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6 December 2013 No. 1600

In-house Newsletter


Director General William D. Dar receiving the “Excellence in Agricultural Leadership Award” from Prof Kasem Soytong, President of AATSEA.

Excellence in Agricultural Leadership conferred on DG William D. Dar

I have dedicated my whole life and career to helping empower smallholder farmers in Asia and Africa alleviate their socioeconomic conditions and to contribute to feeding the poor,” said ICRISAT Director General William D. Dar. Dr Dar was speaking as he received the “Excellence in Agricultural Leadership Award” from the Association of Agricultural Technology in Southeast Asia (AATSEA) during the 2nd International Conference on Integration of Science and Technology for Sustainable Development at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand on 28 November. The award was given in recognition of Dr Dar’s “outstanding achievement, dedicated service, untiring efforts, exemplary vision, unwavering commitment and unselfish support in the field of agriculture in

Southeast Asia and beyond.” It was conferred on him by Prof Kasem Soytong, President of AATSEA. At the conference, Dr Dar also delivered a keynote presentation on “Biological Diversity, Food and Agricultural Technology in Smallhold Agriculture,” speaking lengthily on the unprecedented challenges faced by agriculture due to global warming and the increasing demand for safe and nutritious food. “An integrated genetic and natural resources management approach should be adopted to develop dynamic production systems to produce sufficient and nutritious foods/feeds,” Dr Dar said. He stressed that the focus, among others, should be on protecting agro-biodiversity, developing climateready crops and climate-smart production systems, and above all, adopting agri-technologies and policies that favor smallholder agriculture. g

Tropical Legumes III – Developing the next phase to ensure benefits to smallholder farmers

Grain legumes make an important component of the diet and a rich source of protein for poor people in the developing countries of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. ICRISAT and Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT its partners need to Participants of the Tropical Legumes III meeting at the ICRISAT headquarters in Patancheru. continue to work together not just to enhance the crop productivity of At the meeting, Dr Dar emphasized that Tropical Legumes III should exploit genomic resources and legume crops but also to ensure to take improved tools developed in phases I and II. This is to varieties to farmers’ fields so that we should be able to touch the lives of several millions of poor farmers,” guarantee leaving behind functional and efficient national breeding programs capable of exploiting said Director General William D. Dar in his inaugural genetic gains while up-scaling successful innovations address at the Planning Meeting for Tropical to achieve the goal of increasing production and Legumes III. productivity of legumes in the target countries. These The Planning Meeting for Tropical Legumes III aimed should ideally have components for research, to develop the next phase of the tropical legumes up-scaling and intensification in an Inclusive Marketproject. Held on 2-4 December at the ICRISAT Oriented Development (IMOD) framework. headquarters, it was attended by about 12 partners from the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture Dr CLL Gowda, ICRISAT Deputy Director General for Research and former Principal Investigator of Tropical (CIAT) and the International Institute of Tropical Legumes II, outlined the objectives and expectations of Agriculture (IITA), 33 scientists from ICRISAT the workshop. He said, “Partnership is very important headquarters and Africa locations, and key for making an impact. The Tropical Legumes representatives from the CGIAR Generation community needs to continue to nurture partnership in Challenge Program (GCP). all different areas and this workshop should help the Tropical Legumes I was coordinated by the CGIAR community to develop the outline of the proposal.” Generation Challenge Programme, while Tropical Legumes II was coordinated and managed by ICRISAT. During the workshop, the Tropical Legumes community has developed an outline and agreed to “As these projects (Tropical Legumes I and II) are develop the first version of the proposal, to be nearing completion this year, we need to plan the coordinated by Dr Varshney and Dr Emmanuel next phase to be called Tropical Legumes III,” Dr Monyo, Project Coordinator, Tropical Legumes II, in Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director – Grain collaboration with key partners from different Legumes and Principal Investigator of the Tropical collaborating centers. Legumes II project, said. Subsequently, the community will have a Stakeholders’ Dr Jeff Ehlers, Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Consultation Meeting scheduled to be held in Nairobi, Gates Foundation, said, “The Tropical Legumes Kenya sometime end of February or early March 2014, projects are considered as flagship projects at the for further development of the proposal. The final Gates Foundation. We would like to see that proposal will be submitted by 30 July 2014. genomics, breeding, and delivery of products including Integrated Crop Management (ICM) as well The three-day workshop was facilitated by the PicoTeam from South Africa and Dr Monyo, and Mr P the socio-economics impact are integrated into Ramakrishna, Senior Administrative Officer, ICRISAT. Tropical Legumes III. Gender should be inclusive in The activity was undertaken under the CGIAR this phase.” Research Program on Grain Legumes. g 2 ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 6 DECEMBER 2013 1600

