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14 December 2012

No. 1549

Participants of the HOPE project who met to discuss the R&D strategy for sorghum and pearl millet in Nigeria.

Project strategies for sorghum and pearl millet in Nigeria sketched out Sorghum and pearl millet are important crops that can increase incomes and enhance livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Nigeria. Promoting the right varieties and production technologies in addition to creating linkages between producers and processors is crucial for this.


research and development strategy for sorghum and pearl millet in Nigeria was drafted during a workshop of the Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) of Sorghum and Millets project held in Kano, Nigeria, on 5 December. The workshop was organized by project partners (Nigerian institutions and ICRISAT) to share and exchange implementation experiences, lessons learnt, plan for the future and standardize reporting format. One of its sessions was devoted to discussions with processing companies on ways of

networking with farmers to supply quality grains to help both parties increase their income and improve farmer’s livelihoods. The project has promoted varieties and production technologies of sorghum and pearl millet through mini-pack distribution and demonstrations. It has also boosted the productivity of women processors by introducing modern small-scale processing technologies and linkages to farmers. Welcoming the gathering, ICRISAT country representative Hakeem Ajeigbe outlined the to page 2 ...4

Maharashtra farmers learn about value addition and processing of postrainy-season sorghum


o sensitize farmers on value addition and development of value-added products from sorghum grain and fodder, ICRISAT and the Directorate of Sorghum Research (DSR) hosted 20 farmer couples from Parbhani, Beed and Jalna (Marathwada region) and Solapur, Ahmednagar and Pune (Rahuri region), Maharashtra on 10 December. The activity was part of the HOPE project.

Farmers at the postrainy-season sorghum demonstration plot at Patancheru.

At the ILRI office in Patancheru, they were shown value addition of sorghum fodder to feed blocks, chopped fodder and pellets. At DSR, Dr Mukesh and Mrs Vishala from the Center of Excellence on Value Addition and Processing demonstrated the machines used for processing, cleaning, grading, pearling, popping and roti making. The farmers were exposed to value-added products like flakes, multigrain atta (flour), biscuits, semolina and pasta made from sorghum grain. Farmers get to see the range of value-added products at the Directorate of Sorghum Research.

The farmers were taken around Ragnhild Sohlberg museum, and AIP where they were shown how value-added products like biscuits and popped grain made from sorghum. They visited experimental and demonstration plots and learnt about the best management practices for sorghum cultivation.

Project strategies for sorghum....from page 1 project’s achievements and mentioned that over 6000 copies of the “Fighting Striga” DVD (with 10 modules) had been distributed to individual farmers, farmer groups and extension partners. He thanked the partners, especially the representative of Lifecare Ventures, who had travelled over 1000 km to attend the meeting. The participants were split into two groups to deliberate on the country strategies for sorghum and millet. Based on the groups’ reports, recommendations were made on finalizing the draft documents assigning responsibilities to individuals. 2

ICRISAT Happenings 14 December 2012/1549

The farmers were accompanied by Mr Pokharkar, Assistant Professor, Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (MPKV), Rahuri and Sachin More, Assistant Professor, Marathwada Agricultural University (MAU), Parbhani and Co-Principal Investigators of the project. The visit was co-ordinated by Drs G Basavaraj and Parthasarathy Rao (ICRISAT) and Dr Dayakar Rao (DSR). g Dr CT Hash was assigned to collate inputs for the strategy on millet, while Dr Ajeigbe will do the same for sorghum. It was agreed that the way forward lay in strengthening the partnership into an innovation platform and that linkages be made between producers and processors with developmental partners as initial brokers. The workshop was attended by 15 participants from the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), Community Based Agricultural and Rural Development Project (CBARDP), processing companies (Celsian mills Ltd, Gumel; Dala Foods Ltd, Kano; and Lifecare Ventures, Ota, Ogun State) and ICRISAT. g

Japan and ICRISAT fortify ties through Biological Nitrification Inhibition project


he Biological Nitrification Inhibition (BNI) in sorghum collaborative project between the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) and ICRISAT held its Annual Review and Planning Meeting at ICRISATPatancheru on 12 December. Welcoming the participants, Dr Watanabe, ICRISAT Project Leader, and Dr Suhas P Wani highlighted the importance of BNI and the long collaboration between the Government of Japan and ICRISAT in the area of natural resource management. Themewise presentations were made and discussed in detail. Later, Mr Hideki Taniguchi, Secretary, Embassy of Japan, New Delhi and Dr Yasuo Ando, JIRCAS Project Leader briefed DG William Dar about the project’s progress. Dr Dar, in turn, stressed the importance of the collaboration and urged the Japanese team to further strengthen ties between ICRISAT and the Government of Japan. Research Program Director – Resilient Dryland Systems, Dr Peter Craufurd, delivered the closing remarks.

