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ICRISAT

Happenings In-house Newsletter

14 June 2013 No. 1575

Photo: MPKV, Maharashtra

HOPE project farmers from Maharashtra rejoice as they show the sorghum panicles harvested this year despite the vagaries of nature.

ICRISAT-HOPE project interventions stymie drought impacts Unfavorable conditions like a 30% deficit in rainfall and severe drought failed to make a dent in the lives of over 33,000 farmers in the Marathwada and western Maharashtra regions of India thanks to HOPE project interventions like improved cultivars, crop and drought management practices and creating market linkages that brought with them greater grain and fodder yields.

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armers growing postrainy season sorghum in Maharashtra state of India had yet another difficult year in 2012-2013, with rainfall being 30% below the normal levels in Marathwada and Western Maharashtra regions. Most farmers did not plant the crop as there was insufficient moisture in the field. Even if sown, the crop dried in most areas and there was no panicle exsertion because of severe drought.

and crop and drought management practices provided under the project in the last four years have helped over 33,000 sorghum farmers get on an average 40% higher grain yields and 29% higher fodder yields compared to the local cultivars and practices. Further, market linkages promoted under the project have enabled the farmers to get higher prices for their grain and fodder.

However, there was a ray of hope in this gloomy situation. Interventions under the ICRISAT-led HOPE project helped defy drought and protect the sorghum crop in the project cluster villages. Improved cultivars

This was revealed at the Fourth Annual Review and fifth year workplan development meeting of the project held at YASHADA, Pune, in Maharashtra during 11-12 June. In this project funded by the to page 2 ...4

ICRISAT-HOPE project interventions stymie drought...from page 1 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Marathwada Agricultural University (MAU), Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (MPKV) and Directorate of Sorghum Research (DSR) are ICRISAT’s partners in the sorghum component. Delivering the opening address, MPKV Vice Chancellor Dr TA More commended the efforts of ICRISAT and partner institution scientists in transferring the Photo: MPKV, Maharashtra technologies to over 33,000 farmers and Project Manager G Okwach (far right) speaks at the meeting. making a big difference in their lives. Dr Stefania Grando, Director, Research Program-Dryland Cereals commended the good work by Dr Nagaraj (ICRISAT) and supported by done in India, the ownership of the project by Mr Pokharkar and Mr More (MPKV). partners and the impact on farmers, thereby helping them achieve large gains in productivity and incomes. The review meeting recognized the impressive gains made by the project, identified critical constraints, She recognized the team spirit of the scientists from and came out with policy recommendations. The different organizations and suggested that the team workplan for year five covering the no-cost extension document the results, successes and case studies for period and transition phase were presented by the benefit of all stakeholders. Drs Nagaraj, Belum Reddy, Parthasarathy Rao and HOPE project manager George Okwach, in his Ashok Kumar, which were approved after discussions. remarks, appreciated the overall progress of the On this occasion, Dr Belum Reddy was felicitated by project in South Asia and urged the team to identify MPKV Rahuri for his contribution to sorghum loose ends and critical gaps based on what has been improvement, and for strengthening national done and the lessons learnt, so that the project can programs by building strong partnerships to help address these in the extended period granted to it. transfer technologies to farmers, particularly under He lamented that though the project had done well the project. in postrainy season sorghum in Maharashtra, the good work had largely remained unknown as not The work in this project was undertaken as part of many success stories had been written and shared the CGIAR Research Program on DrylandCereals.g widely. He revealed that the project would soon bring out a series of newsletters to share the project’s work, from the farmers’ perspective. The progress made during the year under various project objectives was presented by Drs Belum Reddy, Nagaraj, Basavaraj and Ashok Kumar with support from SR Gadakh, SP Mehtre, Pokharkar, Sachin More and Ravi. The team also conducted a regional workshop to share the results from baseline and monitoring and early adoption studies led

Photo: MPKV, Maharashtra

Participants of the Fourth Annual Review and fifth year workplan development meeting of the HOPE project.