Moving sorghum genomics ahead


he annual meeting of the BREAD (Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development) projects was held at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on 31 October – 1 November in Seattle, Washington, USA. Three projects under BREAD were called for a ‘pre-meeting’ session on 30 October which saw the presence of Mr Bill Gates, Co-chair of the foundation. Dr Punna Ramu, Special Project Scientist at ICRISAT Patancheru, presented to Mr Gates the aim, developments, current status and capacity building of the on-going project on developing an integrated platform, pipeline, and analytical tools for next generation genotyping to serve breeding efforts in Africa. The project is led by Cornell University, USA with ICRISAT (sorghum), International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) (maize) and the University of South Carolina, USA as collaborators. BREAD projects are co-funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Gates Foundation. Dr Geoff Morris, collaborator from the University of South Carolina, USA, presented the case studies of association mapping of agroclimatic traits and flavonoid traits in sorghum using genotyping-bysequencing (GBS) technology which were published in PNAS and G3 journals. Dr Edward S. Buckler (Principal Investigator of the project, Cornell University, USA) summarized the overall project. In this project, more than 7000

Photo: Mari Smith, BMGF

Dr Punna Ramu illustrating the development and progress of the BREAD project to Mr Bill Gates.

sorghum lines (from ICRISAT) and 45,000 maize lines (from Cornell University and CIMMYT) have been genotyped using GBS technology. In just two years, GBS technology has been adopted in more than 150 species (plants and animals) and genotyped more than 200,000 lines for various applications. Mr Bill Gates appreciated the broader adaptability of the technology in such a short period of time. In 2013, ICRISAT in collaboration with Cornell University organized two training courses on utilization of GBS technology in crop improvement programs, one at ICRISAT Patancheru and another at ICRISATNairobi. The project is being undertaken under the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals. g

Training course on microdosing, warrantage and input shop development at Niamey


leven participants from three countries (Benin, Nigeria and Niger) took part in ICRISAT’s short training course on fertilization by microdose


Participants of the training course at ICRISAT Niamey.

technique, warrantage and input shops on 16- 20 September at ICRISAT Niamey, Niger. Participants were trained on various topics including integrated soil fertility management and principles of implementation; fertilization by microdose, history, principles, implementation, strengths and weaknesses; input shops, creation, functioning and management; and warrantage and economic analysis. The workshop was facilitated by Dr Mahamadou Gandah, ICRISAT Country Representative, Niger; Dr Fatondji Dougbedji, Scientist - Agronomy (Resilient Dryland Systems); Dr Jupiter Ndjeunga, Principal Scientist (Markets, Institutions and Policies); and Mr Hassane Ousmane, Manager, Finance. g ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 6 DECEMBER 2013 1600 3

Genetic Engineering workshop highlights biosafety and regulatory compliance

Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Participants of the workshop on “Application of Genetic Engineering in Grain Legumes and its Translation”.

There is a need for stringent, scientifically driven and globally harmonized regulatory systems approach to evaluate and ensure safe use of transgenic technology, hence, the conceived risks should not be a limiting factor for the deployment of technological advances,” Director General William D. Dar said. Dr Dar expressed this view at the inauguration of the workshop on “Application of Genetic Engineering in Grain Legumes and its Translation” organized by the Genetic Transformation Laboratory and the Platform for Translational Research for Transgenic Crops (PTTC) on 18-27 November at the ICRISAT headquarters. “ICRISAT is committed to providing strong leadership in key research areas to ensure scientific excellence and in applying new scientific technologies to enhance food security and income generation for resource-poor farmers,” Dr Dar added. Dr KK Sharma, Principal Scientist, Biotechnology and Director, PTTC, stated that building human capacity in genetic engineering tools and technologies is the need of the hour. Since the development of transgenic varieties requires much more than the basic scientific expertise, the workshop focused on the translational aspects of transgenic product development and emphasized on the need to create awareness on biosafety and regulatory compliance besides, addressing critical areas such as IP management, seed systems and partnerships. 

