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20 January 2012

No. 1502

(Left) Director General William Dar delivering the keynote address. (Right) Dr Dar along with Dr S Ayyappan, Director General of ICAR, lighting the conference inauguration lamp.

ICRISAT-ICC first India international grains conference

Leveraging S&T for improved quality, safety and nutritional value of grain-based foods The three-day ICC India International Grains Conference in New Delhi concluded on 18 January with prospects for improved quality, safety and nutritional value of grain-based foods, and for enhanced agri-business and food processing ventures with farmers as key partners.


rganized by the Austria-based International Association for Cereal Science and Technology (ICC) in partnership with ICRISAT, the conference with the theme “Developments in grain science and technology to ensure high quality, safe and healthy grain-based foods” was attended by 115 delegates from 20 countries across the globe. In his keynote address, Director General William Dar highlighted the importance of grain science and technology in addressing major concerns such as

minimizing grain postharvest losses, providing people access to quality and safe food, fighting hunger and malnutrition, and improving livelihoods of resource-poor households in the semi-arid tropics. He also stressed the need for public-private partnerships and the importance of doing farming as a business, as laid out in ICRISAT’s strategic plan to 2020. “Our emphasis is on smallholder farmers in the dryland tropics. In India, they comprise 65% of the agricultural landscape, and they must be key to page 2 ...4

ICC international grains conference....from page 1 partners in agri-business and food processing ventures,” he added. In his opening address, Dr S Ayyappan, Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) commended the conference as a timely initiative to boost R&D in cereal science and technology in the country. He assured ICAR’s support in furthering the initiative, given that climate change and other global challenges compel the development of strategies and mechanisms to ensure greater profits from cereal cultivation for all stakeholders in the value chain. Thanking ICRISAT and DG William Dar, ICC Secretary General/CEO Roland E Poms in his vote of thanks said, “This is a good start for our collaboration with India. We welcome ICRISAT as the first institutional member of ICC in India.” ICRISAT was represented in the conference by Drs Kiran Sharma, KN Rai, Saikat Datta Mazumdar, and Harikishan Sudini who showcased the Institute’s work on transgenic research in crop improvement; genetic enhancement of grain iron and zinc in pearl millet; products and processes related to the use of ICRISAT mandate cereals in the food industry; and the development of cost-effective aflatoxin detection kits. During the panel discussion, Dr KK Sharma described the work of the NutriPlus Knowledge

Jan Williem van der Kamp, Chair, ICC Academy presenting a token to Dr Dar while Dr S Ayyappan looks on.

(NPK) program of the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) in developing and promoting innovative value-added products and technologies from sorghum and millet, as well as from other ICRISAT mandate crops. These are now being nurtured into successful enterprises based on appropriate business models and through agribusiness incubation. Other dignitaries in the panel discussion included Dr SK Dutta (DDG - Crop Sciences, ICAR); Dr Peter Burnett (Director, Canadian Grain Commission, Canada); Dr Roland Poms; Prof Kaisa Poutanen (VTT, Finland); Dr V Prakash (President, Nutrition Society of India); and Prof John Taylor (University of Pretoria, South Africa). Some key issues highlighted in the discussion were the need to: enhance international cooperation in grain science and technology with a focus on translating research outputs into commercial products; promote research to further understand and exploit the untapped potential of underutilized cereals; adopt value chain approach to promote commercial use of coarse grains; and develop and standardize new analytical methods.

(L to R) Drs Saikat Datta; KK Sharma; Vilas Sinkar, Vice President for Research and Development, Hindustan Unilever Research Centre (HURC); V Prakash, President, Nutrition Society of India; and G Sreeramulu, Senior Research Scientist, HURC at the ICRISAT booth. 2

ICRISAT Happenings 20 January 2012/1502

Health snack products developed by NPK and made from ICRISAT’s mandate crops were distributed at the ICRISAT booth at the exhibition, where a number of private sector companies showed interest in further promoting the products. g

Boosting investment opportunities in bioenergy

ICRISAT promotes sweet sorghum as feedstock for bioethanol at Philippine bioenergy meet Bioenergy today is mostly derived from agriculture, and biofuel crops could take land away from producing food. Hence, ICRISAT focuses on biomass sources and approaches that do not compete with but enhance food production, and at the same time attract greater investments in biofuel production.