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Communicating climate services for farmer communities

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he farming community can cope better with climate change if we help them prepare better for the future. As part of efforts to help them get a better handle on climate uncertainties, ICRISAT and ILRI organized an international expert workshop on ‘Developing a methodology to communicate climate services at scale for farmer communities in Africa and South Asia through intermediaries’ at Nairobi from 12-14 June. The meeting aimed to review, contrast Photo: P Craufurd, ICRISAT and synthesize good practices in Working groups at work during the workshop on climate services communicating climate services at communication. scale for farmer groups, through intermediaries and boundary organizations, using Other scientists who lent their expertise to this them as the missing link between forecasters, initiative included Drs KPC Rao and Dileepkumar agricultural experts and vulnerable farmer Guntunku (ICRISAT). communities. In addition, opportunities were sought The output expected from this meeting are various to identify, apply and tailor training materials ToT materials and pedagogic tools, options and developed to serve the needs of various intermediary curricula appropriate to train boundary organizations and boundary organizations participating in the and community relays (including public extension workshop. services; NGOs and CBOs; media professionals and Delivering the opening remarks at the workshop, Dr communicators; faith leaders; rural radio networks; Peter Craufurd, Director, Reseach Program – Resilient model farmers and farmer organizations) to Dryland Systems reminded the audience of the need communicate climate services effectively, from to scale up climate services to farmers and seasonal to short-range time scales, and serve as the pastoralists across the semi-arid tropics, of learning missing link between climate forecasters and farmer from good practices identified by the CGIAR Research communities vulnerable to a changing climate. The Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food activity is mapped to the CGIAR Research Program on Security (CCAFS) for all farmers to benefit, as well as Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security the imperative of heeding gender considerations. (CCAFS). g

Participants of the meeting in Nairobi. ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 14 JUNE 2013 1575 3

CGIAR Technical Online Communicators meet in Rome

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n the first decade of the 21st century alone, the number of internet users increased from 350 million to 2 billion, underlining how pervasive the digital age is! And with it came a mushrooming of Technical Online Communicators (TOCs). With a view to bringing together and sharing the repository of knowledge and experience of this group, the CGIAR Consortium facilitated a workshop to kick-start an active Community of Practice for CGIAR TOCs from 27-31 May at Bioversity International, Rome. As a prelude to the workshop and to break the ice, all TOCs were gathered Photo: Bioversity into a Google Groups email discussion Participants of the Technical Online Communicators workshop. forum, where they opened up to each other’s technical woes and wishlists, and built the Antonella Pastore, Enrica Porcari, Michael Marus and foundation of the workshop brick by brick, Tanya Jordan. topic by topic. And in the midst of this information maze, stirring Twenty-four participants from nearly all CGIAR things up yet tactfully driving discussions to useful centers, in addition to those from partner conclusions was the workshop facilitator-Agitator organizations YPARD, FARA, GFAR, ICBA, University of Peter Casier from the Consortium Office. Liege and ASARECA comprising 1/3 content The workshop was webcast live, with online specialists and 2/3 technical specialists, attended the participants interacting with the workshop, and also workshop supported by staff from the CGIAR covered live on Twitter and Yammer, and liveConsortium Office and Bioversity International. blogged. In addition, there were a number of ICRISAT was represented by Smitha Sitaraman. showcases (centers showing some of the work they Among the topics covered during the workshop were did) and peer-assist web-clinics where smaller Online media overview and strategy; website revamp working groups assisted Centers with practical - process and approach; web usability, web problems and issues. The exercise wisened up some optimization and web security; online statistics, of the technically challenged content people among eNewsletter systems, Search Engine Optimization; the participants, while at the same time making them newest design technologies/trends; and online more sympathetic to the challenges their techie document repositories, intranets, and hosting. brethren face. The heated discussions on the 3 content management systems -- Joomla, Drupal and WordPress -- were a demonstration of how fierce loyalities can get. Among the other popular topics discussed were web development and monitoring tools, social media monitoring tools, web security/ plugins, some of which were presented by the participants themselves. The session on Fashion trends on the web, HTML 5 and CSS3 by the Macaroni Brothers gave an insight into the future of the web. Also sharing their CGIAR perspectives were 4 ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 14 JUNE 2013 1575