The event featured 27 sessions focusing on diverse topics including current state of genetic engineering technologies and challenges in adoption/ commercialization of genetically engineered crops in the Asia and Africa. Drs KK Sharma and Pooja Bhatnagar-Mathur briefed the participants about ICRISAT’s research activities and capabilities on genetically modified crops. Over 22 scientists and biosafety officers from 11 countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India attended this ten-day workshop. Participants were exposed to laboratory demonstrations and hands-on training, and to the process of conducting freedom to operate searches for ensuring non-infringement and litigations. Field and lab visits to ICRISAT research and containment facilities and to the Dupont Knowledge Centre were also organized. Dr CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General for Research, chaired the valedictory ceremony. He stressed on the importance of translation of transformed event and termed it as herculean task which demands huge investments. Dr Noel Ellis, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director, Grain Legumes also emphasized on the importance of translation of genetic engineering technologies. g

2013 ICRISAT Alumni get-together on 7 December Following the success of the first Alumni get-together in December 2011, Director General William Dar has extended his support to organize the second Alumni event scheduled on Saturday, 7 December. ICRISAT Alumni (along with their spouses) will be coming 4 ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 6 DECEMBER 2013 1600

together to spend a fun-filled day with the Senior Staff at the ICRISAT headquarters in Patancheru. The program is from 10:00 to 16:00 hrs. Arrangements are posted on the Google site com/site/icrisat70sv2 .

Farmers experiencing increased pigeonpea yield in Mahabubnagar, Andhra Pradesh, India

Photos: Sreeram Banda, ICRISAT

Drs E Monyo (2nd from left), S Kumar (Center) and C Ojiewo (2nd from right) inspecting a pigeonpea farm in Vasantapuram, Mahabubnagar district.


here is steady increase in productivity of pigeonpea and area in which it is cultivated, in Mahabubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, India. Farmers in the region have been reporting a yield of 600-800 kg per acre, thanks to the implementation of the Tropical Legumes II project by ICRISAT and its partners. “The project is on track and all the systems are in place,” said ICRISAT’s Dr Emmanuel Monyo, Project Coordinator, Tropical Legumes II, after reviewing its progress at the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS), Palem in Mahabubnagar district. Tropical Legumes II is a joint initiative of three international agricultural research centers, ICRISAT (chickpea, groundnut and pigeonpea), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) (cowpea and soybean), International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) (common bean), and many organizations from the national agricultural research systems. The project has formed a wide range of partnerships with advanced research institutions, nongovernment organizations, and several other projects funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Under the project nearly 500,000 kg seed has been multiplied and a total of 62 acres of land has been utilized for seed production,” Dr K Dharma Reddy, Associate Director of RARS Palem said during Dr Monyo’s visit to the station on 27 November.

Dr E Monyo interacting with students at RARS-Palem.

Dr Monyo along with Drs Christopher Ochieng Ojiewo, Senior Scientist – Legumes Breeding (ICRISAT Nigeria) and CV Sameer Kumar, Senior Scientist – Pigeonpea Breeding interacted with local farmers during the visit and answered queries on inter-cultivation and pest control. Gurubadhan Reddy, a farmer from nearby Vasantapuram, informed the ICRISAT team that he managed to sell his seed at Rs 12,000 (approximately US $190) per 100 kg. “I am extremely happy with the results,” he said. To increase the chances of cross-pollination, he is cultivating sunflowers around his farm, as suggested by the RARS Palem team. “We have distributed 300 mini-kits of seeds in four districts along with printed information. We are also promoting improved varieties of seed through demonstrations on farmer’s field days,” said Dr N V Nagesh Kumar, Principal Scientist, RARS Palem. “The farmers here are seeking new technologies. They are very enthusiastic and the station has a clear vision of the project,” Dr Ojiewo said after the review. Dr Kumar also informed farmers that the new PRG 176 variety of pigeonpea seed will be released next year. “It will be resistant to wilt and the crop will mature in 135 days,” he said. The team also visited a private seed packaging unit in the region. The activity was undertaken under the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes. g

Christmas carols @ ICRISAT

Christmas is a special time to thank the Lord for the gift of his love that binds our hearts! Being thankful is a part of Christmas celebration. Here is an opportunity! Join us and express your thankfulness for God’s gift, Jesus to humankind. Join us on 10 December at the RW Cummings Auditorium from 12:15 to 13:15 hours to enjoy the Christmas carols, the message of Christmas and a treat to a slice of cake. All are warmly invited. ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 6 DECEMBER 2013 1600 5