he first Philippine International Bioenergy Conference (PIBEC) promised to boost investment opportunities in the field of bioenergy in the country as it convened various bioenergy players both locally and globally on January 12-13 at the Manila Hotel, Philippines. Invited experts on bioenergy resources, and representatives of non-government organizations (NGOs), private sector and the academe discussed the latest technological advances in bioenergy as well as the current challenges and opportunities in the industry. On the heels of the Philippines’ growing investment in bioethanol production, ICRISAT Director General William Dar, one of the key speakers of the conference, highlighted the enormous potential of sweet sorghum as an alternative feedstock for ethanol production. He underscored ICRISAT’s strategy of developing improved hybrid parents and varieties, and building partnerships to facilitate technology exchange, testing and adoption of varieties, and incubation of sweet sorghum-based ethanol production technology by prospective entrepreneurs to benefit smallholder farmers. Sweet sorghum, Dr Dar added, has caught the attention of researchers, farmers and entrepreneurs in the Philippines, with about 18 varieties tested for viability as feedstock, of which SPV 422 & ICSV

Director General William Dar delivering his presentation on sweet sorghum at the conference.

93046 are well-adapted to the country’s conditions and are now used for commercial cultivation and agro-processing. The Chief Guest during the conference was no less than Philippine President Benigno Aquino, Jr, who projected that the country’s biomass energy supply will triple by 2015 due to renewable sources which provide 39 percent of the energy requirements. “The effects of advancing the biomass sector will also reach close to 577,000 farm families who can benefit, for example, by gaining additional income through the sale of agri-waste or forest residues that can be used in the development of biomass resources,” he said. Philippine Agriculture Secretary Proceso J Alcala, in his welcome address, noted that the government is encouraging the wider use of renewable energy in the country and that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is deeply involved in finding areas for the massive cultivation of feedstock like sugar and sweet sorghum.

Philippines’ Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary P Alcala (left) and Dr Dar launching the book “Sweet Sorghum in the Philippines: Status and Future” at the PIBEC.

PIBEC was organized by the Philippines’ DA and the Department of Energy as part of its commitment in the implementation of the Biofuels Act of 2006 (RA 9367) and Renewable Energy Act of 2008 (RA 9513). This also serves as the country’s compliance to the Kyoto Protocol. g ICRISAT Happenings 20 January 2012/1502


ICRISAT-HOPE project annual meet for pearl millet – South Asia held at Patancheru


wo meetings of the ICRISATHOPE project for Pearl Millet – South Asia being implemented in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana in India, were held on 16-17 January at ICRISATPatancheru to report progress for 2011 and devise work plans for 2012. Sixty participants including scientists from state agriculture universities (SAUs), the private sector and ICRISAT attended the meeting’s inaugural session.

ICRISAT-HOPE project for pearl millet meeting at Patancheru.

Welcoming the participants, Dr Oscar RieraLizarazu, Director, Dryland Cereals, briefed the participants about the objectives of the meeting. Meanwhile, in his introductory remarks, Dr Yilma Kebede of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) highlighted the foundation’s goals to reduce poverty, leading to food self-sufficiency and income generation. He stressed that “the target of the project is to improve the farmer’s income towards poverty alleviation, and that national partners must intensify efforts to generate impacts on the ground.” In his opening message, DDG Dr Dave Hoisington pointed out the need to make the project sustainable, and to focus on research that has impact in the farmer’s fields in India. N Nagaraj, P Parthasarathy Rao, SK Gupta and Rajan Sharma presented the progress reports for

Participants of the annual review and planning meeting .


