undertaken by seven organizations across four countries and was led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

“The study concluded that millets can provide all or most of the daily dietary iron requirements of an average person. Although the amount of iron provided depends on the millet variety and its form of processing, the research clearly shows that millets can play a promising role in preventing and reducing high levels of iron deficiency anemia,” highlighted Dr S Anitha, the study’s lead author and Senior Nutritionist at ICRISAT.

The researchers found that millets increased hemoglobin levels by as much as 13.2%. Four studies in the review also showed serum ferritin increasing by an average of 54.7%. Ferritin is an iron containing protein in the blood and is a clinical marker for iron deficiency.

The studies in the analysis involved nearly 1,000 children, adolescents and adults, and six different millet types – finger millet, pearl millet, sorghum and a mixture of kodo, foxtail and little millets. The participants in the studies were found to have consumed millets for anywhere between 21 days and 4.5 years. The findings were published on 14 October in Frontiers in Nutrition.

“1.74 billion people were anemic in 2019. That number is rising,” said Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT. “It has been proven that iron deficiency anemia affects cognitive and physical development in children and reduces productivity in adults. The need for a solution is critical, and therefore bringing millets into mainstream and government programs is highly recommended.”

Dr. Hemalatha, Director, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) said, “The results of the meta-analysis based on 19 efficacy studies conducted on anemic individuals clearly indicate that including millets in our daily diets, as a meal or beverage, decreases anemia. Contrary to the belief that micronutrients in millets are not bioavailable, the findings have shown that when millets are included as part of a balanced diet, the iron from millets is bioavailable and improves the hemoglobin status of the participants. Including millets in our daily diet, as suggested in “My Plate for the Day”, has the potential to decrease the burden of anemia in India.”

“Now that there is strong evidence of the value of millets in reducing or preventing iron deficiency anemia, it is recommended that one major research study be undertaken on anemia covering all the different types of millet, common varieties and all major forms of processing and cooking, using a uniform testing methodology. This will provide the detail required for designing interventions needed to have a major impact on reducing anemia globally,” said Professor Ian Givens, a co-author of the study and Director at University of Reading’s Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health (IFNH) in the UK.

“This study is part of a series of the largest studies ever collated on the impacts of consuming millets. The scientific evidence gathered has surpassed our expectations showing that millets have a significant positive impact on reducing the risks of diabetes which is increasing at dangerous levels and cardiovascular disease which is the number one cause of deaths globally. Now, we also have strong evidence for the impact of high levels of iron in millets reducing anemia – which is also increasing and in the top three micronutrient deficiencies globally. Millets not only are healthy but target some of our biggest needs, making them a powerful solution for our diets,” highlighted Ms. Joanna Kane-Potaka, former Assistant Director General, ICRISAT, and Executive Director of the Smart Food initiative who is a co-author of the study.

A medical doctor and co-author, Dr Raj Kumar Bhandari, noted, “The National Millet Mission, an initiative of the Government of India, started in 2018 to promote millet production and consumption in our daily diet as an answer to malnutrition and climate change. Most recently, NITI Aayog has launched Poshan Gyan, a digital repository with 14 thematic areas of health and nutrition, where millets have also been prominently positioned in diverse languages, media types, target audiences and sources. We are also promoting the use of indigenous grains in the inter-sectoral convergent actions envisaged in the flagship program of Poshan Abhiyan aimed at a reduction of undernutrition, wasting, stunting and anemia.”

The research also showed that processing can significantly increase the amount of iron bioavailable. For example, millet snacks made by expansion (extrusion) increased bioavailable iron 5.4 times, while fermentation, popping and malting more than tripled the iron bioavailable. Germination (sprouting) and decortication (dehulling) more than doubled the bioavailable iron.


File photo. Photo: ICRISAT

File photo. Photo: ICRISAT

New climate-resilient, disease-resistant chickpea varieties coming farmers’ way

Developed through genomics-assisted breeding by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and ICRISAT.

Three new chickpea varieties, with enhanced drought tolerance, disease resistance and increased yield, are set to become available to the Indian farmers. These have been notified to be available for cultivation by the Central Varietal Release Committee.

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Calling for the deployment of ‘fast-forward breeding’, a newly conceived framework that promises faster delivery of varieties to farmers, Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director – Accelerated Crop Improvement, ICRISAT, who coordinated the integration of genomics-assisted breeding activities for developing these varieties, said, “Counting three other varieties released in 2019 and 2020, genomics-assisted breeding has delivered six high-yielding chickpea varieties in India during the last three years.”

Why chickpea improvement?

Dr Arvind Kumar, ICRISAT’s Deputy Director General-Research, pointed to the threat of drought in chickpea-growing regions of India while explaining the need for sustained and continued research to improve the crop. “Drought alone causes up to 60% annual yield losses in chickpea. The changing climate warrants development of cultivars that can attain their maximum potential under drought stress in rainfed environments as well as in disease-prone environments,” Dr Kumar said.

ICRISAT, in collaboration with ICAR, has been leading the efforts for genetic dissection of drought tolerance and Fusarium wilt resistance in chickpea using the most advanced sequencing and genotyping technologies at its Center of Excellence in Genomics & Systems Biology.

Collectively called genomics-assisted breeding, these approaches are being deployed by ICAR institutes such as ICAR-IIPR, ICAR-IARI and several state agricultural universities, in collaboration with ICRISAT, to develop high-yielding, disease-resistant and nutrition-dense varieties faster than ever before.

Among the three new chickpea varieties are the two drought-tolerant varieties – IPC L4-14 and BGM 4005 – that were developed by transferring a ‘QTL-hotspot’ (genes for drought tolerance) from the donor chickpea variety ICC 4958 into two leading parental chickpea varieties, DCP 92-3 and Pusa 362, respectively.

After evaluation at several locations under no-irrigation (rainfed) conditions for many years, the new varieties reported 14.76% and 11.9% overall mean yield advantage over their parental lines. These varieties have been released for cultivation in the North West Plain Zone (NWPZ) for chickpea cultivation in the country covering Punjab, Haryana, plains of Jammu & Kashmir, parts of Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh.

The third variety is Fusarium wilt-resistant IPCMB 19-3, which is also called ‘Samriddhi’. Developed by transferring Foc2 race resistance genes into the parent variety Pusa 256, this variety showed an overall mean yield advantage of 30.3% over its parent line. IPCMB 19-3 has been released in the Central Zone covering Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh.

Dr NP Singh, Director, ICAR-IIPR, while emphasizing the role of genomics-assisted breeding, said, “Such high-yielding varieties developed through new approaches will enhance chickpea production further in India.” He added, “ICAR institutes, in collaboration with ICRISAT, are well prepared and marching ahead to embrace latest technologies.”

Dr Manish Roorkiwal, Senior Scientist, Molecular Breeding and Genomics, ICRISAT, who worked on developing these varieties, informed that the diversity in chickpea germplasm offers plenty of scope for the crop’s improvement as per the changing needs.

“I am delighted to see the collaborative efforts of ICAR and ICRISAT benefit farmers. These new varieties are well poised to strengthen food and nutrition security as well as livelihoods in India by providing adaptation mechanisms to the climate-related challenges confronting the agriculture sector,” said Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT.

The varieties at a glance

Variety

100-seed weight

(grams)

Maturity

(days)

Average yield

(kg per hectare)

Zone
IPC L4-14 16.6 128 to 133 1500 to 1600 North West Plain Zone
BGM 4005 22.4 131 1600 to 1700 North West Plain Zone
IPCMB 19-3 24.1 106 2000 to 2100 Central Zone

Partnership


Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Regional Director, ICRISAT West & Central Africa (left), with the visitors during the field visit. Also seen (from right to left:) Dr Nadine O Worou, ICRISAT, Ms Johanna Gårdesten, Embassy of Sweden, Dr Baloua Nebie, ICRISAT, Ms Marie Goretti Ntahombaye, Embassy of Belgium, and Mr Richard Bomboma, Embassy of Sweden. Photo: ICRISAT

Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Regional Director, ICRISAT West & Central Africa (left), with the visitors during the field visit. Also seen (from right to left:) Dr Nadine O Worou, ICRISAT, Ms Johanna Gårdesten, Embassy of Sweden, Dr Baloua Nebie, ICRISAT, Ms Marie Goretti Ntahombaye, Embassy of Belgium, and Mr Richard Bomboma, Embassy of Sweden. Photo: ICRISAT

European donor delegation discusses partnerships for greater impact delivery in Malian agriculture

Project partners and donors representing the European Union Delegation and the Embassies of Belgium and Sweden in Mali discussed technology generation, delivery and partnerships for larger livelihood impact when they visited the ICRISAT-West and Central Africa hub in Mali. They noted the advanced research and production facilities at the premises at the Samanko research station.

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Project partners and donors representing the European Union Delegation and the Embassies of Belgium and Sweden in Mali discussed technology generation, delivery and partnerships for larger livelihood impact when they visited the ICRISAT-West and Central Africa hub in Mali. They noted the advanced research and production facilities at the premises at the Samanko research station.

Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Regional Director, ICRISAT-West and Central Africa, welcomed the visitors and introduced them to the scientists for discussions on the ongoing research in ICRISAT mandate crops at the center.

(Top) Ms Stephanie Schrevere from the EU Delegation in Mali. (Bottom) Dr Baloua Nebie, sorghum breeder and coordinator of the UE-APSAN-Mali project. Photo: N Diakite, ICRISAT

(Top) Ms Stephanie Schrevere from the EU Delegation in Mali. (Bottom) Dr Baloua Nebie, sorghum breeder and coordinator of the UE-APSAN-Mali project. Photo: N Diakite, ICRISAT

The visit started at the main conference hall with a film on ICRISAT a t 2022, a year that marks the 50th anniversary of the institute, a video on the mid-term achievements of the UE-APSAN-Mali project, a video of the Smart Food initiative and another on the Africa Food Prize 2021 which was won by ICRISAT. All four videos provided an overview of ICRISAT’s Research for Development engagements in West and Central Africa (WCA).