Insect rearing and bioassay lab inaugurated at ICRISAT


new and larger infection-free (axenic) condition insect rearing and bioassay laboratory was recently established to meet the demand for insect culture at ICRISAT. The renovated laboratory was inaugurated by Director General, Dr William D. Dar on 3 December, in the presence of Deputy Director General for Research, Dr CLL Gowda; Directors of Research Programs on Grain Legumes, Dr Rajeev Varshney and on Dryland Cereals, Dr Stefania Grando; and Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka, Director of Strategic Marketing & Communication. The ever increasing demand for large number of laboratory reared insects for studies on host plant resistance to insects involving evaluation of germplasm, breeding lines, mapping populations and transgenic plants for insect resistance, and evaluation of bio-efficacy of insecticides, biopesticides, natural plant products and natural enemies has necessitated the development of efficient and economical methods for mass production of insect pests. To meet these demands, efforts have been made at ICRISAT to rear most important insect pests of chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut, sorghum and millets. Over the past 40 year, scientists in entomology have mastered the art of rearing Helicoverpa, Maruca, Spodoptera, Mythimna, Chilo and Sesamia on artificial diets.

Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Dr Sharma explaining insect rearing protocols to (L-R) Dr Gowda, DG Dar, Dr Varshney, Ms Kane-Potaka, and Dr Grando.

Dr Hari Sharma, Principal Scientist – Entomology, explained the insect rearing protocols and the research outputs on host plant resistance to insects in different crops, transgenic chickpea with resistance to Helicoverpa, and morphological and molecular markers for insect resistance. The entomology staff also demonstrated the insect bioassays, and olfactometer studies involving the Helicoverpa parasitoid, Campoletis, and showed artificial rearing and oviposition systems for Helicoverpa and Chilo. Dr Sharma also presented plans to develop an insect museum for preservation of insect reference collection for future use, develop display boards for insect pests of ICRISAT crops, and depict insect biodiversity at ICRISAT, through live/preserved specimens, and in slide shows. g

ICRISAT and FARA-UniBRAIN discuss project up-scaling


o review the project activities of ICRISAT’s AgriBusiness Incubation program and the way forward in up-scaling the UniBRAIN project (Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation) of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Mr Alex Ariho, UniBRAIN Facility Coordinator visited ICRISAT.

which has been entrusted with the mentoring activities of the UniBRAIN Agricultural Innovation Incubator Consortia.

Mr Ariho also met Dr Shoba Sivasankar, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals and the Center Commissioned External Review (CCER) Panel Director General William D. Dar, in a meeting with Mr of experts which was reviewing ICRISAT’s strategy for Ariho, discussed strategic plans of FARA and ICRISAT in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). g scaling up incubation operation in the rest of the African continent. FARA is an apex organization bringing together and forming coalitions of major stakeholders in agricultural research and development in Africa. UniBRAIN is an initiative for advancing agribusiness incubation and improved agribusiness education in Africa. It is supported by the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Danida) and facilitated by a team of seven partner institutions. ICRISAT, through its AgriBusiness Incubation program, is one of the partners, 6 ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 6 DECEMBER 2013 1600

Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Dr Dar presenting ICRISAT information materials to Mr Alex Ariho (2nd from right).

Welcome Dr Paco Sereme, a Burkinabè national, has been appointed as a member of the Governing Board of ICRISAT on 15 November. Since 2010, he has been the Research Director, Plant Pathology, at the National Agricultural Research Institute (INERA) in Burkina Faso. He also worked as the Executive Director of CORAF/ WECARD, Dakar, Senegal. Dr Sereme has a Doctor of Science degree in Plant Pathology from the Université de Cocody in Côte d’Ivoire, and a PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of Rennes I, France. He is a member of the Strategic Orientation Council of the National Consortium on Agriculture, Food, Animal Health and Environment (Agreenium), France. Dr Sereme was recognized as an Officer of the National Order of Burkina Faso in 2012 and the Knight of the National Education Order of Merit, Côte d’Ivoire in 2007. He is the principal author of more than 50 scientific articles (peer review journals) and many scientific communications as well as several technical bulletins and hand-outs for agricultural extensionists. Dr Ramadjita Tabo, a Chad national, will be joining ICRISAT on March 1, 2014 as Director, West and Central Africa (WCA) region. He is currently the Deputy Executive Director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Accra, Ghana. Ramadjita has a PhD in Agronomy and Plant Genetics in 1985 from the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. He helped FARA to strengthen its linkages with all partner institutions including African Governments, Sub-Regional Organizations, national agricultural research systems, universities and CGIAR Centers, other advanced research institutes, private sector, and nongovernment farmers’ organizations.