Participants of the Annual Review and Planning Meeting held at Patancheru.

The other participants of the meeting included Drs GV Subbarao and Junichi Kashiwagi from Japan; Drs Issah Surgi and Kenneth Opare Obuobi from Ghana; and team members from ICRISAT. The project is funded by the Ministry of Fisheries, Government of Japan. g

Role of genomics in orphan crops’ productivity featured in Nature Biotechnology


espite advances in genomics over the past 20 years, the overall adoption of genomics-assisted breeding in developing countries is limited, especially for complex traits like yield under environmental stress in several crops. An invited opinion piece titled “Can genomics boost productivity of orphan crops?” published in Nature Biotechnology (Dec 6, 2012), the leading research journal in biotechnology, seeks to throw light on the prospects, potential and constraints of genomics in enhancing crop productivity of so-called ‘orphan crops’ in developing countries. The opinion piece is authored by Rajeev Varshney, Director – Center of Excellence in Genomics (CEG), ICRISAT; Jean-Marcel Ribaut, Director – Generation Challenge Programme, Mexico; Edward S Buckler, Geneticist, USDA/ARS and Cornell University, USA; Roberto Tuberosa, Professor, University Bologna, Italy; J Antoni Rafalski, Group Leader, DuPont, USA; and Peter Langridge, Director and CEO, Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics. The piece also discusses why it is essential to invest in orphan crops (and not just major crops); how

modern approaches like next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies and genome wide association study (GWAS) are expected to accelerate genomics and genetic research; and how modern breeding approaches like genomic selection (GS), markerassisted recurrent selection (MARS) and markerassisted back crossing (MABC) will enhance genetic gain in coming years. It also dwells on the role of information technology, training and capacity building in improving and sustaining genomicsassisted breeding approaches in developing countries. Congratulating Rajeev Varshney on this success, DG William Dar said, “This is another honor for Rajeev and for the institute”. Praise also came from Governing Board Chair Dr Nigel Poole who said, “I am so proud of you and your contribution to ICRISAT and science in general”. g ICRISAT Happenings 14 DecembER 2012/1549


Groundnut diseases: Priorities identified for joint research among Asian countries


hree economically important soilborne diseases of groundnut – bacterial wilt, stem and pod rot (white mold) and Sclerotinia blight – were identified as priority for coordinated research among Asian countries at the recent Groundnut Bacterial Wilt and Sclerotium Stem Rot Diseases Working Group meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand.

Fifteen partners from the NARS of China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, who represent major Participants of the Working Group meeting held in Bangkok. groundnut-growing regions of Asia, The meeting was inaugurated by Dr Thongchai took part in this meeting. A draft Tangpremsri, Director, Field and Renewable Energy work plan was prepared focussing on developing integrated disease management strategies, improving Crops Research Institute (FCRI), who fondly recalled his organization’s long-term association with the reliability of diseases screening techniques, ICRISAT, and underlined that the current meeting identification of resistant sources, breeding highrevealed their common goals towards enhancing yielding and disease-resistant varieties, agricultural production and productivity of the understanding soil microbe population dynamics as drylands of Asia. a strategy towards disease management, germplasm exchange, and training courses for young scientists. Joining the meeting virtually, Professor Liao Boshou, The working group also serves as a platform to Deputy Director, Oil Crops Research Institute and enable collaboration among members of the group. technical co-ordinator of the Groundnut Bacterial Wilt Working Group, reported the overall objectives of the Dr CLL Gowda, Research Program Director – Grain meeting and joined in the following day to finalize the Legumes, welcomed the participants and work plans of the working group. emphasized the growing importance of soilborne diseases of groundnut in Asia. He was optimistic that The meeting was organized by ICRISAT, Oil Crops working groups could synergize research efforts to Research Institute, Wuhan, of the Chinese Academy tackle regionally important problems. He also of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing; and FCRI, Bangkok, reiterated ICRISAT’s commitment to coordinating of the Department of Agriculture, Thailand. Drs P such research efforts in the interest of smallholder Janila and Hari Sudini from ICRISAT led the farmers in Asia. discussions and preparation of work plans. g