The delegation toured ICRISAT’s facilities – screenhouses, cold stores, labs and fields, the demonstration fields of pearl millet, sorghum and groundnut, and also the hosted institutions at Samanko, including the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg).

A highlight of the visit to ICRISAT research facilities was the new centralized regional crop breeding section, where the seed processing and storage facilities are being renovated and upgraded, and also the screenhouses which are being refurnished to carry out crossings, rosette and downy mildew disease screening, and the rapid generation advancement facilities. The delegation then visited the equipment shed holding various new planting, harvesting and seed processing equipment. All these investments were evidence of ICRISAT’s efforts to modernize its regional breeding hub research activities in line with the new Crop Improvement Operations Team (CIOT).

The visit to ICRISAT pathology laboratory highlighted the importance of controlling aflatoxin contamination in crop and food systems in West Africa by ICRISAT and its NARS partners.

From top to bottom: Dr Mohamed Riyazaddin, pearl millet breeder, Dr Haile Desmae, WCA Lead regional crop breeding and Dr Ousmane Sanogo, Lead Crop Improvement Operations Team (CIOT) standing in front of the UE-APSANMali project funded infrastructure. Photos: N Diakite, ICRISAT

From top to bottom: Dr Mohamed Riyazaddin, pearl millet breeder, Dr Haile Desmae, WCA Lead regional crop breeding and Dr Ousmane Sanogo, Lead Crop Improvement Operations Team (CIOT) standing in front of the UE-APSANMali project funded infrastructure. Photos: N Diakite, ICRISAT

On the field, the visitors were shown demonstration plots of pearl millet, sorghum and groundnut that were released in Mali and other countries in WCA, or were in the pipeline. The delegates viewed improved crop breeding materials such as dual-purpose sorghum varieties and hybrids yielding up to 5 tons/ha, pearl millet varieties and hybrids such as the biofortified pearl millet Chakti, rich in iron and zinc. Chakti caught the attention of the visitors for its nutritional composition to combat micronutrient malnutrition in WCA. Improved varieties of groundnut tolerant to drought and aflatoxin and resistant to foliar diseases also captured a lot of attention.

The field visits generated extensive discussions on technology generation, delivery and partnerships for larger livelihood impact in the region. The delegation was impressed with the diversity of lines and hybrids in the pipelines of the breeding material available with ICRISAT and they appreciated the management and the scientists for their efforts in supporting the resource-poor farmers of WCA.

The visitors congratulated ICRISAT, WorldVeg and CIFOR-ICRAF for the significant achievements and progress made. Before leaving the research station, the visitors were served Smart Food snacks made from sorghum and pearl millet. The visit ended with a signing of the ICRISAT-Mali guest book. The Embassy of Sweden was represented by Mr Richard Bomboma and Ms Johanna Gårdesten; the Embassy of Belgium by Ms Marie Goretti Ntahombaye and Ms Sidibe Djita Dagnon; and the EU Delegation by Mr Abdoulaye Kabdaogo and Ms Stephanie Schrevere. The EU is funding the ongoing UE/EU-APSAN-Mali project.

Reported by: Ms Agathe Diama, Senior Manager, Communications and Regional Information, ICRISAT-WCA, with inputs from Dr Ousmane Sanogo, Lead-CIOT; Dr Mohamed Riyazaddin, Millet Breeder; Dr Nadine O Worou, Senior Program Manager; Dr Hailemichael Desmae, Lead-Regional Breeding; and Dr Baloua Nebie, Sorghum breeder, all from ICRISAT-WCA.

For more on our work in crop improvement, click here.


Dr Rajeev K Varshney, ICRISAT, and Dr Ajit Kumar Shasany, ICAR-NIPB, during MoU exchange ceremony. Also seen are Dr Arabinda Kumar Padhee, Director Country Relations, ICRISAT, and other officials of NIPB and Chairman and members of Research Advisory Committee of NIPB. Photo: ICAR-NIPB

Dr Rajeev K Varshney, ICRISAT, and Dr Ajit Kumar Shasany, ICAR-NIPB, during MoU exchange ceremony. Also seen are Dr Arabinda Kumar Padhee, Director Country Relations, ICRISAT, and other officials of NIPB and Chairman and members of Research Advisory Committee of NIPB. Photo: ICAR-NIPB

ICRISAT and ICAR-National Institute of Plant Biotechnology ink MoU to advance plant biotech research

The ICAR-National Institute for Plant Biotechnology and ICRISAT recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to advance their research efforts in the area of agriculture development with a focus on molecular biology, genetic engineering and capacity building. Dr Rajeev K Varshney, Research Program Director, Accelerated Crop Improvement, ICRISAT, and Dr Ajit Kumar Shasany, Director, ICAR-NIPB, shared the signed MoU during the Research Advisory Committee Meeting of ICAR-NIPB held on 18 October 2021 in New Delhi.

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Dr Shasany, while appreciating ICRISAT’s advanced research activities, particularly on genomics-assisted breeding and other areas, said, “This partnership will empower and enable both the institutes to explore new opportunities and conduct advanced research in the interest of smallholder farmers across the country and also help in building the capacities of our next-generation scientists from the national system.”

Dr Varshney said, “We work very closely with several national partners in India and this new collaboration will further our ongoing efforts and also provide new avenues for faster deployment and delivery of advanced biotech tools and approaches to accelerate crop improvement programs”.

“ICRISAT and NIPB have been conducting impressive agricultural research for many decades. I am hopeful of this very positive collaboration and partnerships between these premier institutes to develop research products that will significantly help farmers, especially smallholders, to increase their crop yields and incomes,” said Dr Arabinda Kumar Padhee, Director Country Relations, ICRISAT.

Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General-Research, ICRISAT, congratulated both the institutes and said that this MoU would benefit and complement both the institutes to leverage their capabilities towards enhancing the genetic gains in smallholder farmers’ fields and towards improving the agricultural landscape by jointly working on the common interest of profitable agriculture.

Reported by Nilesh Mishra, Senior Scientific Officer
Research Program – Accelerated Crop Improvement, ICRISAT.


Intercropping of okra in coconut orchard in Rupadeipur village of Puri district. Photo: Akshay Kheti

Intercropping of okra in coconut orchard in Rupadeipur village of Puri district. Photo: Akshay Kheti

Smallholder farmers in Odisha supplement livelihoods with coconut plantations

One of the ways in which ICRISAT is helping smallholder and marginal farmers in Odisha, India, is through collaboration with the Odisha Livelihoods Mission (OLM), to restore and improve livelihoods in six districts of the state. Part of this effort is the revival of coconut plantations and dependent livelihoods in Puri and Khorda districts, as well as the transfer of agricultural technologies to tribal farmers in the other four districts, to increase productivity and incomes. The ICRISAT-OLM team released soil health cards to farmers. These soil health cards give the information of soil nutrient status for 13 nutrients and recommendations for fertilizer application for different crops in coconut-based cropping systems.

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Every year, 2 September is celebrated as World Coconut Day. This year, the theme was “Building a safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable coconut community amid the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond”. Like last year, the ICRISAT-OLM team celebrated the day in the Balipatna block of Khorda, and Satyabadi and Pipili blocks of Puri district. Farmers from 15 villages attended the program in their respective Block Development Offices.

Speaking at the event, Dr PK Mishra, Consultant, ICRISAT Development Center (IDC), explained how ICRISAT and OLM started this project after several regions of Odisha state were devastated by the cyclone Fani in 2019. He also said that, in the near future, ICRISAT would also take up coconut plantation in collaboration with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in Balipatana and Balianta blocks.

“We’ve started a multistoried cropping system to strengthen the financial background of farmers. Its success will attract other farmers of the area,” said Dr Gajanan Sawargaonkar, Senior Scientist, IDC. “The success of our programs is largely due to the active contribution of the Block Development Officer, District Project Manager and Mission Shakti officials.”

“We’re going to conduct a market study for sale of harvest in order to support better prices for the products. ICRISAT will shortly start exposure visits and training sessions to add knowledge on coconut plantation, marketing, and other activities,” said Dr Gajanan.

Mr Bibek Ranjan Behuria, District Project Manager, appreciated the introduction of the dwarf variety of coconut by ICRISAT. He advised maintaining the proper spacing of 25 feet to save the plants from diseases and pest/rodent attacks. “While taking up coconut planting, farmers should consider the suitability of the field from all points of view, i.e., waterlogging, irrigation availability, soil type and depth, etc.,” he said. Asking the farmers to take ownership of the plants, he also requested the beneficiaries and the Sarpanchs to give full support for the success of this program.

The ICRISAT-OLM project “Sustainable improvement of rural livelihoods and restoration of coconut-based livelihoods through specific science-based interventions” is operational in six districts of Odisha – Puri, Khorda, Koraput, Gajapati, Rayagada, and Nabarangpur. The convergence of OLM’s coconut plantation program and MGNREGS will focus on the primary sector of the livelihoods of rural poor and work intensively in agriculture, non-agriculture and livestock sectors.

The ICRISAT team is guided by Dr PK Mishra; Dr Gajanan Sawargaonkar; Dr Rohan Khopade, District Coordinator; and Dr Sreenath Dixit, Principal Scientist and Head, IDC.

For more on our work in natural resource management, including soil management, click here.