Ramadjita is not new to the ICRISAT family, having been with the Institute from 1986 to 2009. Following his two-year Post-Doctoral fellowship at the ICRISAT headquarters (1986-1988), he was appointed as Principal Scientist (Agronomy), ICRISAT’s Western and Central Africa Regional Program, Kano, Nigeria and moved to Bamako, Mali in December 1998.  He moved to Niamey, Niger in 2002 as Regional Coordinator (WCA) Desert Margins Program and was Assistant Director, WCA, Niamey from 2005 to 2009.  Ramadjita was a member of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former US Vice-President Al Gore, “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”. Dr Anthony Michael Whitbread, an Australian national, will be joining ICRISAT as Research Program Director, Resilient Dryland Systems in April 2014. Since 2011, he has been the Chair, Crop Production Systems in the Tropics which is part of the Agricultural Faculty of the Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen Germany. This role has combined teaching and research to improve the sustainability and food security across the developing world with a focus on Africa.  Throughout his career, he worked on mixed dryland systems in Australia, SouthEast Asia and Southern Africa. After receiving a PhD in 1997 from the University of New England (UNE), Armidale, Australia, Dr Whitbread worked for UNE until 1999 and then for The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) until 2010.  In recognition of his work he received the “2006 CSIRO Learning Culture Award” for significant efforts in building the capacity of African scientists and extension staff and most recently received the 2013 CSIRO team medal for ‘Impact from Science’. Team ICRISAT welcomes Drs Paco Sereme, Ramadjita Tabo and Anthony Michael Whitbread to the family.

Farewell On 5 December the following staff concluded their assignment with ICRISAT: Dr NT Yaduraju, Principal Scientist - ICT4D, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation, Patancheru.

Dr A Amarender Reddy, Special Project Scientist – Economics, Research Program - Markets, Institutions and Policies. We wish them and their families all the success in future endeavors. ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 6 DECEMBER 2013 1600 7

ICRISAT joins the world in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela In a message, Dr Molapo Qhobela, ICRISAT Board member said: “As the South African nation is in mourning, your kind words of condolences are soothing at these sad times. Although we knew that this day will come, it is still painful given what he has meant to us. As we mourn, we will also celebrate his extraordinary life, being his gift to the country and humanity. The quote below of the former President from 1994 captures one of the many different emotions we are feeling.” Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity. Photo: Creative Commons


e dedicate this issue of the Happenings to the illustrious South African anti-apartheid icon and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela who passed away at the age of 95 on 5 December at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa surrounded by his family.

In a speech to members of the Zimbabwean farming community in 1994, Mr Mandela said: There are few better ways to show one’s love for one’s country and the well-being of one’s nation than by working on the soil. Our heartfelt condolences and prayers for Mr Mandela, his family and the South African people.

Visitors’ log 2 December: Fifty five students from Agricultural College, GKVK, Bangalore, Karnataka; 32 students from Vidya Jyoti High School, Raigiri, Bhongir, Nalgonda district, Andhra Pradesh. 3 December: Eighty students from Sathavahana High School, Kukatpally; 20 officials from NIRD (National Institute of Rural Development). 04 December: Twenty-five senior government officials from Bihar through ASCI (Administrative Staff College of India), Somajiguda. 05 December:  Thirty-eight students from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore.

ICRISAT-Patancheru (Headquarters) Patancheru 502 324 Andhra Pradesh, India Tel +91 40 30713071

ICRISAT-Liaison Office CG Centers Block NASC Complex Dev Prakash Shastri Marg New Delhi 110 012, India Tel +91 11 32472306 to 08

ICRISAT-Nairobi (Regional hub ESA) PO Box 39063, Nairobi, Kenya Tel +254 20 7224550

ICRISAT-Bamako (Regional hub WCA) BP 320 Bamako, Mali Tel +223 20 709200

ICRISAT- Kano PMB 3491, Sabo Bakin Zuwo Road Tarauni, Kano, Nigeria Tel: +234 7034889836

ICRISAT-Niamey BP 12404 Niamey, Niger (Via Paris) Tel +227 20722529

ICRISAT-Addis Ababa C/o ILRI Campus, PO Box 5689 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Tel: +251-11 617 2541

ICRISAT-Lilongwe Chitedze Agricultural Research Station PO Box 1096 Lilongwe, Malawi Tel +265 1 707297, 071, 067, 057

ICRISAT-Bulawayo Matopos Research Station PO Box 776 Bulawayo, Zimbabwe Tel +263 383 311 to 15

ICRISAT-Maputo c/o IIAM, Av. das FPLM No 2698 Caixa Postal 1906 Maputo, Mozambique Tel +258 21 461657

ICRISAT is a member of the CGIAR Consortium

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ICRISAT Happenings (6 Dec 2013)  

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