ICRISAT Happenings 20 January 2012/1502

objectives 1, 5, 3 and 6, respectively, followed by presentations from the NARS partners in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana. Discussions on activities for the 3rd year of the project and finalization of work plans for 2012 saw active participation by the private sector. The meeting also featured a panel discussion on “Seed production to grain utilization: Role of private sector in pearl millet value chain” in which the possibility of including alcohol, feed and fodder industries in the pearl millet value chain through the project was explored. In his concluding remarks, Project Coordinator George Okwach congratulated the team for successfully accomplishing the tasks committed for 2011 and urged the partners to contribute success stories to the project website. g

ICRISAT-HOPE PMT reviews sorghum activities in Maharashtra


t has been a fruitful year for 25,000 sorghum farmers in the Western and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra State in India, thanks to interventions from the ICRISAT-HOPE project that have helped them realize more than 40% higher grain yield and over 20% higher fodder yield. This was revealed at the meeting of the project’s Program Management Team (PMT) composed of Drs Said Silim (Principal Investigator and Director, ICRISAT Eastern and Southern Africa), George Okwach (Project Manager) and Mary Mgonja (Principal Scientist) with donor representative Dr Yilma Kebede of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) at ICRISATPatancheru on 9-13 January. The meeting reviewed the sorghum component of the project, under which ICRISAT works with Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (MPKV) and Marathwada Agricultural University (MAU) to enhance post-rainy season sorghum yields in Maharashtra. With the objective of reviewing the progress made and suggesting changes required, the PMT travelled extensively in rural Maharashtra, camping in a different place every day. The PMT along with staff from ICRISAT (Belum VS Reddy, A Ashok Kumar, G Basavaraj and ST Borikar) and partner institutions (SR Gadakh, VG Pokharkar and Uttam Chavan from MPKV; SP Mehtre and Sachin More from MAU) visited farmers’ fields to elicit farmer response to improved seeds and technologies supplied by the project, to learn more about their requirements, and to make project interventions more sustainable. In its third year of implementation, the project directly served more than 25,000 small sorghum

The ICRISAT-HOPE team looking at a large panicle and shining grains of sorghum in Western Maharashtra.

farmers who received improved seeds, technologies and training on improved crop management, seed production and marketing to increase grain and stover production and to realize higher prices for their produce. The PMT gauged the geographical extent of the areas covered and the number of farmers served under the project, the incremental yields and profits realized by them, the strength of partnerships built and the changes in crop cultivation and marketing in the last three years. Buoyed by the project’s success, Dr Kebede complimented the PMT for its efforts in developing products to address focused target areas and adaptation; taking the products into the field; and working together to meet the objectives in South Asia (SA). Considering the gains reported by the farmers from the adoption of improved technologies, he encouraged the team to continue with its excellent work.

(Left) Project farmers in Pune cluster during an interaction with the project team. (Right) George Okwach felicitating a progressive woman farmer in Ahmednagar cluster.

Commending the good work of ICRISAT and its partners in Maharashtra, Drs Silim, Okwach and Monja expressed hope to see similar success in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). g

ICRISAT Happenings 20 January 2012/1502


NIABI 2012 conference in February


nderlining the critical role of entrepreneurship as a catalyst for agricultural and economic growth, the 2nd Global agri-business incubation conference of the Network of Indian Agri-Business Incubators (NIABI) will be held on 6-8 February at ICAR, New Delhi. Dubbed as NIABI 2012, the conference is being jointly organized by ICRISAT, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), and the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP). This second edition of the conference will feature a more inclusive approach to revamping the agricultural system by focusing on the intricacies of incubating agri start-ups, and in nurturing innovations and promoting agro-technologies to boost the agribusiness sector. NIABI 2012 was announced at a media conference in New Delhi on 16 January, attended by Director General William Dar; ICAR Director General Dr S Ayyappan; Dr Bangali Baboo, National Director, NAIP; and Dr KK Sharma, Chief Executive Officer, ICRISAT’s Agribusiness & Innovation Platform (AIP). Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, will be the chief guest at the opening session of the conference. The event will see agri-innovators, agri-startups, funding agencies, research institutes and policymakers participating in nine thematic sessions and two round table discussions on policy and donor funding to promote agribusiness and incubation. NIABI 2012 will also feature a session on agribusiness opportunities in other countries,

especially in Africa and EU, an Investor-Startup forum for select agri-startup companies to pitch their case before a panel of investors, venture capitalists and funding agencies; and an Agri-Tech exhibition showcasing technologies of NIABI partners. NIABI was set up in 2009 to harness the potential of entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector by nurturing agri start-ups to improve the livelihood of the millions that depend on the sector, and enhance the food and nutritional security and economic growth of the country. Today, it boasts of 10 Business Planning and Development (BPD) units coordinated by ICRISAT’s Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program and 54 technologies that have been commercialized generating revenue worth US$10 million. g

(Left photo) Drs Dar and S Ayyappan during the media conference in New Delhi.