(L-R) Dr E Leo Daniel, Director-Operations, VBTIPL; Mr Roger, Value Chain and Marketing Executive, VBTIPL; Dr A John Peter, Managing Director, VBTIPL; Dr K Venkateshwara Rao, Director-Research, VBTIPL; Dr S Gopalakrishnan, Microbiologist, Crop Protection & Seed Health, ICRISAT; Dr Arvind Kumar, DDGResearch, ICRISAT; Dr Rajan Sharma, Cluster Leader, Crop Protection & Seed Health, ICRISAT; and Dr Rajeev K Varshney, Research Program Director, Accelerated Crop Improvement, ICRISAT, at the agreement signing at the Hyderabad HQ. Photo: S Punna, ICRISAT

(L-R) Dr E Leo Daniel, Director-Operations, VBTIPL; Mr Roger, Value Chain and Marketing Executive, VBTIPL; Dr A John Peter, Managing Director, VBTIPL; Dr K Venkateshwara Rao, Director-Research, VBTIPL; Dr S Gopalakrishnan, Microbiologist, Crop Protection & Seed Health, ICRISAT; Dr Arvind Kumar, DDGResearch, ICRISAT; Dr Rajan Sharma, Cluster Leader, Crop Protection & Seed Health, ICRISAT; and Dr Rajeev K Varshney, Research Program Director, Accelerated Crop Improvement, ICRISAT, at the agreement signing at the Hyderabad HQ. Photo: S Punna, ICRISAT

ICRISAT to collaborate with bioproducts firm for plant health

ICRISAT and Varsha Bioscience and Technology India Pvt Ltd (VBTIPL), a Hyderabad-based bioproducts company, recently signed an agreement to work together in the field of crop health management. A joint research proposal on plant disease management based on Streptomyces technology has also been submitted to the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), Government of India. Dr Arvind Kumar, DDG-Research, ICRISAT, and Dr A John Peter, Managing Director, VBTIPL, signed the Collaboration Agreement on 5 October 2021.

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Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director, Accelerated Crop Improvement, ICRISAT, said, “ICRISAT has deep penetration in both East & Southern Africa and West & Central Africa. We should use this opportunity to showcase beneficial microbial products through large-scale demonstrations in African semi-arid environments and further refine the technologies, if needed, so that they may be released for farmers’ use.”

Dr S Gopalakrishnan, Microbiologist, Crop Protection & Seed Health, ICRISAT, gave the background and purpose of the meeting. He mentioned that ICRISAT and VBTIPL have already submitted a research proposal ‘Microbe-mediated holistic management of drought-induced charcoal rot/dry root rot caused by Macrophomina phaseolina’ to BIRAC. It proposes to scale up the Streptomyces technology after further evaluation of the strains for other beneficial traits in holistic crop health management. If approved and succeeded, it would be the first product of its kind in India. Both ICRISAT and VBTIPL are also looking for opportunities to extend collaboration in Africa, where the smallholder farmers seldom use expensive inputs, which could be a good proposition to develop and demonstrate microbial products for crop health management.

Dr John Peter gave a brief presentation about VBTIPL and thanked ICRISAT management for accepting this collaboration, emphasizing greater collaboration in Africa. “VBTIPL is doing business in Kenya and Morocco and this would help us for our collaboration in Africa”, said Dr Peter.

Dr Arvind Kumar congratulated both ICRISAT and VBTIPL for this collaboration.  “We need to take the basic research conducted at ICRISAT to the farm level and for that, partnership with VBTIPL could play a major role”, he said. He further added, “This collaboration should be long-lasting and beneficial for the organization in India as well as in Africa.”

Dr Rajan Sharma, Cluster Leader, Crop Protection & Seed Health, ICRISAT, thanked the signatories and also the teams responsible for preparing the document at ICRISAT as well as VBTIPL.

For more on plant pests and diseases, click here: Pests and Diseases | EXPLOREit@ICRISAT

Reported by Dr S Gopalakrishnan, Microbiologist, Crop Protection & Seed Health, ICRISAT.

This work contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goal.
13-climate-action 17-partnerships-goals 


The KOPIA team surveying agricultural machinery at Matopos Center, Zimbabwe. Photo: N Muchiwanga, ICRISAT

The KOPIA team surveying agricultural machinery at Matopos Center, Zimbabwe. Photo: N Muchiwanga, ICRISAT

South Korean agricultural program hails ICRISAT’s role in Zimbabwe’s smallholder agriculture

An agricultural program from the Republic of Korea has recently hailed ICRISAT’s role in innovating and disseminating technologies and practices that improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe. During a visit to Matopos Research Center, Zimbabwe, Dr Choi Young Sup, Director, Korean Program for International Cooperation in Agricultural Technology (KOPIA), commended ICRISAT’s outstanding efforts in modernizing production and processing of small grains for the benefit of farmers in the drier parts of the country. He called for ICRISAT to partner with the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Center (SIRDC), KOPIA’s vehicle for their R&D efforts in Zimbabwe, to develop cheaper, energy-efficient equipment that the local farmers can afford.

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Dr Sup said, “KOPIA realizes the need to make cheaper threshers, blowers, and dehulling and milling machines that communal farmers can afford. Mechanized processing of small grains by smallholder farmers has huge potential in saving time, cost and labor for communal farmers. It also promotes the growing of small grains, since some farmers stopped growing small grains owing to their labor- intensive processing.”
Dr Sup also said availing cheaper dehulling and milling machines will afford communal farmers a wider choice of nutritious dishes that can be made from small grains for feeding their families and income generation from selling products such as flour, cookies and scones. He emphasized the need to design power-efficient machinery.

Dr Martin Moyo, Senior Scientist – Farming Systems, and Country Representative, Zimbabwe, ICRISAT, briefed Dr Sup during his visit to the Matopos Research Center. He described ICRISAT’s activities and how they aim to address the challenges of poverty, hunger and malnutrition in Zimbabwe. Dr Sup was accompanied by Mr Agrey Mbaya, KOPIA’s Program Manager. Dr Moyo led the delegation on a tour of the research facility.

Dr Hapson Mushoriwa, Principal Scientist and Regional Breeding Theme Lead, ICRISAT ESA, showed the delegation some of ICRISAT’s recently acquired state-of-the-art-machinery including a belt seed grader, threshers and seed blowers customized for the particular mandate crops of ICRISAT. He spoke about how the equipment had increased operational efficiency by saving time, money and labor while giving more accurate data, a key component for accelerated crop improvement.

Dr Hapson Mushoriwa, Principal Scientist and Regional Breeding Theme Lead, ICRISAT ESA (5th from right); Dr Martin Moyo, Senior Scientist, Farming Systems, and Country Representative, Zimbabwe, ICRISAT (4th from right), and Dr Choi Young Sup, Director, KOPIA (3rd from right), along with other colleagues at ICRISAT, Matopos Research Center, Zimbabwe. Photo: N Muchiwanga, ICRISAT

Dr Hapson Mushoriwa, Principal Scientist and Regional Breeding Theme Lead, ICRISAT ESA (5th from right); Dr Martin Moyo, Senior Scientist, Farming Systems, and Country Representative, Zimbabwe, ICRISAT (4th from right), and Dr Choi Young Sup, Director, KOPIA (3rd from right), along with other colleagues at ICRISAT, Matopos Research Center, Zimbabwe. Photo: N Muchiwanga, ICRISAT

The delegation also toured the institute’s laboratory which, among other things, does soil and plant tissue analysis as well as value addition of small grains through innovations such as prepared porridge meal, baking flour, cookies and scones. Mr Bellington Mudyawabikwa, Laboratory Scientific Officer, walked the delegation through the various dehulling and milling equipment used in the value addition processes. He also showcased some processed products including hulled sorghum and pearl millet, porridge meal from finger millet, processed baking flour and breakfast cereal from pearl millet.

KOPIA has an existing agreement with the Government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, where KOPIA funds and monitors research work by scientists at SIRDC. The research work is aimed at coming up with adaptable localized technologies and practices that help alleviate poverty and hunger in rural farming communities, a goal that is aligned to that of ICRISAT which is to eradicate poverty, hunger and malnutrition in the arid tropics. Dr Sup called for ICRISAT to work with SIRDC in applying for funding from KOPIA to develop affordable, small grain processing equipment that can be used in the rural areas.

The delegation also had an opportunity to tour the ICRISAT genebank facility where Ms Tanyaradzwa Tenesi, ICRISAT’s Genebank Technician, outlined the activities that are carried out at the genebank including collection, characterization and inventory maintenance. She went on to explained the importance of the genebank in maintaining over 7000 small grain accessions which are a valuable source of genetic variation for the small grains. Ms Tenesi also explained how the genebank plays a crucial role in shortening breeding cycles for small grains through the implementation of pre-breeding programs.

In his closing remarks, Dr Moyo thanked the KOPIA representatives for their visit to ICRISAT. He said ICRISAT would explore possible avenues to partner with SIRDC and KOPIA in developing technologies to improve the livelihoods of the poor rural farmers. Dr Sup also thanked ICRISAT for the informative tour and reiterated that his organization is willing to work with ICRISAT.

Reported by Dr Martin Moyo, Senior Scientist – Farming Systems, and Country Representative, Zimbabwe, ICRISAT.

For more on our work in Zimbabwe, click here: Zimbabwe | EXPLOREit@ICRISAT

This work contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goal.
2-zero-hunger 8-industry-innovation 17-partnerships-goals 


Screenshot of participants discussing SLM practices organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat. Photo: A Whitbread, ICRISAT

Screenshot of participants discussing SLM practices organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat. Photo: A Whitbread, ICRISAT

ICRISAT’s expertise in sustainable land management highlighted by the Commonwealth Secretariat

A recent event conducted by The Commonwealth Secretariat highlighted ICRISAT’s achievements in sustainable land management (SLM): using land resources to produce goods to meet changing human needs, while simultaneously ensuring the long-term productive potential of these resources.

