1) ICRISAT celebrates bountiful harvest in 2004 (15 December 2004)

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is celebrating the strength of teamwork, partnership and a rededicated future strategy during the 32 nd Annual Day celebrations being held at Patancheru from 13 to 15 December.

According to Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, the event is significant since the Institute can celebrate its achievements of the past year, and also focus ahead on the Vision and strategy to 2010 .

“While we celebrate the achievements of Team ICRISAT, which was a bountiful harvest in 2004, we also want to express our appreciation and thanks to some of our strongest partners,” Dr Dar said.

Of special significance is the presence of the Ambassador of Japan to India, Mr Yasukuni Enoki, during the event. “Our ties with the Government of Japan date back to 30 years. During this period, Japan and ICRISAT have been working together to help improve agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia,” Dr Dar added.

During this year's Annual Day, ICRISAT is specially recognizing the relationship with Dr Mangala Rai, Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). The Institute is also recognizing its partnership with the Vietnam Agricultural Sciences Institute (VASI) and the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA). Dr Ta Minh Son, Director General of VASI is participating in the event.

Mr B R Barwale, Chairman of the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd. (MAHYCO), is the private-sector partner being felicitated. The cytoplasmic male sterile pigeonpea system developed by ICRISAT is being named as the Barwale CMS system.

ICRISAT is also recognizing its partnership with the media, through the Millennium Science Award to be given to Mr Ashok Sharma, Special Correspondent of the Financial Express. Through his copious writings in the Financial Express, Mr Sharma has introduced not only ICRISAT, but the entire Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) to the Indian readers.

The event will mark ICRISAT's achievements in the recent past. ICRISAT stands tall within the CGIAR. For the fourth time, the Institute won the King Baudouin Award during the CGIAR Annual General Meeting in Mexico. ICRISAT shared this award with International Maize and Wheat Research Institute (CIMMYT), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and national systems such as ICAR in the Rice-Wheat Consortium for the Indo-Gangetic Plains. With the fourth King Baudouin Award, ICRISAT is now unequalled in the CGIAR.
Also for the fourth time, ICRISAT bagged the CGIAR Young Scientist Award with Lava Kumar winning it back-to-back with Jonathan Crouch last year.

Early this year, the World Bank rated ICRISAT as “superior” based on its scientific and financial performance. Furthermore, special project funding rose from US$ 6 million in 2000 to US$ 11 million last year. It is expected to surpass US$ 13 million this year.

ICRISAT's collective efforts in resource mobilization are bearing fruit. This year, we have received pledges worth US$ 15.4 million for 73 projects out of 114 proposals. At present, nearly two thirds of ICRISAT's annual budget of US$ 26 million comes from special projects.

Likewise, ICRISAT is practically on top of the CGIAR System. ICRISAT Board Chair Uzo Mokwunye is Chair of the Center Board Chairs Committee (CBCC). On the other hand, Director General William Dar is the incoming Chair of the Center Director's Committee (CDC) and Deputy Director General Dyno Keatinge is incoming Chair of the Center Deputy Directors Committee (CDDC).

There have been breakthroughs in research, the core business at ICRISAT. The results of our work in genetic transformation are very promising. The world's first transgenic groundnut is in its third year of contained field trial at ICRISAT. Moreover, the world's first transgenic pigeonpea is now on its second year of trials.

In sub-Saharan Africa, ICRISAT is promoting systems diversification in the Sahel through the African Market Garden, Sahelian Ecofarm and Desert Margins Program. The market-led initiatives in Eastern and Southern Africa are also making big strides. I n Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, we are developing innovative community seed production systems with Catholic Relief Services, TechnoServe and NARS partners to support a market-led approach for grain legumes.
The strategic public-private partnerships built over the last few years is delivering results. The Agri-Business Incubator has three private partners – Rusni Distilleries Pvt. Ltd, Bioseed Research India Pvt. Ltd and Seed Works India Pvt. Ltd. The Government of Andhra Pradesh has approved a grant of 3 crores to support development of the Agri-Biotech Park over five years.

Our Hybrid Parents Research Consortium has grown to 29 private sector seed companies from India, Indonesia and Egypt. This is expected to generate US$ 2.3 million over a five years. Twelve private sector companies have agreed to become partners in the ICRISAT-Private Sector Bio-pesticide Research Consortium, scheduled to start in January 2005.
Our ties with our host country India have grown even stronger. Recently, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Dr Rajasekhara Reddy, visited ICRISAT. The CM asked ICRISAT to promote our sweet sorghum on a large scale in the State. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has been one of our strongest partners. We are confident that ICAR and ICRISAT will scale greater heights with India's increasing financial support to ICRISAT.

We are building a virtual and seamless organization with integrated systems and processes by harnessing ICTs. The Virtual Academy for the Semi-Arid Tropics (VASAT) has taken off in West Africa. To reach out to more farmers, we revived our Farmers Days, at Dharwad in Karnataka and Karivemula village in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh.

Looking forward to the future, ICRISAT's new Vision and strategy to 2010 is its major instrument for institutional renaissance or rebirth. Today, ICRISAT and the whole CGIAR is focusing on what it does best – providing global public goods and helping national systems build capacity to fully take up their own responsibilities.

ICRISAT is linking its research agenda to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in order to increase focus on interdisciplinary issues. Relevant issues will also be linked with programs such as sustainable development, health, HIV/AIDS, post-conflict rehabilitation, gender, biodiversity, water management, high value crops, and resource conservation. The strategy is being strengthened with the revolution taking place in biotechnology and information and communication technology.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.