ICRISAT Happenings 20 January 2012/1502

Engaging agripreneurs through SFAC agribusiness campaign agribusiness through SFAC. The camp also included a presentation on agribusiness opportunities through CIFT BPD by Dr B Madhusudana Rao of the Visakhapatnam Research Centre, Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT); a talk on agribusiness opportunities through the 10 Business Planning and Development (BPD) units of NIABI by Karuppanchetty, COO of ABI; and on the need to encourage young people into agriculture by Udayabhaskar, Assistant General Manager, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). (L to R) Dr B Madhusudana Rao, Mr Karuppanchetty and Mr B Ashok Pillai answering participants’ queries.


CRISAT’s Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program has joined hands with the Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) to promote the latter’s venture capital scheme for agri-business development across the country. As part of this effort, ABI through the Network of Indian AgriBusiness Incubators (NIABI) of ICAR-NAIP conducted the first SFAC Agribusiness Camp on 7 January at Hotel Green Park, Visakhapatnam. Delivering the keynote address, SFAC Director Ashok Pillai elaborated on funding opportunities in

ABI incubatees Rami Reddy of BR cooking sprays and Narayan Rao of Hiranmayee Infra Ltd shared their experiences as entrepreneurs. Kongara Ramesh, recipient of the Farmer Scientist Award spoke on entrepreneurship and innovations. The camp was attended by about 120 entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs and a good number of banks (SBI, NABARD, Canara Bank, Bank of India and ICICI). A panel composed of bankers, Ashok Pillai, Karuppanchetty, B Rami Reddy and NIABI’s mentor Gopala Krishna screened agribusiness proposals, out of which seven were identified for the SFAC venture capital scheme. g

IACD Day Care Center soon to open! The Human Resource Services is happy to announce that IACD has been working hard in the last few weeks to complete the ground work for establishing a Day Care Center at the IACD campus, to be functional effective Wednesday, 1 February. The Center is designed to provide care for staff children in the age group of 6 months to 4 years, on all work days, from 0830 to 1630 h, with the help of a Teacher/Coordinator and a couple of ayahs (nannies). The monthly fee per child will be ` 2000, along with a specified security deposit. Staff members interested in availing this facility on the above terms are requested to send in writing their interest along with the following particulars by Wednesday, 25 January to Ms Surekha of IACD via

email (secretary_ with copies marked to Ms G Uma Devi, Administrative Officer, Human Resource Services ( and Ms Seetha Kannan (, Lead Radiological Safety Officer (RP-Grain Legumes) and Gender & Diversity Associate. Particulars to be provided are: Name of staff, Employee no., Designation, Program/Office, and contact telephone numbers (office extension, mobile and residence phone numbers), and residential address along with name, gender, date of birth and age of the kid needing Day Care Center assistance. g ICRISAT Happenings 20 January 2012/1502


Visitors’ log

Mr Harji Ram Burdak (center), Minister of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Government of Rajasthan, at the SAT Venture.

16 January: Forty-four students from Sreenidhi International School, Hyderabad; and Professor Ruccess, from an NGO (We Heal Environment and Eco Himalayan Studies) from Middlesex, UK. 17 January: Mr Harji Ram Burdak, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Government of Rajasthan (photo above). 18 January: Ms Neth Dano from ETC group and Ms Lee Aruelo from the Third World Network, leading NGOs based in the Philippines.

19 January: Fifty students from BDL, Bhanur and 30 students from Birla College, Mumbai. 20 January: About 10 foreign delegates and 120 national participants from DOR; 20 opinion leaders from Kerala and Lakshadweep regions under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India; and 50 students from BDL, Bhanur.

Thought for the week The fact is that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can. - Robert Cushing

ICRISAT Happenings