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At the webinar held on 9 September 2021 to enhance coordinated action towards SLM, Dr Birhanu Zemadim Birhanu, Cluster Leader, Landscape, Soil Fertility and Water Management, ICRISAT, shared ICRISAT’s deep knowhow on SLM in the area of capacity building, technical assistance, generation of evidence-based analysis and knowledge sharing.

SLM, which includes management of soil, water, animals and plants, requires tackling multiple issues such as addressing water, food and energy nexus, as well as sensitive issues regarding rights over and accesses to lands and other natural resources. To tackle this complex situation, ICRISAT, over a long period of time, has developed and promoted networks and alliances at levels from community to landscape scale and addressed pertinent issues on rural livelihoods, community resilience and environmental management.

Evidence generation and participatory implementation of technologies and practices constitute the main agenda of ICRISAT’s SLM. This is followed by scaling and impact creation at different agroecologies and new geographies. Effective documentation and an in-house capacity on monitoring and evaluation played a crucial role in the success of ICRISAT’s SLM work. Dr Birhanu elaborated on how SLM is an integral part of ICRISAT’s research agenda, and said that its success is dependent upon strategic partnerships at global, regional, national and local levels.

Finally, Dr Birhanu concluded that implementing SLM can be a vehicle to demonstrate the synergies at national and global levels to achieve the targets of the three Rio Conventions and help accrue gains towards improved livelihoods, resilience building and environmental management. The three Rio conventions are: The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Apart from this, participants discussed the need for greater awareness and advocacy for country-driven climate finance access for Commonwealth member countries. The Commonwealth Secretariat is supporting collaborative partnerships with national, regional and international organizations to unite in taking multi-level adaptations and mitigation actions, including SLM and wider nature-based solutions.

The full recording of the event is available in the link: Event: Enhancing Coordination on Sustainable Land Management for Increased Climate Resilience in Africa | The Commonwealth

Reported by Dr Birhanu Zemadim, Cluster Leader, Landscape, Soil Fertility and Water Management, ICRISAT.

For more on our work in SLM, click here: Natural Resource Management | EXPLOREit@ICRISAT

This work contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goal.
1-no-poverty 13-climate-action 17-partnerships-goals 

New technologies


Dr Ramadjita Tabo (R) presenting a certificate of participation to Mrs Sayon Irene Koloma (L) at the end of the two-day session. Photo: N Diakite, ICRISAT

Dr Ramadjita Tabo (R) presenting a certificate of participation to Mrs Sayon Irene Koloma (L) at the end of the two-day session. Photo: N Diakite, ICRISAT

Radio: A high impact communication medium in rural Mali

In rural Mali, the radio can be an effective mode of spreading awareness about agriculture, health, food and nutrition, etc. A recent training session in radio program production, broadcasting and evaluation found eager participantion from farmers, researchers, extension agents, and more. Jointly conducted by ICRISAT and the Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER), Mali, the workshop involved radio broadcasters from four implementing regions of the UE-APSAN-Mali project.

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Since the participants were community and national radio broadcasters working with implementing partners such as farmer organizations and NGOs, the workshop focused on sharing information on improved seeds, crop management, food diversification and nutrition embedded into the Smart Food initiative. Another focus of the training was on participatory agricultural radio programs examining improved technologies to meet the needs of the audiences from the respective target zones.

Ms Agathe Diama, Head, Regional Information, ICRISAT-WCA, Mr Modibo Coulibaly, President, FOSCAR-Mali, and Mr Issa Traore, Communication Officer, IER-Mali, were trainers at the session. Photo: N Diakite, ICRISAT

Ms Agathe Diama, Head, Regional Information, ICRISAT-WCA, Mr Modibo Coulibaly, President, FOSCAR-Mali, and Mr Issa Traore, Communication Officer, IER-Mali, were trainers at the session. Photo: N Diakite, ICRISAT

During the session, scientists in charge of sorghum, millet, groundnut and cowpea breeding from ICRISAT and IER, as well as representatives of farmers organizations (Local Union of Cereal Producers and COPROSEM) discussed the efficient use of radio as a means to reach community members.

“This two-day workshop is an opportunity to meet, exchange information and strengthen the collaboration between all actors for good dissemination and better impact of agricultural technologies in the target communities,” said Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Regional Director, West and Central Africa, in his opening remarks.

It was great to understand the comparative advantage of improved varieties with regard to climate change, diseases and other threats. We hope that our target audiences in the farming communities get a better understanding of these technologies and will eventually be willing to test and adopt them,” said
Mr Adama Sanogo, Director of Radio Bendougou, Bla, Segou region, Mali.

“I was delighted to learn about the many processed products that can be processed out of millet, sorghum, groundnut and cowpea. Also, these crops are resilient to climate variability and also very nutritious; they can help improve the health of consumers. Farmers need to learn and understand the scope and utility of these improved technologies for increased food and nutrition security in our communities,” said
Mrs Oumou Berthe,
rural radio, ORTM, Bamako, Mali.

“The choice of the radio as the preferred means of communicating the EU-APSAN-Mali project’s achievements is not by accident. Admittedly, information technologies have grown rapidly over the past three decades, but even then, radio remains a popular, economical and accessible means of communication in rural farming areas.

“It allows us to communicate in the local language to inform, give voice to rural development actors and build social awareness to accelerate adoption of new technologies for change.

“While choosing to dedicate space to this exceptional communication tool that is radio, we remain open to other means of information and communication that are participatory in approach. The main objective of this workshop is to bridge the gap between rural radio experts and agricultural extensionists, as well as that between researchers and extension agents.

“We hope that this workshop will also mark the beginning of participatory agricultural radio program broadcaster network towards an increased impact of the EU-APSAN-Mali project as well as other ICRISAT and IER projects in Mali,” said Dr Tabo.

The training consisted of presentations of various improved technologies by scientists, followed by working groups to identify the information needs of different segment of targeted audiences. It was organized by the communication services of ICRISAT and IER (lead implementing partners of the UE-APSAN-Mali project), in collaboration with FOSCAR-Mali, an expert of participatory radio programs and impact evaluation.

Kayes, Koulikoro, Segou and Sikasso are the four regions implementing the European Union-funded project UE-APSAN-Mali (‘Enhancing crop productivity and climate resilience for Food and Nutrition Security in Mali). The training workshop was organized from 28–29 September 2021 at ICRISAT regional hub in Mali.

A total of 45 people registered and participated to the event, including 17 radios producers and broadcasters.

“This workshop is useful to learn to collaborate with radio broadcasters to produce and share quality information that would contribute to raising awareness about improved technologies in our communities. It helps us tackle the challenge of tracking the impact of the radio programs on specific target audiences, by not only focusing on radio program production but also on measuring their impact,” insisted Mr Yalaly Traore, extension agent working with Local Union of Cereal Producers (ULPC).
 
“It is the first time that I am participating in such training along with fellow researchers, farmers, extension agents and radio broadcasters to reflect of the impact of radio outreach. We expect that through radio, even those farmers who are not directly involved in our trials and demonstration plots of improved technologies can benefit from the outreach,” explained Dr Mamoutou Kouressy, Coordinator of the UE-APSAN-Mali project’s at IER.
(L) Group photo of participants to the UE-APSAN-Mali; (R) Participants at working groups at media workshop in Mali. Photo: N Diakite, ICRISAT

(L) Group photo of participants to the UE-APSAN-Mali; (R) Participants at working groups at media workshop in Mali. Photo: N Diakite, ICRISAT

“I learned how important it is to plan radio programs according to the cropping calendar. This allows farmers to have timely information on each stage of the season,” said Ms Kadiatou Dembele, host, Radio Yeredon, Koutiala Region, Mali.

It was really impressive to learn that so many nutritious dishes can be made from our staples to improve household nutrition. Back at my radio station, I plan to produce messages to further build our community’s knowledge on the nutritional values of these crops which, far from being poor, should be given a priority in our diets,” commented Sayon Irene Koloma, Radio Kafo Kan, Bougouni, Sikasso Region, Mali

“Kayes, which is my region of origin, is an area of high immigration. Agriculture is not as well developed as in other regions of Mali. I believe that the use of these technologies can help improve agriculture in my region and thus contribute to jobs creating and reduction of immigration especially among the youth” explained Mr Charles Samba Sissoko, Radio Sigui FM, Region of Kayes, Mali.

“The workshop emphasized the nutritional value of the project target crops. Many people think that millet or sorghum can be eaten only as couscous and other traditional dishes but this project has demonstrated that it is possible to make more products out of these crops and I wish to spread this message,” emphasized Mr Issa Tangara, Diamako radio broadcaster, Yangasso, Region of Segou Mali.

Reported by Agathe Diama,
Head, Regional Information, ICRISAT – WCA

For more on our work in Mali, click here: Mali| EXPLOREit@ICRISAT

Project: Enhancing Crop Productivity and Climate Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security in Mali (UE-APSAN-Mali)

Funder: The European Union

Partners: Institut d’économie rurale (IER); Farmer organizations (Union locale des producteurs de céréales-ULPC, Sene Yiriwaton, Coopérative des producteurs de semence du Mande-COOPROSEM, Union Nietaa et Jigiseme; Extension services; National Directorate of Agriculture-DNA and in particular the agricultural sectors of Kayes, Ségou, Kita, Koutiala and Yorosso regions; NGOs (Mali Agricultural Market Development Trust – MALIMARK, European Cooperative for Rural Development-EUCORD, Association Malienne d’Éveil au Développement Durable-AMEDD); seed companies (SOPROSA, Camara Semence, Dounka fa, Faso Kaba and Zamoho); Universities in Mali; CORAF/WECARD; and ICRISAT.