It was decided that the group would use a clear set of tools among themselves, cover a number of topics, work together on several projects, and on a basic set of web standards within the CGIAR. The group is eager to organize a series of webinars and online discussions. It’s been two weeks since the group dispersed… and not a day has gone by without at least 20 mails being exchanged on the ifs and buts of online communication! g

Climate change: Developing Representative Agricultural Pathways

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eveloping credible storylines on the probable future outcomes of bio-physical, institutional, socioeconomic, technological and other factors expected to influence the performance of the agriculture sector in Kenya in the face of climate change engaged participants at the Climate Change Representative Agricultural Pathways (RAPs) Development Workshop held at the ICRAF campus, Gigiri, Kenya on 30 May. The meeting attracted crop modellers, valuers, planners, climate change experts, economists, and other experts from government ministries, research institutions, universities and non-governmental organizations with an interest in climate change. RAPS are an important input into the climate change assessments carried out under Agricultural Model Intercomparision and Improvement Project (AgMIP). The discussions led by Richard Mulwa (University of Nairobi) and KPC Rao (ICRISAT) focused on probable scenarios of the different factors in the mid-term period of 2040-2070. While developing the Representative Agricultural Pathways, participants deliberated on the direction and magnitude of change, and the expected percentage change of each factor during the period. They were expected to give a rationale (based on historical trends, expert opinion or existing literature) for why they expected a certain factor to move in a certain direction and magnitude and have a certain percentage of change over this period. In total, 16 factors were discussed. However, for most of the factors, there was unanimous agreement that what they proposed is what was likely to happen.

Photo: ICRISAT

Participants of the workshop held in Gigiri, Kenya.

The Representative Agricultural Pathways developed will be further refined by a wider group of experts, and will then be included in economic modeling to determine the possible impact of climate change on adoption of technologies, poverty and per capita income during 2040-2070. The workshop was organized by ICRISAT in collaboration with the University of Nairobi, represented by the Centre for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and policy, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and the Kenya Meteorological Department. The activity was held as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). g

Health institute students visit ICRISAT-Niamey

Photo: I Tankari, ICRISAT

Students in the moringa field.

A delegation of students of nutrition from the Institut de Santé Publique led by Abdoulrazak Bello visited ICRISATNiamey on 30 May. Dr M Gandah, ICRISAT Country representative in Niger briefed the delegation on ICRISAT’s mandate, activities, and mission, and on the nutritional value of ICRISAT’s mandate crops, millet, groundnut, sorghum and on aflatoxin management at the Institute. The students toured the moringa field, the Genebank, and the pathology laboratory. g ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 14 JUNE 2013 1575 5

Presowing training in hybrid seed production held at ICRISAT

Photos: ICRISAT

(Left) A session in progress. (Right) Participants of the training program conducted at ICRISAT headquarters.

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o achieve the goal of expanding hybrid pigeonpea over 100,000 ha in 2014, a one-day training program on hybrid pigeonpea seed production was conducted at ICRISAT headquarters on 12 June. The training was in package of practices in agronomy; aspects of quality hybrid seed production such as choosing the preceding crop, selection of fields, isolation distance, rouging; and pest management. It is planned to multiply nearly 800 ha of parental (AxR) seed in the state of Andhra Pradesh during the 2013 rainy season in collaboration with the Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University and National and State seed corporations.

The program was presided over by Dr SS Anwar, General Manager (production), Andhra Pradesh State Seed Development Corporation (APSSDC). Seed organizers and progressive farmers from the districts of Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram, Warangal, Kurnool, Rangareddy, Mahabubnagar, Anantapur, Guntur, Prakasham, Kadapa and Medak of Andhra Pradesh state and seed officers of APSSDC, National Seeds Corporation, State Farms Corporation of India and Hindustan Insecticides Limited attended the program that was organized by ICRISAT as part of the CGIAR Research Program on GrainLegumes. g