Manthan Special Mention Award 2012 for Agropedia


he NAIP consortium project on Agropedia, of which ICRISAT is a partner, has pioneered the development and deployment of a mobile-based extension delivery system for the farming community. The platform, popularly referred to as virtual KVK (vKVK), aims to empower KVK personnel in the delivery of agro-advisories as voice messages to farmers. Acknowledging its importance, the project was awarded the Manthan Special Mention Award 2012 at a function held in New Delhi on 1 December. The


ICRISAT Happenings 14 December 2012/1549

lead center, Indian Institute of Technology - Kanpur, received the award from Dr Amir Ullah Khan, Deputy Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on behalf of Team Agropedia. The Manthan Award is given away by the Digital Empowerment Foundation. Agropedia is a digital agriculture repository with over 7,500 registered users and about 16,000 published nodes of 19 major crops grown in the country. ICRISAT led the first phase of this consortium during 2007-10. g

Hands-on training in phenotyping of diseases in chickpea and pigeonpea


eveloping crop varieties resistant to disease and maintaining their resistance are major challenges in plant breeding. Accurate diagnosis and greater understanding of causal agents of disease is key to success in this area. Improving knowledge of these diseases using modern methods is therefore crucial. ICRISAT in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) organized the first International Training Course on “High throughput phenotyping for identifying disease resistance in chickpea and pigeonpea” from 3-8 December at ICRISAT-Patancheru. Speaking to the learners, Director General William Dar in his opening address emphasized the importance of sharing knowledge and improved technologies through such courses. He stressed the need to work on climate-resilient agriculture and appreciated the timely initiative of Dr Suresh Pande and his team in setting up the Center of Excellence on Climate Change Research for Plant Protection (CoE-CCRPP) at ICRISAT. Twenty-three participants from ICAR institutes, State Agricultural Universities, and six participants from the Philippines, Nepal, and Bangladesh were taught the nuances of diagnosing diseases and reliable and repeatable resistance screening techniques to identify disease-resistant sources in chickpea and pigeonpea. The course focused on hands-on training to develop the greenhouse, controlled environmental and field resistance screening techniques for the management of diseases as well as in using disease rating scales, selection of disease-resistant parents

Hands-on training in controlled environment phenotyping.

and identification of improved genotypes for developing resistant cultivars. Scientists and research staff from Research Program – Grain Legumes (Drs Suresh Pande, Mamta Sharma, PM Gaur, KB Saxena, and Sameer Kumar) and external experts in plant pathology (Drs S C Dubey, IARI; Dr Om Gupta, JNKVV; Dr Livinder Kaur, PAU; and Dr Ashwani Basandrai, HPKVV) shared their experiences with the participants. Each participant went through step-wise resistance screening protocols for all important diseases in both plants. Four Information Bulletins on chickpea and pigeonpea disease diagnosis (2) and phenotyping of diseases (2) were released on the occasion. At the end of the course, conducted by ICRISAT’s Legumes Pathology Unit and Learning Systems Unit (LSU), the trainees were presented with certificates of participation by Dr CLL Gowda. g

Participants of the training held at Patancheru. ICRISAT Happenings 14 DecembER 2012/1549


Farmers Day at Raichur: ICRISAT stall draws farmers


CRISAT had the opportunity to showcase its research to over 15,000 farmers who converged at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) campus at Raichur in Karnataka on the occasion of Farmers’ Day on 1–3 December. ICRISAT set up a stall exhibiting posters on crop improvement and natural resource management systems and seed samples of improved varieties. The farmers showed keen interest in the findings of Bhoochetana, improved varieties, and seed samples displayed. Among those who visited the stall were Krishi Mission Chairman Dr SA Patil, Government of Karnataka; Raichur District Collector Ms N Savithri; and the University’s board members. The stall, managed by the Bhoochetana team led by Mr LS Jangawad, Lead Scientific Officer, Research Program – Resilient Dryland Systems, was given the first prize for the best stall. g

The ICRISAT stall at UAS Raichur.