This work contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goal.
1-no-poverty 2-zero-hunger 17-partnerships-goals 


Engineered decentralized wastewater treatment system in Buchinelli village. Photo: A Jashuva, ICRISAT, and Rehman, READ NGO

Engineered decentralized wastewater treatment system in Buchinelli village. Photo: A Jashuva, ICRISAT, and Rehman, READ NGO

Wastewater technology provides irrigation to rural communities in southern India

A recently commissioned decentralized wastewater treatment unit is now ready to provide supplemental irrigation during the post-rainy season for up to 4 ha of agricultural land, benefiting the 3,250 residents of Buchinelli village, Telangana, India.

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Developed in partnership between ICRISAT Development Center and Mahindra & Mahindra as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, the Mahindra-ICRISAT watershed project was launched in 2017 in Buchinelli village, Zaheerabad Mandal, Telangana. The village is located in an area receiving an average annual rainfall of 650–800 mm. Water scarcity, land degradation and poor crop productivity are some common impediments to farmers in this area.

While aiming for outcomes at the systems level for long-term sustainability, the project emphasizes groundwater recharge and other water management options that increase water use efficiency to sustain groundwater resources.

Key focus areas:

Integrated water resource management: Enhancing water resources through ex-situ rainwater harvesting interventions such as check dams, farm ponds, revival of tanks and re-establishing drainage connectivity, and in-situ soil moisture conservation techniques such as Broad Bed and Furrow, field bunding, etc.

Best agricultural practices: Raising farmers’ awareness on crop- and site-specific fertilizer management based on soil health, high-yielding improved cultivars, crop diversification, feed and fodder development for livestock development, etc.

Improved nutrition for women and children: Promoting and training millet-based cooking and baking products, training young women in computers, introducing non-farm income-generation activities (e.g. tailoring), etc.

Background

Buchinelli village consumes around 227,500 liters per day (@70 liters per capita per day), of which, 80% (182,000 liters) is usually returned to the village sewers as greywater/wastewater. Wastewater is the amount of polluted water produced from household activities. The lack of clean water and unpredictable weather conditions was forcing farmers to use untreated wastewater to irrigate their crops, especially sugarcane and cereals. Although untreated wastewater is rich in nutrients, temporarily meets the water demand and also curbs expenditure on fertilizers, it may increase salt deposits in the farm topsoil over time, and also causes health risks to consumers due to pathogens and bacterial contamination. However, if treated properly, domestic wastewater can be a sustainable solution for farmers.

Engineered decentralized wastewater treatment system

A decentralized wastewater treatment system is an inexpensive and effective method of treating wastewater by using decentralized wetland systems through phytoremediation (breakdown of pollutants by plants). Constructed wetlands consist of a filter bed of locally available sand/gravel (40 mm, 20 mm, 10 mm gravel and sand covered by filter mesh on both sides), vegetated with wetland plants such as Canna indica, lemongrass and Typha. Wetland plants are known to have the ability to breakdown and remove excess nutrients and some metals from untreated wastewater. They also reduce the surface area available for waterborne disease vectors like mosquitoes. The quality of water generated after this method is adequately suitable for irrigation and agricultural activities, leading to greater crop yields, higher incomes, better livelihoods, and safe practices leading to fresh and non-toxic food grains and vegetables.

At Buchinelli, this system was put in place in one of the sewage drains that received wastewater from 125 houses, with the total volume being 34,650 liters per day. The drain was divided into two parts – 1) a flood channel that carries floodwater during monsoon and also during peak flows during the day, and 2) the wetland system consisting of three wetland tanks sequentially connected with each other with a slope of 0.3 m to drain the water from one tank to the next. A sludge tank was located before the first wetland tank. The final treated water was stored and ultimately diverted into farmers’ fields. At the moment, the treated water is being used to irrigate fields of up to 10 farmers in Buchinelli.

Graphic representation of the wetland water treatment system. Image: ICRISAT Development Center

Graphic representation of the wetland water treatment system. Image: ICRISAT Development Center

Impacts:

The decentralized treatment plants are estimated to remove more than 60% of chemical oxygen demand, sulfates, and inorganic nitrogen. The system can also remove more than 80% of pathogens such as Escherichia coli.

The biomass generated from the plants can be used for producing biogas and compost.

Fresh water utilization is reduced and nearly 3.23-4.04 ha of cereals crops get supplemental irrigation during the post-rainy season. Groundwater pollution is also reduced.

The engineered decentralized wastewater treatment plant was inaugurated on October 1 2021 by Dr Sreenath Dixit, Cluster Leader, ICRISAT Development Center, Resilient Farm and Food Systems, ICRISAT, and
Mr Praveen Patravali, Senior General Manager, Farm Division, Mahindra & Mahindra. Dr Rajesh Nune, Scientist and Principal Investigator of the project, and
Dr Pawan, Visiting Scientist, played a key role in the implementation and design of the plant. Dr Mukund Patil, Senior Scientist, ICRISAT, provided expert suggestions and Mr V Naveen Kumar, Director, READ,  helped in building up the project.

Reported by Arun Seshadri, Scientific Officer,
ICRISAT Development Center, ICRISAT


(Left to right) Entrepreneurs Mr Lalit Jhawar and Mr Mayank Gupta of Landcraft Agro, biofuel experts Mr Divakar Rao and Mr YB Ramakrishna, and ICRISAT scientists Dr Ashok Kumar and Dr Prakash Gangashetty at the high-biomass sorghum plot. Photo: ICRISAT

(Left to right) Entrepreneurs Mr Lalit Jhawar and Mr Mayank Gupta of Landcraft Agro, biofuel experts Mr Divakar Rao and Mr YB Ramakrishna, and ICRISAT scientists Dr Ashok Kumar and Dr Prakash Gangashetty at the high-biomass sorghum plot. Photo: ICRISAT

Young farm entrepreneurs look at high-biomass sorghum and pearl millet for biofuel feedstock

The Government of India’s concerted efforts to replace 20% fossil fuels with ethanol blends by 2025 is attracting agricultural entrepreneurs to invest in renewable energy. This week, Mr Lalit Jhawar and Mr Mayank Gupta, two young IIT graduates running a profitable farming venture in Maharashtra, accompanied by biofuel experts Mr YB Ramakrishna and Mr Divakar Rao, visited ICRISAT headquarters in Hyderabad to learn about cultivation of sweet sorghum, high-biomass sorghum and pearl millet for use as biofuel feedstocks.

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ICRISAT scientist, Dr A Ashok Kumar, in his presentation gave an overview of ICRISAT’s research on sorghum innovations suited to 1G and 2G biofuels and for biogas production. He said that there were options to choose from for biomass requirement in addition to gains from nutritious fodder and grain. He highlighted the fact that sorghum is ratoonable and is a highly water-efficient crop. He said that a package of agronomic practices developed by ICRISAT foster the best crop growth and offer protection against insects and diseases.

Ready-to-use sorghum varieties for biofuel production

For 1G biofuels, sweet sorghum lines (ICSV 25308 and RVICH 28) with high brix (sugar content) of 16% at par with sugarcane were developed. These cultivars did not compromise on grain yield and the residue made for nutritious fodder (Nalini et al., 2013; Ashok Kumar et al., 2010). Experiments conducted in sugar mills proved the compatibility of the machinery for extracting ethanol from sorghum. However, sorghum stalks have to be crushed within 24 hours of harvest due to the higher rate of moisture loss compared to sugarcane. He said that the efficacy of techniques for retaining the sugars in stalks is under study.

For 2G biofuels, 4-5-meter tall multi-cut high-biomass varieties were developed. These varieties are highly suitable to providing biofuel feedstock (dry biomass of 15-20 tons/ha) and nutritious fodder. The brown-midrib varieties (introgression lines carrying bmr genes) with low (15%) lignin are easily digestible by cattle and provide greater nutrition than other varieties (23% lignin) for the same amount of fodder.

Currently, 3G biofuels, biogas and biomethane production techniques are under study. Preliminary studies show that anerobic digestion is much cheaper than bioethanol production and the biogas production potential of sorghum hybrid (ICSSH 28) is 80% higher than the corresponding weight of rice straw.

Promising pearl millet

Dr SK Gupta briefs visitors on high-biomass pearl millet. Photo: ICRISAT

Dr SK Gupta briefs visitors on high-biomass pearl millet. Photo: ICRISAT

ICRISAT scientist Dr SK Gupta presented on the high-biomass pearl millet varieties with a capacity of 40-45 tons/hectare of green biomass per season. He emphasized on the hardiness of the crop and its ability to tolerate drought and soil surface temperatures of >62°C; it is adapted to low fertilized and degraded soils and tolerant to low temperatures (can flower at 10°C), acid soils and salinity. Mr Divakar Rao, Member, Karnataka State Biofuel Development Board, commended the development of salinity-tolerant varieties and said that pearl millet was ideal for making wastelands productive. During the field visit, Dr Gupta briefed the team on the lines they could choose from and spoke of the Hybrid Parents Research Consortium for both pearl millet and sorghum that facilitated selection of plant material by the private sector. He also emphasized on the dual-purpose aspect of pearl millet for nutritious fodder and biofortified grain.

Mr YB Ramakrishna, Member, Working Group on biofuels at the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India, mentioned of the Government’s advanced target of reaching 20% biofuel blending by 2025 and said that plans are in place for initiating E100 (pure ethanol fuel) sale from 2023 onwards. He said that development efforts are focused on sustainable aviation fuel and development of 3G fuels. By 2025, India will be the largest producer of ethanol in the world, he said.

The group began its tour with a visit to the SAT Venture to get an overview of ICRISAT’s multi-faceted work and was welcomed by Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General-Research, ICRISAT. Following discussions, the visitors visited ICRISAT’s sorghum and pearl millet demo fields, genebank, genomics laboratory and the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform premises.