ICRISAT to help in developing Spicepedia

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he Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), Calicut has sought the help of the ICRISAT-IIT Kanpur team to develop a knowledge management platform for spices. As part of Agropedia-2 project, the ICRISAT-IITK team will help IISR, the nodal Centre of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research on spice crops such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, turmeric and ginger, in designing and developing a knowledge management platform of spices. A consortium of all major stakeholders in spices is to be formed, and a proposal developed to obtain financial support. A one-day workshop was held at IISR, Calicut on 7 June attended by other organizations such as Spices Board, Coconut Development Board, Kerala

Agricultural University, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and Central Plantation Crops Research Institute. Among those who spoke were Dr M Anandaraj, Director, IISR; Dr V S Ramachandran, Director, National Science Centre; and Dr NT Yaduraju, KSI, ICRISAT. Dr Kiran Yadav (ICRISAT) and Ms Meeta Bagga and Ms Revathy (IIT-K) gave lectures and demos on agropedia 2.0 and VKVK services. g

Photo: IISR, Calicut

Participants of the workshop at Calicut.

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New appointments Dr Thomas Henry Noel Ellis, a British national, is appointed as Director of the CGIAR Research Program on GrainLegumes.  Noel’s target start date is 15 July. Noel has a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, where he studied genome organization in mice.  He is currently professor of Crop Genetics, Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth. His research focus is on the evolution and diversification of legumes at genomic and phenotypic levels. He has been a member of the Executive Committee of the European Grain Legumes Research Organization and coordinated the EU-funded-FP6 project on Grain Legumes that involved more than 70 labs in 25 countries.  He has a long standing interest in legume crops for developing countries which he has pursued most recently in association with the Kirkhouse Trust, which supports legume research, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Dr Julie Margareth Isabel Hofer, a New Zealand/British national and spouse of Dr Noel Ellis, will be joining ICRISAT, Patancheru as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Center of Excellence in Genomics (CEG).  Julie has a PhD from the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.  Her PhD work was on the regulation of gene expression and replication in Wheat Dwarf Virus. Julie is currently Post-Doctoral Research Scientist at IBERS, Aberystwyth University.  At Aberystwyth and formerly John Innes Centre, Julie’s core activity has been in the characterization of genes that regulate plant architecture, especially compound leaf form in pea.  We welcome Noel and Julie to ICRISAT and wish them all success!  g

New designations Dr Zerka Rashid, who is currently Special Project Scientist with CIMMYT based at ICRISAT, Patancheru, is appointed as Scientist (Maize Pathology), CIMMYT, from 1 June in the SMG Cadre. 

Dr Moses Siambi, Principal Scientist (Agronomy) and Country Representative, ICRISAT, Lilongwe, Malawi, is appointed as Director-Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) effective 1 September. He will be based in Nairobi, Kenya. We wish them all success.

Dr WD Dar with Dr Liao Bouso, Deputy Director General of the Oil Crops Research Institute (OCRI) of CAAS, during their visit to Hubei province, where farmers use polyethylene as plastic mulch in peanut fields, leading to yields as high as 5 tons. ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 14 JUNE 2013 1575 7

Welcome clouds!

Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

These dark and forbidding clouds with strange forms hovering over the landscape may look like an invasion of aliens to us! But to the rain-starved farmer of the semi-arid tropics, they spell optimism, a time when he can look forward to a good harvest, food security and a better livelihood.

Visitors’ log 9 June: Ten visitors from Hyderabad, led by Mr S Gopalakrishnan, Vice Chair and Honorary Secretary, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Hyderabad. 10 June: Fifty farmers from Chattisgarh and a farm visit by Drs Noel Ellis and Julie Hofer. 11 June: Four senior staff from the University of Nebraska led by Dr Rakesh Shukla. Dr P Pathak, Mr Suresh Pillay and Mr K Hanmanth Rao briefed them on water conservation and irrigation systems (see photo).

Photo: MM Sharma, ICRISAT

Thought for the week Success is really about being ready for the good opportunities that come before you. It’s not to have a detailed plan of everything that you’re going to do. You can’t plan innovation or inspiration, but you can be ready for it, and when you see it, you can jump on it. – Eric Schmidt

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