Eastern and Southern Africa partners trained in pigeonpea production technology


two-week training course was held at ICRISATPatancheru from 26 November to 7 December to enable NARS partners in the Eastern and Southern Africa region to design a breeding program to develop hybrids suitable to their agro-ecologies. This was part of the Tropical Legumes (TL) II project.

maintenance; breeder and certified seed production; selection of parents; selection and making crosses and line conversions of elite and adaptable lines; cultural management, disease and pest control and screening techniques for wilt and sterility mosaic diseases.

The participants were exposed to pigeonpea hybrid production technology; A, B and R line

The training program was coordinated by RP – Grain Legumes. g

Participants at the training program on pigeonpea production technology. 6

ICRISAT Happenings 14 December 2012/1549

Capacity building in Integrated Crop Management in legumes

Participants of the training program held at Patancheru.


training program on integrated crop management in grain legumes was held for research technicians from collaborating Indian NARS on 10-13 December at ICRISAT-Patancheru, as part of a IFAD-EC project.

coordinated by GV Ranga Rao, PM Gaur, KB Saxena, HD Upadhyaya, CV Sameer Kumar, P Janila, Mamata Sharma, Rosana Mula, BV Rao, V Rameshwar Rao, MA Ghaffar, K Hanumanth Rao, Pankaj Makanwar, and MM Sharma.

The trainees were provided with training material after in-depth interactions on various technologies across disciplines. The trainees later submitted their requirements for seed with specific traits with the scientists concerned in order to further strengthen crop research activities in their institutions.

Ten participants representing Regional Agricultural Research Stations (Anantapur, Nandyal, Agricultural Research Station, Tandur, Andhra Pradesh; ARS, Gulbarga, Karnataka; Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore; Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Program, Bhubaneswar, Odisha; Rajamata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh; and Jharkhand Tribal Development Society (JTDS), Ranchi, Jharkhand, attended the course. g

The program was inaugurated by Dr CLL Gowda, Research Program Director – Grain Legumes, and

Rajeev Varshney made Honorary Professor at BGI Hong Kong Research Institute


r Rajeev Varshney, Director - Center of Excellence in Genomics (CEG), has been made Honorary Professor at BGI Hong Kong Research Institute. He was honored by Professor Huangming Yang, Chairman, BGI. BGI announced the setting up of BGI Hong Kong Research Institute and the appointment of five honorary professors at its 7th International Conference on Genomics & Bio-IT APAC 2012 on 1 December. The new institute will pursue excellence in genomic research and innovation to benefit human health, agriculture and environmental development in the Asia-Pacific. g

R Varshney receiving the certificate of appointment from Professor Huangming Yang, Chairman, BGI.

ICRISAT Happenings 14 DecembER 2012/1549


Adieu,Vera Lugutuah! ICRISAT Mali staff bid farewell to Vera Lugutuah, Associate Professional Officer - Human Nutrition (Dryland Cereals) on 7 December. Vera joined ICRISAT three years ago and has since contributed to advancing nutrition-related research in West and Central Africa. Vera worked on sorghum biofortification and was instrumental in fostering linkages between ICRISAT and universities, and partners like Wageningen University. We wish her all the best!

A colleague presents V Lugutuah (left) with a mortar and pestle at her farewell.

Welcome! Dr Vinay Kumar, an Indian national, joined as Special Project Scientist (Applied Genomics) in the Center of Excellence in Genomics (CEG), RP-Grain Legumes on 12 December.

Visitors’ log 10 December: Forty farmers from Yerala Project Society (NGO), Sangli, Maharashtra; 10 research technicians from collaborating NARS in grain legumes under the IFAD-EC project; 42 students from University of Agricultural Sciences, Hasan, Bangalore; and Dr N Padma, Associate Professor, West Virginia University, USA.

Vinay has a PhD in Biotechnology from the Central Avian Research Institute (CARI), Izatnagar, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, India. Prior to joining ICRISAT, he was Group Leader in Xcelris Genomics Limited, Ahmedabad, Gujarat. We welcome Vinay and his family to ICRISAT!

13 December: Sixty engineers from the Department of Water Resource, Karnataka; 30 farmers from Gadag district, Maharashtra; and 17 students from University of Horticulture Sciences, Bagalkot, Karnataka. 14 December: Fifty students from Sri Saraswati Sishu Mandir, Patancheru.

12 December: Sixty-five students from MNR High School, Ashok Nagar, Hyderabad.

Thought for the week Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way. - EL Doctorow

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Happenings 1549

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