ICRISAT’s partnership portfolio for 2G biofuel feedstock includes Shell Bengaluru, Praj Industries, Pune and DBT-ICT Center, India Glycols Limited, Kashipur.

Reported by: Jemima Mandapati
Senior Communications Officer, ICRISAT

Innovations


Prime Minister of India Mr Narendra Modi interacts with farmers on a webcast soon after dedicating 35 new crop cultivars to the nation (R).

Prime Minister of India Mr Narendra Modi interacts with farmers on a webcast soon after dedicating 35 new crop cultivars to the nation (R).

ICRISAT’s advanced genomic technologies assist pearl millet and chickpea innovation in India

On September 28, the Prime Minister of India. Mr Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation 35 new crop varieties and hybrids of which three were the outcome of collaboration with ICRISAT. Genomics-assisted breeding led to the development of two chickpea varieties and one pearl millet hybrid. The cultivars are climate resilient, mature early, yield more and are resistant to major diseases.

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Dr Rajeev K Varshney, Research Program Director – Accelerated Crop Improvement, ICRISAT, who contributed to the molecular mapping and genomics support for the development of these varieties, said, “Translational genomics has come of the age in ICRISAT crops. We are happy to see our national partners in India deploying genomics-assisted breeding in their crop improvement programs.”

Crop innovations contribute to food and nutrition security and better income for farmers

Extra-early pearl millet with increased disease resistance and higher yield: More than two million people enjoy food security due to HHB 67 Improved in India. This extra-early (76 days to maturity), Downy mildew-resistant, farmer and consumer-preferred hybrid is grown in more than 800,000 ha out of the 7-7.5 million ha in which pearl millet is grown every year. This popular hybrid has helped prevent annual losses of US$ 8 million across Haryana and Rajasthan that mildew can cause.

However, the typical lifespan of any pearl millet hybrid is not more than 4-5 years before the disease catches up. The second cycle version of this hybrid (HHB 67 Improved 2 ) developed by Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (CCSHAU) and ICRISAT, released recently by the Indian Government has higher blast resistance by 12%, increased grain yield by 15% and dry fodder yield by 21% while retaining its hallmark early-maturity trait. This hybrid has the potential to enhance food, fodder, nutritional and economic security in the dry north and northwestern regions of India.

“We are excited to see a successful story of translational genomics and collaboration of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (CCSHAU) with ICRISAT in developing HHB 67 Improved 2. We look forward to stronger ICRISAT- ICAR collaboration to enhance pearl millet production in the dry zones of India,” said Dr Tara Satyavathi, Coordinator, ICAR- All India Coordinated Research Project on Pearl Millet.

Drought-tolerant and wilt-resistant chickpea varieties: Drought alone causes up to 60% annual yield losses in chickpea in India. ICRISAT, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), has been leading the efforts for genetic dissection of drought tolerance and Fusarium wilt resistance in chickpea using the most advanced sequencing and genotyping technologies at its Center of Excellence in Genomics and Systems Biology (CEGSB).

The drought-tolerant variety Pusa Chickpea 4005 (BGM 4005), developed by ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in collaboration with ICRISAT has 14.76% and 11.9% overall mean yield advantage over parental varieties. It is suitable for cultivation in the North West Plain Zone covering Punjab, Haryana, plains of Jammu and Kashmir, parts of Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh. Dr Shailesh Tripathi, Principal Scientist, ICAR-IARI and lead developer of the variety said, “We from ICAR- IARI in collaboration with ICRISAT’s Center of Excellence in Genomics & Systems Biology and funding support from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India have successfully deployed translational genomics for developing Pusa Chickpea 4005.”

The Fusarium wilt resistant variety IPCMB 19-3, also called Samriddhi, developed by ICAR- Indian Institute of Pulses Research (IIPR) has a mean yield advantage of 30.3% over its parent variety. It is suited to the agro-ecology of the Central Zone covering Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh in India. The lead developer of the variety and Principal Scientist at ICAR-IIPR, Dr Aditya Pratap said, “Development of the Samriddhi variety with higher yield has been possible due to excellent collaboration with ICRISAT’s CEGSB and financial support from ICAR and DBT.”

Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT, while congratulating scientists who had collaborated on the development of the new cultivars said, “We are pleased with this development and committed to such innovations in crop improvement programs that support smallholder farmers in India and elsewhere.”

Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General-Research, ICRISAT, said that these releases validate ICRISAT’s role in working with National Agricultural Research Systems and State Agricultural Universities to deliver new varieties at a faster pace and contributing to the national agenda for the welfare of farmers.

ICRISAT scientists Dr Rakesh K Srivastava, Principal Scientist – Molecular Breeding, Genomics & Trait Discovery and Dr Manish Roorkiwal, Senior Scientist – Genomics and Molecular Breeding, Forward Breeding contributed to the development of the new pearl millet hybrid and chickpea varieties, respectively.


B Balaraj, caretaker of one of the custom hiring center. Photo: BISLD, NGO

B Balaraj, caretaker of one of the custom hiring center. Photo: BISLD, NGO

Machine hiring centers create jobs for youth while saving time, cost and labor for farmers

A farm machine-hiring center set up in two villages in South India is showing how research-led interventions, based on a clear understanding of on the ground realities, can result in saving time, cost and labor for dryland farmers while creating jobs for rurally-based youth. ICRISAT studies show that besides improving on-farm operational efficiency and saving time, mechanized farming has the potential to increase yields by more than 10% and increase incomes by 12%.

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Farmer V Adilakshmi. Photo: Samatha NGO

Farmer V Adilakshmi. Photo: Samatha NGO

Renting a sprayer helps her cut costs drastically

A couple of months ago tenant farmer V Adilakshmi would not have imagined that she would be able to carry on farm activities on a small ‘brinjal’ farm at one-sixth of the cost she usually spent. “Pest attack is a severe problem during crop development and the fruiting stage. I used to hire people who owned sprayers and that costed me nearly ₹ 600 per day, but with the availability of hiring options, I have rented a sprayer that costs only ₹ 100 per day. Thanks to the project team for setting up the center. This is the first time I have seen anything like it in my village,” she says.

Farmer J Praveen. Photo: Samatha NGO and ICRISAT

Farmer J Praveen. Photo: Samatha NGO and ICRISAT

Mechanization leading to greater sowing and weeding efficiency

Farmer J Praveen who hired the power weeder says, “Labor shortage is a major problem in my village and for longer duration vegetables, like the tomatoes I am growing, more weeding sessions are needed. Using the hired machinery I have reduced weeding costs and saved a lot of time too.”

Farmer B Anil Kumar who hired the seed cum fertilizer drill says, “With the traditional method of sowing I could cover about half a hectare in a day, but with the drill I sowed pigeonpea on my entire 1.6 ha of land in a single day. I am happy that the seed drill cut the labor cost by 60%.”

Creating jobs for youth, replicating a successful model

B Balaraj, who was hired as the caretaker from the custom hiring center in the watershed village in Telangana state, has begun to do brisk business. One of the centers earned up too ₹ 36,000 (US$ 486) during the first month itself. Each center provides direct employment to one youth caretaker from the village for handling the center’s operations. Replicating this successful model, five more centers will be set up in five other villages in the Anantapur and Wanaparthy watershed sites (see map).

The custom hiring centers rent power-tillers, seed-cum-fertilizer drills, rotavators and power sprayers among other equipment. The local government (panchayat) operates the centers with technical support from ICRISAT and NGO partners, supported by the Rural Electrification Corporation Limited, Gurugram, India.

Farmer B Anil Kumar (right). Photo: Samatha NGO and ICRISAT

Farmer B Anil Kumar (right). Photo: Samatha NGO and ICRISAT

Building on lessons learned

An earlier initiative in Andhra Pradesh under the CRP on Dryland Systems has shown that shared machinery resources improved operational and economic efficiency of farm sowing operations through higher crop yields of around 10%. “Mechanized sowing not only saved cost around ₹ 1,000 (US$ 13.5) per hectare compared to traditional sowing (₹ 2,000 (US$ 27) per hectare vs. ₹ 3,000 (US$ 40.5 per hectare), but also recorded higher groundnut pod yields by 10% worth ₹ 5,200 (US$ 70.3) per hectare on average,” says ICRISAT scientist Dr Girish Chander who led the project.The yield advantage through mechanization is apparent due to uniform spacing and line sowing implemented, and completion of sowing in a very short span to provide a long duration for the seed to exploit the available soil moisture,” he says.

Acknowledgements: This work was undertaken through the CRP Water, Land and Ecosystems for the project Farmer-centric Integrated Watershed Management for Improving Rural Livelihoods” funded by the Rural Electrification Corporation Limited, New Delhi, India. NGOs (Samatha Society for Rural Education and Development, Anantapur; BAIF Institute for Sustainable Livelihoods and Development, Hyderabad); Watershed Associations; Department of Agriculture, AP & Telangana and ICRISAT partnered.

Author: Jemima Mandapati, Senior Communications Officer, ICRISAT

Webinars


File photo of a woman farmer in Niger with iron-biofortified pearl millet Chakti in 2018. Photo: ICRISAT

File photo of a woman farmer in Niger with iron-biofortified pearl millet Chakti in 2018. Photo: ICRISAT

Addressing hidden hunger through agriculture

African leaders discuss progress on biofortification in West Africa

Biofortification of staple crops remains one of the best options to address micronutrient deficiencies in Africa. Several African leaders met virtually to discuss the issues and opportunities involved in leveraging agriculture for better nutrition in West Africa.

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The webinar ‘Addressing Hidden Hunger through Agriculture and Reflecting on Progress with Biofortification in West Africa’, was organized on 15 September 2021, by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) and HarvestPlus.

Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Regional Director, West and Central Africa, presented the progress of ICRISAT’s biofortification initiatives in Africa, including scaleup of the crop value chains. He highlighted the holistic model for biofortification, right from crop breeding, seed system development, dissemination of agronomic practices, to product development through private sector partnership and processing for wider reach.

In his opening remarks, Dr Martin Fregene, Director, Agriculture and Agro-Industry, AfDB, highlighted major interventions of the bank in food and nutrition security with regard to micronutrient deficiency in Africa, and outlined its commitments to increase resources for biofortification and other sustainable strategies towards achieving ‘Continental Nutrition Goals’.

Dr Tabo showcased sorghum varieties with high iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) content released in Nigeria: SAMSORG 45 with 60% higher Fe concentration and SAMSORG 46 with 62% higher Zn compared to the average 35 ppm Fe and 25 ppm Zn found in sorghum. Also, he talked about Chakti, a pearl millet variety which already has over 65 ppm Fe content compared to popular varieties. Other pearl millet varieties GB 8735 and ICTP 8203 have been selected for fast-track improvement and release in Niger, Ghana and Senegal, he said.  Dr Tabo described ICRISAT’s efforts to boost the seed sector through the millet and sorghum compact of TAAT, funded by the AfDB. Moreover, he emphasized the importance of partnering with the private sector for product development, processing and wider upscaling. “We promote the value chain of underutilized climate-smart food crops, nutri-rich and resilient varieties that are good for the consumer, the planet and the farmer,” he said.

Dr Howarth Bouis, Founder, HarvestPlus, focused on linking agriculture and nutrition through an overview of biofortification. On diversifying diets with non-staple foods, he suggested to start with the specific foods that can make a difference in the nutrition status, and then work towards removing pricing constraints and those that limit expansion of supply. He remarked that one of the key issues in implementation of nutrition-smart agricultural interventions is the long gestation period often required. He said that positive examples were needed to encourage further investments in this area.

Dr Rose Omari, Senior Research Scientist, CSIR – Science and Technology Policy Research Institute, (CSIR-STEPRI), Ghana, presented the nutritional status in Ghana and also the national strategies for combating micronutrient deficiency in the country, including biofortification. She informed the group that while vitamin A deficiency is seen in 20% of Ghanaian children, it’s rarely present in women; also, iron deficiency is responsible for over 50% of anemia incidences. “Among interventions contributing to improvements are food fortification, supplementation, diet diversification and other public health interventions,” she said. “Biofortification is an option to be considered based on nutrition evidence from other countries”. Dr Omari recounted some of the challenges encountered in scaling up biofortified crops, such as the misconception among the public that all biofortified crops are genetically modified (GM) crops, the inability of consumers to differentiate between some biofortified crops and traditional crops, concerns about loss of nutrients during post-harvest handling and cooking, lack of awareness about and unavailability of biofortified crops, lack of testing facilities for micronutrient content, etc.

Dr Richard Pendame, Regional Director Africa, Nutrition International, talked about micronutrient deficiency in Africa, current coverage and compliance of food fortification. “Fortification is a low-cost, high-return investment,” he said. Talking about anemia prevalence, he informed that 27 countries in Africa have mandatory legislation for at least one cereal grain and/or oil and of these, a majority (>75%) have reached scale. However, 10 countries have less than 75% coverage of fortified foods and can still benefit from better enforcement, accountability, coverage.  Also, only 22% of industrially milled grains and a much lesser proportion of industrially milled oil is currently fortified. “There is a huge opportunity to improve fortification in industrially milled grains,” he said.

Other speakers included Dr Jonas Chianu, Manager, TAAT, who talked about biofortified crops being supported and funded under the TAAT initiative; Mr Seth Osei-Akoto, Director, Directorates of Crop Services (Crop Fortification); Dr Ahmed Kablan, Senior Nutrition and Public Health Advisor, who provided insights on USAID’s Large Scale Food Fortification (LSFF); Ms Paulina Addy, Director, Women in Agricultural Development Directorate Ghana, who spoke about scaling industrial fortification and the need for investment in infrastructure and regulation for food fortification; and Dr  Yusuf   Dollah, HarvestPlus Nigeria, who  showcased the high-iron pearl millet Chakti developed by ICRISAT and partners and released in Niger as a nutrition source for the drylands. “The ECOWAS rules allow this variety to be      cultivated in any member country,” he explained.

Dr Babatunde Omilola, Manager of Public Health, Security and Nutrition Division, AfDB, and Dr Esi Amoaful, Director of Nutrition and Country Lead for Nutrition at the Ghana Health Service, and HarvestPlus Board Member, moderated the event.  It was a very interactive webinar where participants had the opportunity to contribute on what makes biofortification a reliable technology to address micronutrient malnutrition, through a Mentimenter survey.

“As leaders, we have a great responsibility towards the health, welfare and security of our people. We are aware that micronutrients are necessary for growth and good health. Therefore, we have a duty to see how we can support biofortification in our country,” said Senator Muhammed Bima Enagi, who has over the past two years promoted the cause of biofortification at the Nigerian Senate.

The African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN), an initiative by AfDB and the African Union Commission (AUC), was endorsed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union (AU) in 2018. The ALN Initiative is led by a group of ALN Champions, comprising current and former Heads of State and Government and eminent leaders with the power to catalyze and sustain high-level political leadership and commitment to increase financial resources to end malnutrition in Africa.

Reported by: Agathe Diama
Head, Regional Information, ICRISAT – WCA


Enabling food and nutrition security in drylands

The recent COVID-19 pandemic and several other drivers have put the world off track to ending hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030. The latest FAO report “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021” estimates that between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020 – as many as 161 million more than in 2019. Nearly 2.37 billion people did not have access to adequate food in 2020 – an increase of 320 million people in just one year.

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“To underline the urgency of enhancing our efforts and defining a roadmap for the international community, ICRISAT brought together global leaders in science and policy making to brainstorm the current state of food and nutrition security in drylands and define the future roadmap”, said Dr Rajeev K Varshney, the Principal Organizer of the panel discussion while setting the scene. The panel discussion, organized as the International Borlaug Dialogue side event of the World Food Prize Foundation 2021, aimed to create awareness and discuss the future course of action for the global scientific community and international development agencies towards this pressing issue. The panel had eminent research scientists and administrators from international agricultural organizations across India, Eastern & Southern Africa, West & Central Africa and Australia.

The panel highlighted several key areas for urgent interventions to complement ongoing global efforts towards addressing food and nutrition insecurity. Some of these include diverse global partnerships, enhanced investment and funding for agricultural R&D, gender integration, adoption of value chain approach, deployment of advance scientific tools and technologies in crop improvement programs, strengthened seed systems, etc.

Providing the donors’ perspective, Dr Julianne Biddle, Director – Multilateral Engagement, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), highlighted the role of global partnerships to tackle complex food systems challenges in dryland agriculture and emphasized the importance of gender integration in our approaches to ensure food and nutrition security.

“We need to work with the agenda to turn the tide and leave no one behind,” said Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). “International development agencies need to enhance their focus in the dryland regions, as the population living in these regions accounts for high hunger and malnutrition, and without addressing the challenges of these regions, we cannot achieve global food and nutrition security,” he added.

“A strengthened seed system is as important as developing improved crop varieties with higher yield, nutrition and resistance to several biotic and abiotic stresses, for ensuring accessibility of these improved varieties by smallholder farmers at the right time and in the right place,” underlined Dr Jane Ininda, Head, Seed Research & Systems Development, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE) and Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Government of India, mentioned the urgent need for adopting a multisector approach for inclusive development across agricultural value chains.

Dr Mohapatra also highlighted several flagship initiatives of the government of India that include crops, livestock, horticulture, soil health etc., which can be replicated across dryland regions of the world under south-south collaboration.

From development of improved varieties (including through molecular breeding),   seed systems and value chains, to water management interventions and land restoration, Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General-Research, ICRISAT, portrayed the success stories delivered by ICRISAT together with partners. Dr Kumar also underlined the importance of organizations like ICRISAT, which is well positioned to deliver impact on ground and the recent recognition to ICRISAT with the Africa Food Prize 2021 as a testament to this.

Dr Rajeev K Varshney, while thanking all the panelists, appreciated them for highlighting challenges, opportunities and potential interventions, which may serve as food for thought, for developing an effective roadmap toward achieving food and nutrition security in dryland regions.

The event was co-organized by Drs Anthony Whitbread, Research Program Director – Resilient Farm and Food Systems; Michael Hauser, Research Program Director – Enabling Systems Transformation; Rebbie Harawa, Regional Director – Eastern & Southern Africa; Ramadjita Tabo, Regional Director – West & Central Africa, and supported by Mr Nilesh Mishra, Senior Scientific Officer, RP- ACI and Mr Prasad Bajaj, Manager- Computational Biology, Genomics, Pre-breeding & Bioinformatics.

The panel discussion had about 1,600 registrations from more than 65 countries including India, USA, UK, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Mali and Zimbabwe among the top ten countries. More than 460 participants attended the panel discussion at a given time (and 630 unique participants) through the Zoom platform and several viewers over YouTube. The recording of the panel discussion is available online https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_uxGZo94qM

 

About World Food Prize Foundation’s International Borlaug Dialogue

Held each October in conjunction with the presentation of the World Food Prize, the “Borlaug Dialogue,” is a three-day symposium that brings together international experts, policy leaders, business executives and farmers to address cutting-edge issues in global food security and nutrition. The event, which takes place in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, and regularly attracts over 1,000 participants from more than 50 countries, has been referred to as “the premier conference in the world on global agriculture.” The Borlaug Dialogue has featured an array of celebrated international speakers, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, AGRA Chairman Kofi Annan, HRH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Bill Gates, who launched his multi-million-dollar initiative to uplift Africa at the World Food Prize in 2009. Through the Borlaug Dialogue, the World Food Prize Foundation helps build alliances in the struggle against world hunger and malnutrition.

Reported by: Nilesh Mishra, Senior Scientific Officer
Research Program- Accelerated Crop Improvement, ICRISAT

Visits


Ms Catherine Inglehearn accompanied by Mr Francisco Salazar at the ICRISAT office in Niamey, Niger. Photo: Issa A Kalilou, ICRISAT

Ms Catherine Inglehearn accompanied by Mr Francisco Salazar at the ICRISAT office in Niamey, Niger. Photo: Issa A Kalilou, ICRISAT

UK Ambassador to Niger discusses climate change adaptation and humanitarian initiatives

Niger needs support for the implementation of climate change adaptation measures,” said Her Majesty’s  Ambassador to the Republic of Niger, Ms Catherine Inglehearn while on a recent visit to ICRISAT-Niger. She spoke about the ongoing discussion with the government regarding Niger’s participation at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) meeting in November 2021 in Glasgow.

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Ms Inglehearn said that the UK Embassy in Niger is still in its first year of operation, but is working with organizations such as the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) toward humanitarian actions in Niger. She invited ICRISAT to meet with UK’s humanitarian programme team during its upcoming visit.

Dr Malick Ba, Country Representative, ICRISAT-Niger gave an overview of ICRISAT’s global mandate and activities in the region and presented recent achievements in Niger. Dr Bouba Traore, Scientist-Agronomy, explained the ongoing activities aimed at youth and women empowerment with various partners in Niger. Ambassador Inglehearn congratulated ICRISAT for the advancements the Institute is making and for winning the African Food Prize 2021.

Ms Inglehearn visited ICRISAT’s office in Niamey on 23 September. She was accompanied by Mr Francisco Salazar, Embassy Development Counsellor.


Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT, welcomes Dr D Venkateshwaran, Deputy High Commissioner of Sri Lanka (second from left) and the accompanying delegation to the ICRISAT campus in India taking the opportunity to highlight the Institute being awarded the Africa Food Prize 2021. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT, welcomes Dr D Venkateshwaran, Deputy High Commissioner of Sri Lanka (second from left) and the accompanying delegation to the ICRISAT campus in India taking the opportunity to highlight the Institute being awarded the Africa Food Prize 2021. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Visit by Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner to ICRISAT opens opportunities for learning and knowledge exchange

Dr Doraiswamy Venkateshwaran, Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner stationed in Chennai, recently visited the ICRISAT campus in Hyderabad to learn more about the Institute’s science-backed research for dryland agriculture.

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Along with his team, he visited the genebank and toured the pigeonpea and finger millet field plots, where Dr Prakash Gangashetty and Dr Sobhan Sajja explained to him the research focus and various traits of hybrids and varieties developed by ICRISAT.

Dr Venkateshwaran expressed interest in collaborating to provide training opportunities for Sri Lankan scientists and agriculture extension personnel. The opportunities to conduct future visits by scientists, senior staff members of the Department of Agriculture, and the Minister of Agriculture of Sri Lanka were explored to share knowledge in which Sri Lanka could possibly adopt to establish a similar and modern research facility based on the ICRISAT model.

Dr D Venkateshwaran and his team visited ICRISAT on 20 September 2021.

Publications

Climate change impacts and adaptation for dryland farming systems in Zimbabwe: a

stakeholder-driven integrated multi-model assessment

Authors: Tui SH, Descheemaeker K, Valdivia RO, Masikati P, Sisito G, Moyo EN, Crespo O, Ruane AC and Rosenzweig C

Published: Climatic Change (TSI), 168 (1-2). pp. 1-21. ISSN 0165-0009

http://oar.icrisat.org/11903

Status of Adoption of Improved Groundnut Technologies in Odisha State

Authors: Behura D, Haldar S, Teufel N, Charyulu DK, Variath MT and Pasupuleti J

Published: Technical Report. ICRISAT, Patancheru, Hyderabad, India

http://oar.icrisat.org/11904

Delineating investment opportunities for stakeholders in sorghum seed systems: a logit model perspective

Authors: Ndossi J, Akpo E, Ojiewo CO, Ringo J, Kongola E, Vernooy R, Muricho G, Lukurugu GA,

Makoye LN, Tabo R and Varshney R

Published: Agriculture & Food Security (TSI), 10 (1). pp. 1-13. ISSN 2048-7010

http://oar.icrisat.org/11905

A probit Analysis of Determinants of Adoption of Improved Sorghum Technologies Among Farmers in Tanzania

Authors: Kimbi TG, Akpo E, Kongola E, Ojiewo CO, Vernooy R, Muricho G, Ringo J, Lukurugu GA, Varshney R and Tabo R

Published: Journal of Agricultural Science (TSI), 13 (1). pp. 73-87. ISSN 1916-9752

http://oar.icrisat.org/11906

Biogenic link to the recent increase in atmospheric methane over India

Authors: Singh A, Kuttippurath J, Abbhishek K, Mallick N, Raj S, Chander G and Dixit S

Published: Journal of Environmental Management, 289. pp. 1-10. ISSN 0301-4797

http://oar.icrisat.org/11907

Legume Biochar Fertilizer Can Be an Efficient Alternative to Compost in Integrated Nutrient Management of Paddy (Oryza sativa L.)

Authors: Abbhishek K, Chander G, Dixit S, Kuttippurath J, Singh A and Das D

Published: Journal of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition (TSI). ISSN 0718-9508

http://oar.icrisat.org/11908

Scaling Up Food Legume Production Through Genetic Gain and Improved Management

Authors: Wani SP, Chander G, Patil MD, Sawargavkar G and Kumar S

Published: In Genetic Enhancement in Major Food Legumes (TSI). Springer, Switzerland, pp. 303-338

http://oar.icrisat.org/11909

Short term fallow and partitioning effects of green manures on wheat systems in East African highlands 

Authors: Amede T, Legesse G, Agegnehu G, Gashaw T, Degefu T, Desta G, Mekonnen K, Schulz, S and Thorne P 

Published: Field Crops Research (TSI), 269. ISSN 0378-4290 

http://oar.icrisat.org/11890

Analysis of rainfall variability and trends for better climate risk management in the major agro-ecological zones in Tanzania 

Authors: Joseph JE, Rao KPC, Swai E, Ngwira AR, Rötter RP and Whitbread AM 

Published: Working Paper. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). 

http://oar.icrisat.org/11891

Drought and high temperature stress in sorghum: physiological, genetic, and molecular Insights and breeding approaches 

Authors: Prasad VBR, Govindaraj M, Djanaguiraman M, Djalovic I, ShailaniA, Rawat N, Singla-Pareek SL, Pareek A and Prasad PVV 

Published: International Journal of Molecular Sciences (TSI), 22 (18). pp. 1-25. ISSN 1422-0067 

http://oar.icrisat.org/11892

Development of high yielding disease resistant hybrid in pearl millet [Pennisetumglaucum (L.) R.Br.] for Northern Karnataka 

Authors: Athoni BK, Sadhana RB, Kumari B, Motagi BN, Vastrad SM, Gupta SK and Govindaraj M 

Published: Frontiers in Crop Improvement, 9 (2). pp. 128-132. ISSN 2454-6011 

http://oar.icrisat.org/11893

Transition from targeted breeding to mainstreaming of biofortification traits in crop improvement programs 

Authors: Virk PS, Andersson MS, Arcos J, Govindaraj M and Pfeiffer WH 

Published: Frontiers in Plant Science (TSI), 12 (703990). ISSN 1664-462X 

http://oar.icrisat.org/11894

Micronutrient rich pearl millet for nutritionally secure India 

Authors: Satyavathi CT, Ambawat S, Khandelwal V, Govindaraj M and Neeraja CN 

Published: ICAR-All India Coordinated Research Project on Pearl Millet, Jodhpur, India 

http://oar.icrisat.org/11895

Molecular mechanisms and biochemical pathways for micronutrient acquisition and storage in legumes to support biofortification for nutritional security

Authors: Roorkiwal M, Pandey S, Thavarajah D, Hemalatha R and Varshney RK

Published: Frontiers in Plant Science (TSI), 12 (682842). pp. 1-20. ISSN 1664-462X

http://oar.icrisat.org/11880

Environmental characterization and yield gap analysis to tackle genotype-by-environment-by-management interactions and map region-specific agronomic and breeding targets in groundnut

Authors: Hajjarpoor A, Kholová J, Pasupuleti J, Soltani A, Burridge J, Degala SB, Gattu S, Murali TV, Garin V, Radhakrishnan T and Vadez V

Published: Field Crops Research (TSI), 267. pp. 1-15. ISSN 0378-4290

http://oar.icrisat.org/11881

Sequencing the USDA core soybean collection reveals gene loss during domestication and breeding

Authors: Bayer PE, Valliyodan B, Hu H, Marsh JI, Yuan Y, Vuong TD, Patil G, Song Q, Batley J, Varshney RK, Lam HM, Edwards D and Nguyen HT

Published: The Plant Genome (TSI). pp. 1-12. ISSN 1940-3372

http://oar.icrisat.org/11882

A comprehensive assessment framework for attributing trends in streamflow and groundwater storage to climatic and anthropogenic changes: A case study in the typical semi-arid catchments of southern India

Authors: Nune R, George BA, Western AW, Garg KK, Dixit S and Ragab R

Published: Hydrological Processes (TSI), 35 (8). pp. 1-17. ISSN 0885-6087

http://oar.icrisat.org/11883

Evaluation of multiple salinity tolerance indices for screening and comparative biochemical and molecular analysis of pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.] genotypes

Authors: Jha S, Singh J, Chouhan C, Singh O and Srivastava RK

Published: Journal of Plant Growth Regulation (TSI). ISSN 0721-7595

http://oar.icrisat.org/11885

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